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. They have bombed schools, hospitals, water purification plants and electric power stations. They have routinely targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure with US planes refueled in the air by US airforce technicians. Entire cities have been destroyed in the northern part of Yemen along the Saudi border. The Houthis and remnants of the Yemeni army still controlled by ex-president Saleh are fighting back. They have even retaliated by bombing southern Saudi Arabia. How dare they!
The port cities of Yemen have been under siege for two years. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) now control whole cities in the south of Yemen while American, French and British Ships patrol the Gulf of Aden, enforcing that siege. They are the foot soldiers of the Saudi air war. And yet, Donald Trump sent in a Special Ops goon squad to attack some tribesmen with a peripheral wartime alliance to them. How are these people to survive?
More than a year ago, Iranian ships filled with rice and water and medical supplies were turned away from the port of Hodeideh by Saudi bombs and threats. All aid goes to the US base in Djibouti where it is inspected and then turned over to the United Nations for delivery. The aid only goes to locations and people the Saudi forces wish to have it. Houthis’ areas get nothing. People in disputed areas get nothing.
For more than a year we have been hearing that famine is imminent in Yemen. The truth is that famine had already made a nest in Yemen and begun to prey on the population before the cry ever went out. And already uncountable precious babies and children have died there due to the arrogance and aggression of the Saudi Princes and the arrogance and cruelty of the US imperial war machine. Civilians of every stripe are dying every day, men women and children.
So why ask now, for an exception for Hodeideh? Why not ask for the US military to end this vicious war where one country, Saudi Arabia, has launched a criminal war of aggression against it’s neighbor, Yemen, This war could not go on for one more day without US support and patronage? Why not demand that the perpetrators of this incredible crime against humanity be brought to justice? Line them up I say, starting with Barack Obama, John Kerry, and moving on to King Salman and little Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s illegitimate President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, who fled the country when he saw he had no mandate to control it. Riding high on a wave of righteous self empowerment, they have murdered tens of thousands (yes, I know that is more than the UN counts) and left the dead uncounted, dead of shrapnel and buried in the graves of their bombed out homes, dead of hunger an thirst, dead of preventable diseases or living in subhuman conditions with no end to the attack in site.
And why? Do they really think that Mr. Hadi is the ‘legitimate’ president of a country that didn’t want him, a man chosen by US and Saudi opportunists; a man who never ran against an opponent in an election and who refused to hold a new election when his mandate ended? Is this the legitimate government of Yemen? Do they really believe that the fiercely independent Houthis whose ancestors ruled Yemen for centuries are Iranian ‘proxies’? Do they really think that the remnants of Mr. Saleh’s army, the only organized military force in the country, is an extension of Iranian policy? I don’t think so and I don’t think they do either.
The war is a story of avarice and arrogance. The Saudi family wishes to expand their domain. They want to control the gulf ports. And the US, in it’s overweening arrogance will support the interests of their most aggressive gladiator on the world scene. They too want to control the ports that control the southern oil corridors. But where have we been for the last 2 years? Why the sudden concern, and why not demand now that the forces of Saudi Arabia be reined in, and that they and their enablers face charges as war criminals in international courts? We now have activists complaining about the closing of the last port of entry, which is only half open now, and only open to allies of Yemen’s attackers without condemning the war itself and those who have imposed it on the people of Yemen.
So let’s not talk about the famine that will soon occur in Yemen. Let’s look at the famine that has taken hold of Yemen and at those who deliberately caused this situation. Let’s demand, not the continued partial functioning of a single port, but an end to the war against the people of Yemen. If Yemen is saved from the war, then Hodeideh will also be set free. Lets demand that the Saudi airforce stand down and food and water and medical aid be flooded into the country. Lets demand that the many political factions inside Yemen be allowed and supported to meet in Sana’a and begin to resolve their differences.