Farcical Ceasefire in Yemen Collapsing

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Since agreed on last December, ceasefire existed in name only. Fighting never stopped. It just ebbed around the key port city of Hodeidah before escalating, where things stand now.

Yemen is Washington’s war, the Trump regime bearing most responsibility for what’s going on, wanting endless war, not resolution – if otherwise nearly two decades of war would end.

The Saudis and UAE share responsibility for partnering with US aggression. There’s nothing civil about war in the country, not in any countries Washington attacked.

Peace talks in Sweden last December achieved no breakthroughs, war raging without letup while going on.

The so-called agreement  reached between warring parties wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Saudi/UAE terror-bombing continued in parts of the country – with full US support, encouragement, and weapons supplied.

According to the New York-based International Rescue Committee (IRC), its board of directors stacked with monied interests, including Obama’s Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the former US president at war on Yemen throughout his eight years in office, no-ceasefire/ceasefire is collapsing, saying:

For days, fighting in and around Hodeidah escalate, both sides accusing each other of violations – the Saudis and UAE to blame, acting on orders from Washington, my comment, not the IRC’s.

The group saying last December’s ceasefire is imperiled ignored what existed all along in name only.

Last week, AMN News reported on “intense clashes” in Hodeidah after US/NATO/Saudi/UAE proxies attacked Houthi fighters, the casualty count on both sides unknown.

Violence initiated against the Houthis effectively rendered the so-called ceasefire null and void. Reporting on fighting in and around Hodeidah, Al Jazeera said things agreed on in Sweden were never implemented, including no prisoner exchange or meaningful ceasefire.

Efforts by UN envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths achieved nothing. Claiming momentum for peace in the country “is still there” was meaningless, deceptive rhetoric, adding:

“More than any time in the past, there is a political will demonstrated by all parties to put an end to this conflict. What we need to see now is the implementation of the provisions of the agreement, fully and rapidly.”

Reality on the ground is polar opposite his assessment  because the Trump regime, calling the shots, wants endless war, not resolution.

Conditions for millions in the country are worse than in any other US conflict theater, the daily death toll mounting exponentially from war, starvation, untreated diseases, and overall deprivation – hundreds of thousands of civilians perishing over the last two decades, mostly during the last four or five years.

Oxfam’s Awssan Kamal calls Yemen “a prison without walls” for its people, the country blockaded and terror-bombed daily. Millions of Yemenis have no safe havens.

They’re severely malnourished, especially young children, countless numbers in the country at risk of perishing from starvation.

The official UN death toll greatly understates the casualty count, mitigating one of the world’s greatest human calamities, courtesy of US imperial designs on the country and region. 

Under Republicans and Dems, Washington is responsible for killing a nation and its defenseless people, victims of its imperial viciousness.

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US Training Saudi and UAE Pilots for Combat in Yemen

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Yemen is one of many US forever wars – key NATO countries, Israel, Jordan, the Saudis and UAE partnering in them.

US special forces operate in Yemen. Pentagon drone war has been ongoing in the country without letup since launched by Bush/Cheney in October 2001, weeks after 9/11.

A no-ceasefire/ceasefire reflects conditions on the ground. War rages with no prospect for resolution because bipartisan US hardliners reject ending it. Claiming otherwise is political pretense.

Daily reports show endless conflict continues. US-backed Saudi/UAE forces keep battling Houthi fighters, including in areas around the strategic port city of Hodeidah, ceasefire agreed on more illusion than reality.

Saudi/UAE terror-bombing goes on daily – overnight against Sanaa, the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital. A Houthi statement said “(t)his escalation comes under the direction and supervision of the U.S…This escalation will be met with an escalation.”

Earlier calls by US officials for peaceful conflict resolution in Yemen were pure deception. Republicans and undemocratic Dems reject restoring peace and stability to war-ravaged countries.

According to Military Times last November, the Pentagon’s so-called Operation Yukon Journey involves US military operations in Africa and the Middle East – on the phony pretext of defeating ISIS and al-Qaeda Washington created and supports.

The Middle East operation is designated “Support to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Partner Nations in Yemen.” Along with providing weapons, munitions, intelligence, and logistics support, the Pentagon has been training Saudi and UAE pilots for combat in Yemen.

Federal procurement documents show the US air force has been using a private contractor to train Saudi pilots at its US facility.

A previous article discussed US and UK involvement in supplying the Saudis with billions of dollars worth of weapons and munitions annually, Pentagon contractors involved in training its military personnel in their use.

Under the so-called United States Military Training Mission to Saudi Arabia, USMTM trains, advises and assists the kingdom’s armed forces, including through military exercises and related activities.

USMTM is a joint US army, navy, air force and marine corps joint command, an extensive arrangement with the kingdom since the 1950s – under the 1951 Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement and later USMTM agreement.

An earlier London Daily Mail report said Britain is secretly training Saudi’s military, aiding its genocidal war in Yemen.

Documents obtained through an FOIA request show Pentagon personnel have been and likely still are actively involved in training UAE pilots for combat operations in Yemen.

According to an air force memo dated December 18, 2017, its personnel “assisted (the training of) 150 (UAE) airmen in challenging (exercises) to prepare (them) for combat ops in Yemen.”

Further training was provided UAE pilots at the country’s Pentagon operated Al Dhafra airbase, the memo saying:

“Unit fighter personnel advanced the UAE’s F-16 fighter pilot training program; 3 pilots flew 243 instructor sorties/323 hrs that created 4 new instructors & 29 combat wingmen who immediately deployed for combat operations in Yemen.”

CENTCOM spokesman Lt. Col. Josh Jacques lied, saying “(w)e do not conduct exercises with (Saudi and UAE airmen) to prepare for combat operations in Yemen.” 

Joint Chiefs chairman General Joseph Dunford turned truth on its head, claiming the US is “not a participant in the civil war (sic) in Yemen, nor are we supporting one side or another.”

Hard evidence refutes both of the above statements. Conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Central Asia and North Africa are US launched and waged, nothing civil about any of them. Nor are they involved in combating the scourge of terrorism the US supports, using jihadists as proxy troops.

None of the above information should surprise. The Pentagon and private military contractors it enlists are actively involved in training and otherwise working directly with the armed forces of numerous countries worldwide.

What’s going on is all about advancing America’s imperium, largely by waging endless wars and related military activities.

Trump is like his predecessors, co-opted to go along with a dirty system, raging since Harry Truman’s war on North Korea in the early 1950s.

Endless US wars of aggression rage with no prospect for resolution, others drafted to be launched if and when ordered – every sovereign independent country potentially targeted, including Russia, China and Iran.

Children Of Yemen – A Heartbreaking Portrait

Rebel Voice

It’s the crisis that the governments of the West want to smother. The conflict in Yemen has created a human catastrophe to rival any and it’s all avoidable. The problem is Saudi Arabia and its ruthless pursuit of total domination of the Arabian Peninsula. The Wahabbi regime is being assisted in their quest for power by the governments of the US, UK and Israel.

Without tacit approval from these sources, and the supply of missiles and other military equipment, there would be no real war. If there was no war then there would be no famine and, therefore, there would be no children starving to death or likewise dying from the effects of malnutrition. It’s all avoidable.

The following presentation is tough to watch. The sight of children suffering is not for the faint of heart. The little boy in the static photo of the video is named Hajar al-Faqeh

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From Students to Child Soldiers or Teen Brides: The War’s Cruel Impact on Yemen’s Children

By Ahmed AbdulKareem
Source

SADAA, YEMEN — September is the month when students around the world head back to school and, despite enduring years of brutal war, Yemen’s children are no exception. In the Khulah School in the northern city of Sadaa, fifth-grader Saleem Ahmed Mutaher sits on the floor with about 70 other students, his mind distracted by the pain of sitting on a hard, dusty floor as well as the strong winds that enter from the classroom’s broken windows.

Ahmed Mutaher is one of millions of students in Yemen relegated to attending class inside of schools destroyed or damaged by years of incessant bombing. Once modest, yet bustling with activity and stocked with just enough to get by, Yemen’s schools have been transformed into terrifying places. Like other sectors in the country, Yemen’s system of education is deteriorating thanks to the ongoing U.S.-backed coalition’s war on the country, a conflict that shows no sign of abating.

Yemen’s Ministry of Education, based in Sanaa, estimates that the Saudi-led coalition has destroyed at least 3,000 schools and partially damaged 1,300 others. In the province of Taiz alone 371 schools have been destroyed or damaged, and in Sadaa 252 schools have suffered damage or have been destroyed as a result of the war.

A further 802 schools have been directly affected by the war, most converted into makeshift shelters to house refugees fleeing from the conflict. The report also states that 680 schools have been closed since the war began. Yemen once boasted 9,517 primary schools and 2,811 high schools. Today, the inability to pay teachers and staff combined with the systematic destruction of Yemen’s civilian infrastructure may lead to the shutdown of the country’s remaining schools.

According to the United Nations:

More than 2,500 schools are out of use; 66 percent of them damaged by airstrikes and ground fighting, 27 percent of them closed, and 7 percent used by armed groups or as shelters by displaced populations.”

Schools that have managed to remain open are at risk of being targeted by coalition bombs, caught amidst armed clashes, or closed due to the fear of disease that is now rampant in Yemen. The UN estimates that “at least 2.9 million Yemeni children have been forced out of school since the start of the war on March 26, 2015.”

Education in Yemen was not in the best of health before the war the began. A lack of equipment, unqualified teachers, and a shortage of textbooks plagued the country’s schools. Now, the ongoing Saudi-led war against Yemen has significantly accelerated the deterioration of an already struggling education system.

Bombs outside the classroom window

Yemen Saudi War Children SchoolA Yemeni boy walks amid the rubble of a damaged school by Saudi-led airstrikes in Saada, northwest of Sanaa, Yemen, Oct. 9, 2016. Hani Mohammed | AP

Like many children, Saleem Ahmed Mutaher sometimes gets distracted while sitting in class. But while most children are occupied by thoughts of their peers or after-school plans, Ahmed Mutaher’s mind is filled with the pressing fear of an incoming airstrike. While some schools have remained open, they operate under the constant threat of becoming one of the routine targets of coalition airstrikes, exacting a heavy emotional toll on students and staff alike.

On August 13, 2016, students at an elementary school in northern Sadaa were targeted by two consecutive airstrikes while they were busy taking a test. Over 20 students were killed or injured in the attack. As Amnesty International has reported several times, Saudi coalition forces have routinely carried out airstrikes on schools while they were in session, disrupting or shutting down education for thousands of Yemen’s children.

Moreover, simply traveling to school has become an activity fraught with danger, as even school buses have not been immune to the torrent of coalition airstrikes. Last month the coalition targeted a school bus full of children aged six to 11 who were on a field trip in Dhahian city in northern Yemen. Forty children and 11 adults were killed in the attack. Fearing for their children’s safety, many parents have simply opted to keep their children at home this year.

Turning dedicated teachers into desperate mercenaries

Mideast YemenBoys walk around in a classroom at a school damaged by Saudi-led airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, July 20, 2015. Hani Mohammed | AP

For two years, Yemen’s teachers have not received a paycheck — perhaps a minor issue to those funneling American taxpayer dollars into replenishing Saudi Arabia’s ever-expanding arsenal. The shortage of educators has led 4.5 million children to miss out on an education, as teachers are unable to eke out a living due to the ongoing war against a country with a 70 percent rate of illiteracy.

Many teachers have been displaced or are simply unable to reach their schools; and when they can, tight budgets and a dangerous environment often result in reduced teaching hours, severely undermining the quality of education.

As teacher Lutf al-Mutawakkil noted:

This job is the sole source of income for us. It would not be fair to work unpaid for numerous months while our families have no food.”

According to Yemeni Teachers Syndicate, there are some 166,000 school teachers in Yemen, many of them the sole breadwinners for their families.

Last month UNICEF reported that in Yemen, mainly in the northern provinces, 2 million children are not in school and close to 4 million others are at risk of losing access to education because about 67 percent of public school teachers across the country have not been paid for nearly two years.

Two years ago, when the war was in its infancy, state employees — including teachers — had their salaries frozen after Yemen’s Central Bank was moved to Aden, which was under the control of the Saudi coalition-backed government.  At the time, al-Mutawakkil, like other teachers, was hopeful that the cessation of salaries was temporary and that coalition-backed forces in Aden would soon resume issuing paychecks to teachers and other state workers. But as time went by and teachers did their best to provide what education they could with no funding and no pay, hope began to fade. As al-Mutawakkil recounts, “before the war, I did not think that one day I would be forced to stay home with no salary.”

Before the war began, al-Mutawakkil taught at Thula City’s al-Fateh school, 50 km south of Sana’a. A graduate ot Sana’a University, the 49-year-old has been teaching for 16 years, leaving him short on both the skills and options needed to find other avenues of employment.

Like al-Mutawakkil, many teachers will not be found in their classrooms this year as they look elsewhere for a means to feed themselves and their families. Many, also like al-Mutawakkil, will resort to taking up arms and heading to the battlefield in hopes of receiving a salary from any side that is willing to pay it.

Battle, terrorist cells, and early marriage come calling

Yemen Restless Youth Photo EssayThis Feb. 17, 2018 photo shows a mobile photo of then 18 year-old Ahmed Saleh, left, with his friend during the ‘2015 battle of Aden’ and Arabic that reads, “marry me or I will go with Al Qaida,” in Aden, Yemen. Young men, some as young as 12, have served on the front lines throughout Yemen’s 3-year-old war and as the fight drags on, they now are shattered generation. Nariman El-Mofty | AP

Teachers are not the only ones whose desperation has driven them to the battlefield. As fifth-grader Ahmed Mutaher told MintPress News:

When you have a school destroyed and teachers refuse to teach you, then it becomes necessary to join the battlefield or to work.”

Ahmed Mutaher, like many school-aged children in Yemen, will likely forgo trying to get an education this year and instead either head to the front lines or seek a living elsewhere in the labor market.

Child labor in Yemen is a deeply rooted issue which was a problem well before the onset of war. In a 2013 study, the ILO, the Social Development Fund, and UNICEF reported that more than 1.3 million children were involved in child labor in Yemen.

Even more alarming is the fact that al-Qaeda and ISIS have taken full advantage of the desperation to lure students who left school to join their ranks. With the rise of poverty, their unfettered access to social media, and a pool of young men with few other options, recruiting into extremist groups has become easier than ever in Yemen.

Last week, the United Nations reiterated the importance of education, warning that children who cannot go to school in a country like Yemen face a bleak future and are early targets for military recruiters. At least 2,635 boys have been recruited and are being used by armed groups across Yemen.

The lack of access to education has also pushed desperate families to dangerous alternatives, including early marriage. A 2016 survey in six governorates revealed that close to three-quarters of women were married before the age of 18 and 44.5 percent before the age of 15. Children without access to education often become illiterate and never develop the skills needed to raise successful children, transmitting poverty to the next generation.

As 16-year-old Samiah al Matri told MintPress:

Unlike my older sisters, who dropped out of school to get married, I have received a lot of support from my father, but that was before the war. Now, my father has the idea of marriage again.

Samiah’s father is a government official who — like many parents — has not received a salary and is unable to afford a private education.

Enduring psychological trauma

APTOPIX YemenA child injured in a deadly Saudi-led coalition airstrike rests in a hospital in Saada, Yemen, Aug. 12, 2018. Hani Mohammed | AP

For those fortunate enough to escape death, injury or forced conscription, the haunting specter of psychological trauma still awaits.

Ebrahim AbdulKareem recounted to MintPress the toll the war has taken on his son, fourth-grader AbdulKareem.

Every night since last year, AbdulKareem wakes up in the middle of the night crying and calling out in fear as the sounds of airplanes and explosions engulf the capital and our home every night. The psychological effects of war on our son are severe.”

AbdulKareem survived an airstrike that targeted his family’s home in 2015. He lives with his family in the al-Rwadhah zone near the city’s international airport, an area that has come under severe and continuous bombardment since the war began.

As UNICEF said last month, “more than 70,000 children are receiving psychosocial support. More than 131 schools have been rehabilitated; others are currently being rehabilitated.” But, ultimately, many of Yemen’s children will carry the emotional burden of this war for the rest of their lives.

Asma Juhaff, a social worker who works with children, told MintPress:

It is rare to find a normal child, even among kindergarteners. Both at home and at school; words like surrender, warplane, shoot, enemy, kill, and Kalashnikov are often heard as children play together.”

While all eyes are on Syria’s Idlib, US continues to decimate Yemen

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The US is ready to defend Syria from a brutish assault launched by Syria’s own government and its allies – or so Washington wants you to believe. In the backdrop, Yemen continues to burn in silence.

On September 3, US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley – eloquent diplomat that she is –  retweeted a tweet from the warmonger in chief that is the US president, with the caption “All eyes on the actions of Assad, Russia and Iran in Idlib.”This is the same US administration who just facilitated the bombing of a school bus in Yemen, slaughtering at least 40 children in the process.

Maybe, just maybe, Nikki Haley should keep her eyes on herself.

If the world did direct its eyes to what is taking place in Yemen, they would know that the United Nations has just warned of an “incalculable human cost” in the works, as the US and its allies press forward with an offensive to retake the Yemeni port city of Hodeida from the Houthi rebels.

That’s right. The US, currently waving its arms in despair about human rights abuses and chemical weapons attacks that have not even taken place in Syria yet, is supporting a major offensive of its own that will lead to a humanitarian crisis of monumental proportions.

Yemen, a country already deeply in crisis, relies on the port of Hodeida for at least 70 percent of its humanitarian aid. It therefore makes sense from a humanitarian perspective to turn its location into a major war zone, am I right?

The small minority of people who are inclined to care about innocent Yemenis need not fret though. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has just this week certified that the Saudi-led coalition is taking sufficient steps to protect civilians. According to Pompeo, the Gulf nations involved are “undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians.” 

They are taking steps, in the view of the US government and this administration, in the right direction,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a briefing, according to Reuters“We see them taking steps. Is it perfect? No absolutely not. Do we see them doing what they can to mitigate civilian casualties? Absolutely we do.”

Thank God – I was getting worried there for a second. The US-backed Saudi-led coalition may be killing children as if they were ants, but they are taking steps to mitigate the number of children they are killing at the same time.

A seven-page memo sent to Congress and obtained by the Intercept further confirmed Pompeo’s delusional thinking, as the memo called Saudi Arabia and the UAE “strong counter terrorism partners.” Never mind that just last month, the Associated Press reported the US and its allies were actually recruiting Al-Qaeda fighters to join the coalition.

Oops.

While the Trump administration is taking a horrifying and bloody war and taking it to new depths, the truth of the matter is that this war did not begin under Donald Trump.

The war in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation, fast becoming the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, was started by none other than peace-prize laureate Barack Obama himself.

But why did this war start, and why has the US continued to support it?

In an overlooked interview with the Real News’ Aaron Maté, Rob Malley, President of the International Crisis Group and former Special Assistant to President Obama, gave a disturbing glimpse into who actually pulls the strings on US foreign policy.

According to Malley:

“To try to understand what the Obama administration was about, and I’ve tried to- just to try to, to explain it to myself, to try to understand how we got to where we are, let’s not forget at the time we were in the middle of these negotiations with Iran, trying to reach a nuclear deal which was extremely unpopular with our traditional allies in the region, from Israel to Saudi Arabia to the UAE and others. And the Saudis came to us and said that they were about to intervene in Yemen, to attack the Houthis that had toppled the legitimate government of the internationally recognized government at the time. And they asked for our assistance…”

“So there was on the one hand a number of voices expressing concern about that. But on the other hand were many people saying the relationship with Saudi Arabia is almost at breaking point. They believe we’d betrayed their trust for a number of reasons. But Iran, Iran negotiating the Iran deal, or the negotiations over the Iran deal was one of them. We needed to protect that deal and make sure that we could get it done, because if we didn’t have a deal there was a risk of a war with Iran. And so I think the decision was made in the end by President Obama to say we’re going to be, to support parts of this war…”

Only a peace prize laureate could pull off a feat like that. But all joking aside, the human cost of the war in Yemen is nothing short of shameless.

On October 8, 2016, an aerial bombardment targeted a crowded funeral in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, the aftermath of which was aptly described as a “lake of blood.” According to the UN, more than 140 Yemenis were killed and at least 525 others were injured.

To date, the US-backed Saudi-led coalition has struck well over 100 hospitals, as well as wedding parties, refugee camps, food trucks, factories, transport routes, agricultural land, residential areas, and schools, to name a few. Yes, you read that right. Yemen, with only 2.8 percent of its land being cultivated, is actively targeted by the US-backed coalition. According to Martha Mundy, professor emeritus at the London School of Economics, “to hit that small amount of agricultural land, you have to target it.”

Prior to spiralling into chaos, Yemen was already dependent on imports for 90 percent of its staple foods and almost all of its fuel and medical supplies. Putting aside the mass amount of violence that the US-backed coalition has enacted, the rest of Yemen’s population is suffering due to the Saudi-imposed blockade, which has put half the population at risk of starvation. According to the UN, over 462,000 children under the age of five are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

This is done completely on purpose. At the end of August this year, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, threatened that he would continue targeting women and children in Yemen and allegedly said that he wants to “leave a big impact on the consciousness of Yemeni generations.”

We want their children, women and even their men to shiver whenever the name of Saudi Arabia is mentioned,” the Crown Prince reportedly said.

The idea, advanced by Pompeo and his cohorts at the State Department, that the coalition has taken steps to avoid civilian casualties is by all accounts, complete nonsense. As the New York Times openly acknowledged:

“The first problem was the ability of Saudi pilots, who were inexperienced in flying missions over Yemen and fearful of enemy ground fire. As a result, they flew at high altitudes to avoid the threat below. But flying high also reduced the accuracy of their bombing and increased civilian casualties,” American officials said. “American advisers suggested how the pilots could safely fly lower, among other tactics. But the airstrikes still landed on markets, homes, hospitals, factories and ports, and are responsible for the majority of the 3,000 civilian deaths during the yearlong war, according to the United Nations.”

In addition to supplying billions of dollars’ worth of arms to the Saudi kingdom, US personnel provide overwhelming assistance to the Saudi-led coalition to help bring Yemen to its knees by sitting in the Saudi’s command and control center, providing lists of targets, refuelling planes, running intelligence missions, and so forth.

If Donald Trump is so concerned with migrants and refugees, perhaps he should stop creating them. If he really cares about ‘America first’ and making America great again, perhaps racking up notches to America’s war crime belt is not the way to go. Legal experts have already warned the US government that its complicity in these attacks can make them a co-belligerent in Saudi Arabia’s vast, extensive list of war crimes. This warning has fallen completely on deaf ears and has not helped at all in deterring the Trump administration from continuing some of Barack Obama’s worst policies; and even now the US continues to shelter the Saudi-led coalition so that it can continue its bloodthirsty policies unabated.

Make no mistake, if the US pulled its support for Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s suffering could stop tomorrow.

Watch out for Assad though; I heard he was about to retake a Syrian city from an Al-Qaeda affiliate. Remember Al-Qaeda, the notorious terror group the US claimed was the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks? Apparently, the entire US government doesn’t, as it allies itself with Al-Qaeda in just about every battlefield that counts.

In the meantime, ordinary Yemenis continue to suffer by the millions. If you can absorb all of this and still believe the US is genuinely concerned about human rights abuses in places like Syria, then you probably deserve what’s to come next.

By Darius Shahtahmasebi
Source

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