Nine Senators have apparently sent a letter to the Saudi Ambassador demanding that they not destroy the Yemeni Port City of Hodeideh which is used by the United Nations to bring aid into the country. A campaign has been mounted by US activists to support this effort to save the port of Hodeideh. On the surface it seems like a compassionate gesture and I’m sure that these Senators must be sincere to have adopted such a hopeless and unpopular cause. But, I have a message for them. Wake up! guys. The people of Yemen are already starving. Babies are already dying of hunger and thirst, dysentery and all kinds of ordinary childhood diseases that are easily treated in modern medical facilities. Teenage boys go to war instead of to school. Men go to war instead of work. And they are martyred every day in a cruel war of aggression.
For more than 2 years the Saudi airforce, supported by some of their gulf allies and fully backed by US weapons and technical assistance, has been bombing the people and social and civil infrastructure of Yemen.
In February, President Trump gave the go-ahead to a Special Ops Mission in Yemen that was originally planned on Obama’s watch. Numerous civilians were killed including 9 children, one of whom was Anwar Awlaki’s 8 year old daughter. The event was widely, but not deeply covered in the U.S. MSM. The focus was on blaming Donald Trump. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism ran The Full Details of Botched US Raid in Yemen within a couple of days, naming the victims and providing information about them. Since then, The Intercept ran an even more personalized article with interviews of the local people. They must have someone inside Yemen. Meanwhile, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that the number of drone strikes in Yemen has exploded since President Trump came into office. Apparently the new President is also thinking of waiving a Congressional block on selling certain types of weapons to Saudis for use in Yemen. It is difficult to imagine appropriate use of any weapon against the defenseless population of Yemen, but even so, Mr. Trump has once again iced the cake of mindless international intervention and destruction.
On one of the list serves I frequent, someone asked the question, who will go to Yemen and tell us their story. I’ve actually been thinking about this. Yes. It seems crazy, but it would be something to go there and show some compassion for the people and bring back their stories. Of course, The Intercept is already doing that. But, I was mulling the difference between going to Syria to talk with people and going to Yemen.
I wish I could go to Yemen to document what it is happening there.
The war in Yemen has most often been described to us either as a civil war between the government of Yemen and its supporters, and a Houthi tribal militia. It is also represented as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia backing the Sunni government of Yemen and Iran backing a Shia insurgency led by the Houthis, a Zaydi tribe from northern Yemen. Neither description is entirely accurate. To understand what is happening in Yemen, it is useful to understand the factions who are fighting, and specifically, the Houthis.
The ‘correct’ title of the political movement we call the Houthis is Ansarullah. They are not a tribal organization but rather a revolutionary movement. They are also not a Shia movement. Zaydi Islam, though referred to by the Saudis as a Shia Islam, is in practice, much closer to Sunnism and in the north of Yemen, Sunni and Zaydi often worship in the same mosque. In fact, Ansarullah, the group we know as the Houthis, has broad popular support because they espouse populist values.
The reason Ansarullah came to be called Houthis is that in 2004, they informally took the name of Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, who died while fighting in an insurrection against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Al Houthi was so beloved that the members of the organization began to call themselves ‘Houthis’ or ‘the Houthi Movement’. But you may ask, why was a Houthi leading this movement and in what context did they emerge?
I prepared the Fact Sheet below to distribute at a film being shown at the High Falls Film Festival. ‘Yemeniettes‘, a documentary film made by a Lebanese film company, follows a group of teenage girls who win a regional science contest from their enthusiastic invention to a local contest in Sana’a and then on to Doha, and then through the events that follow their winning this international contest. It is a delightful scenario with many unspoken contradictions, Though a level of the background violence is reflected in the film it mostly focuses on these very liberal Yemeniettes with their innocent capitalist (as well as nationalist) aspirations.
Sadly, current events have overrun the context of this film and it seems unlikely there will be any more Yemeniettes (or Yemenis of any stripe) entering, much less winning, regional science contests any time in the foreseeable future. This is pertinent because the United States is providing all kinds of support to our Saudi allies in their war effort. If you enjoy this film, you should understand that.
This US backed, Saudi led campaign is an intrusion into the internal politics of Yemen
This US backed, Saudi led campaign has embroiled Yemen in an unnecessary civil war
The US backed, Saudi War against Yemen constitutes a Crime Against Peace and is the site of numerous War Crimes
We in the US are complicit in the Saudi crimes against the People of Yemen!
For nearly a decade the United States has used drones to target and kill suspected members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen. Among others, US drones have killed busloads of civilians, guests attending weddings, taxi drivers, diners at a birthday party, people attending funerals and men attempting to reason with AQAP members. When we complained about these practices, in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and other places, one response was that it was better than carpet bombing like we did in World War II. That always seemed rather odd because World War II was a war, and the cities carpet bombed were ‘enemy’ cities.
I would say that, well, the places where the killer drones are operating are not places where it would be possible or ‘legal’ to carpet bomb. There would be no way to explain such a serious divergence from humanitarian law, the laws of war. They’ve made a fine point about targeting a globally dispersed enemy force, a point that I strongly disagree with though many are ready to buy it. One would think it would be beyond imagination to justify heavy bombing, carpet bombing in the same circumstance.
But Yemen has turned the world of ‘legal’ warfare on it’s head. Since last March, a Saudi led coalition of Gulf Emirates with US technical and political backing have been ferociously bombing Yemen
Saudi Arabia has used Cluster Bombs manufactured in the United States to bomb Yemen. Many civilians are killed and wounded in the initial attack where more than 600 bomblets are distributed across a wide area by exploding the main bomb in the air. Many of the bomblets don’t explode at the time of the initial attack, so they remain […]
This is the central city of the Houthi tribes from which the leadership of Ansarullah are are drawn. The video was posted in early July. Since then the aerial bombing has continued for nearly two months, and the ground fighting has increased. Yemen: ICRC calls for better access to civilians affected by continuing violence posted by the International Committee of […]
What is being reported right now The reporting on the conflict in Yemen, even within the peace and justice movement, has shifted significantly over the course of the Saudi bombing campaign. The beginning is getting lost in the chaotic and politically fraught present. Not surprisingly, all the latent factions in Yemen’s unstable past are now activated at cross purposes in […]
Even antiwar activists are now calling this a civil war. But that is not the way it began. This is a war against the people of Yemen, not between the political factions in Yemen. Violence is self perpetuating so ever more factions will take up arms as long as the fighting continues. Who will put an end to it? I believe that instead of giving up on international institutions, we should demand that they do their job in a just and equitable manner.
I delivered this petition [Stop the Saudi War on Yemen], as advertised, to the UN Security Council in mid April. I was very disappointed because the day before I delivered it, the United States was able to pass a resolution in the UN SC to condemn the Houthis rather than the Saudi invaders. There was, at the time of the Saudi aggression no reason why the political differemces in Yemen could not be resolved without destroying the country. UN negotiatiors were working with the vaious parties and negotiations were ongoing when ex-President Hadi first resigned, and then fled to Aden in an attempt to assert supremacy from a new base, and then on to Ryadh, triggering the Saudi aggression.
Since then, Saudi led air attacks have not ceased but continued, resulting in thousands more civilian deaths, tens of thousands of injuries and the destruction of the civil and material infrastructure of the country. With western assistance, the Saudi regime has maintained a blockade that has driven the people of Yemen to the brink of famine, has left them without adequate supplies of water and medicine.
A lecture by Caleb Maupin, a member of the United Nations Press Corps, and recently returned from traveling on the Iran Shahed, a Red Crescent aid ship that traveled to Yemen, but was turned back by Saudi violence and forced to deliver its cargo to the U.N. at a U.S. base in Djibouti. The Red Crescent doctors and medical service providers on the ship were very disappointed. Caleb addressed to a gathering organized in New York City by Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (F.I.S.T.), an Anarchist youth organization.