Yemen Crisis: Trapped American – Freed Hostage

I wasn’t following this story in real time, but when it came to my attention today, the irony was too poignant to ignore.   A friend just sent me the content of an post from  Journalist Casey Coombs on the First Look, Intercept website.on May 4.   It is called “Stuck In Yemen: A Personal History“.  In the article, Coombs describes being stranded in Sana’a during the Saudi bombing campaign because the United States decided not to rescue US nationals in the country.

On April 30, the U.S. State Department posted updated information for Americans in Yemen with this printed in bold: “There are no plans for a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of U.S. citizens at this time.  If you wish to depart Yemen, you should stay alert for other opportunities to leave the country.” 

So there he is.  Abandoned in a war zone.  Fortunately, the locals are friendly, including the Houthis guarding a nearby outpost..

A month later, he is an American Hostage of the Houthis, freed by the Sultan of Oman.

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Aleppo a city ravaged by “Islamic State” and Imperialism.

This is another report from my friend, a long time resident of the west who went home to assist his ailing parents in Aleppo this spring.

This is an authentic report from an Aleppo resident whose identity is protected for their own security.  They are living through the daily hardships of life in an externally created war zone.  Water and electricity shortages, NATO & US backed terrorists embedded in multiple areas of the city creating random buffer zones where the risk of being sniped or shelled is a daily occurrence. I have retained as much as possible of the original report with minimal editing as its important to maintain the narrative as it is, raw and heartfelt, from someone who sees this ravaged city as home.

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Petition with 110,000 Signatures Rejected by White House

A year ago, I signed a petition on ‘We the People‘, a White House website, requesting President Obama to intercede on behalf of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani national currently detained at Carswell prison in Texas, with an 86 year sentence.  The petition asks that she be repatriated to Pakistan.

It has, to date, received 110,407 signatures, including my own.   Yesterday, I received an email response to the petition, which says, in part:

Thank you for signing this petition concerning Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, who in September 2010 was sentenced to 86 years in prison for attempted murder and other crimes

As the We the People Terms of Participation explain, to “avoid the appearance of improper influencethe White House may decline to address certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies, federal courts, or state and local government.”

That’s why we’re declining to comment on the specific request raised in this petition.

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More Postcards from Aleppo

Nothing much took place in the city within the last week. “Normal” launching and shelling in the background. For the first time for me, I saw some mortars from the national army shelled at the terrorist areas at night, reddish slow mortars flying in the sky, then I wait for like 20 seconds after they disappeared from my sight, then the “booom” noise.   People with experience in directions and areas would say right a way that this is against this or that nest of terrorists, but I don’t know. Those were definitely not a jet rocket nor the so-called “barrel bombs”. As i said, it’s pretty slow. The rockets launched from ground are way faster and much noisier.  The ones from jets have a different voice as well. In general, it’s pretty”normal”, and relatively “calm”.  .. . . . .


– electricity is off since almost a month, except for couple of hours yesterday, when we turned on our AC’s for the first time since ages in this summer, and partially the last 3 summers.  .. . . . .

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Some Notes on the Conflict in Yemen

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 […]

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The Saudi Proxy in the 21st Century

The United States relationship with Saudi Arabia is, on the surface, a mystery.   Saudi Arabia has been a U.S. proxy and a protectorate for nearly 100 years, yet it remains a very foreign  entity, which consistently engages in activities uncomfortable for US public sensibilities.   Wahabism, the state religion of Saudi Arabia, deeply meshed with the government, is the narrowest and most radical fundamentalism in the Muslim world.   Strict social limitations on women and a particularly harsh form of Sharia law are maintained by the Saudi regime.

Despite the fact that the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center was largely financed in Saudi Arabia, and 19 out of 21 hijackers were Saudi nationals, U.S. officials quitely flew a number of Saudi officials and some members of  the bin Laden family out of the country while the airspace was still technically closed.  In fact, Saudi Arabia is the single most generous financier of al Qaeda across the globe to this day.   Currently, the United States is supporting a barbaric Saudi bombing campaign against neighboring Yemen that has tkilled large numbers of civlians, destroyed much of the infrastructure and created severe shortages of food, water and medicine.

The Saudi regime, like Netanyahu in Israel, is dismayed by the Obama plan to reintegrate Iran with the global community through a comprehensive nuclear agreement.   And rightly so.

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Stop the War on Yemen

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.

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Selling Out Greece

The Greek people were given an opportunity to say whether or not  they were willing to accept the toxic bailout offered by the EU.    The  result of the referendum was a solid NO!   The very next day, Yanou Varoufakis, Finance MInister and  the most dedicated, intelligent and articulate spokesman in the  Syriza government, who was focused on building an alternative solution, was driven out of his position as the pivotal negotiator.

Within a week, Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsiparas, took the deal the people had voted to reject.   The people of Greece, ceased to be news, and the EU package became the central topic of discussion.

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The Temple of the Storm God presides over the old city of Aleppo.

Postcards from Aleppo

I reached Aleppo yesterday (Tuesday) safely after a long trip. I just wanted to tell you so, no need for worries.
My father’s health is not so good. . . .

On the way, we saw many liberated towns.  However they were completely empty of people. The inhabitants had fled those areas after they were occupied by terrorists and never came back after they wre liberated   In Aleppo destroyed buildings are a pity to sight and heart. But it’s busy with people around and close by. The closer I came to home, the more memories came back to me. People have found alternative solutions for almost everything.

If corruption was 2-fold prior to the crisis, it’s 200 fold today.  Unfortunately this is a very bad personal experience and not a thing I’m proud of.

Sounds in the background of bombing, shelling, …etc. Not much, but they are at all times, day and night. All are from Syrian army against the others, as I’ve been told. It seems the terrorists carried out a big attack a few hours prior to my arriving, maybe a tunnel filled with explosives or something like that.

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Messages from Iraq: Refugees in Cankiri Turkey

As I write I am looking out a bus window at a beautiful landscape of rolling hills and mountains. Everything is green, and the trees are budding. It is hard to know where to begin. In the past week, I have traveled hundreds of miles by bus and train in order to visit Iraqi refugees living here. Eskisehir, Ankara, Bolu, Mersin and now Cankiri. Some of the families are refugees twice over, having fled to Syria where we first met them some years ago. Others fled more recently after ISIS took Mosel last June and then the surrounding villages. Some of them I was meeting for the first time. Muslims, Christians and Palestinians, all from Iraq.

Last night Iraqi friends, refugees themselves, took me to a family I had not yet met. I thanked them for receiving me and explained how many people come with me on this trip wanting to know how he and his family are doing.

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