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, a blog called Opposing Views reports that the number of drone strikes in Yemen has increased 432% since President Trump came into office. So, while Saudi Arabia leads a coalition that is using air strikes to bombard Yemen with US bombs from US planes, having killed upwards from 10,000 people over the last year, the US has decided to increase drone strikes on the same country exponentially. 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.
Yes, I wish I could go to Yemen to document what it is happening there, like I did in Iran and Iraq, Pakistan and Syria. Aside from any personal barriers I think that there are serious external barriers to getting into the country (Yemen) before you even come to the problem of navigating a war zone. The ‘Saudi Coalition’ has Yemen under siege and is setting the boundaries. They aren’t letting aid in. Why would they allow reports who aren’t going to tell exclusively their side of the story to go there and come back.
It would appear that the Saudi story doesn’t exist on the ground because they have their chosen ‘President’ for Yemen safely in Riyadh. It would appear that Mr. Hadi doesn’t care much about his people (if he has any in Yemen) because he is just fine with starving and murdering them; laying siege to the great seaports and international airports and bombing the crap out of the people and the necessary infrastructure of the country.
This is a clear distinction from the situation in Syria where the President continues to live with his wife and children in an apartment in downtown Damascus and go to his office every day to work. He has less personal security around him than the American President despite the war in his country for which he is blamed by US Government officials and mainstream propaganda, but not his people.
The scenario in Yemen is very different from that in a country where the government has protected as much as possible the necessary physical infrastructure and continues, lead by the President, to provide medical care, food and water for the people to the extent possible. Shortly after the war began, the President of Syria spoke with dissidents willing to talk to him and brought representatives of other parties and organizations into the Syrian Government. It is very different because Syria has a government that is united in the work of saving the country and the people from an onslaught of foreign mercenaries. It is different because the invaders of Yemen have a well heeled air force complete with U.S. trainers and U.S. intelligence and our European allies helping to secure the siege in the Arabian Sea.
Yemen is being bombed on behalf of a Saudi-Western Puppet President who was unwilling to share power with a large and diverse popular movement, and who avoids elections rather than winning them; a man who has given his approval for the destruction of his country by a foreign air force. It’s true the war has initiated complex patterns of fighting based on old animosities within the country but we might consider that some kind of early initiative for reconciliation could have laid them to rest once and for all. Bombing people puts them on edge. They lose trust when their children and elders are dying of starvation and lack of medical care. People with axes to grind feel free to swing them in an atmosphere of uncontrollable violence and death.
I could go to Syria because there is government and large numbers of people on the ground in relatively secure strongholds of that country who are willing to make my visit (and that of other reporters and activists) possible. We spoke to the Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations regularly in planning our trip there last summer. People say that is one sided because we didn’t go into the opposition area where our lives would be in danger, not from the government, but from the opposition themselves; an opposition that receives huge amounts of assistance from our government and their allies.
In Yemen, the people are defenseless. They don’t have a representative in the United Nations. They have an imploded government structure and a ‘legitimate’ President with no constituency within the country. I am told that AnsarAllah and the remnants of the Saleh government have formed some kind of parliament in Sana’a. But there is no trusted leadership across the country. The people and their representatives, such as they may be, remain imprisoned by the Saudi siege and cut off from the world. I doubt they can bring in fact finding missions from other countries and provide even basic security.
It is a shame because what we really need are peace delegations on the ground in Yemen. We need western human shields to stop the bombing. We need RT reporting from the war zone there. But to attempt to go there would put us in danger from the US allies of the Saudi Coalition just as going to Idlib would put you in danger from Al Nusra and going to Raqqa would put you in danger from ISIS.
It is sad and frustrating, the more so because people seem to buy the story that somehow we should give open ended support to the forces that despise us as much as they despise the majority of Syrian and Yemeni people. It is sad and frustrating to live in the most violent and dangerous country on earth with a media that spews propaganda about his bad person and that bad country 24/7 without a break. People give up. They have their own problems. They are numb. Almost a decade since the beginning of the Iraq War, and it continues to spread. They protested. The masses came out again and again. And nothing changed.
Yes. I’d like to go to Yemen and talk to the people. And, I wonder how the Intercept gets their stories. But mostly I’d like to live in a world where the people of Yemen and Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Honduras . . . oh the list is much longer . . . but I’d like to live in a world where those people did not have to carry the burden of U.S. wars for global hegemony.