The US Isn’t Just Backing the Yemen War – It’s Helping Trap Those Forced To Flee

yemen-refugees-muslim-ban-civil-war-civilians

Shutterstock

 by Khury Petersen-Smith

By now, the images are infamous: stunned, bloodied Yemeni children arriving at the hospital after their summer camp bus was bombed by Saudi aircraft. The United States is deeply implicated in that August 9 attack, which killed 54 people – most of them children

Fragments from the bomb bear the labels of U.S. weapons manufacturers. The indefensible nature of the bombing – there were no combatants anywhere in sight – has garnered headlines and even attention on Capitol Hill, opening a new conversation about US involvement in the years-long siege of Yemen by a coalition headed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The coalition frames its war as an intervention on behalf of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, the man they recognize as the legitimate president of Yemen. Saudi Arabia and the UAE claim to be targeting the Houthis, the opposition group on the other side of Yemen’s civil war that controls the country’s capital, and that has alleged ties with Iran. The images from the school bus attack, however, reveal the actual targets of the coalition’s air power.

While both the Houthis and the coalition take actions with destructive consequences for Yemen’s population, the overwhelming blame for the devastation and the humanitarian crisis lies with the United States, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The United States is supplying the aircraft to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the precision munitions they’re dropping, intelligence and midair refueling of the coalition war planes. The United States also continues to carry out military operations in Yemen directly, with its own special forces and air strikes. But even when American personnel are not personally dropping the bombs, they seem to be involved in all of the other steps of the coalition’s operations.

On the same day of the attack on the school bus, and not far away, US personnel were finishing up another, quieter activity that has received far less attention.

From August 5 through 9, a unit of the Wisconsin National Guard that was assigned to US Army Central conducted a week-long training with members of the Royal Army of Oman’s Border Guard Brigade in Haima, Oman. The exercises were part of Oman’s militarization of its border with Yemen – with funding and other assistance from the United States.

In other words, not only is the United States, helping the coalition bomb Yemeni civilians. It’s helping trap the refugees fleeing that bombing.

Walls around the world

Before, it was clear that the American government wanted no Yemeni refugees in the United States. Yemen has been listed in all three iterations of the Trump administration’s anti-Muslim travel ban. That was unjust enough. In Oman, the United States is helping to prevent Yemenis from leaving their country at all.

In August, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – its military budget – for the fiscal year of 2019. The Act calls on the Secretary of State to certify that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are taking steps to minimize civilian casualties, among other measures to assuage qualms that Congress may have about continuing the US midair refueling program.

The restrictions laid out in the Act have come into the spotlight as Trump has signaled his refusal to abide by them, sparking a dispute between members of Congress and the White House about who has the authority to make decisions about foreign affairs – a fight that has been fueled by the horrendous school bus bombing.

But the same Act also quietly expands the list of countries that the United States supplies aid to for the purpose of militarizing their borders. A provision was added to the military budget in 2016 that appropriates such funding to “certain foreign countries for border security operations.” The list of countries – each of which is eligible for up to $150 million in the program – includes Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan. The 2019 budget includes Pakistan and Oman.

What do these states have in common? They share borders with countries from which millions of refugees emerge or flow through. Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Jordan neighbor Libya, Syria and Iraq. Pakistan borders Afghanistan.

Oman’s steps to “secure its border” sound familiar. In a trend taken up by states around the world – and championed by the White House – Oman is building a wall. Construction began five years ago and is slated to continue for another three years.

The US has promised $2.5 million in aid to Oman for 2019 in a package under the heading “Peace and Security.” And a flurry of meetings between US and Omani officials suggest deeper coordination could be underway.

In March, Defense Secretary Mattis met with Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said and Defense Minister Badr bin Saud al Busaidi in Muscat to discuss enhancing military cooperation. At the end of July, Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi traveled to Washington and met with Mattis at the Pentagon, Secretary of State Pompeo, and members of Congress. Conversations focused on the bilateral relationship in regard to the ongoing crisis in Yemen.

And then there was the joint training in Haima.

Beyond the Bombings

Migration is difficult for Yemenis. Yemen was the poorest country in the Middle East before the war began in 2015. While there are more than 2 million internally displaced people in Yemen, poverty prevents Yemenis from leaving the country.

Despite the many obstacles, more than 190,000 Yemenis have fled to neighboring countries according the UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency. Many of those who have left are in Oman, so the measures the country is taking with its US ally will put up new obstacles to would-be refugees.

Remarkably, despite the nightmarish conditions that the United States, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have made in Yemen, it’s also the case that more than 280,000 people – mostly from the Horn of Africa – have sought refuge in Yemen. The measures that the United States is supporting with its allies, then, are not only devastating Yemenis. The cruelty of those actions extends to refugees from outside of Yemen who are now effectively stuck in the same conditions that are displacing – but imprisoning – Yemenis.

The wars that the United States is carrying out and supporting include wars on the freedom of movement and those who seek to exercise it. From the caging of children and adults at the border with Mexico to the bombing of children in Yemen with American weapons, this summer has demonstrated to the world that the United States isn’t only driving people from their homes – it’s preventing them from escaping to safety.

It is significant that US support for the Saudi bombing is getting more critical attention. But from walls to travel bans, our government’s disastrous activities extend beyond the bombings alone. We need to identify and expose Washington’s many attacks on people around the world – and resist them all.

Khury Petersen-Smith is the Michael Ratner Middle East Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

This article was jointly produced by Foreign Policy In Focus and In These Times. Reprinted with permission from Foreign Policy In Focus.

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israel (apartheid state) helping Saudi dictatorship with genocide in Yemen

Mercenaries Leading Assault on Yemen Port City Were Trained by IDF in Israel 

 

Foreign mercenaries, trained covertly at secret IDF camps in the Negev desert, are now leading the new assault on the Yemen port city of Hodeida, an assault that observers warns threatens to dramatically worsen Yemen’s already catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

Foreign mercenaries, trained covertly at secret IDF camps in the Negev desert, are now leading the new assault on the Yemen port city of Hodeida, an assault that observers warns threatens to dramatically worsen Yemen’s already catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

TEL AVIV – A new report from the Emirati news website Al-Khaleej Online has revealed that many of the mercenaries leading the assault against the Yemeni port city of Hodeida were trained in Israel by Israeli soldiers, shedding light on Israel’s covert role in the war in Yemen.

According to U.S. officials close to the House Intelligence Committee with knowledge of the operation, hundreds of mercenaries from various nationalities that fight on behalf of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Yemen had recently received “instance combat training” at training camps in the Negev desert that were created through a secret agreement was reached between the UAE and Israel. Mercenaries at the camp were trained under the “personal supervision” of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

The camp’s creation was spearheaded by UAE Security Adviser Mohammed Dahlan, who has personally overseen the recent hiring of a fresh force of foreign mercenaries, the majority of whom are Colombian or Nepalese, to fight on the UAE’s behalf in Yemen.

Dahlan, a Palestinian, was a central figure in the U.S.-backed plot funded by the United Arab Emirates to arm and train militias to overthrow Hamas after they won Gaza elections in 2007. Dahlan has since lived in exile in the UAE where he has developed a close relationship to the Emirati royal family and now serves as one of their advisers. Dahlan also has close ties to Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The report noted that Dahlan had personally visited the training camps in Israel on more than one occasion in order to supervise the training received by mercenaries from the IDF. Al-Khaleej’s sources also stated that Dahlan had chosen the Negev desert as the site for the camps due to the similarities the region shares with Yemen in terms of its climate, environment and tribal structure.

These mercenaries, trained at IDF-led camps in Israel and funded by the UAE, are now leading the renewed assault on the Yemeni port of Hodeida, which began earlier this week on Tuesday. The UAE/Saudi Arabia coalition had previously launched an assault in Hodeida in June but that effort failed to make headway despite the coalition’s superior firepower. The new assault was launched after the coalition recently succeeded in cutting off the main road between Hodeida and the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.

Over 90% of Yemen’s food is imported through Hodeida, prompting  the UN and several NGOs to warn that any disruption to food and fuel supplies coming through the Hodeida port “could cause starvation on an unprecedented scale” as the country’s humanitarian crisis – a direct consequence of the coalition’s actions – is now more dire than ever.

An Open Secret: Israel’s Covert Involvement in Yemen’s War

Notably, the revelation of the Israel-based UAE mercenary training camps is not the first indication of covert Israeli involvement in the Yemen conflict. Indeed, when the war first began in 2015, the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE were known to use Israeli-made weapons.

In addition, paperwork seized by the Saudi Embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a that same year revealed that the U.S. was seeking to build a military base near Yemen’s Bab al-Mandab strait in order to “ensure the security of Israel,” suggesting a strong motive for the U.S.’ and Israel’s support for the coalition.

More recently, rumors about new Israel-Saudi weapons deals, including alleged plans to sell Saudi Arabia the Iron Dome missile defense system, have received press attention, suggesting that the covert sale of Israeli weapons to the Saudi-led coalition continues to the present.

Al-Khaleej Online had previously reported that Israel had covertly sold weapons and ammunition to the Saudis, including internationally prohibited weapons that have since been used in the coalition’s brutal bombing campaign in Yemen that consistently targets civilian infrastructure. Just last month, 43% of the coalition’s targets were civilian structures, despite the fact that the U.S. now directly aids the coalition in choosing its strike targets as part of an alleged effort to reduce civilian casualties in the war.

While Israeli involvement in the war in Yemen has thus far been covert, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated last month that he would consider sending Israeli troops to Yemen to fight on behalf of the Saudi-led coalition if the Yemeni resistance gained control over the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait, which serves as a chokepoint on Saudi oil exports and other important Red Sea commerce.

Given Israel’s support for countries involved in genocidal wars in the past and its own treatment of Palestinians, it is unlikely that Israel’s government would feel constrained by any moral dilemmas if it chose to formally join the coalition’s war in Yemen despite the humanitarian crisis that war has provoked.

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen, considered the worst in the world, has brought 17.8 million Yemenis to the brink of starvation including 5.2 million children. In addition, 66,000 children in Yemen die annually from preventable diseases due to the coalition’s blockade of Yemen which has also allowed the worst cholera outbreak in history to proliferate.

Despite the huge death toll that has resulted from the coalition blockade and airstrikes, the “mastermind” of the conflict, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, has vowed to continue to target Yemeni civilians, including women and children, in order to “leave a big impact on the consciousness of Yemenis [for] generations.”

Source: www.mintpressnews.com

White Helmets Readying Movie Sequel in Idlib

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September 20, 2018

The White Helmets scum are readying a sequel to their heinous massacre in Khan Sheikhoun, 4 April 2017.  SANA has just posted a chilling, very large, breaking news ticker, and in red, from the Russian Foreign Ministery. Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization is supplying armed groups in Syria with chemical weapons, including sarin gas.

Though threats of a demonic, murderous sequel have been ongoing since soon after the original White Helmets sarin hoax was produced, the threats have been accelerating at an accelerated rate, since early this year. It now appears that the tripartite aggressor warmongers of the UN may be displeased even by the colonialist support of de Mistura, for the Russian-Erdoganstan agreement for a ‘demilitarized area’ to protect the mostly foreign, criminally insane terrorists in and around Idlib.

Should the current threat go live, prepare for the White Helmets to again share videos of mostly women and children who will have been slaughtered for another snuff porn video (somehow, “the regime” which has successfully liberated Aleppo and Douma from terrorist demons, never seems to hit the terrorists when the White Helmets cameras are rolling). Over recent weeks, these ghouls have kidnapped dozens of Syrian children.

Should this unfathomable atrocity occur, please be mindful that the Oscar-winning, stethoscope-less, ignorant of CPR & spinal precautions fake responder White Helmets who are largely funded by British intelligence and the CIA, shoved their original, cobbled Khan Sheikhoun video into the Orwellian memory hole. They did this to erase evidence that their victims were killed by a poison, given via forced ingestion.  This evidence was primarily seen in comparing the agonal breathing of babies and children with the same agonal breathing seen in the deadly rabbit demonstration in Turkey, 21 December 2012.

Unlike seizure activity, the death throes of agonal breathing can not be faked. This is why the necrophiliac and pedonecrophiliac White Helmets merely showed the dozens of corpses — again, mostly women and their children — in their repulsively horrific Douma production.

Should this planned atrocity be committed, and should sarin actually be used, please be mindful of two things: 1. The original sarin hoax began in Israel, April 2013, to sabotage any UN investigation into chemical weapons use by terrorists against the SAA and the Syrian civilian population. 2. The White Helmets and various takfiri affiliates are savages too primitive to use sarin without self-harm. When they tried to upgrade from weapons grade chlorine to HCN, in Ghouta 2013, they killed so many of their own that they complained that Prince Bandar should not give them such weapons without proper instructions.

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The savages are forced to shower & shave before doing UN & State Dept photo ops, but this is their accurate look.

Should sarin actually be unleashed on hostages — mostly women and children, but also some of the 100s of men recently abducted in Idlib on suspicion of willingness to join Reconciliation — this will mean that highly skilled operatives with the best of chemical and biohazard protection, will be the Dr. Mengeles committing the atrocities; the Nusra White Helmets will only come to do their fake ‘rescue’ garbage.

Such an unspeakable horror previously occurred in April 2014, when a genetically altered Clostridium tetani bioweapon was tested on the Syrian Arab Army’s Regiment 74, stationed in Tel el Jabya. All but one soldier was massacred (likely he had a natural immunity, as he was beheaded for having the temerity of not being murdered). On 24 April, a ghastly video showing the primitive savages walking through the corpses of the martyred soldiers was proudly uploaded to the internet.

As it provided essential evidence, it too, was shoved down the Orwellian memory hole.

 

— Miri Wood

Yemen’s Descent into Hell

Yemen’s Descent into Hell

Children playing with toy guns on a street in Sanaa (Vladimir Melnik via Shutterstock)Children playing with toy guns on a street in Sanaa (Vladimir Melnik via Shutterstock)

by Rajan Menon

It’s the war from hell, the savage one that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, along with seven other Middle Eastern and North African states, have been waging in Yemen since March 2015, with fulsome support from the Pentagon and American weapons galore. It’s got everything. Dead children in the dozens, a never-ending air campaign that pays scant heed to civilians, famine, cholera, you name it. No wonder it’s facing mounting criticism in Congress and from human rights groups. Still, ever since President Donald Trump (like Barack Obama before him) embraced the Saudi-led coalition as this country’s righteous knight errant in the Middle East, the fight against impoverished Yemen’s Houthi rebels — who have, in turn, been typecast as Iran’s cats-paw — has only grown fiercer. Meanwhile, the al-Qaeda affiliate there continues to expand.

For years now, a relentless Saudi air campaign (quite literally fueled by the U.S. military) has hit endless civilian targets, using American smart bombs and missiles, without a peep of protest or complaint from Washington. Only a highly publicized, completely over-the-top slaughter recently forced the Pentagon to finally do a little mild finger wagging. On August 7th, an airstrike hit a school bus — with a laser-guided bomb made by Lockheed Martin — in northern Yemen, killing 51 people, 40 of them schoolchildren. Seventy-nine others were wounded, including 56 children. Soon after, a U.N. Security Council-appointed group of experts issued a report detailing numerous other egregious attacks on Yemeni civilians, including people attending weddings and funerals. Perhaps the worst among them killed 137 people and wounded 695 others at a funeral in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, this April.

The attack on those schoolchildren and the U.N. report amplified a growing global outcry against the carnage in Yemen. In response, on August 28th, Secretary of Defense James Mattis let it be known that the Trump administration’s support for the Persian Gulf potentates’ military campaign should not be considered unreserved, that the Saudis and their allies must do “everything humanly possible to avoid any innocent loss of life.” Considering that they haven’t come close to meeting such a standard since the war started nearly five years ago and that the Trump administration clearly has no intention of reducing its support for the Saudis or their war, Mattis’s new yardstick amounted to a cruel joke — at the expense of Yemeni civilians.

The Statistics of Suffering

Some appalling numbers document the anguish Yemenis have endured. Saudi and Emirati warplanes officially have killed — and it’s considered a conservative estimate — 6,475 civilians and wounded more than 10,000 others since 2015. Targets struck have included farmshomesmarketplaceshospitalsschools, and mosques, as well as ancient historic sites in Sana’a. And such incidents haven’t been one-off attacks. They have happened repeatedly.

By April 2018, the Saudi-led coalition had conducted 17,243 airstrikes across Yemen, hitting 386 farms, 212 schools, 183 markets, and 44 mosques. Such statistics make laughable the repeated claims of the Saudis and their allies that such “incidents” should be chalked up to understandable errors and that they take every reasonable precaution to protect innocents. Statistics compiled by the independent Yemen Data Project make it clear that the Gulf monarchs don’t lie awake at night lamenting the deaths of Yemeni civilians.

Saudi Arabia and its partners have accused the Houthis, the rebels with whom they have been in such a deadly struggle, of also attacking Yemeni civilians, a charge Human Rights Watch has validated. Yet such a they-do-it-too defense hardly excuses the relentless bombing of non-military sites by a coalition that has overwhelming superiority in firepower. Houthi crimes pale by comparison.

And when it comes to the destruction of civilian lives and livelihoods, believe it or not, that may be the least of it. Take the naval blockade of the country by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that cut the number of ships docking in the Houthi-controlled port of Hodeida from 129 between January and August 2014 to 21 in the same months of 2017. The result: far less food and medicine entered the country, creating a disaster for Yemenis.

That country, the Arab world’s poorest, has long relied on imports for a staggering 85% of its food, fuel, and medicine, so when prices soared, famine spread, while hunger and malnutrition skyrocketed. Nearly 18 million Yemenis now rely on emergency food aid to survive: that’s an unbelievable 80% of the population. According to the World Bank, “8.4 million more are on the brink of famine.” In December 2017, following a barrage of bad publicity, the Saudi-Emirati blockade was eased marginally, but it had already set in motion a spiral of death.

The blockade also contributed to a cholera epidemic, which the shortage of medicines only exacerbated. According to a World Health Organization report, between April 2017 and July 2018, there were more than 1.1 million cholera cases there. At least 2,310 people died from the disease, most of them children. It is believed to be the worst cholera outbreak since statistics began to be compiled in 1949. At 800,000 cases between 2010 and 2017, Haiti held the previous record, one that the Yemenis surpassed within half a year of the first cases appearing. The prime contributors to the epidemic: drinking water contaminated by rotting garbage (uncollected because of the war), devastated sewage systems, and water filtration plants that stopped running due to lack of fuel — all the result of the horrendous bombing campaign.

Wartime economic blockades starve and sicken civilians and soldiers alike and so amount to a war crime. The Saudi-Emirati claim that the blockade’s sole purpose is to stanch the flow of Iranian arms to the Houthis is nonsense, nor can it be considered a legitimate act of self-defense, even though it was instituted after the Houthis fired ballistic missiles at the airport in the Saudi capital and the residence of that country’s monarch. (Both were shot down by Saudi air defenses and were clear responses to coalition airstrikes on Houthi-held territory that killed 136 civilians.) By the standards of international humanitarian law or simply common sense, choking off Yemen’s imports was a disproportionate response, and clairvoyance wasn’t required to foresee the calamitous consequences to follow.

True to form, President Trump’s U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, echoed Saudi charges that the Houthi missiles were Iranian-supplied Qiam-1s and condemned that country’s interference in Yemen. Given the scale of destruction by a foreign coalition using armaments and technical assistance provided by the United States (and Britain), her comments, in less grim circumstances, would have been laughable.

Those American-supplied weapons have included cluster munitions, which pose a particular hazard to civilians because, when dropped from a plane, their devastating bomblets often disperse over enormous areas. (Such bombs are banned under a 2008 treaty signed by 120 countries that neither Riyadh nor Washington has joined.) In May 2016, the Obama White House confirmed that it had stopped sending such weapons to Saudi Arabia, which then continued to use Brazilian-made variants. However, other American arms have continued to flow to Saudi Arabia, while its warplanes rely on U.S. Air Force tankers for mid-air refueling (88 million pounds of fuel as of this January according to a Central Command spokeswoman), while the Saudi military has received regular intelligence information and targeting advice from the Pentagon since the war began. And with the advent of Donald Trump, such military involvement has only deepened: U.S. Special Operations forces are now on the Saudi-Yemen border, helping to find and attack Houthi redoubts.

In June 2018, ignoring U.S. opposition, the Saudi coalition heightened the risk to Yemeni civilians yet more by launching an offensive (“Golden Victory”) to capture the port of Hodeida. (So much for the Pentagon’s standard claim that supporting the war gives the U.S. influence over how it is waged and so limits civilian casualties.) Saudi and Emirati airpower and warships supported Emirati and Sudanese troops on the ground joined by allied Yemeni militias. The advance, however, quickly stalled in the face of Houthi resistance, though only after at least 50,000 families had fled Hodeida and basic services for the remaining 350,000 were disrupted, creating fears of a new outbreak of cholera.

The Roots of War

Yemen’s progression to its present state of perdition began as the Arab Spring’s gales swept through the Middle East in 2011, uprooting or shaking regimes from Tunisia to Syria. Street demonstrations grew against Yemen’s strongman, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and only gathered strength as he attempted to quell them. In response, he allied ever more strongly with Saudi Arabia and the United States, alienating the Houthis, whose main bastion, the governate of Saada, abuts the Saudi border. Adherents of Zaydi Islam, the Houthis played a pivotal role in creating a political movement, Ansar Allah, in 1992 to assert the interests of their community against the country’s Sunni majority. In an effort to undercut them, the Saudis have long promoted radical Sunni religious leaders in Yemen’s north, while intermittently raiding Houthi territories.

As a Houthi rebellion began, Saleh tried to make himself an even more indispensable ally of Washington in its post-9/11 anti-terrorist campaigns, notably against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a growing local franchise of al-Qaeda. For good measure, he joined the Saudis in painting the Houthis little more than tools of an Iran that Washington and Riyadh both loathed. When those powers nonetheless came to see the Yemeni autocrat as a political liability, they helped oust him and transfer power to his deputy, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Such moves failed to calm the waters, as the country started to disintegrate and Saudi-U.S. efforts to consolidate the transition from Saleh to Hadi unraveled.

Meanwhile, regular American drone strikes against AQAP angered many Yemenis. In their eyes, not only did the attacks violate Yemen’s sovereignty, they intermittently killed civilians. Hadi’s praise for the drone campaign only discredited him further. AQAP’s power continued to grow, resentment in southern Yemen rose, and criminal gangs and warlords began to operate with impunity in its cities, highlighting the Hadi government’s ineffectuality. Neoliberal economic reforms only further enriched a clutch of families that had long controlled much of Yemen’s wealth, while the economic plight of most Yemenis worsened radically. The unemployment rate was nearly 14% in 2017 (and exceeded 25% for young people), while the poverty rate rose precipitously, as did inflation.

It was a formula for disaster and when Hadi proposed a plan to create a federal system for Yemen, the Houthis were infuriated. New boundaries would, among other things, have cut their homeland off from the Red Sea coast. So they gave up on his government and girded for battle. Soon, their forces were advancing southward. In September 2014, they captured the capital, Sana’a, and proclaimed a new national government. The following March, they occupied Aden in southern Yemen and Hadi, whose government had moved there, promptly fled across the border to Riyadh. The first Saudi airstrikes against Sana’a were launched in March 2015 and Yemen’s descent to hell began.

The American Role

The commonplace rendition of the war in Yemen pits a U.S.-backed Saudi coalition against the Houthis, cast as agents of Iran and evidence of its increasing influence in the Middle East. Combatting terrorism and countering Iran became the basis for Washington’s support of the Saudi-led war. Predictably, as this cartoonish portrayal of a complicated civil war gained ground in the mainstream American media and among Beltway pundits (as well, of course, as in the Pentagon and White House), inconvenient facts were shunted aside.

Still, all these years and all those dead later, it’s worth considering some of those facts. There are, for instance, significant differences between the Houthis’ Zaydi variant of Shia Islam and the Twelver Shiism dominant in Iran — and some similarities between Zaydis and Sunnis — which makes the ubiquitous claims about a Iran-Houthi faith-based pact shaky. Moreover, Iran did not jump into the fray during the violent 2004-2010 clashes between Saleh and the Houthis and did not have longstanding ties to them either. In addition, contrary to the prevailing view in Washington, Iran is unlikely to be their main source of weaponry and support. Sheer distance and the Saudi coalition’s naval blockade have made it next to impossible for Iran to supply arms to the Houthis in the volume alleged. Besides, having pillaged various military bases during their march toward Aden, the Houthis do not lack for weaponry. Iran’s influence in Yemen has undoubtedly increased since 2015, but reducing the intricacies of that country’s internal crisis to Iranian meddling and a Tehran-led Shiite bloc expanding from Syria to the Arabian Peninsula amounts to, at best, a massive oversimplification.

The obsession of Trump and his key advisers with Iran (a remarkable number of them are Iranophobes) and The Donald’s obsession with plugging American arms makers and hawking their wares helps explain their embrace of the House of Saud and continuing support for its never-ending assault on Yemen. (Jared Kushner’s bromance with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman undoubtedly played a part as well.) None of that, however, explains the full-scale American backing for the Saudi-led intervention there in the Obama years. Even as his administration denounced Bashar al-Assad’s slaughter of Syrian civilians, his officials seemed unmoved by the suffering war was inflicting on Yemenis. In fact, the Obama administration offered $115 billion worth of weaponry to Riyadh, including a $1.15 billion package finalized in August 2016, when the scale of Yemen’s catastrophe was already all too obvious.

In recent years, opposition to the war in Congress has been on the rise, with Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Ro Khanna playing prominent roles in mobilizing it. But such congressional critics had no effect on Obama’s war policy and are unlikely to sway Trump’s. They face formidable barriers. The mainstream narrative on the war remains powerful, while the Gulf monarchies continue to buy vast quantities of American weaponry. And don’t forget the impressive, money-is-no-object Saudi-Emirati lobbying operation in Washington.

That, then, is the context for the Pentagon’s gentle warning about the limits of U.S. support for the bombing campaign in Yemen and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s subsequent certification, as required by Congress, that the Saudis and Emiratis were taking perfectly credible action to lower civilian casualties — without which the U.S. military could not continue refueling their planes. (Mattis “endorsed and fully supported” Pompeo’s statement.)  As the fifth anniversary of this appalling war approaches, American-made arms and logistical aid remain essential to it.  Consider President Trump’s much-ballyhooed arms sales to the Saudis, even if they don’t total $100 billion (as he claimed): Why then would the Saudi and Emirati monarchs worry that the White House might actually do something like cutting off those lucrative sales or terminating the back-end support for their bombing campaign?

One thing is obvious: U.S. policy in Yemen won’t achieve its declared goals of defeating terrorism and rolling back Iran. After all, its drone strikes began there in 2002 under George W. Bush. Under Obama, as in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, drones became Washington’s anti-terrorist weapon of choice. There were 154 drone strikes in Yemen during the Obama years according to the most reliable high-end estimates, and civilian casualties ranged between 83 and 101. Under Trump they soared quickly, from 21 in 2016 to 131 in 2017.

The reliance on drone attacks has bolstered al-Qaeda’s narrative that the American war on terror amounts to a war on Muslims, whose lives are deemed expendable. And so many years later, in the chaos of Yemen, the group’s power and reach is only growing. The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led intervention is also likely to prove not just self-defeating but self-prophetic. It seems to be cementing an alliance between Iran and the Houthis who, though they have been pushed out of Aden, still control a big chunk of Yemen. Meanwhile, in a move that could make the war even deadlier, the Emiratis appear to be striking out on their own, supporting secession in southern Yemen. There’s not much to show on the anti-terrorism front either. Indeed, the Saudi coalition’s airstrikes and U.S. drone attacks may be moving Yemenis, enraged by the destruction of their homes and livelihoods and the deaths of loved ones, toward AQAP. In short, a war on terror has turned into a war of and for terror.

In Yemen, the United States backs a grim military intervention for which — unless you are a weapons company — it is hard to find any justification, practical or moral. Unfortunately, it is even harder to imagine President Trump or the Pentagon reaching such a conclusion and changing course.

Reprinted, with permission, from TomDispatch.

Rajan Menon, a TomDispatch regular, is the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the Powell School, City College of New York, and Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University’s Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. He is the author, most recently, of The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention. Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Storyand Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, and John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands. Copyright 2018 Rajan Menon

US, UK, Saudis, and UAE Want Yemenis to Starve

US, UK, Saudis, and UAE Want Yemenis to Starve

By Stephen Lendman,

 

Famine stalks Yemen because of US/UK supported bombing raids coupled with a naval blockade – ignoring the laws of war. 

On Thursday, UN humanitarian official in Yemen Lise Grande said war in the country continues taking an “incalculable human” toll, adding:

Conditions “deteriorated dramatically in (recent) days. Families are absolutely terrified by” endless terror-bombing and shelling, countless numbers losing the struggle to survive daily.

On Friday, AP News reported that starving Yemenis in parts of the country are eating “leaves of a local vine, boiled into a sour, acidic green paste” – providing stomach filler but little else.

Yemen’s Aslam district health facilities are overwhelmed with starving, emaciated adults and children, including “(e)xcruciatingly thin toddlers (with) eyes bulging,” suffering from endless war, trauma, lack of food, and other essentials to life and well-being.

The same is true in many other communities throughout the country, devastated by endless US/UK orchestrated, Saudi-led aggression and blockade.

Countless numbers of Yemenis are extremely malnourished, starving.

After three-and-a-half years of endless war, thousands of Yemenis perished, no one keeping count of the mortality rate.

UN figures willfully distort and understate the human toll, worsening daily with no prospect for conflict resolution.

An unnamed mother spoke for countless others, saying she has no money to buy food, medicines or anything else for her children.

Availability of essentials to life in many parts of the country is woefully inadequate or nonexistent.

According to Yemeni health official Mekkiya Mahdi,

“(w)e are in the 21st century, but this is what the war did to us.”

In numerous villages and surrounding areas in parts of the country, most everyone is living off leaf paste, she said, adding “I go home, and I can’t put food in” the mouths of my family or myself.

Countless numbers of Yemenis are dying daily from war, related violence, untreated diseases, and starvation. Hundreds of thousands more are close to perishing. Millions may die if war continues for years.

The Trump regime and its imperial partners oppose conflict resolution while falsely claiming otherwise.

On Tuesday, Mike Pompeo deceived Congress, claiming the Saudi and UAE regimes “are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure” – a bald-faced lie.

On Wednesday, a Pompeo press statement turned truth on its head, claiming the Trump regime considers “ending the conflict in Yemen…a national security priority,” adding:

The US is “work(ing) closely with the Saudi-led coalition to ensure Saudi Arabia and the UAE maintain support for UN-led efforts to end the civil war in Yemen, allow unimpeded access for the delivery of commercial and humanitarian support through as many avenues as possible, and undertake actions that mitigate the impact of the conflict on civilians and civilian infrastructure.”

Fact: Cold hard reality is polar opposite Pompeo’s willful Big Lie.

His spokeswoman Heather Nauert compounded the deception, saying the Trump regime is “implementing measures to protect civilians in Yemen” – they don’t give a damn about in the country or anywhere else.

Trump and UK regime hardliners are facilitating daily slaughter, starvation, and overall deprivation, supporting endless aggression and genocide, opposing diplomatic conflict resolution.

On Friday, Supreme Revolutionary Committee of Yemen chairman Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said Saudi and UAE warplanes intend attacking food storage facilities in Hodeidah, falsely claiming they’re used to store weapons.

The port city is the country’s main entry and distribution point for food, medical supplies, fuel, and other essentials to life.

On Wednesday, UNICEF said millions of Yemeni children are gravely harmed by severe malnutrition, starvation, lack of medical care, and displacement.

Its Yemen representative Meritxell Relano called the country “a living hell for its children.”

“(E)very year in (the country), 66,000 children under age five are dying of preventable diseases (alone)…(h)alf of them (perishing) during birth or in the first month of life (from) diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition related causes.”

Conditions are “catastrophic.” The lives and welfare of millions of Yemenis hang in the balance, countless numbers losing the struggle to survive, enduring extreme pain and suffering most people can’t imagine.

Yemen is ground zero for opposition to peace and indifference to human lives and welfare by the Trump regime and its imperial partners in high crimes.

Other US-led wars of aggression are just as contemptuous of rule of law principles and human life.

No nation more grievously violates the high-minded standards it professes to honor and respect than America.

Under Republicans and undemocratic Dems, it’s a ruthlessly vicious rogue state, exceeding the worst high crimes of all others.

It’s responsible for millions of deaths post-9/11 alone, accountability not forthcoming because the UN and world community do nothing to demand it.

*

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Starving Off-Camera: In Yemen 20 Million Fuel the Saudi-US-NATO War Machine

Starving Off-Camera: In Yemen 20 Million Fuel the Saudi-US-NATO War Machine

Within days of starting the war, Saudi Arabia imposed a total land, air and sea blockade, along with targeting vital agriculture and food supply infrastructure that sustains life for the 29 million Yemenis — all of which constitute war crimes under international law.

The UN estimates that nearly 20 million Yemenis could die of starvation by the end of this year. That’s about 70 percent of the entire population.

That horrific number includes more than 2 million children who are already going hungry, including 500,000 who are suffering from severe malnutrition.

 

The people of Yemen have found themselves struggling not only for survival, but for a space in the Western media’s war coverage.

In the shadow of the conflict in Syria, the men, women and children of Yemen are being deliberately starved and targeted by strategic airstrikes and an illegal blockade in a war initiated by Saudi Arabia and aided, massively if not entirely, by the United States.

Since 2015, Saudi Arabia, backed by Washington with over $200 billion in weapons assistance and billions more worth of military training under both the Obama and Trump administrations, took the already poorest nation in the Middle East and manufactured the worst humanitarian crisis of the modern era.

Within days of starting the war, Saudi Arabia imposed a total land, air and sea blockade, along with targeting vital agriculture and food supply infrastructure that sustains life for the 29 million Yemenis — all of which constitute war crimes under international law.

Saudi Arabia opened its checkbook in response to a UN appeal for funds, contributing nearly $300 million to cover the most urgent humanitarian aid to Yemen. But that Saudi aid would come at a steep price, and with more than a few strings attached, considering this was the same nation bombing Yemen and creating the disaster to begin with.

While the UN accepted Saudi money, it also allowed Saudi Arabia to weaponize humanitarian aid by blocking all aid shipments from reaching the starving population.

This meant that medicine, food, water treatment supplies, and basic necessities for survival were prevented from entering Yemen, exacerbating the already dire situation.

According to data collected by local rights groups, Saudi Arabia has waged over 230,000 airstrikes on Yemen since 2015, with the intention of deliberately targeting Yemen’s lifeline for survival: its food supply.

Fishing boats, fishermen and fish markets became targets of the Saudi-U.S.-backed coalition warships and helicopters in the Red Sea, depleting Yemen’s access to it’s key food staples.

To make food-supply matters even worse, the U.S.-backed Saudi air raids intentionally targeted agricultural fields, marketplaces and food-storage sites from March 2015 to the end of June 2018, creating the perfect storm to ignite famine and starvation.

Yemen relies on maritime imports for more than 80 percent of its annual staple food supplies.

Although staples remain available, the Saudi import restrictions, combined with a rapidly depreciating currency, mean food prices have skyrocketed.

Millions of Yemenis can no longer afford to buy food, forcing more than 75 percent of the population to rely on humanitarian assistance — aid that is mostly controlled and blocked by Saudi Arabia.

As the crisis rages on with no accountability in sight, Yemen’s last remaining lifeline is under threat: Hodeida, relied upon by 18 million Yemenis, is home to the major port where virtually all aid and food must enter the impoverished and war-ravished nation currently importing 90 percent of its food.

According to UN estimates, a quarter-million men, women, and children could die from the military assault alone should the U.S.-backed coalition continue its invasion of Hodeida. In fact, Saudi warplanes have already bombed buses of refugees fleeing the airstrikes.

The goal of the deadly operation, dubbed “Golden Victory,” is to capture Hodeida: a bustling port city and home to over 600,000 Yemenis.

Although Saudi Arabia catches most of the heat for this humanitarian catastrophe and the countless war crimes, another U.S. Gulf coalition ally, the United Arab Emirates, is leading the assault on Hodeida port.

An Emirati-led occupation of Hodeida would put nearly a million people at risk for suffering not only famine but instances of rape and torture, as the UAE currently occupies Southern Yemen and has set up dozens of illegal torture prison sites known for sexual torture.

While creating a state of affairs that intensifies hunger for over 20 million people, Saudi Arabia has faced no accountability from the international community. Instead, it has enjoyed receiving billions worth of weapons from the U.S. and the U.K., training from the U.S. military, and a major position on a human-rights panel at the UN, only enabling what can best be described as genocide.

Perhaps Saudi impunity derives from the fact that this war is also the fuel that fires up the United States and NATO’s war machine, which allows for the continuation of resource exploitation, war on terror, military occupation and destabilization in the small but strategic and resource-rich nation.

This cynical agenda has forced Yemen to become the new face of skeletal children in the 21st century.

Dozens of Saudi Political Prisoners Await Death by Beheading

Dozens of Saudi Political Prisoners Await Death by Beheading

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.orgHome – Stephen Lendman)

Saudi Arabia is despotic family-owned oil-rich territory more than a legitimate country – the Arab world’s most ruthless regime.

According to the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR), 51 political prisoners in the kingdom await beheadings, following sham court proceedings – flagrantly violating fair trial standards.

Forced confessions when obtained are extracted by torture, rendering them null and void under international law.

Human rights and other activists, pro-democracy champions, and anyone critical of regime policies face arrest, imprisonment, torture, and execution – most often by public beheadings, symbolic of Saudi barbarism.

Washington, Britain, other EU countries, and most others are silent about horrendous KSA high crimes.

The UK-based Reprieve human rights group calls the kingdom “one of the five top executing countries in the world for more than a decade” – most often imposed for “protest-related offenses” and other forms of activism.

Britain has been complicit with the kingdom by supplying arms, along with training Saudi security forces “in investigation techniques that could lead to the arrest, torture and sentencing to death of peaceful protesters, and that these projects have been undertaken without proper safeguards,” Reprieve explained.

So-called reforms in the kingdom are pure illusion. War of aggression in Yemen, political imprisonments, torture, public executions, and other flagrant human rights abuses are appalling breaches of fundamental international laws.

According to ESOHR, 51 Saudi political prisoners await execution – eight individuals arrested and imprisoned as minors for peacefully protesting and chanting slogans critical of KSA policies.

Trials when held are farcical, guilt by accusation automatic, justice always denied.

Twelve Saudi prisoners face execution on phony charges of spying for Iran. According to ESOHR, accusations against these individuals aren’t acceptable under international laws, norms and standards. 

ESOHR monitors flagrant Saudi judiciary violations, depriving targeted individuals of “their right to a fair trial and accepts charges obtained under torture.”

Death sentences are also common for alleged offenses too minor to matter, minors as vulnerable as adults.

Human rights activist Israa al-Ghomgham may be the kingdom’s first woman publicly executed political activist, capital punishment imposed on women earlier for other reasons.

Arrested in December 2015 for so-called “anti-establishment activities,” she likely faces death for courageous activism, the outcome of her trial and for others predetermined before begun.

According to ESOHR, “the call of the public prosecution for a death sentence for the detainee is a dangerous indicator that the trial outcome will lead to a death penalty sentence being issued because the Saudi mechanisms involved in the prosecution process are not independent and serve the needs of King Salman directly.” 

“Israa is being subjected to an unfair trial (for human rights activism), which uses flawed laws and can be regarded as a ‘show trial’ ” with no legitimacy.

She “called for fundamental and basic civil and political rights, such as peaceful assembly and expression…the release of prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders, (along with) expressing her peaceful opinions on social media platforms.”

She and her husband Seyyed Musa Ja’afar Hashem were arrested and detained at the same time.

Throughout over 32 months in brutalizing detention, she was denied the right to counsel, receiving it only after her father petitioned for donations to cover legal expenses.

She faces death by beheading for doing the right thing. The kingdom is notorious among Arab country as the most cruel, barbarous and lawless, its high crimes ignored in the West.

An October hearing will decide whether her death sentence will be carried out – virtually certain under a tyrannical system showing no mercy.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

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