“This is a daily reality for us; the bombs fall from the sky day and night and we don’t know where it is safe.” - Abd-al-Fattah Hassan Abdullah, whose father was killed by a Saudi airstrike in Sa’da city, Yemen, July 2015.
The story of Abd-al-Fattah is the story of thousands of Yemenis suffering daily under the U.S.-backed Saudi-led brutal war on Yemen. Eighteen months after the beginning of the Saudi bombing campaign, the United Nations (UN) estimates that over 10,000 civilians were killed, at least 3 million people have been internally displaced and at least 200,000 were forced to leave the country.
The Saudi-led coalition began its military campaign in Yemen, also called “Operation Decisive Storm”, in March 2015 under the pretext of helping to restore the power of Yemen’s “legitimate” president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. However, not only has Mansour Hadi’s presidency term expired, but he also resigned from the presidential post on January 22, 2015 and later fled to Saudi Arabia. Any claim by Saudi Arabia or its allies that they are supporting a legitimate government in Yemen is misleading, and in fact a pure lie.
The Saudi-led coalition, backed by the U.S., includes the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Senegal and Sudan.
In April 2015, after a month of continuous indiscriminate bombing and destruction, Saudi Arabia announced the end “Operation Decisive Storm” and the start of a reconstruction effort named “Operation Renewal of Hope”.
Brigadier-General Ahmed al-Asiri, the coalition's spokesperson, announced in a press conference “Operation Decisive Storm” was a “success” and that “the primary goals of the campaign have been achieved and sovereignty has been protected.”
The reality of the situation on the ground in Yemen tells a different story. Saudi Arabia was unsuccessful in restoring to power their puppet, Mansour Hadi, and more importantly their bombings and killings failed to break the spirit of the Yemeni resistance.
Announcing the beginning of “Operation Renewal of Hope” is also complete farce and deception, as Saudi airstrikes resumed against the Yemeni people less than 6 hours after this announcement.
“Operation Renewal of Hope” = actually the UN’s highest-level humanitarian emergency
On July 1, 2015, the UN declared the situation in Yemen to be at the highest level of humanitarian emergency.
In addition to the brutal bombing campaign, the Saudi-led coalition imposed an air, sea and land blockade on Yemen, which prevents aid from reaching the Yemeni people and creates shortages of fuel, food, water and medical supplies.
According to UN figures, 21.1 million people in Yemen, which is more than 80 percent of its population, are in need of aid. Around 14.4 million people lack access to adequate healthcare services and 19 million lack access to clean water and sanitation, which increases the risk of contracting diseases such as cholera.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that 8 children are killed or injured every day in Yemen and about 320,000 children face severe malnutrition.
In a recent address on the humanitarian situation in Yemen, the UN Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator (USG/ERC) Stephen O'Brien said, “The humanitarian crisis in Yemen is one of the worst in the world… basic services and the economy are in near total collapse. Livelihoods have been destroyed, the price of basic goods has skyrocketed; imports of food, fuel and medicines are severely limited.”
Despite the high civilian death toll and the dire situation for people in Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition continues its criminal bombing campaign and is constantly violating international humanitarian law.
The use, production, sale and transfer of Cluster bombs are banned under the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which has almost 100 signatory states. Of course it comes as no surprise that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have not signed the convention. Civilians and particularly children have been the primary victims of such weapons.
What is at stake?
Saudi Arabia and its allies have been justifying the criminal war on Yemen under the pretext of stopping terrorism and restoring legitimacy and stability to Yemen.
Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Britain wrote a piece for the Telegraph newspaper titled, “Saudi Arabia is bombing in Yemen to bring peace and stability.”
It seems that Saudi definition of bringing peace to Yemen is by carpet bombing the country to the ground!
Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) do not have the wellbeing of the Yemeni people in mind! Their main goal is to stop and destroy the popular opposition movement, in favor of the U.S. and Saudi backed government of Mansour Hadi. By labeling the movement against the Hadi government as “Iranian-backed Houthis”, Saudi Arabia had tried relentlessly to undermine the broad popular movement for democracy and against corruption that started in Yemen in 2011.
The war on Yemen is part of a strategy by the U.S. and its imperialist allies to gain back and expand their hegemony over North Africa and the Middle East. They want to crash the Yemeni people’s quest and struggle for democracy and independence by blocking the formation of an independent state in Yemen.
An independent and free Yemen also represents a potential threat to the shaky Saudi monarchy and other Gulf States monarchies. The Saudi government is using the war on Yemen domestically in the hopes of rally more support and to generate patriotism in its population, especially as they continue their crack down on peaceful protests in the eastern region of the country. The Saudi media’s uncritical and widespread coverage of the “successful” military mission in Yemen also helps the Saudi regime to divert attention from its political and economic problems, rising youth unemployment, and the increase in austerity cuts.
U.S. proxy war by Saudi Arabia and UN lip service to Peace
It is important to remember that since 2002; the U.S. has been waging a covert “drone war” in Yemen in the name of fighting terrorism and killing al-Qaeda militants. To this day the US continues its drone strikes on Yemen with the most recent strike reported on September 23 2016.
From day one of the Saudi led bombing on Yemen, the White House posted a statement declaring: “President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC-led military operations.”
As the Wall Street Journal reported: “American military planners are using live intelligence feeds from surveillance flights over Yemen to help Saudi Arabia decide what and where to bomb, U.S. officials said.”
As much as the White House wants to hide it, the U.S. is at the forefront of the war on Yemen and is an accomplice to all of the crimes and atrocities committed by the Saudi-led coalition.
In an interview with “CBS This Morning” in September 2015, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, was asked about a Saudi-led airstrike that hit a Yemeni wedding party, killing more than 130 civilians. Adel al-Jubeir said that the coalition was "very careful in picking targets." He continued, "We have very precise weapons,” and "We work with our allies, including the United States, on these targets."
The U.S. might not be the one pulling the trigger but it is providing the weapons, the ammunition and the targets!
Since 2010 Saudi Arabia has purchased more than $100 billion in arms from the U.S., and has been replenishing its stockpile throughout its bombing campaign against Yemen.
Further evidence from a headline from the Washington Post, which reads: “Saudi Arabia appears to be using U.S.-supplied white phosphorus in its war in Yemen.”
Canada is no stranger to this imperialist game
On March 27, 2015, Rob Nicholson, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs in Canada, released a statement. In it he outlined, "Canada is concerned by the deteriorating situation in Yemen resulting from the ongoing military actions taken by Houthi rebels... Canada supports the military action by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Cooperation Council partners and others to defend Saudi Arabia's border and to protect Yemen’s recognized government at the request of the Yemeni president."
Make no mistake, the Trudeau Liberal government is continuing the same line and the same policies as their former Conservative counterparts. The Trudeau government is pretending to champion human rights while closing a blind eye to Saudi war crimes against the people of Yemen.
According to the government of Canada website: “Saudi Arabia is currently Canada’s second largest export market in the region. Trade and economic interests continue to be at the forefront of Canada’s bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia.”
Alongside the U.S. and U.K. military support for Saudi Arabia, the Trudeau government announced that it is moving ahead with the world's second largest arms deal with Saudi Arabia, a $15 billion deal to supply armored vehicles. In an interview on a French talk show, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau dismissed the military vehicles as merely “jeeps”!
According to an article by the Globe and Mail newspaper, “The light-armoured vehicles, or LAVs, will be equipped with machine guns, medium- or high-calibre weapons or even big-barrel guns that can fire 105mm shells or anti-tank missiles.”
With this sale, Canada isn't just selling Saudi Arabia weapons; it is also sending the Saudi government a message of political and ideological support.
U.S., U.K., Saudi Arabia & Canada Stop Atrocities in Yemen!
According to the Guardian newspaper, Badran Sharah, 28, who is living in Sana’a as a refugee, lost his son and uncle in what he called this “ugly war”. Sharan explains, “they died because of internationally banned bombs, cluster bombs.” He further explained, “people in Yemen suffer from daily massacres committed by Saudi raids. I blame USA, UK, UN, and those who are taking part in Saudi’s aggression, as well as the people all over the world for their silence about what is going on in Yemen. Yemen’s future will be tragedy if the world keeps silent.”
As peace-loving people living in Canada, the United States, and around the world, we can’t afford to be silent anymore! We must support the struggle of the Yemeni people by demanding an end to the Saudi-led bombing campaign.
It is becoming increasingly difficult and embarrassing for the U.S., U.K. and Canada to unconditionally defend the Saudi-led coalition’s actions and justify their war crimes. Voices of opposition internationally are condemning the Saudi war on Yemen and the complicity of western governments.
Peace and social justice activist in the U.S., Canada and several European countries are organizing and mobilizing people against the bombing campaign on Yemen and against their respective governments’ arms deals with Saudi Arabia.
Vancouver’s peace coalition Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) has also been part of the international fight to support the people of Yemen. MAWO has been organizing, rallies, petition drives and educational forums to demand an end to the Saudi-led bombing campaign against Yemen. MAWO has also been on the streets of Vancouver protesting and petitioning against Canada's $15 billion arms deal with the Saudi monarchy.
The Yemeni people have shown brave resistance to the Saudi and U.S. war on their country. On August 20th, a massive crowd of over a million Yemeni people joined together in the capital, Sana'a defying Saudi fighter jets and demanding an end to the brutal bombing campaign on their country.
Let’s join the people of Yemen in fighting back for their rights to freely choose the future of their country. The victory of the Yemeni people would represent a victory for people all around the Middle East, North Africa and the entire world. For Yemeni people the first step to freedom and democracy is to gain and enjoy their true self-determination, sovereignty and human rights.
Follow Azza on Twitter:@Azza_R14
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