“I’ve Seen the Horrific Toll Western Sanctions are Having On the People of Syria and Lebanon”

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on 

Daniel Kovalik

Millions hungry… no fuel or electricity… worthless currency… I witnessed all of this in Lebanon and Syria. And the greatest tragedy is this needless suffering is caused by the West’s desire to introduce ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’.

I have just returned from my second trip to Lebanon and Syria this year. I previously visited in May, and in the course of a few months I have witnessed a precipitous decline in the wellbeing of the people of both of these countries.

Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, seemed rather normal and tranquil in May but is now completely dark at night, due to a lack of electricity. There are only a few hours of sporadic electricity a day throughout the city. Meanwhile, fuel is nearly impossible to come by, with lines of cars spanning at least a kilometer waiting for gas. A number of my friends told me that they could not drive to meet me because they had no fuel for their vehicles.

There is also little to no garbage service, and so the streets and sidewalks are lined with trash. In what was once dubbed the ‘Paris of the East’, I witnessed goats roaming the streets in search of garbage to eat on the side of the road. The Lebanese lira has tumbled in value daily, with menus at restaurants that were still able to operate displaying prices written in pencil so they could be changed every morning. As I write these words, the lira is now worth 0.00066 US dollars. A number of truly exasperated people stated – with a swoosh of the hand in the air – that “Lebanon is finished.” And it certainly feels that way.

Everyone in Lebanon I talked to wants out of the country; some even asked if I could take them with me. The possible exception is the mass of Syrian people who have fled the war in their own country.  Many of these Syrians now live on the streets in Beirut. It is very common to see Syrian women with their children sleeping on the dark city sidewalks.  According to UNICEF, there are nearly 1.5 million Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, putting further strain on a social system which is unable to take care of its own people.

Syria is also suffering from a lack of electricity, with power for only a few hours a day, and food and vital medicines are hard to come by as well.  Personal protective materials necessary to protect against Covid – such as masks and hand sanitizer – are almost non-existent.


The families I stayed with would be at the ready with their laundry and food to cook for the odd occasion that the electricity would turn on for an hour. Most people are without air-conditioning or refrigeration in the sultry climate. The Syrian pound is also relatively valueless, with $100 buying bags of the currency, as I myself have experienced. Meanwhile, huge swathes of cities like Homs remain largely in rubble as post-war reconstruction has ground to a halt.

All of this is, of course, according to the plan of the Western ‘humanitarians’ who claim their suffocating economic sanctions on Syria – once Lebanon’s biggest trading partner and largest source of fuel – are intended to somehow bring democracy and freedom to the region. As we well know, these sanctions hurt civilians first and foremost, and disproportionately injure women and children in every country upon which they have been imposed.

As an article in Foreign Affairs explains, the example of Iraq shows that sanctions do nothing but create human misery. It reads, “US sanctions killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Their effect was gendered, disproportionately punishing women and children. The notion that sanctions work is a pitiless illusion.” 

And it goes into great detail about the humanitarian toll of the sanctions first imposed upon Syria by President Trump. “The Trump administration designed the sanctions it has now imposed on Syria to make reconstruction impossible. The sanctions target the construction, electricity and oil sectors, which are essential to getting Syria back on its feet. Although the United States says it is ‘protecting’ Syria’s oil fields in the northeast, it has not given the Syrian government access to repair them, and US sanctions prohibit any firm of any nationality from repairing them – unless the administration wishes to make an exception…”

The article goes on to point out that these restrictions mean the country faces “mass starvation or another mass exodus,” according to the World Food Program. This is backed up by alarming statistics which show that 10 years ago, abject poverty in Syria affected less than one percent of the population. By 2015, this had risen to 35 percent of the population. The rise in food prices – up 209 percent in the last year – is also noted, as is the fact that according to the World Food Program, there are now 9.3 million “food insecure” Syrians.
There is also criticism of the requirements the Syrian government must meet to secure relief from the sanctions. These are described as “deliberately vague” – a ploy, it is said, to deter investors who might be able to assist Syria, but are unprepared to do so because they are not certain they are free to help.

The UK humanitarian organization, the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), echoes these concerns, explaining that “[t]he sanctions that have been placed on Syria by the EU (including the UK) and USA have caused dire humanitarian consequences for Syrian citizens in Government controlled areas (which is 70% of the country) who are seeking to rebuild their lives…”

“Of the huge amounts of humanitarian aid that western governments are sending ‘to Syria’, the vast majority reaches either refugees who have fled the country, or only those areas of Syria occupied by militant groups opposed to the Syrian government. Most Syrian people are therefore deliberately left unsupported; indeed, even their own effort to help themselves and re-build their lives are hampered by sanctions.”

The despair being brought about by Western sanctions is palpable. Syrians and Lebanese, whose fates are inextricably tied to each other, have little hope for a happy and prosperous future. Once again, the West’s claims to ‘civilize’ the world have brought only misery, sorrow and destruction.

But I would be remiss if I did not end on this note: that, still, despite it all, the incredible hospitality and kindness of the Syrians and Lebanese have yet to be destroyed by the cruelty visited upon them.  Everywhere my companions and I went, including in the most modest homes of places like Maaloula, Homs or Latakia, Syria, or in Lebanon, families were quick to offer us coffee, water, and snacks.

Despite the fact that they are being denied the basic amenities of life by sanctions as targeted as a nuclear weapon, these people still know how to share the little that they have. This, I will always carry with me and be grateful for.

Daniel Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and is author of the recently-released No More War: How the West Violates International Law by Using “Humanitarian” Intervention to Advance Economic and Strategic Interests.

Three Quarters of Lebanon’s Residents Plunge into Poverty

SEPTEMBER 5, 2021

Three Quarters of Lebanon’s Residents Plunge into Poverty

By UN ESCWA

Poverty in Lebanon has drastically increased over the past year, now affecting about 74% of the total population, warns a new policy brief on “Multidimensional Poverty in Lebanon: Painful Reality and Uncertain Prospects” issued today by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia [ESCWA].

Taking into account dimensions other than income, such as access to health, education and public utilities, increases the rate to 82% of the population living in multidimensional poverty.

This new policy brief comes one year after a previous ESCWA publication on poverty in Lebanon, which had found that between 2019 and 2020, the headcount poverty rate had already jumped from 28% to 55%. According to today’s updates, the multidimensional poverty rate in Lebanon has nearly doubled from 42% in 2019 to 82% in 2021.

Against this backdrop, ESCWA Executive Secretary Rola Dashti reiterated her call for the establishment of a social solidarity fund to alleviate the country’s humanitarian crisis. She recalled that, in 2020, ESCWA put forward a proposal: the 10% richest decile in Lebanon, who held nearly $91 billion of wealth at the time, could bridge the funding gap for poverty eradication by making annual contributions of 1% of their net wealth.

According to the study, interlinked shocks exposed the Lebanese pound exchange rate, which has been fixed since the beginning of the century, to tremendous pressures, causing currency depreciation. Inflation soared to 281% between June 2019 and June 2021. These combined shocks have led to a significant decrease in the living standards of both Lebanese and non-Lebanese, and to rampant deprivation.

Moreover, extreme multidimensional poverty, which refers to deprivation in two or more dimensions of poverty, affects 34% of the population today, exceeding half in some areas of the country.

Given that the unprecedented socioeconomic crisis in Lebanon afflicts all segments of society, population groups with highest and lowest levels of educational attainment now register similar poverty rates. The study also highlights that the share of households deprived of healthcare increased to 33%, and the share of those unable to obtain medicines has also increased to more than half.

“Mitigating the impact of the crisis requires solidarity and cooperation between all segments of the Lebanese society,” Dashti stressed, while urging the development of effective social protection schemes that are more responsive to the needs of the poor, especially those living in extreme multidimensional poverty, and the expansion of their scope to include the unemployed.

It is worth to note that, with the progress of development research and the availability of more detailed surveys, the concept of poverty expanded to take into account living conditions and various aspects of deprivation not limited to income. This new concept has become known as “multidimensional poverty”, measured by six key dimensions, namely education, health, public utilities, housing, assets and property, and employment and income.

Lebanese PM-Designate Steps Down, Gives Up On Cabinet Formation his Supporters Block Highways in Several Cities, Throw Stones at Lebanese Army Units

16/07/2021

Lebanese PM-Designate Steps Down, Gives Up On Cabinet Formation   

By Staff, Agencies

Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri says he has abandoned his efforts to form a new government, citing differences with the country’s president.

Hariri announced on Thursday that he was unable to reach an agreement with President Michel Aoun on the formation of a new cabinet, and stepped down nine months after he was assigned to the task.

Hariri’s resignation came following a brief meeting with Aoun at Baabda Palace.

He said Aoun had requested fundamental changes to a cabinet line-up he had presented to him, and that the Lebanese president had told Hariri that they would not be able to reach an agreement.

“I met with the president, and we had consultation on the issue of the government,” Hariri told reporters shortly after meeting with Aoun, adding, “There were amendments requested by the president, which I considered substantial in the line-up.”

“It is clear that the position of Aoun has not changed… and that we will not be able to agree,” Hariri said.

Lebanon’s prime minister-designate added that he had offered to spend more time trying to form a cabinet, but he had also been told by the president that, “We will not be able to agree.”

The statement said Hariri had proposed that Aoun take one more day to accept the suggested proposal, but the president had responded, “What is the use of one additional day if the door to discussions was closed.”

The Lebanese president was said to be considering a date for parliamentary consultations as soon as possible after Hariri’s decision to give up on cabinet formation.

Hariri is the second candidate to have failed at forming a government in less than one year amid political bickering between Lebanon’s leaders and the economic crisis gripping the country.

Hariri was designated to form the new government in October, after the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab in the aftermath of the deadly August 4 Beirut port explosion.

Since then, Lebanese political groups have failed to resolve their differences and form a government.

The World Bank has called Lebanon’s crisis one of the worst depressions of modern history, ranking it among the world’s three worst since the mid-1800s in terms of its effect on living standards.

The country’s currency has lost more than 90% of its value since fall 2019 and more than half of the population has been rendered jobless as businesses have shut down.

According to the World Bank, the gross domestic product [GDP] of the country of six million people nosedived by about 40 percent to $33 billion last year, from $55 billion in 2018.

The double blow of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Beirut port explosion has made the difficult situation even worse in the country.

The European Union, led by France – the former colonizer of Lebanon – is also seeking to ramp up pressure on the Lebanese authorities in an attempt to force the formation of a Western-friendly government.

Hariri Supporters Block Highways in Several Cities, Throw Stones at Lebanese Army Units

manar-07301680016263704267

July 15, 2021

Since the former premier Saad Hariri announced quitting the mission of forming the new Lebanese government earlier on Thursday, his supporter started blocking main highways and throwing stones at the Army units in several cities.

In this context, Hariri supporters blocked Cola highway in Beirut as well as other roads in Bekaa and the North, throwing stones at the Lebanese Army units.

Hariri announced his resignation after a meeting with President Michel Aoun who rejected the proposed cabinet line-up of the the PM-designate for several reasons.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

Related Video

A Western-backed war couldn’t destroy Syria, now sanctions are starving its people

June 16, 2021, RT.com

moi

-by Eva K Bartlett

A little over a decade ago, Syrians lived in safety and financial security. After ten years of war on Syria, while safety has largely returned, Syrians are struggling to exist under increasingly crippling Western sanctions.

As Syrian analyst Kevork Almassian noted“Were it not for the CIA regime change war, arming & training tens of thousands of multinational terrorists, draconian sanctions, foreign occupation of North & East, looting the oil & burning the wheat, Syria would’ve now a brilliant economy & high standard of living.”

When I first visited Syria in 2014, and in the years following, mortars and missiles fired from terrorist groups occupying eastern Ghouta pummeled Damascus on a daily basis. Likewise in government-controlled areas of Aleppo, and elsewhere around Syria.

Parents never knew if their children would return from school, or be shelled while at school. Untold numbers of Syrian civilians have been maimed over the past decade by such shelling, untold numbers more killed.

So one might expect that in 2021, with most of the terrorism in Syria eradicated, Syrians would have begun returning to the normal lives they had ten years prior. But the brutal sanctions have truly wrought hell on Syrians over the years, and under the latest ones, life has gotten exponentially worse.

Last year, I was in Syria for half of the year, after the borders closed due to Covid confusion. With ample time on my hands, I walked for hours around Damascus daily. One afternoon, wanting to get a good view of the city, I walked along narrow lanes going up the side of Qasioun mountain, encountering locals who spoke of community and supporting one another in hard times.

I had stopped to take a photo of the vista when a young girl’s voice called out to me. Shortly after, I was seated in her family’s humble sitting room, drinking cold water and talking with the family.

Only by chance did I learn that the father was ill with prostate cancer and suffering greatly for a want of affordable medications, increasingly difficult to get a hold of due to the sanctions. And that was in April, before the sadistically-named Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act came into effect months later.

I say sadistically, because these sanctions, while ostensibly intended to target the Syrian government and its allies in order to punish and discourage supposed “war crimes” against civilians, in reality inflict endless misery on those same Syrian civilians. This is, as I wrote, something former US envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, boasted about, reportedly saying that the sanctions “contributed to the collapse of the value of the Syrian pound.”

It’s a pattern we’ve already seen with Western sanctions – in Venezuela, they have not only made people’s lives hell, but as I also wrote, have killed up to 40,000 Venezuelans in the span of one year, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

A recent guest article in the Financial Times addressed Syria’s ongoing (and orchestrated) economic crisis, with particular attention to the sanctions, noting that 60% of Syrians are suffering from food insecurity.

That number might actually be significantly higher, as in a July 2020 article detailing the illegality of the sanctions, the author cited 83% of the population living below the poverty line. That article noted, of the Caesar sanctions:

“Unlike the pre-existing sanctions, they apply to transactions anywhere in the world that engage the Syrian Government or certain sectors of the Syrian economy, even when those transactions have no connection to the United States.

“Such sanctions cripple a state’s economy; disrupt the availability of food, medicines, drinking water, and sanitation supplies; interfere with the functioning of health and education systems; and undermine people’s ability to work.”

These are not unintended effects – they are the whole idea.

The FT article notes that after the Caesar Act came into effect, the Syrian pound, “lost almost 70% of its value against the dollar in the following months. This spurred an inflationary spiral affecting food prices, which more than tripled in 2020.”

And, in contrast to how the US pretends to “protect” Syrians with these sanctions, the Caesar Act is, “severely affecting the local economy especially in the construction, energy, and financial sectors, blocking any possibility of reconstruction in this phase of lower-intensity conflict.”

Although I continued to follow events in Syria after leaving in late September 2020, when I returned in the last week of May this year, even I was surprised at the skyrocketed cost of basic things. About half a kilo of hummus that was 400 Syrian pounds last year is 2,200 now. At the current official exchange rate of 2,500 that’s slightly less than a dollar – but the average salary in Syria is around 50-60,000 Syrian pounds/month.

The FT article noted a kilogram of beef “costs about a quarter of a public employee’s average monthly salary. For perspective, in Italy this translates as €700 per kg. In the UK? £300 per lb.”

I chatted with a friend who has just one child. He described spending 15,000 (about $6) on vegetables, that would last several days. That’s a quarter of his salary gone, and many expenses still to pay.

In the Midan district of Damascus—an area usually brimming with shoppers coming for the famous sweet shops there, but not crowded the day I went—a cigarette vendor I spoke with described how he struggles to provide food for his wife and two sons. Like the majority of Syrians, selling cigarettes is a second job for him. Some are working three jobs, morning to late evening, and still can’t make ends meet.

He spoke of the self-sufficiency Syria had prior to the war, how everyone had work, but now, people are suffocating.

“We are rationing! I used to buy a kilo of meat every month, but now I buy 200 grams. My salary is 55,000, and if I can earn 50,000 from this second work, I will have 100,000 Syrian pounds. But, this amount is still not enough.”

“Yesterday, I bought some yogurt, cheese, a box of mortadella (meat), and a box of tissues. I paid 11,000 Syrian pounds. This is for one day, and just breakfast.”

He said a dearth of fertilizers and insecticides, due to sanctions, is directly impacting the agricultural sector.

While in Damascus, I also met with French humanitarian, Pierre Le Corf, who has lived in Syria for six years, most of that time in Aleppo. Le Corf, working and living with some of the poorest and most affected Syrians in Aleppo, spoke of how the sanctions are designed to kill hope, in addition to killing civilians.

“You might not see people starving in the street, but that’s not what suffering is. People are suffering in silence. More and more, the youth are leaving the country, not because they want to leave Syria or feel oppressed, but because they feel that they have no hope anymore.

The currency went from 50 Syrian pounds [for a dollar, before the war] to 4,000 Syrian pounds. People work from morning to night, and at the end of the day, their kids might ask for a banana. One kilogram of bananas is 5,000 Syrian pounds. When you earn 60,000 a month…”

He spoke of the pressure the US puts on every company and person who deals with Syria, that they can be imprisoned, fined. “They are forcing companies to not work with Syria,” to isolate Syria.

“I know families for who I’m trying to figure out how to bring them medicines that they can’t find any more. A week ago, I went to bury a guy who we had been bringing medicine, because we couldn’t find it any more. It became 90,000 pounds a box, he needed four boxes a month. He needed more medicine and better treatment that we can’t have, because it’s forbidden. Forbidden why? Because they pretend it’s ‘double use’, maybe it could be used for the army. The people are paying the price, no one else.

In an interview on Syria Insider, British journalist Vanessa Beeley condemned the sanctions against Syria, saying:

“Western governments are starving the Syrian people. They are depriving them of their right to return home, because the rebuilding process is being delayed. They are punishing the Syrian people for the resistance of the Syrian people against what they want to impose upon them. It’s nothing to do with the Syrian government or President Assad.”

Sanctions are never ever non-lethal practises. They are almost the most lethal of all weapons used in the hybrid war against the people of a targeted nation.

“At the same time as the sanctions are in place, the West is stealing the oil, burning the food resources, selling the food resources outside of Syria, all to deprive the Syrian people of their own resources, of the abundance of their own country.”

In a recent, detailed, presentation focussing on the sanctions, Beeley highlighted their effects not only on incomes, food, medicines, but also on fuel, industry, agriculture, health care and hospitals, electricity and water.

She aptly noted: “One could argue that the US Coalition is responsible for genocide in Syria under Genocide Convention article II (e) – deliberately inflicting on the group, conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

“The US Coalition is effectively following a policy of collective extermination of the Syrian people by military and economic means. This is a crime against Humanity, a war crime and a flagrant violation of the right to life & a life of dignity.”#Syria https://t.co/m8YxqIlUHR— vanessa beeley (@VanessaBeeley) June 14, 2021

In US President Joe Biden’s meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin today, perhaps among the scripted talking points there was tut tutting of Syria and Russia’s alleged preventing of humanitarian aid, a tired old trope debunked but still trumpeted by hypocrites in the West.

And while such integrity-devoid Western representatives launch accusation after accusation at Syria and Russia, it is abundantly clear that the suffering of Syrians is a product of the illegal war on Syria and the deadly, criminal, sanctions against the Syrian people.

RELATED:

Western leaders, screw your ‘Sanctions Target the Regime’ blather: Sanctions KILL PEOPLE

US sanctions are part of a multi-front war on Syria, and its long-suffering civilians are the main target

Sayyed Nasrallah and the Complex Approaches of Local Affairs

11/06/2021

Sayyed Nasrallah and the Complex Approaches of Local Affairs

By Dr. Mohammad Mortada

It is difficult to separate the recent appearance of the Secretary General of Hezbollah, His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, from its predecessors, as it seems to be linked and rolling on more than one level, but on the Lebanese local issue, these appearances seemed more like a double approach:

1- The first pillar of the dual approach is related to an attempt to propose solutions, exits, endeavors and ideas related to the formation of the new government, with support for the initiatives presented by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on one hand, and urging the informed Government to activate some of its actions and create exits that would not conflict with the constitution with regard to the powers of ministers during the so-called conduct of business. Knowing that an important part of what needs to be done is linked to the work of the Ministry itself and not the work of the Cabinet as a whole, which allows the competent minister to exercise his powers under the laws in force, particularly in the supervisory sector, in cooperation and collaboration with the security forces and supervisory authorities, especially in combating corruption linked to monopolization, concealment of goods and price hikes.

2- The second pillar is linked to warnings about the resistance’s long-standing inability to remain silent facing the irresponsible behavior of monopolists and corrupt people, and the government’s failure to fulfill its responsibilities in securing basic commodities for citizens. In this spirit, His Eminence, in his last speech, issued a warning that if matters reached the point where the government can no longer carry out its responsibilities, and shows a clear inability to secure the basics, especially oil derivatives, the resistance would have to turn to the Islamic Republic of Iran to secure and ship this material to the port of Beirut.

This latest position represents a remarkable development in Hezbollah’s speech; it does not constitute a sudden breakthrough, but rather in the context of what might be called “smart dose increase” in the process of confronting the starvation that the US administration is waging on Lebanon.

In an earlier overview of the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, His Eminence indicated that Hezbollah has so far been dealing with the fact that the government exists, and one of its responsibilities is to secure basic commodities, and that when Hezbollah feels that the state has become absent and unable to carry out its tasks, it would act otherwise without revealing what the party’s reaction is and what it intends to do.

As preceded by this situation, Sayyed Nasrallah launched his well-known slogan that Hezbollah would not let the Lebanese starve.

It is rolling situations that started with the slogan “We will not starve” to become a warning that the party could bring oil derivatives itself from the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In fact, the party could not, nor would it be wise, to issue warnings such as importing gasoline without such warnings being accompanied by initiatives urging politicians to assume their responsibilities, either with regard to the formation of the new Government, or the activation of the resigned Government. Sayyed Nasrallah went beyond exhortation, as he explained in details how to address emerging crises without linking them to the radical solutions of the economic crisis. Rather, these crises can be dismantled and treated locally, pending the formation of an effective government that can innovate and invade solutions, and presenting plans and scenarios that pave the way for radical solutions that will neither be easy nor quick, given that the need for long-term radical solutions is not exempt from trying to cope with crises through temporary solutions that reduce the economic burden on citizens.

Whatever the case is, many wondered how Hezbollah would bring in the oil derivatives, where they would be stored, how would it be distributed, how to price it, and other questions. In fact, these kinds of questions are linked to the mechanisms, which are details that Hezbollah undoubtedly has answers and solutions to, and are not interested in explaining them to the public at this time.

In any case, the choice put forward by the party seems to be working according to the saying: the last treatment is cauterization. He is serious about it, but at the same time it’s a message to the people who are involved, especially those responsible for importing and securing these goods. The message is: If you are eager to secure and sustain your interests, you must secure what you have pledged to secure. Otherwise, we pledge to do the job, and we will, as always, fulfil our commitments.

This Ramadan, Children In Yemen Are Struggling To Survive

23/4/2021

This Ramadan, Children In Yemen Are Struggling To Survive

Sarah Ferguson- UNICEF

The holy month of Ramadan will be particularly difficult this year for families in Yemen, home of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Six years of conflict, widespread economic collapse and now COVID-19 have pushed the country to the brink, leaving 80 percent of the population — including 12.4 million children — in need of humanitarian assistance.

Half of all children under age 5 in Yemen are likely to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021

Nearly 2.3 million children under age 5 in Yemen are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021; 400,000 could die if they do not receive urgent treatment. To protect Yemen’s most vulnerable children, UNICEF health workers are on the ground, screening children for malnutrition and referring those in need to health centers, where they can receive the treatment they need to survive.

“When Nour was born, she was weak and wasted, and her health kept worsening from day to day because of our poor living conditions,” said her mother, Souad. Al-Raymi referred Nour to the Maeen Medical Complex for emergency treatment.

A health worker measures Nour’s mid-upper arm circumference with a MUAC tape used to assess malnourished children.

At the health center, Nour was screened regularly, and slowly nursed back to health with therapeutic food and nutritional supplements. Soon, she began to take her first faltering steps.

“I feel happy that my baby regained her health and started moving, toddling and playing,” said Souad. “She used to feel tired all the time because of her poor health. It’s an indescribable feeling as you watch your child recover from an illness that ravaged its body.”

There is dead silence in health centers where children too weak to make a sound wait for treatment. Above, a Yemeni father sits with his child, who is being cared for in the malnutrition ward of Al-Sabeen Maternity and Child Hospital in Sana’a. Below, a Yemeni health worker measures the height of a girl at the same hospital.

“The increasing number of children going hungry in Yemen should shock us all into action,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “More children will die with every day that passes without action. Humanitarian organizations need urgent predictable resources and unhindered access to communities on the ground to be able to save lives.

Yemen: The Stigma of Humanity

8/4/2021

Yemen: The Stigma of Humanity

By Yehya Salah El-Din

The aggression on Yemen has officially entered its seventh year. During the last six years, the international community turned a blind eye to the horrific massacres and violations committed against the Yemeni people which include killing, destruction, starvation, and a siege.

In an interview with Al-Ahed News, Acting Yemeni Minister of Human Rights Ali Al-Dailami detailed the war crimes that the Yemenis endured during the years of aggression.

Yemen: The Stigma of Humanity

– Destruction of infrastructure: The Saudi-led coalition deliberately destroyed infrastructure, including thousands of hospitals, schools, universities, power plants, roads and bridges, communication networks, and fuel supply facilities. In addition, it destroyed food factories, food storage facilities, transportation networks, drinking water, and irrigation facilities, as well as other civilian facilities that provide basic services. International humanitarian law prohibits the targeting of these sites.

– Starvation and siege: The Saudi-led coalition sought to starve and destroy the Yemeni people by targeting many resources that are essential for the survival of the civilian population. The total blockade imposed on all of Yemen’s land, sea, and air ports is a continuous inhumane practice that causes shortages of basic goods, especially food and medicine.

The Saudi-led forces are blocking the entry of these basic goods that are needed to save lives, and the coalition also intensified its targeting of the port of Hodeida with the aim of halting its maritime navigation service. It completely closed Sanaa airport and strengthened all these inhuman measures by moving the Central Bank of Yemen from the capital to the Aden Governorate, which it occupies and controls through armed proxies. This resulted in salary cuts for state employees that started from the first month that the Central Bank of Yemen was relocated.

– The spread of famine and food insecurity was one of the consequences of the military attacks and sieges on agricultural crops, food storage facilities, livestock, drinking water, and irrigation facilities, in addition to the contamination of wells and irrigation tanks with chemicals and harmful materials that are internationally prohibited. Many lands and agricultural crops were also destroyed due to the use of internationally banned weapons, including phosphorus bombs, white phosphorus, and enriched uranium. These caused a humanitarian disaster, which has long-term effects on women, children, and the elderly.

– During the aggression and the blockade, Yemen faced a major crisis in providing food due to the illegal measures imposed by the coalition that also led to the country’s economic decline. This is widely regarded as one of the main causes of acute food insecurity, in addition to inflation, rising food prices, and the depletion of foreign exchange reserves.

According to an analysis, children in Yemen are the most affected group, as they are at particular risk of acute malnutrition, and they are in dire need of food and medicine. The percentage of the population that is food insecure this year is estimated at around 77% (13.3 million people), with an increase of 21.4% compared to 2017. Around 22.7% of the total population are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), while 25.6% will soon be in Emergency (IPC Phase 3). With the continuation of the aggression, a large proportion of the population will suffer from acute food insecurity at the end of this year and be classified as living in Famine (IPC Phase 5). The percentage of food insecurity increased during 2018-2019 to 21.4% of the population.

Of course, women and children are the most affected groups by the Saudi-led aggression and blockade and are especially vulnerable to certain diseases, such as malnutrition and anemia.

This includes pregnant women and newborns. Statistics show us the high levels of malnutrition in children and women. More than 2.6 million children under the age of five suffer from malnutrition, including 500,000 who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, and more than 1.8 million pregnant and lactating women suffer from malnutrition.

– There has also been a sharp decline in access to clean drinking water, decreasing from 10% to 66%, after the water and sanitation sector services were damaged as the coalition targeted dozens of tanks, water wells, springs, and water-raising pumps that run on solar energy. This is in addition to power cuts and lack of fuel, the high average cost of the production unit and the high cost of maintenance (95%), and the inability to pay workers in the sector. Water facilities have been damaged, and water projects in the public and private sectors have ceased to operate (the activities of many local institutions have stopped). The environmental situation in cities and urban areas further deteriorated due to the accumulation of solid waste and garbage. It is estimated that 20.5 million Yemeni people do not have access to clean water.

According to the Consumer Price Index data issued by the Central Bureau of Statistics, the cost of living has recently increased to more than 80%, compared to what it was before the aggression on Yemen. 92.2% of families do not have sufficient funds to secure their basic needs as a result of the aggression.

– There is also the spread of various epidemics and the increase in the number of chronic diseases, including all kinds of cancers caused by the coalition’s use of internationally prohibited weapons. Meanwhile, a high number of patients are suffering from kidney failure and diseases related to the heart, liver, and other vital organs.

The death rate is rising due to diseases and the lack of medicine.

Prior to the Saudi-led aggression, the rate of cancer incidence was 2.3% per year. It has since increased by 5.5% as a result of the coalition’s use of internationally banned and carcinogenic weapons. In March 2021, the number of people with carcinomas increased to 72,000. Meanwhile, the percentage of patients heading to consultation centers for periodic follow-ups and the external administration department for chemotherapy decreased to 20% during the aggression because people can’t reach health facilitates safely amid the bombing of bridges and roads.

The provision of ultrasound services, as well as surgical interventions and radiation therapy, decreased by 50% during the aggression. It also became difficult to obtain radioactive sources and linear accelerators. The radiotherapy service may be permanently stopped due to the poor efficiency of the currently available radioactive source, which may cause a humanitarian disaster for cancer patients.

The provision of some diagnostic services that were provided free of charge to patients in the center has stopped, and 50% of the chemical medicines required for patients, especially targeted therapies that need to be transported at certain temperatures, have been discontinued. The provision of essential medicines, antibiotics, and intravenous solutions decreased by 80% due to the blockade and the scarcity of financial resources.

Meanwhile, 40% of the diagnostic and medical equipment stopped working due to maintenance issues and the unavailability of spare parts. There are approximately 28 dialysis centers that may have to halt operations completely and no longer provide services to 120,000 people with kidney failure and diabetes, in addition to thousands of people with cancer and thalassemia. On the other hand, there are more than 75,000 patients who need treatment abroad. They are facing death as a result of the closure of Sanaa International Airport that is preventing them from traveling for medical treatment.

So far, there are more than 2,326,568 cholera infections and suspected cholera cases, and the number of deaths from this epidemic has reached 3,786.

The coalition used internationally banned weapons in many of its attacks. Medical reports confirmed that the weapons and ammunition used by the coalition caused deformities of fetuses and newborns, especially those weapons that were used in the governorates of Saada, Hodeida, Sanaa, and Taiz. These are the same weapons that the US forces used in their aggression against Iraq in 2004, especially in Fallujah. The attacks caused the deformation of hundreds of newborns and fetuses. Humanitarian organizations have warned against the use of these weapons in Yemen. These are the same weapons the Zionist entity used in the Gaza Strip in 2009, also resulting in the deformation of dozens of newborns and fetuses.

In many of the wars and armed conflicts that occurred in the past, civilian victims, especially women and children, are neglected. The sound of planes and missiles and sudden explosions result in a number of deaths, especially among women and children, and affect pregnant women and fetuses. Preliminary statistics, registered by the Ministry of Public Health and Population, showed that 450 women in 2015 suffered miscarriages due to fear, and anxiety caused by the bombardment.

Following the detailed presentation on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen as a result of the Saudi-American aggression and blockade, Acting Minister for Human Rights, Ali Al-Dailami, reviews Yemen’s Hiroshima, a report recently issued by the Ansarullah Political Bureau’s Rights and Legal Department.

In his interview with Al-Ahed News, Al-Dailami pointed out that this is the first human rights report that shows the scale of the coalition’s crimes that are being overseen by the US, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE and their mercenaries from within. It also shows the coalition’s brutality towards civilians. The reporter’s name obviously refers to the atrocities committed by the Americans in Japan during World War 2 – namely the nuclear strike on Hiroshima, which killed millions of people and destroyed the city. This is what America, its aides, and its tools are doing in Yemen. They are targeting both the land and people, with various types of lethal weapons that have long-term effects such as cluster bombs. The title of the report illustrates the brutal model being applied in Yemen, and against the Yemeni people.

Al-Dailami explains that the report documented the crimes the coalition committed against children, women, and the elderly using pictures and eyewitness testimonies. These crimes mentioned in the report are only a small part of what was documented by specialists who followed international standards and methodology in the monitoring and documentation process. There are still dozens of crimes and violations that have killed people, and the report focused largely on one of the most serious crimes stipulated in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which is the premeditated murder that falls under war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and the crime of aggression.

Al-Dailami notes that there will be other issues and publications on the various direct and indirect crimes that have affected Yemen and its people as well as their implications and repercussions on people’s lives.

The report includes three main parts:

– The rules of international law and the violations of the aggression thereof

– The alleged pretexts for the countries of aggression

– The crimes of the countries of aggression as narrated by the documentation team, victims, and witnesses

In response to Al-Ahed’s question about the role of human rights organizations in what is happening in Yemen, Al-Dailami points out that these groups acted against the basic framework of their work and did not adhere to the humanitarian agenda but rather to an agenda that corresponds to the demands of the coalition. The following are examples:

– International Resolution 2342: It indicates the poor humanitarian situation in Yemen that has become catastrophic in most of the country’s governorates and regions. But it doesn’t include any condemnation of the coalition and its daily crimes. This indicates UN and international collusion with the forces of aggression, which means more destruction, collapse, and the continuous deterioration of basic services.

– The closure of Sanaa International Airport: This is an unjustified closure. Meanwhile, the United Nations missions continue to use Sanaa Int. Airport for their flights exclusively without opening humanitarian and commercial services to the Yemenis. This makes the United Nations the main accomplice for the countries of aggression and fully responsible for the worsening humanitarian situation.

– Blockading ports and maritime outlets: The United Nations is fully aware of the extent of the impact of the imposed blockade on port traffic in Hodeida, Salif, and Ras Issa in particular. This situation imposed on the maritime ports is witnessed by the United Nations, but it continues to mislead the world in service of the Saudi-led coalition, which uses the blockade as a means of war on Yemen and the Yemenis.

– According to Al-Dailami, the speech of the Secretary-General of the United Nations at the opening of the fifth high-level humanitarian pledging event for Yemen was also an indication of the disregard for the suffering of Yemenis. Antonio Guterres acknowledged that famine is weighing on Yemen and the race is underway to save Yemen from the famine that most of the Yemeni people may be exposed to. He affirmed that there are quite a few Yemenis starving to death in conditions similar to famine.

– Meanwhile, reports from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Yemen documented civilian casualties and the killing of a large number of civilians in the Shada District of Saada Governorate as a result of airstrikes and an intense attack by a military helicopter. It is clear that the United Nations body records the criminal incident and identifies the perpetrator. However, it does not take any measures related to the protection of civilians and redress for the victims. In addition, the United Nations is unable to hold the coalition’s forces accountable for their crimes against civilians.

Al-Dailami adds that the Yemenis are still following up on the statements of this agency and its officials, which are full of expressions of concern, and fear.

Jamie McGoldrick, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, expressed his grave concern about reports of airstrikes on civilians in Saada Governorate, including attacks on a house and a private car in two separate areas that resulted in the killing of civilians, including women and children.

The UN agencies keep reminding the parties to the conflict without taking any action that would stop the aggression and its tools from killing civilians in all Yemeni governorates. The following is from one of its officials:

“We recall that indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks or attacks targeting civilian objects such as markets are prohibited under international humanitarian law. We remind all parties to the conflict of their obligation to ensure full respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law. All incidents resulting in civilian casualties … must be thoroughly investigated to ensure accountability when breaches of international law have been found to have taken place.”

At the top of the list of acts of complicity is the removal of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from the list of countries and unofficial bodies that failed to adopt the measures necessary to protect children. It had a direct role in child recruitment, detention, kidnapping, sexual violence, and attacks on schools and hospitals.

The Secretary-General cited a continuous and significant decrease in the number of deaths and injuries in the airstrikes and the implementation of the provisions of a memorandum of understanding calling for the adoption of a program of activities aimed at strengthening prevention and protection measures.

He also added that the program will be subject to monitoring for a period of 12 months and that any failure in this field will lead to the inclusion on the list of the same violations.

“The secretary-general has brought shame on the UN by removing the Saudi-led coalition from his ‘list of shame’ even as it continues to kill and injure children in Yemen,” HRW’s Children’s Rights Advocacy Director Jo Becker said as she reacted to this UN decision.

For her part, Adrian Labar, the director of Watchlist, an NGO concerned with children and armed conflict, said that the removal “sends the message that powerful actors can escape the killing of children.” She called for an “independent, objective, and transparent evaluation of the process that led to the decision” of removing Saudi Arabia from the list of shame.

The Saudi-led coalition remained on the blacklist for three years, as it was added to the list in 2016. It was later removed after protests by Saudi Arabia. The Secretary-General of the United Nations at the time, Ban Ki-moon, accused Saudi Arabia of exerting unacceptable pressure on the United Nations, as allied countries have threatened to cut off funding for humanitarian aid programs.

According to Al-Dailami, evidence of collusion, condemned by all Yemeni society, people, and institutions, is evident through the stance of the international community towards the coalition’s practices – it gives the coalition more room to commit crimes against Yemenis every day. This stance is a reflection of the lack of responsibility and appreciation of the magnitude of the humanitarian situation in Yemen, which goes beyond just being a political crisis.

In response to a question about whether the continuation of the aggression will contribute to the subjugation of the Yemeni people, Al-Dailami asserts that the Yemeni people have conveyed their message to the world.

The plan to occupy Yemen was concluded in the US capital and cooked in the kitchens of the American intelligence. It was decided that it will only take two weeks. But here we are, seven years later! They thought that things would go according to their plan. However, God’s plan and kindness to the army, the popular committees, and the missile force, the supervision of a wise leadership – represented by Sayyed Abdul Malik Badreddine al-Houthi – with strong confidence in God and its representative, and the steadfastness of the Yemeni people have foiled all external bets. There is no doubt that solidarity and support are important from a leader like His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and the Islamic Republic.

Al-Dailami notes that the ongoing siege is killing the Yemeni people, and it has become tighter since Biden took office and announced that he would seek peace in Yemen. This is his way of building peace through blackmail. These are their initiatives, and this is their alleged peace. International silence clearly and explicitly confirms that laws, international agreements, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the United Nations Charter have died and are only a cover for the interests of major countries, even at the expense of dead women and children.

Al-Dailami stressed that the Yemeni people depend on God and move with their steadfastness to defend against injustice and their just cause. As for the countries of aggression, they are losers. He points out that the Yemeni people convey the most wonderful examples of sacrifice, and steadfastness. They insist on the independence of their country and respect for its sovereignty. They are steadfast, defiant, proud, and a great people.

Addressing the forces of aggression, Al-Dailami says: “Haven’t you had enough of killing civilians, especially children and women? Haven’t you had enough lessons to learn from great men? You are facing the Yemeni people! The saying tells you, ‘Yemen is the graveyard of invaders.’”

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نيويورك تايمز”: 400 ألف طفل يمني مهددون بالموت جوعاً Famine Stalks Yemen, as War Drags On and Foreign Aid Wanes

الكاتب: شعيب المساوى وبن هوبرد

المصدر: نيويورك تايمز

1 نيسان 11:26

تقول الأمم المتحدة إن 3.6 مليون يمني يواجهون نقصاً طارئاً في المواد الغذائية، وأن 16500 منهم وصلوا إلى مستويات كارثية.

طفل يعاني من سوء التغذية مع والدته في مخيم للنازحين في محافظة حجة شمال اليمن.
طفل يعاني من سوء التغذية مع والدته في مخيم للنازحين في محافظة حجة شمال اليمن

قالت صحيفة “نيويورك تايمز” الأميركية إنه للمرة الثانية خلال 3 سنوات، يخيم خطر المجاعة على نطاق واسع على اليمن، الدولة التي مزقتها الحرب، حيث يتشرد الملايين ويكافحون يومياًُ للعثور على الطعام.

وأضافت أن الحرب قد أدت إلى نقص مزمن في الغذاء في اليمن، وهي ما كانت بالفعل أفقر دولة في العالم العربي. 

وتم تفادي المجاعة في عام 2018 فقط من خلال التدفق الكبير للمساعدات الأجنبية. لكن جماعات الإغاثة تقول إن التهديد أكبر هذه المرة مع اشتداد الحرب، وتفشي الوباء الذي جعل الدول المانحة أكثر تركيزاً على الشؤون الداخلية.

وقالت الصحيفة إنه عندما أصيب ابن إيمان مرشد البالغ من العمر 8 أشهر بحمى وقيء، أمضت ثلاثة أيام في محاولة الذهاب إلى أقرب عيادة، وفي النهاية خرجت سيراً على الأقدام لمدة ساعتين مع طفلها. وحتى بعد أسبوع من العلاج، تركه سوء التغذية الحاد ضعيفاً وبالكاد هو قادر على الحركة.

وتابعت “نيويورك تايمز”: تقول الأمم المتحدة إن 3.6 مليون يمني يواجهون نقصاً طارئاً في المواد الغذائية، وأن 16500 منهم وصلوا إلى مستويات كارثية. وتقدر المنظمة الدولية أن 400 ألف طفل يمني معرضون لخطر الموت جوعاً. 

نقله إلى العربية: الميادين نتإن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي الصحيفة حصراً

Famine Stalks Yemen, as War Drags On and Foreign Aid Wanes

For the second time in three years, the threat of widespread famine hangs over the war-torn country, where millions are displaced and struggle daily to find food.

By Shuaib Almosawa and Ben HubbardMarch 31, 2021

A 4-year-old child suffering from malnutrition with his mother at a camp for internally displaced people this month in Yemen’s northern Hajjah province.
A 4-year-old child suffering from malnutrition with his mother at a camp for internally displaced people this month in Yemen’s northern Hajjah province.Credit…Essa Ahmed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

AL HARF, Yemen — The mother’s first challenge when her spindly 8-month-old son came down with a fever, diarrhea and vomiting was to get from their poor, isolated village in northern Yemen to the nearest clinic.

After three days of failing to find a ride, she set out on foot, carrying her sick child for two hours to reach the medics who immediately recognized yet another case in Yemen’s spiraling crisis of acute malnutrition.

Even after a week of treatment with enriched formula, the boy, Sharaf Shaitah, lay motionless on a hospital bed, his bones peeking through the skin of his twiggy limbs. Asked if her family had enough to eat, his mother, Iman Murshid, replied, “Sometimes we have enough, sometimes we don’t.”

Six years into a war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, shattered the country and battered much of its infrastructure, Yemen faces rising rates of hunger that have created pockets of famine that aid groups warn are likely to grow, leaving even more malnourished Yemenis vulnerable to disease and starvation.

The war has led to chronic food shortages in what was already the Arab world’s poorest country. A widespread famine was averted in 2018 only by a large influx of foreign aid. But the threat is greater this time, aid groups say, as the war grinds on, families grow poorer and the coronavirus pandemic has left donor nations more focused on their own people.

“The famine is on a worsening trajectory,” said David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Program, in an interview after returning recently from Yemen. “Our biggest problem now is lack of money — and the war. Six years of war has completely devastated the people in every respect.”

Nearly half of Yemen’s population, 13.5 million people, are struggling to get enough food, according to the United Nations. That number is expected to rise by nearly three million by the end of June, largely because funding shortfalls have reduced how many people aid agencies can feed.

The United Nations says that 3.6 million Yemenis are already in an “emergency” stage of food shortage, and 16,500 have reached “catastrophe.” It estimates that 400,000 children are at risk of dying of hunger.

“If we don’t get them on full rations soon, I just don’t imagine we won’t have a full-scale famine,” Mr. Beasley said.

A World Food Program distribution site last year in Sana, Yemen.
A World Food Program distribution site last year in Sana, Yemen.Credit…Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

Yemen has been on a downward spiral since 2014, when rebels allied with Iran and known as the Houthis seized the country’s northwest, including the capital, Sana, sending the government into exile.

In 2015, a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States began a bombing campaign aimed at ousting the Houthis, but the war settled into a stalemate, with competing administrations in the north and south and attacks frequently killing civilians.

Aid groups have reported that coalition airstrikes, often using American munitions, have been the leading direct cause of civilian casualties, killing thousands of people. In 2019, Congress voted to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led campaign, but President Donald J. Trump vetoed the measure.

Within days of taking office, President Biden froze some arms sales to the coalition and halted intelligence and logistical support for it. He has appointed a high-level envoy to push for peace talks, and Saudi Arabia has announced a new peace plan, but those efforts have yet to make concrete progress.

The growing hunger crisis stems from the wider breakdown of Yemen’s economy during the war, experts say. The United Nations estimates that the war has claimed more than 200,000 lives, mostly from indirect causes like hunger and disease.

The shattering of the country has displaced millions of people, separating them from their livelihoods and leaving them dependent on aid. Even people who still have jobs have been left destitute. The competing governments in the north and south have struggled to pay salaries, and a drop in the value of Yemen’s currency has rendered imported products unaffordable in a country that imports nearly all of its food.

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Economic slowdowns in wealthy Gulf countries have cut into remittances sent home by Yemeni expatriates, an economic lifeline for many families. An air and sea blockade by the Saudi-led coalition on Houthi-controlled territory has restricted imports of vital goods like fuel.

Aid groups warn that spreading hunger contributes to health problems that Yemen is not equipped to deal with, especially among children, and that more people could end up dying from illnesses exacerbated by hunger than from the war itself.

“The truth is that people don’t have enough food and they can die from causes related to that,” said Bismarck Swangin, a spokesman for UNICEF in Yemen. “When you say famine-like conditions, people’s bodies are collapsing because they don’t have enough food.”

The crisis has fallen hard on rural clinics in areas battered by war.

A Yemeni mother feeding her malnourished child at a maternity and children’s hospital this month in Sana.
A Yemeni mother feeding her malnourished child at a maternity and children’s hospital this month in Sana.Credit…Mohammed Huwais/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The clinic where Ms. Murshid brought her son, the Harf Sufian Rural Hospital, about 85 miles north of Sana, receives as many as 40 malnutrition cases per month.

Its medics have only six beds for malnourished children and treat them with enriched formula and vitamin supplements provided by aid organizations. But they lack antibiotics to treat associated infections and isolation rooms to prevent children with measles or respiratory infections from passing them to other patients.

The clinic also lacks an intensive care unit for children who arrive there in critical condition. Many of them don’t survive long enough to reach better-equipped facilities.

“Most cases die due to the lack of an I.C.U.,” said Muhammad al-Qadhi, a nutritionist, flipping through photos of bony children with hollow eyes who have died in the clinic.

The number of malnutrition cases the clinic handles has climbed steadily, said Abdulelah Otilah, the director, but its services have been jeopardized by funding cuts by international aid groups. The clinic has not received a fuel shipment since December and is down to its last 60 liters of diesel for the electricity generator that powers incubators for premature babies.

Unless more fuel arrives, “death then looms large,” Dr. Otilah said. “We can’t help but ask God for support.”

Yemen faced the threat of famine in 2018, prompting large donations from countries including the United States, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, which also allocated $2 billion to support Yemen’s central bank.

Those measures pulled the country back from the brink, but without solving Yemen’s underlying problems. Early last year, when donor countries were shifting their focus to protecting their own populations and economies from the coronavirus pandemic, the aid budget for Yemen fell short again and hunger increased.

A U.N. pledging conference on March 1 aimed to raise $3.85 billion to help Yemen avoid famine. But participating countries committed less than half that much, $1.7 billion, forcing U.N. agencies to scale back their plans.

Patients undergoing dialysis treatment at a hospital in the port city of Al Hudaydah.
Patients undergoing dialysis treatment at a hospital in the port city of Al Hudaydah.Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Cutting aid is a death sentence,” the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said of the outcome.

Rafat al-Akhali, a fellow at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University who studies Yemen, said that frustration with the lack of progress toward ending the war, questions about the efficacy of the United Nations and concerns about Houthi interference with aid delivery had all contributed to reduced donations.

Foreign aid can help Yemeni families avoid catastrophe, he said, but only an end to the war can ease Yemen’s many crises.

“The real solution is for the conflict to stop and for some semblance of normality to be restored, but without that what are you left with other than aid coming in from U.N. agencies or an injection of cash?” he said.

In another rural clinic near the town of Qaflat Athr, also north of Sana, Amna Hussein, 15 months old, lay weakened by diarrhea and vomiting linked to malnutrition. She had been treated in the same clinic last year and had improved, her mother said, and they had returned each week for nutritional supplements to keep her healthy. But last month, because of funding cuts, the supplements ran out and now Amna was back in the clinic.

Her mother, who declined to give her name because of shame, said that she and her four daughters had left her husband and moved in with her brothers, who had barely enough to feed them.

“We are like refugees in other people’s home,” she said. “You can only appreciate whatever is provided.”

Shuaib Almosawa reported from Al Harf, Yemen, and Ben Hubbard from Beirut, Lebanon. Rick Gladstone contributed reporting from New York.

Maria Saadeh, former independent Syrian MP, on the blockade of Syria

Presentation at the London webinar ‘A Decade of War on Syria – Future Trajectories’, hosted by The European Centre for Extremism Studies [www.eurocse.org] in Cambridge’s #Syria​​ Program.

Hell on Earth Exists

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Made in the USA, assisted by its imperial partners, hell exists in raped and destroyed nations by US-led aggression.

It’s worst of all in ravaged Yemen since October 2001, a nation under attack by the US and complicit aggressors for nearly two decades without let-up.

According to World Food Program executive director David Beasley in remarks to Security Council members last week:

“Just two days ago, I was in Yemen, where over 16 million people now face crisis levels of hunger or worse.” 

“These aren’t just numbers. These are real people.” 

“And we are headed straight toward the biggest famine in modern history.” 

“It is hell on earth in many places in Yemen right now.”

“Around 400,000 children may die in Yemen this year without urgent intervention.” 

“That is roughly one child every 75 seconds.” 

“So, while we’re sitting here, every minute and a quarter, a child is dying.”

“Are we really going to turn our backs on them and look the other way?”

“To add to all their misery, the innocent people of Yemen have to deal with a fuel blockade.”

“(M)ost hospitals (still operating) only have electricity in their intensive care units because fuel reserves are so low.” 

“I know this first-hand because I’ve walked in the hospital.” 

“And the lights were off. The electricity was off.” 

“The people of Yemen deserve our help. That blockade must be lifted, as a humanitarian act.” 

“Otherwise, millions more will spiral into crisis.”

“Man made conflict is driving instability and powering a destructive new wave of famine that threatens to sweep across the world.” 

“The toll being paid in human misery is unimaginable.” 

“These looming famines have two things in common: they are primarily driven by conflict, and they are entirely preventable.”

“The cycle of violence, hunger and despair pulls in more and more individuals and families as the weeks and months pass.” 

“But the potential consequences are truly global: economic deterioration, destabilization, mass migration and starvation.”

“Beyond the immediate crisis, we also need to invest in peace, so that in the future, desperate families are not forced to the brink of survival by the bullet and the bomb.” 

“The costs of this violence are immense: just in 2019 $14.5 trillion dollars a year – 15 percent of global GDP.” 

“It would take a fraction of this money to fund the development programs that could transform the lives of people in fragile, conflict-scarred nations – and help lay new pathways to peace.”

Beasley added that he earlier warned that famines “of biblical proportions” are happpening in over three dozen countries.

He estimates around 270 million people worldwide today on the brink of starvation — what’s entirely avoidable but it’s happening because of endless wars and indifference to the health, welfare and rights of world’s most vulnerable people.

Millions reside in Yemen, victimized by US aggression because of its strategic location.

It’s near the Horn of Africa on Saudi Arabia’s southern border, the Red Sea, its Bab el-Mandeb strait — a key chokepoint separating Yemen from Eritrea through which millions barrels of oil pass daily — and the Gulf of Aden connection to the Indian Ocean.

It’s why war to gain and maintain control of the country rages endlessly.

Yemeni Houthi freedom fighters want their country back.   

They want US-led aggression ended, US/Saudi forces out of the country once and for all.

Millions of Yemenis on the brink of starvation want to live, not die.

The Saudis are waging US proxy war on the country, massacring thousands, destroying vital infrastructure —  schools, food storage facilities, residential areas, and hospitals, wrecking Yemen’s healthcare system.

Millions of Yemenis face endless violence, lack of treatment for illnesses and injuries, starvation, and for many in the country widespread famine.

The entire population is at risk.

Beasley warned that things are “sliding toward the brink of the abyss” today.

Millions of desperate people in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, the Sahel and elsewhere — dozens of countries where millions of people go hungry because of US aggression and/or support for endless wars.

Beasley visited Sana’a, Yemen’s Al Sabeen children’s hospital.

He was overwhelmed by horror stories and what he saw firsthand.

He witnessed pain, incredible hardships, sick children whose bodies were skin and bones, and countless numbers on the brink of death from preventable or treatable illnesses and hunger.

“If I showed you some of the pictures, you would not believe it, and no one with a heart at all could sit idly by and let this continue. No one,” he stressed!  

Ending war in Yemen and other countries, along with lots of money for food and healthcare are desperately needed to save lives. end pain and indescribable suffering.

Beasley estimates around 250,000 deaths in Yemen from war, untreated diseases and starvation.

A more accurate toll since Bush/Cheney launched aggression in the country almost two decades ago is likely at least ten-fold higher than Beasley’s estimate.

What’s going on won’t likely end unless world community members no longer tolerate US-led wars on humanity.

They continue in multiple theaters by hot and/or other means, the human toll mounting exponentially each day.

Deir Ezzor is a Sign of Things to Come

Deir Ezzor is a Sign of Things to Come

Source

January 23, 2021

The billowing wheat fields of Syria once were a staple that kept the people sated through times of struggle. Until the beginning of the war, Syria was a net food exporter, providing grain to neighboring countries and enjoying a healthy supply more than sufficient to feed its population. When the attempted overthrow of Bashar al-Assad began in 2011, the nation collapsed into chaos and food production plummeted. Syria’s borders shrank to a third of their pre-war size as ISIS took over huge swathes of desert, and US-backed Kurdish forces invaded the country’s northeast under the cover of fighting terrorism.

Russia’s intervention in 2015 secured the highly populated coastal regions, finally bringing an end to the jihadist occupation of Aleppo and removing ISIS from the country’s center. The coastal cities were hardened with the creation of permanent Russian bases in Khmeimim and Tartus, and Bashar al-Assad’s secular government was kept in power. The strategically significant northeast however, was lost.

The governorate of Deir Ezzor in northeastern Syria splits evenly across the Euphrates River, and is the site of an emerging fault line between the Empire and Resistance Axis. On the West bank of the Euphrates, Bashar al-Assad’s government rules, while the East is occupied by Kurdish and American forces. Unable to achieve complete regime change, the Empire has shifted gears and now is waging a war primarily based on starvation. Limiting the flow of food and energy in the country may not even succeed in directly impeding military operations, but it can effectively turn Syria into a third world country by grinding civilian life to a halt and starving the population.

Syria’s occupied northeast produces 60% of the country’s wheat and 95% of the country’s oil: 400,000 barrels per day of oil production has been lost due to the Kurdish invasion. The formerly oil-rich nation now pumps a mere 20,000 bpd and relies on Iranian tankers to import energy. These tankers are increasingly intercepted by Western powers as part of this war of starvation. Additionally, in the last two years five separate sanctions bills have been passed in Washington, targeting the country’s oil and grain trade.

Energy is not just needed for the tanks and planes of Assad’s military, it is required to power the factories, agricultural operations, businesses, and homes of the Syrian people. Strangling the flow of energy and food into Syria has created spillover effects that have crippled the nation’s economy. With no power for tractors to cultivate wheat or trucks to ship food, the remaining agricultural resources have become severely underutilized and the nation is at risk of famine.

This is nothing new. Just recall what US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said when confronted with the fact that over half a million Iraqi children had died of starvation due to sanctions:

We think the price is worth it

Any price is “worth it” because Iraq, Syria, and Iran have been targeted for destruction for decades, part of the Empire’s longstanding plan to conquer all of Central Asia. We see the antecedents of such a foreign policy in the Wolfowitz Doctrine, the “Clean Break” white paper, and General Wesley Clark’s confession that these nations were slated for regime change well before whichever casus belli that prompted American intervention was manufactured. In addition to the territorial agenda, control of the planet’s oil resources upholds the phenomenon of petrodollar recycling, defending the dollar’s status as world reserve currency.

Accordingly, the Empire has no plans to leave northeast Syria. While the media spun up a narrative about Trump “abandoning the Kurds,” nothing could be further from the truth. The Trump administration gave drilling approval in the region to a little known oil company called Delta Crescent Energy LLC. One of the partners at this firm named James Reese is an ex Delta Force agent who served as a commander and operations officer in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Other partners include international oil executives and diplomats. These players will collaborate with the Kurds to pump oil through Syria and Iraq while fulfilling Washington’s agenda of denying the Syrian civilization the resources needed for survival.

So while imperial and resistance forces patrol either side of the Euphrates, we can see the new front in the northeast as a microcosm of what will come as a hawkish administration takes the helm in Washington.

On Aug 23 2020, Russian major general Vyacheslav Gladkikh was assassinated by IED while in Deir Ezzor governorate, the highest ranking soldier to be killed in the war. Immediately prior to his death, the general was coordinating with local Arab militiamen, giving us a window into the strategy of the Resistance Axis in the region. It has been the goal of Assad and the Russians to reintegrate this crucial territory by allying with the Arab majority in the governorate, who are being oppressed by the ruling Kurdish minority. Arab protests and discontent with the corrupt SDF leadership have accelerated, so while Western media blames General Gladkikh’s assassination on ISIS we can see other clear beneficiaries.

Speaking of ISIS, the way northeast Syria has evolved begs the question: what was the purpose of ISIS? Let us first review the multiple channels of American support:

1. Manpower: Immediately after the invasion of Iraq, America unilaterally disbanded the Iraqi army without pay, despite warnings that this would create a pool of manpower for terrorism. Many of these soldiers later filled the ranks of ISIS

2. Supply abandonment: M1A1 Abrams tanks, LAVs, and 2,300 Hummers were left conveniently unguarded in lots for ISIS to acquire during its rise

3. Direct airdrop: In Oct 2014, the US was caught airdropping weapons and ammunition directly to ISIS fighters and passed it off as an accident

4. Osmosis: Cash, supplies, and weaponry delivered to “vetted” rebel groups through the CIA’s Timber Sycamore program often ended up directly in ISIS hands. In one case a UN audit determined that TOW missiles were controlled by ISIS less than two months after leaving an American production line

5. Side switching: When ISIS began to fall many of its fighters simply left and joined other US-aligned groups such as the FSA and SDF

6. US ally funding: Leaked Clinton emails explicitly stated that Qatar and Saudi Arabia were providing direct financing

What of the strategic importance of ISIS? At its territorial height, the Islamic State was essentially a band down the center of Syria that separated Assad’s coastal strongholds from the oil and farmland necessary to the nation’s functioning. It also fulfilled the important role of impeding Iranian access to the region, one of the reasons for which Qasem Soleimani led Shi’ite brigades against ISIS to open up corridors of support for Syria and Lebanon.

And of course we cannot forget that the US had pockets of soldiers in ISIS territory throughout the entire conflict, monitoring the situation. The outcome in the Syrian war was rigged from the beginning, as even in the event that Assad managed to defeat ISIS and avoid regime change, the Empire would never allow him to achieve full territorial reintegration.

As soon as Russia began to reverse the tide in the conflict, the US swooped in to “liberate” the oil fields. American anti-ISIS bombings were greatly exagerrated (at one point PBS even took Russian bombing footage and labeled it as American). Furthermore these operations were concentrated in the northeast, while Syrians, Iraqis, Russians, and Iranians were allowed to do the leg work on the ground against ISIS. Essentially, Assad reclaimed infertile desert terrain at an enormous human cost and just as his forces reached Deir Ezzor the Empire took the resource-rich northeast and bombed any Syrian crossing of the Euphrates.

Merely one day after the inauguration of the Biden administration in Washington, the US began transferring hundreds of soldiers from Iraq to northeastern Syria in order to harden the imperial presence. Even under the Trump administration a ninth US army base in Deir Ezzor was commissioned in October, directly facing Syrian military positions west of the Euphrates. The new cabinet is stacked with career advocates of regime change, so we can foresee that the border in northeast Syria will be a debut at which the forces of imperialism seek to demonstrate their fanatical commitment to “involvement in the region.”

While unheard of by most Americans, this northern governorate is a litmus test for what is to come in the next four years of foreign policy. Whether it transforms into a frozen conflict zone like Donbass or the site of disastrous great power confrontation, it is a clear sign of the Empire’s unwillingness to “go gentle into that good night.” Though the lines in Deir Ezzor may already be drawn, it appears that a clash in the Idlib region is on the horizon as Turkish forward observation posts are abandoned and rumors circulate of heavy artillery moving to the border.

All eyes remain on Syria as the people bear the cost of a war of starvation and the Empire seeks to avenge its greatest humiliation at the hands of Russia.


The Ister is a researcher of financial markets and geopolitics. Author of The Ister: Escape America

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Israel’s Honeymoon with the United Arab Emirates Is Grotesque

By Belén Fernández

Global Research,

December 10, 2020Jacobin 7 December 2020

Since normalizing relations in September, Israel and the United Arab Emirates have teamed up to do what both do best: trample on democratic freedoms, commit atrocities, and whitewash occupation.

***

Back in 2010, the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman issued the following complaint: “Destructive critics dismiss Gaza as an Israeli prison, without ever mentioning that had Hamas decided — after Israel unilaterally left Gaza — to turn it into Dubai rather than Tehran, Israel would have behaved differently, too.”

Never mind that Israel never “left” Gaza — or that even if Hamas had managed to transform the diminutive Palestinian coastal enclave into the capital of Iran, international law would not have authorized the Israelis to then convert it into the “world’s largest open-air prison.” It’s also unclear how any territory could be turned into Dubai while under siege and frequent bombardment, or how Gazans would go about building malls with ski slopes — or building anything, for that matter — when Israel intermittently blocks construction materials from coming into the narrow strip of land.

Now, courtesy of the September normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates — the culmination of a long-standing clandestine love affair — it seems the Palestinians will finally get to experience a taste of Dubai. (And Emirati alcohol consumers will get a taste of Israeli-made wine from the illegally occupied Golan Heights.)

In a recent CNN dispatch titled “The UAE and Israel’s whirlwind honeymoon has gone beyond normalization,” correspondent Ben Wedeman writes of the “mutual enthusiasm” infecting the Israeli government and the federation of Arab sheikhdoms, so much so that the UAE “appears to have dropped, in practical terms, any objections to Israel’s occupation of Arab lands.” That’s no accident. Disappearing the occupation is a primary function of normalization, fitting right in with the Friedmanite approach to Middle East peace, which posits that, if the Palestinians would just stop bitching about being occupied and massacred and get on with their lives, they, too, could be Dubai — the equivalent of telling a person in a burning house to simply ignore the flames.A Special Relationship Born in Hell: The US Should Cut all Ties with War Criminal Israel

Wedeman catalogues the perks of the overzealous Emirati-Israeli honeymoon: mutual visa exemption, the aforementioned wine, an excursion to the UAE by Israeli settler leaders from the West Bank, direct flights between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi scheduled to start early next year, and an arrangement where the UAE will “finance with the US and Israel a project to ‘modernize’ Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank used to control and monitor the movement of Palestinians.”

Presumably, “modernization” does not mean that Israeli soldiers will stop beatingkilling, detaining, and otherwise abusing Palestinians at checkpoints. But perhaps the Emiratis can help install state-of-the-art mobile maternity wards to deal with the Palestinian women forced to give birth there.

To be sure, it’s not like the checkpoints aren’t “modern” enough already. As NBC News reported last year, Microsoft has “invested in a startup that uses facial recognition to surveil Palestinians throughout the West Bank, in spite of the tech giant’s public pledge to avoid using the technology if it encroaches on democratic freedoms.”

That’s no turnoff for the UAE, where democratic freedoms are entirely absent and the slightest criticism of the government is grounds for detentiontorture, or disappearance. And what do you know: Emirati-Israeli collaboration regarding surveillance far predated the official unveiling of amorous bilateral relations. In 2015, a Middle East Eye article quoted a description of Abu Dhabi’s Israeli-installed mass civil spying system: “Every person is monitored from the moment they leave their doorstep to the moment they return to it. Their work, social and behavioral patterns are recorded, analyzed and archived.”

Call it modern barbarism — a right-wing neoliberal dream where basic rights are supplanted by skyscrapers, artificial islands, the annual Dubai Shopping Festival, and other distracting obscenities built on the backs of a migrant work force toiling in “virtual slavery.”

For their normalization efforts, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed have been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Perverse, unless you recall that former US president Barack Obama, the man who ordered the dropping of at least 26,171 bombs on seven Muslim-majority countries in 2016 alone, also received the prize. “Peace,” meanwhile, is not currently an option for Palestinians, Yemenis, and other regional inhabitants whose lives are sacrificed in the interest of arms industry profits and similar fixtures of “modernity” — all with US backing, and an imperial narrative that insists Iran is the one causing all the trouble.

So the honeymooners are getting off scot-free, whether for killing 2,251 people in Gaza in a matter of fifty days or for helping oversee the sexual torture of Yemeni detainees and mass starvation of Yemeni children as part of the Saudi-led coalition. And as normalization forges ahead, it’s nothing short of terrifying that anyone finds this normal.

*

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Belén Fernández is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at WorkMarytrs Never Die: Travels through South Lebanon, and, most recently, Exile: Rejecting America and Finding the World. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin.

Featured image is from DesertpeaceThe original source of this article is JacobinCopyright © Belén FernándezJacobin, 2020

Malnourished Children Starve as Pandemic Worsens Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis

Malnourished Children Starve as Pandemic Worsens Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis

By Ben Farmer – The Telegraph

Starving children in Yemen are facing their worst levels of malnutrition since the country’s war began, as the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically worsened the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Aid groups say the global spread of the new coronavirus has deepened economic chaos in the country of around 29 million people, making hunger a bigger threat than the outbreak itself.

A recent survey from the United Nations estimates acute malnutrition rates among children under five are at the highest ever recorded in parts of Yemen.

The country suffered a significant wave of Covid-19 infections and deaths in May and June. Those have now subsided, only to leave a devastating economic toll.

Covid’s arrival on top of the grinding six-year-long conflict has further weakened the economy, while the lifeline of remittances from overseas has dried up as economies in the Gulf have locked down. Transport restrictions have hit food supplies for a country which imports as much as 90 per cent of its sustenance.

“We are actually seeing the highest rates of acute malnutrition in Yemen since the very start of the war, which is incredibly concerning,” said Stephanie Puccetti, deputy programs director in Yemen for International Rescue Committee.

“Yemen already had a very high baseline level of malnutrition and then with the war it’s just continued to deteriorate over the past five years. The rates we are seeing now are absolutely the highest.”

Food prices have risen by 30 per cent, she said, while at the same time remittances had fallen by four-fifths.

“You can imagine these families that were already in such a precarious situation and already really struggling to survive are now having an even harder time to come up with the money on a day to day basis to but food for their families,” she said.

Estimates published last week by the United Nations found acute malnutrition had risen by 10 per cent in the south of the country this year. The most extreme form of hunger, called severe acute malnutrition, had gone up 16 per cent.

“We’ve been warning since July that Yemen is on the brink of a catastrophic food security crisis, said Lise Grande, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen.

“If the war doesn’t end now, we are nearing an irreversible situation and risk losing an entire generation of Yemen’s young children.”

The lives of thousands of women and children are at risk, she said.

A severe lack of testing has made the spread of Covid-19 difficult to track in Yemen. Last week a first-of-its-kind study using satellite images to count fresh graves in the Aden region estimated 2,100 excess deaths between April and September around.

“This total is best interpreted as the net sum of deaths due to Covid-19 infection and deaths indirectly attributable to the pandemic,” said the researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

The indirect deaths would be those caused by disruptions to health services or by measures which may have caused problems accessing food, they added.

The Illusion of Economic Recovery Began in the US

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, June 07, 2020

Protracted main street depression conditions have existed in the US since 2008 with no relief for ordinary Americans in prospect.

Before economic collapse this year, unemployment exceeded 20%, Labor Department numbers rigged to pretend otherwise.

The so-called U-3 BLS number omits working-age Americans without jobs who want them, including many longterm unemployed individuals not looking after months of failure to find employment.

Monthly BLS jobs report conceal what should be headline news, including that most US jobs created are poverty-wage, poor-or-no benefit temporary or part-time service industry ones.

Most households need two or more to survive. Living on the edge, they’re one or a few missed paydays from homelessness, hunger, despair and overall deprivation.

Record numbers of Americans are food insecure, the specter of hunger haunting the world’s richest country because its ruling class serves privileged interests exclusively at the expense of the public welfare.

It’s what the scourge of neoliberal harshness is all about, supported by both right wings of the one-party state.

It’s not a pretty picture. “America the beautiful” is a mirage in a nation where poverty is the leading growth industry — disturbing reality concealed by establishment media.

Michal Harrington explained the problem in 1962, things far worse today than what he described in his book titled “The Other America,” saying:

“In morality and in justice, every citizen should be committed to abolishing the other America, for it is intolerable that the richest nation in human history should allow such needless suffering.”

“But more than that, if we solve the problem of the other America, we will have learned how to solve the problems of all of America.”

Food insecurity, hunger, and unemployment haunted America at higher levels than at any time since the Great Depression before 2020 economic collapse began.

Now they’re off the charts with no near-or-longer-term plan for turning things around — just continued governance of, by, and for the privileged few alone at a time of a growing permanent underclass.

During the Great Depression, FDR explained that “one-third of (the US was) ill-housed, ill-clad (and) ill-nourished” — the problem far greater today than then.

It’s because unemployment is far greater now than in the 1930s, the highest in US history by far.

FDR’s “New Deal for the American people” was polar opposite today’s bipartisan conspiracy against public health and welfare.

He called “vast unemployment (of his time) the greatest menace to our social order,” calling for “social justice” that’s fast eroding today at a time when boosting it greatly is needed.

Friday’s jobs report concealed reality. Economist John Williams said BLS numbers are “not particularly credible.”

“Prior period downside revisions” weren’t explained, nor “revised methodologies and seasonal adjustments” that distorted reality.

Nearly 5 million unemployed Americans were counted as “employed, the third (consecutive) month of acknowledged misreporting.”

Last month’s reporting period was at a time of US lockdown nationwide.

Yet the BLS claimed 2.5 million new jobs were created — when millions of new weekly unemployment claims continue to be filed.

The report noted that hundreds of thousands more workers were permanently laid off because lost business isn’t coming back soon.

Hundreds of thousands of public workers continue to be let go, mostly at the state and local levels because of severe budget constraints, revenues falling way short of the ability to maintain public services at pre-economic crisis levels.

Through May into early June, data show the US economy contracting, far from expanding.

Key economic metrics contracted to record-low levels. Q II GDP is estimated to show around a 50% contraction, a number far exceeding anything during the Great Depression or any previous time in US history.

Based on how US unemployment was calculated pre-1990, Williams now puts it at 35%, over one-third of US workers without jobs.

Along with the vast majority of others underemployed, the US is a nation of paupers while its privileged class never had things better.

Notably the wealth of super-rich Americans is increasing during hard times while food banks are hard-pressed to feed millions of hungry Americans.

The USA is a nation in decline, a surging stock market concealing reality.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) said nationwide “economic pain” continues, stressing it’ll “be longstanding without” considerable federal aid — that’s not forthcoming.

California, the state with the nation’s largest economy, teeters on bankruptcy, needing $54 billion in federal aid to provide basic services.

Many are being slashed, including for health, education, and other vital programs.

New York, Illinois and other US states are face similar hard choices.

Instead of federal aid to states in need and to stimulate economic growth and jobs creation, trillions of federal dollars went to Wall Street and other corporate America favorites.

Crumbs alone have gone to the unemployed, the impoverished underemployed, the “ill-housed, ill-clad, and ill-nourished.”

While most US states ended lockdowns, others likely to end them in short order, mass unemployment remains at a record high.

Over 40 million Americans employed in January were fired, laid off, or furloughed, record numbers over a short period.

Small and medium-sized businesses were most affected, the backbone of the nation.

Around half of lost jobs are permanent because countless numbers of shut down companies face bankruptcy.

The Wall Street Journal reported that 722 US firms filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May alone, a near-50% year-over-year increase, much more of the same ahead.

Many reopening won’t operate at previous levels, notably restaurants, hotels, airlines, shopping malls, retail stores, commercial real estate, enterprises related to tourism, and others relying on large gatherings like sports.

According to US bankruptcy attorney James Conlan, “we’re going to see an extraordinary number of large corporate bankruptcies, not just in the US but across the globe.”

The effects of unprecedented US economic collapse won’t magically turn around any time soon — especially with no federal economic stimulus and jobs creation programs planned.

Trump’s phony Friday claim about the US economy ready to take off like a “rocket ship” belies the dismal state of main street America — his regime and Congress doing nothing to turn things around.

What happens when millions of unemployed Americans can’t pay mortgage, car loans, or credit card bills.

Are mass evictions coming, numbers of homeless to increase exponentially, along with growing hunger?

The notion that Friday’s jobs report showed the beginning of economic recovery is belied by reality in US cities and towns nationwide.

Ongoing protests against institutionalized racism, inequality and injustice met by police violence reflect America’s dismal state.

It’s not about to change by the nation’s ruling class without sustained public activism in the streets for redress of longstanding grievances.

It’s the only way change ever comes. There’s no other way.

Power yields nothing without a demand. It never did and never will.

*

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

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.

Featured image is from Charleston’s The Digitel | CC BY 2.0The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2020

Towards A New World Order? The Global Debt Crisis and the Privatization of the State

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, April 17, 2020

There is a serious health crisis which must be duly resolved. And this is a number one priority.

But there is another important dimension which has to be addressed. 

Millions of people have lost their jobs, and their lifelong savings. In developing countries, poverty and despair prevail. 

While the lockdown is presented to public opinion as  the sole means to resolving a global public health crisis,  its devastating economic and social impacts are casually ignored.  

The unspoken truth is that the novel coronavirus provides a pretext to powerful financial interests and corrupt politicians to precipitate the entire World into a spiral of  mass unemployment, bankruptcy and extreme poverty. 

This is the true picture of what is happening.  Poverty is Worldwide. While famines are erupting in Third World countries, closer to home,  in the richest country on earth,

millions of desperate Americans wait in long crowded lines for handouts”

“Miles-long lines formed at food banks and unemployment offices across the US over the past week”   

In India:

food is disappearing, ….  in shanty towns, too scared to go out, walking home or trapped in the street crackdowns,

In India there have been 106 coronavirus deaths as of today, to put things in perspective 3,000 Indian children starve to death each day” 

From Mumbai to New York City. It’s the “Globalization of Poverty”.

Production is at a standstill. 

Starvation in Asia and Africa. Famine in the U.S. 

All countries are now Third World countries. It’s the “Thirdworldisation” of the so-called high income “developed countries”.  

And what is happening in Italy?

People are running out of food. Reports confirm that the Mafia rather than the government “is gaining local support by distributing free food to poor families in quarantine who have run out of cash”. (The Guardian)

This crisis combines fear and panic concerning the COVID-19 together with a sophisticated process of economic manipulation.

Let us first examine the impacts pertaining to the developing countries.

Developing Countries. The IMF’s “Economic Medicine” and the Globalization of Poverty

Is the coronavirus crisis part of a broader macro-economic agenda?

First some historical background.

I spent more than ten years undertaking field research on the impacts of IMF-World Bank economic reforms in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Since the early 1980s, “strong economic medicine” was imposed on indebted developing countries under what was called the “structural adjustment program” (SAP).

From 1992 to 1995, I undertook field research in India, Bangladesh and Vietnam and returned to Latin America to complete my study on Brazil. In all the countries I visited, including Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco and The Philippines, I observed the same pattern of economic manipulation and political interference by the Washington-based institutions. In India, directly resulting from the IMF reforms, millions of people had been driven into starvation. In Vietnam – which constitutes among the world’s most prosperous rice producing economies – local-level famines had erupted resulting directly from the lifting of price controls and the deregulation of the grain market. (Preface to the Second Edition of the Globalization of Poverty, 2003)

 The hegemony of the dollar was imposed. With mounting dollar denominated debt, eventually in most developing countries the entire national monetary system was “dollarized”.

Massive austerity measures were conducive to the collapse in real wages. Sweeping privatization programs were imposed. These deadly economic reforms -applied on behalf the creditors- invariably triggered economic collapse, poverty and mass unemployment.

In Nigeria starting in the 1980s, the entire public health system had been dismantled. Public hospitals were driven into bankruptcy. The medical doctors with whom I spoke described the infamous structural adjustment program (SAP) with a touch of humor:

“we’ve been sapped by the SAP”, they said, our hospitals have literally been destroyed courtesy of the IMF-World Bank.

From Structural Adjustment to Global Adjustment

Today, the mechanism for triggering poverty and economic collapse is fundamentally different and increasingly sophisticated.

The ongoing 2020 Economic Crisis is tied into the logic of the COVID-19 pandemic: No need for the IMF-World Bank to negotiate a structural adjustment loan with national governments.

What has occurred under the COVID-19 crisis is a “Global Adjustment” in the structure of the World economy. In one fell swoop this Global Adjustment (GA) triggers a Worldwide process of bankruptcy, unemployment, poverty and total despair.

How is it implemented? The lockdown is presented to national governments as the sole solution to resolve the COVID-19 pandemic. It becomes a political consensus, irrespective of the devastating economic and social consequences.A Global People’s Bailout for the Coming Financial Crash

No need to reflect or analyze the likely impacts. Corrupt national governments are pressured to comply.

The partial or complete closing down of a national economy is triggered through the enforcement of  so-called “WHO guidelines” pertaining to the lockdown, as well as to trade, immigration and transportation restrictions, etc.

Powerful financial institutions and lobby groups including Wall Street, Big Pharma, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were involved in shaping the actions of the WHO pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lockdown together with the curtailment of trade and air travel had set the stage. This closing down of national economies was undertaken Worldwide starting in the month of  March,  affecting simultaneously a large of number of countries in all major regions of the World.  It is unprecedented in World history.

Why did leaders in high office let it happen? The consequences were obvious.

This closing down operation affects production and supply lines of goods and services, investment activities, exports and imports, wholesale and retail trade, consumer spending, the closing down of schools, colleges and universities, research institutions, etc.

In turn it leads almost immediately to mass unemployment, bankruptcies of small and medium sized enterprises, a collapse in purchasing power, widespread poverty and famine.

What is the underlying objective of this restructuring of the global economy?  What are the consequences? Cui Bono? 

  • A massive concentration of wealth,
  • the destabilization of small and middle sized enterprises in all major areas of economic activity including the services economy, agriculture and manufacturing.
  • It derogates the rights of workers. It destabilizes labor markets.
  • It compresses wages (and labor costs) in the so-called high income “developed countries” as well as in the impoverished developing countries.

Needless to say this Global Adjustment (GA) operation is far more detrimental than the country-level IMF-WB structural adjustment program (SAP).

It is neoliberalism to the nth degree.

In one fell swoop (in the course of the last months) the COVID-19 crisis has contributed to impoverishing a large sector of the World population.

And Guess who comes to the rescue? The IMF and the World Bank:

The IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has casually acknowledged that the World economy has come to a standstill, without addressing the causes of economic collapse.

“The WHO is there to protect the Health of the People, The IMF is there to protect the health of the World economy” says Georgieva.

 How does she intend to “protect the World economy”?

At the expense of the national economy?

What’s her “magic solution”?

 “We rely on $1 trillion in overall lending capacity.” (IMF M-D Georgieva, Press Conference in early March)

At first sight this appears to be “generous”, a lot money. But ultimately it’s what we might call “fictitious money”, what it means is:

“We will lend you the money and with the money we lend you, you will pay us back”.(paraphrase).

The ultimate objective is to make the external (dollar denominated) debt go fly high.

The IMF is explicit. In one of its lending windows, the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, which applies to pandemics, generously,

“provides grants for debt relief to our poorest and most vulnerable members.”

Nonsensical statement: it is there to replenish the coffers of the creditors, the money is allocated to debt servicing.

“For low-income countries and for emerging middle-income countries we have … up to $50 billion that does not require a full-fledged IMF program.”

No conditions on how you spend the money. But this money increases the debt stock and requires reimbursement.

The countries are already in a straight-jacket. And the objective is that they comply with the demands of the creditors.

That’s the neoliberal solution applied at a global level: No real economic recovery, more poverty and unemployment Worldwide. The “solution” becomes the “cause”. It initiates a new process of indebtedness. It contributes to an escalation of the debt.

The more you lend, the more you squeeze the developing countries into political compliance. And ultimately that is the objective of the failing American Empire.

The unspoken truth is that this one trillion dollars ++ of the Bretton Woods institutions is intended to drive up the external debt.

In recent developments, the G20 Finance ministers decided to “put on hold”,  the repayment of debt servicing obligations of the World’s poorest countries.

The cancellation of debt has not been envisaged. Quite the opposite. The strategy consists in building up the debt.

It is important that the governments of developing countries take a firm stance against the IMF-World Bank “rescue operation”. 

The Global Debt Crisis in the Developed Countries

An unprecedented fiscal crisis is unfolding at all levels of government. With high levels of unemployment, incoming tax revenues in developed countries are almost at a standstill.  In the course of the last 2 months, national governments have become increasingly indebted.

In turn, Western governments as well as political parties are increasingly under the control of  the creditors, who ultimately call the shots.

All levels of governments have been precipitated into a debt stranglehold. The debt cannot be repaid. In the US, the federal deficit “has increased by 26% to $984 billion for fiscal 2019, highest in 7 years”.  And that is just the beginning.

In Western countries, a colossal expansion of the public debt has occurred. It is being used to finance the “bailouts”, the “handouts” to corporations as well as “the social safety nets” to the unemployed.

The logic of the bailouts is in some regards similar to that of the 2008 economic crisis, but on a much larger scale. Ironically, in 2008, US banks were both the creditors of the US federal government as well as the lucky recipients: the rescue operation was funded by the banks with a view to  “bailing out the banks”. Sounds contradictory?

The Privatization of the State

This crisis will  eventually precipitate the privatization of the state. Increasingly, national governments will be under the stranglehold of Big Money.

Crippled by mounting debts, what is at stake is the eventual de facto privatization of the entire state structure, in different countries, at all levels of government, under the surveillance of powerful financial interests. The fiction of  “sovereign governments” serving the interests of the electors will nonetheless be maintained.

The first level of government up for privatization will be the municipalities (many of which are already partially or fully privatized, e.g. Detroit in 2013). America’s billionaires will be enticed to buy up an entire city.

Several major cities are already on the verge of bankruptcy. (This is nothing new).

Is the city of Vancouver up for privatization?: “the mayor of Vancouver has already indicated that he feared the bankruptcy of his city.” (Le Devoir, April 15, 2020)

In America’s largest cities, people are simply unable to pay their taxes: The debt of New York City for fiscal 2019 is a staggering $91.56 billion (FY 2019) an increase of 132% since FY 2000. In turn personal debts across America have skyrocketed.

“U.S. households collectively carry about $1 trillion in credit card debt”. No measures are being taken in the US to reduce the interest rates on credit card debt.

The New World Order?

The lockdown impoverishes both the developed and developing countries and literally destroys national economies.

It destabilizes the entire economic landscape. It undermines social institutions including schools and universities. It spearheads small and medium sized enterprises into bankruptcy.

What kind of World awaits us?

A diabolical “New World Order” in the making as suggested by Henry Kissinger? (WSJ Opinion, April 3, 2020):

“The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order”

Recall Kissinger’s historic 1974 statement: “Depopulation should be the highest priority of US foreign policy towards the Third World.” (1974 National Security Council Memorandum)

The political implications are far-reaching.

 What kind of government will we have in the wake of the crisis?

Concluding Remarks

There is a lot of misunderstanding regarding the nature of this crisis.

Several progressive intellectuals are now saying that this crisis constitutues a defeat of neoliberalism. “It opens up a new beginning”.

Some people see it as a “potential turning point”, which opens up an opportunity to “build socialism” or “restore social democracy” in the wake of the lockdown.

The evidence amply confirms that neoliberalism has not been defeated. Quite the opposite.

Global capitalism has consolidated its clutch. Fear and panic prevail. The State is being privatized. The tendency is towards authoritarian forms of government.

These are the issues which we must address.

That historical opportunity to confront the power structures of global capitalism, –including the US-NATO military apparatus– remains to be firmly established in wake of the lockdown.


The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order

In this expanded edition of Prof. Michel Chossudovsky’s international best-seller, the author outlines the contours of a New World Order which feeds on human poverty and the destruction of the environment, generates social apartheid, encourages racism and ethnic strife and undermines the rights of women. The result as his detailed examples from all parts of the world show so convincingly, is a globalization of poverty.

This book is a skillful combination of lucid explanation and cogently argued critique of the fundamental directions in which our world is moving financially and economically.

In this updated and enlarged edition – which includes ten additional chapters and a new introduction – the author reviews the causes and consequences of famine in Sub-Saharan Africa, the dramatic meltdown of financial markets, the demise of State social programs and the devastation resulting from corporate downsizing and trade liberalization.

“This concise, provocative book reveals the negative effects of imposed economic structural reform, privatization, deregulation and competition. It deserves to be read carefully and widely.”
– Choice, American Library Association (ALA)

“The current system, Chossudovsky argues, is one of capital creation through destruction. The author confronts head on the links between civil violence, social and environmental stress, with the modalities of market expansion.”
– Michele Stoddard, Covert Action Quarterly

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The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2020


‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response

April 10, 2020

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

I found out today
We’re going wrong.
– Cream – We’re Going Wrong – 1967 album Disraeli Gears

Shortly after reading about the latest 7 million Americans who made unemployment claims this week that song shuffled on my iPod. It’s a haunting and even frightening song, and while that makes it sound like some lame emo band we must remember that it’s being played by the rock super-dupergroup of Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce.

The song is a psychedelic ode to the terrifying realisations caused by a middle-class freak-out, which were occurring regularly across the West back in 1967. Somebody’s mind has just been opened to the fact that the path they were on is not right. Why was it not right? Because they had failed to ever look inward – they had accepted the prevailing nonsense without questioning it.

Today it’s hard not to have this same feeling that the Western trajectory is veering out of control… but only because that is entirely the case: capitalist – i.e. growth-demanding – economies are hysterically yanking out the single-most important pillar of their economic culture (competitive demand) as if their house won’t collapse immediately.

Because there is none of the dependability provided by central planning, Western capitalism is flying blind because it has wilfully broken its fundamentals – how can any investor, CEO or supply clerk accurately foresee the economic future for at least several months (at a minimum)?

Thus a good comparison is Gorbachev’s “fatal error” in 1987, so-called “self-financing”: that yanked out the single-most important pillar of their economic culture – central planning – for enterprises which controlled 60% of all Soviet output. The immediate, radical reordering sparked economic chaos, then bread lines, then the undemocratic, top-down implosion of the USSR.

In my previous article I condensed the economic data and gave the undeniable conclusion: Who now needs a bailout in the West as a result of the poverty-inducing corona response? Wall Street, Main Street, the County Seat, State Capitol Plaza and Corporate Circle. Everybody.

Of course “bailout” is a euphemism for “loan”, meaning that the “lucky” in these sectors will simply get more and more indebted to a 1% which actually only gets smaller, smaller, richer and richer (as Marx proved).

Want mediocrity? Turn to the middle-class

What was rather fascinating is that among all the articles I have read about our new corona-world I found only one single instance of a Mainstream Media relaying a complaint of how the corona response was a middling, “middle-class” solution.

The entire plan had the imagination of a middle-class person,” was the tough assessment of Harsh Mander, director of the New Delhi-based Centre for Equity Studies. “People were asked to maintain social distance, wash their hands and stay home assuming they have homes and salaries going into bank accounts.

It is interesting that open resentment towards the middle class seemingly surfaced only in India: It’s hard to imagine a middle-class with a more disagreeable sense of entitlement than the pudgy middle managers from the mighty continent of India. One need not be an untouchable Dalit to believe that while a college degree might be a marginally-impressive achievement, using it to work at a Western corporation’s call centre is really not proof of hot stuff; one need not question the reactionary caste system to point out that such a middling life is not sufficient justification for maintaining a system of alleged karmic supremacism. Thus, I would imagine that in India today the term “middle-class” carries as many condescending connotations as it did in the Anglophone world back in 1967.

“But the West is not India”, you will object. Indeed, nobody talks about class or caste in the former. But high-and-mighty Westerners must concede that it is also not 1967 for them, back when union membership was high and an 18-year old male could exit high school assured of not just a decent-paying job but even house and car loans from private banks. (LOL, Millennials think I am making this up, but ask your grandparents – this was actually the case!)

Let’s accept Harsh’s mild definition of “middle class”: somebody who has a nice home, savings and the resources to comfortably weather months of societal turmoil. Using that definition, how very few qualify as “middle class” in the West in 2020!

The 17 million Americans who have been added to unemployment ranks in the past 15 days now have not only no income but no health care and no pension (which had become nearly non-existent in their private sector, anyway). The number is not higher than 17 million in 15 days only because the USA’s antiquated 1980s computer infrastructure could not process more claims. These people are definitely not middle-class.

You could have a family of four and an income of $90,000 in the US but how can you call yourself “middle class” when you strain to afford middling versions of health insurance plans, college education, child care and elder care? And heaven forbid you have to pay for all four at once. These people lack the stability to be called middle-class.

What is middle-class in France? I rarely meet anybody taking home more than 2,000 euros per month. That sum was fine in 1980, but after a Lost Decade produced by austerity – with its increased taxes, steady price inflation and social services which are no longer paid for by the state – their middle-class now suffers from lower-class instability as well.

The reality is that “middle class” in the West in 2020 is actually what used to be called the “upper-middle class” – their entire society has been devalued by a standard deviation since 1980 due to neoliberal capitalism.

Across the West doctors are telling 64-year old Uber drivers to quit in order to avoid exposure to coronavirus, and their journalists are agreeing with this remedy, as if such a person is only Ubering because they have a passion for people-moving? Such advice is middling, middle-class nonsense.

Corona is forcing the West’s upper class to learn that the middle-class mentality has been blown apart, and not by Cream and loud bass but by inequality-provoking socioeconomic policies which fundamentally disregard the needs of the middle and lower classes. Contrarily, the needs of those classes are always and indisputably the primary policy focus of socialist-inspired nations, which is why the West declares Cold War on them.

The West’s upper-class is telling their lower classes to commit suicide

The US fake-left has practically deified Dr. Anthony Fauci mainly because he openly contradicts Trump, but also because middle-class Westerners slavishly worship at the altar of technocracy, which rests upon the false idol of their imaginary meritocracy.

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson made the correct observation that not only is this lockdown economic “national suicide” but that Fauci had “bulletproof job security”; this meant that, “He has the luxury of looking at the world through the narrow lens of his professionHe doesn’t seem to think much outside that lens.

For anyone who thinks Carlson pegged him wrong, Fauci recently said: ‘I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you.” That is the “cultural suicide” assessment and bizarre goal of the man who essentially has been given the power to guide US socio-economic policy.

Fauci is not middle-class, but his workaholic, narrow view certainly is stereotypically middle-class; his total disregard for life as it is lived by living, pulsating, hungry, unstable workers certainly is middle-class.

Instead of a vanguard party which is in touch with the lower classes, the US has promoted the singular view of this germ-obsessed technician (and I’m sure Fauci is considering the broader effects of a lockdown on the municipal bond market in his non-lab time/non-hand washing time).

In an interesting article by USA TodayThis is what China did to beat coronavirus. Experts say America couldn’t handle it, we can see a government which is invasive, or we can see a government which is actually touching and in-touch with the average person – which you see depends on your lens.

But have no doubt: testing, tracing, treating, quarantining – these are all things which require mass mobilisation of pulsating humans, and which were done under an unassailable Chinese government slogan of, “No one left behind”.

China demands the ill have “zero contact” with healthy people, and that is rigorous; Fauci seems to want everyone to have “zero contact”, period, permanently.

Fauci’s slogan is more like “I want to leave you behind”, and is that not the middle-class Western dream: To leave the sick, hungry and poor – including their White Trash – behind in their rear-view mirror?

Insist that socialist-inspired nations are totalitarian and unfeeling all you want, but nothing is more synonymous with “mediocrity” than the Western middle-class: “The approach we should be taking right now is one that most people would find to be too drastic because otherwise, it is not drastic enough,” Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health,” said to USA Today.

What a middling and mediocre statement. And what a middling and mediocre Western response to the corona crisis (which still could wind up as middling and mediocre, as far as pandemics go).

Expect many more freak-outs.

In a crisis mediocrity is not needed, but truly exceptional conduct and resolve. Unfortunately their most inspirational conceptual ideas – which could really help people through these tough times – go unreflected upon and not relayed by the Western corporate media.

***********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

Yemeni Resistance Forces Intercept, Down Saudi-Led Spy Drone over Jizan

By Staff, Agencies

Yemeni army forces, supported by allied fighters from the Popular Committees, intercepted and targeted an unmanned aerial vehicle belonging to the Saudi-led military coalition as it was flying in the skies over Saudi Arabia’s southwestern border region of Jizan.

An unnamed source in the Yemeni air defense forces told the media bureau of the Ansarullah revolutionary movement that Yemeni forces and their allies shot down the drone while on a spy mission east of the al-Khobe district of the region, located 967 kilometers southwest of the capital Riyadh, on Thursday.

The development came less than a week after Yemeni air defense forces and their allies intercepted a spy drone launched by the Saudi-led military alliance over the besieged city of al-Durayhimi in Yemen’s western coastal province of al-Hudaydah.

Back on February 8, Yemeni army forces and allied fighters from Popular Committees shot down a Saudi-led drone with a surface-to-air missile as it was on a spy mission over Kilo 16 district of the same Yemeni province.

Also on Thursday, an unnamed source in the Liaison and Coordination Officers Operations Room said that during the past 24 hours forces of the Saudi-led military coalition and their mercenaries have breached 116 times an agreement reached between the warring sides during a round of UN-sponsored peace negotiations in Sweden in December 2018.

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As Yemen Starves, Billions in Donor Funds Fill the Coffers of International Aid Agencies

By Ahmed AbdulKareem

Source

Of the billions of dollars pouring into Yemen from international donors, only a trickle is actually reaching the people who need it the most reports Ahmed AbdulKareem.

SANA’A, YEMEN — The phenomenon of mercenarism in the impoverished Arab country of Yemen is not limited to the foreign fighters joining the Saudi-led coalition for money, but also includes UN relief organizations, international agencies, and their local partners who are ultimately denying Yemenis the food, healthcare, money and other aid they urgently need. Regardless of their goodwill.

According to a recent report, every ten minutes a child under the age of five dies from extreme hunger in Yemen, while six newborn babies lose their lives every two hours as a result of the continued deterioration of the health situation in the country. This, at a time when the country is riddled with aid agencies.

There are 22 million Yemenis in need of relief, including seven million at risk of starvation, and nearly two million children on the verge of dying from malnutrition according to UN reports, despite the massive sums of money allocated to Yemen from both the international community and regional organizations.


Moreover, 100,00 people die every year in the country as a result of diseases and epidemics, most of them children. Now, four years after the flow of donor funds into the war-torn country, these diseases and epidemics are increasingly emerging where aid, particularly medical assistance, was supposed to prevent their expansion.

According to United Nations Development Program (UNDP), poverty in Yemen has jumped from 47 percent of the population in 2014, before the war began, to a projected 75 percent by the end of 2019. That figure betrays the reality on the ground and suggests that donor money is simply not reaching Yemenis in need.

In 2018, the UN praised international donors for raising large amounts of money to tackle Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. Almost all of the $3 billion pledged has been either received by the UN or formally committed. In 2017, when the first pledging conference for Yemen was held, 94 percent of the pledges, $1.1 billion, was fulfilled, according to the UN.

However, this year, the United Nations announced that humanitarian needs in Yemen for this year amount to $2.96 billion, $2.1 billion of which has already been collected, while other countries pledged the remaining amount.

Where does the aid money go?

The United Nations annually declares and approves a public response plan involving local authorities including Yemen’s National Authority for the Management and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Recovery (NAMCHA).

By investigating official documents of the annual public response and its actual outcomes, as well as tracking the flow of millions of dollars of supplies and funds from aid programs, it becomes apparent that most donor funds go to the coffers of UN relief organizations and international and local NGOs. In other words, more than seventy percent of the aid is stolen off the top.

That money is distributed to dozens of UN agencies, international organizations and local NGOs. The largest recipients include the World Food Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization, and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

According to budget lists in the UN’s annual public response, 15-20 percent of grants are taken in the form of dues before they reach Yemenis. Then, an additional 45-60 percent of the grants go to relief organizations to cover operating and support expenses.

Yemen Food Aid

he scant food supplies of a displaced family hangs on the wall of a home in Lahj, Yemen, Feb. 11, 2018. Nariman El-Mofty | AP

Moreover, a review of the UN budget shows that grant money allocated to Yemen has been wasted on projects that are not a part of the UN’s annual public response plan. That money is supposed to go towards serving the needs of Yemenis based on research by civil society organizations and local authorities.

At a time when hundreds of residents, mostly women and children, die every day due to shortages of food and medicine, millions of dollars are being funneled into reproductive health projects such as the International Child Welfare Organization’s reproductive health project with a budget of $4,592,632 to distribute contraceptives and educational sex dolls.

The Yemeni minister of public health and population, Taha al-Mutawakel called on the United Nations and humanitarian organizations to clarify the fate of funds allocated to Yemen. Al-Mutawakel bemoaned how aid money has been squandered on cars and services instead of alleviating the sufferings of Yemenis. “Stop shedding tears for our children who get killed, whilst there is no credibility whatsoever in your international reports and they do not help assuage this tragic situation, he said from inside the Sabeen Maternal Hospital in the capital Sana’a.

 We are not demanding toys and video game consoles, but we are calling for incubators and other related devices to give children the right to life.”

 

Relief agency corruption trickles down to Yemen’s locals

Further analysis of public documents shows that a portion of aid money goes to the accounts of UN relief organizations via its procurement policy. Those organizations often allot excessive amounts of money to buy imported products, yet often end up buying those products from local markets or from abroad at lower prices than specified in their detailed humanitarian plan.

For example, in 2019, the World Food Program (WFP) budget included money to purchase 70 million liters of diesel at 92 cents per liter, for a total cost of $64.5 million. However, the domestic market price for diesel in just 75 cents per liter and the organization buys the diesel from Yemen Oil Company at the local price according to official agreements which have been reviewed by MintPress. That disparity means that a staggering $21,700,000 will end up in WFP coffers.

Relief organizations that have diverted donated food, medicine, fuel and money from desperate Yemenis amid their country’s five-year war also receive significant financial benefits by leveraging currency exchange rates. The procurement process and projects carried out by many of these organizations are paid for in local currency, not in U.S. dollars. In this way, organizations save substantial sums of money by engaging in a sort of currency speculation.

In addition, organizations workers have been caught selling relief items to local merchants who then trade them on the black market. Two merchants, as well as eyewitnesses, confirmed to MintPress that they were sold relief items bearing the WFP’s logo by the organization’s workers. Some residents engage in the sale of these items out of desperation and the need for money for medical treatment or to pay rent according to residents who spoke to MintPress.

Moreover, the scant food aid which millions of Yemenis rely on for their daily sustenance often doesn’t reach people until it is already expired, by that time often crawling with worms and cockroaches because of lack of proper storage facilities, constant power outages, or long hours in transport. Rotten food aid is sometimes burned as it is not fit for human consumption. To make matters worse, coalition forces have bombed bridges linking Yemen’s main port in Hodeida with Sana’a, the capital city, which has meant trucks loaded with vital supplies have to take other routes adding many hours to the journey.

Yemen Aid

The aftermath of a Saudi airstrike on a truck carrying UN World Food Program aid in Saada, February 11, 2019. Photo | Ali al- Shorgbi

Current conditions on the ground are seriously hindering the delivery and distribution of aid as the Saudi-led coalition is enforcing a commercial blockade on sea and air routes into the country, and placing restrictions on relief supplies where aid is subject to long inspection delays and in some cases, rejected altogether. The fate of the rejected aid is not known.

Inflated salaries and internal waste

Aid money isn’t just being squandered away on expired food and operating expenses. Some relief organizations, which often do not provide detailed financial reports on how aid money is spent, are riddled with financial mismanagement, corruption and nepotism. Donor money often goes to pay the inflated salaries of senior staff of international organizations, particularly to UN relief agency workers. The salary of just eight staff at the World Food Program in Yemen amounted to around $50 million.

According to the outcomes of a project for internally displaced people (IDPs) implemented by the UNHCR, the percentage of staff salaries, expenses and additional petty cash, which included the hiring of cars and houses for staff, makes up 64.3 percent of the project’s total budget. Just 35.7 actually went to IDPs. The salary of the manager for another UNHCR project implemented by the CARE organization reached $15,500 per month, although his contract stipulates a salary of $9,500 per month. Other documents showed his salary at $11,500 per month.

Yemen’s National Authority for the Management and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Recovery (NAMCHA) said there has been a deliberate waste of humanitarian aid funds allocated to the people of Yemen which amounts to a total of $4.2 billion, despite the humanitarian needs the Yemeni people not being met in 2019.

The United Nations has admitted to some incidents of corruption by aid workers, including a case in which a dozen of its aid workers enriched themselves from the billions of dollars in donated aid flowing into the country as well as from financial mismanagement.

In one particularly egregious case uncovered by the Associated Press, UN World Health Organization (WHO) employee Nevio Zagaria, an Italian doctor, arrived in Yemen in December 2016 after a four-year stint in the Philippines to lead the agency’s humanitarian efforts in Yemen. According to the AP’s investigation, the WHO’s Yemen office under Zagaria was riddled with corruption and nepotism.

Zagaria brought in junior staffers who worked with him in the Philippines and promoted them to high-salary posts that they were not qualified for. Two of them – a Filipino university student and a former intern, were given senior posts but their only role was to take care for Zagaria’s pet dog.

Even American organizations, whose work in Yemen carries an heir of exceptionalism since the United States in the largest single supplier of lethal weapons, information, and experts to the Saudi-led Coalition, has given Yemenis little more than crumbs. For example, in two projects implemented by American World Communities Organization, as well as a project from the American Mercy Corps, only 25 percent of aid went to people in need, while 75 percent went to the organizations and their workers.

The loss of donor funds by organizations is not without precedent. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) froze more than $239 million of funds intended for Syrian aid programs due to significant fraud after it investigated 25 reported cases, some two-thirds of which were directly related to outright theft and fraud. As in Yemen, most of the $5.5 billion in American aid was distributed through the United Nations and a host of partner organizations.

The simultaneous funding of war and aid

Areas along the frontline of Yemen’s ongoing war, such as the country’s western coast as well as border areas, are a priority for many relief organizations. Yet those organizations often provide little in the way of humanitarian support and instead have been found to be gathering intelligence or recruiting new fighters on behalf of the Saudi-led coalition, according to local residents. Many relief agencies have paid huge sums of money to the heads of local tribes. Two Yemeni tribal leaders, known locally as sheiks, told MintPress on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject, that they received payments from Mercy Core as an incentive to carry out secret tasks for the Coalition. The nature of those tasks was not revealed.

According to documents reviewed by MintPress and interviews with employees of relief organizations as well as eyewitnesses who spoke to MintPress, many organizations are working with groups classified by the United States as terrorists, including Ansar al-Sharia, a group affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). For Example, the American Mercy Core allegedly contracted Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen’s Abyan province through an unauthorized Somali merchant to supply the group with foodstuffs and money.

Last week, authorities in Sana’a detained a number of U.N. humanitarian workers accused of spying, including two Jordanians who have since been released. Authorities accuse UN relief organizations of funding and conspiring with intelligence services to secretly target Yemenis, along with importing expired drugs and withholding fuel shipments.

Jordan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that two of its citizens conducting a humanitarian audit in Yemen were released and later flown home. The World Food Program, for its part, said that none of its workers were being held by authorities in Sana’a.

Amongst the largest donors and financiers of U.N relief organizations are the very same countries participating in the war on Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and supported by the United States.

Saudi Arabia United Nations Donation

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman presents a donation to the UN’s Antonio Guterres during a meeting about Yemen, March 2018. Dennis Van Tine | IPx

Most of these organizations’ workers have political loyalty to ousted president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, or to the UAE or Saudi Arabi.

As a result of the lack of neutrality of a number of organizations, many Yemenis have not only been denied humanitarian aid, the risk to aid workers working in the country has grown. Last week, UN Deputy Humanitarian Chief Ursula Mueller warned the Security Council that attacks on aid workers have escalated in Yemen.

Corruption undermines the trust of civilians and donors

A number of Yemenis that spoke to MintPress said that they are not receiving any humanitarian assistance. Fatima, a 45-year-old mother of four, said she had not received food or medicine from aid organizations in four years. Fatima suffers from Inflammation of the spinal cord and relies on aid to get by. “No organization has helped us, where does the money go?” she asked.

Yemenis activists say that relief organizations, including UN organizations, are making a fortune in Yemen, asking the UN and international agencies to provide financial reports on how hundreds of millions of dollars that have been poured into Yemen since 2015 have been spent.

For its part, NAMCHA has called for the formation of an international committee to investigate the corruption of international organizations working in Yemen. However, the UN puts much of the blame on the Houthis, saying they have diverted donated food, medicine, fuel and money from desperate people over the course of the country’s five-year war.

The UN accuses the Houthis of corruption and stealing food and medicine for its own use. Yet most of the money squandered during humanitarian operations has been lost in the financing of marginal projects, procurement, transport and the distribution of medicines, food, and building materials, responsibilities which lie exclusively with relief organizations according to Transparency International.

The corruption of international relief organizations, as well as the bias they seem to harbor, undermines the trust of Yemen’s civilians on multiple levels. War-weary people don’t trust aid agencies to provide assistance and local authorities don’t trust the principled rhetoric around impartiality. Ultimately, this leads to donors not trusting that their money will reach the people who need it most.

CHILDREN ARE KILLED BY AMERICAN WEAPONS IN YEMEN EVERY YEAR. THEN A REFINERY BLOWS UP, AND AMERICA SUDDENLY PAYS ATTENTION | OPINION

Source
Anthony Harwood, FORMER FOREIGN EDITOR OF THE DAILY MAIL

It’s like the start of a bad joke.

UK Government Defends Arming Saudi Arabia: Secret Court Hearing. Are British Forces in Yemen?

Global Research, April 12, 2019
Morning Star 10 April 2019

The government refuses to confirm or deny the presence of British special forces in Yemen.

Its missions are exempt from freedom of information and even Parliament’s defence committee.

This wall of secrecy cracked slightly after five SBS members were injured in Yemen, causing an insider to speak out anonymously last month.

The insider’s allegations were then raised in Parliament, just hours after Foreign Office Middle East minister Alistair Burt resigned over Brexit.

At the Court of Appeal — The government will defend its arms sales to Saudi Arabia at a secret court hearing in London tomorrow in a bid to obscure sensitive details about Britain’s covert role in the Yemen war.

The Court of Appeal went into closed session this afternoon with journalists, campaigners and some lawyers forced to leave court room 72 until later today.

Only security-vetted judges and special advocates remained to discuss “a large quantity” of evidence behind locked doors.

The government said the secrecy was required to “protect national security” and avoid divulging highly sensitive aspects of its relationship with Saudi Arabia and the ongoing war in Yemen.

It comes amid incendiary allegations in the press that British special forces are directing Saudi bombing raids in Yemen.

The Mail on Sunday has claimed that members of the Royal Navy’s elite Special Boat Service (SBS) have “forward air controllers” on the ground in Yemen. These are specially trained commandos who guide fighter jet pilots on bombing runs to ensure they hit targets.

Their presence in Yemen could explain the British government’s insistence that Saudi air strikes are not causing civilian casualties.

Sir James Eadie QC, a lawyer who represents the Department for International Trade, has repeatedly cast doubt on reports by Amnesty International, Medecins Sans Frontieres and even a UN panel of experts who say Saudi Arabia is bombing Yemeni schools, mosques and hospitals.

Mr Eadie said in open court yesterday that International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is privy to more information than charities and the UN about the Saudi military’s decision-making process.

He refused to explain how this was possible in public session and promised to reveal more in secret court.

He only hinted that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) “is able to base its analysis on a wide range of information including sensitive MoD-sourced imagery.”

Mr Eadie said this “secures a more comprehensive and immediate picture than that provided by third party commercial imagery” which is used by the UN.

Burt’s shoes were filled at short notice by Mark Field, who went off script and promised to hold an internal investigation – into an issue he could neither confirm nor deny existed.

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