“Saudi planes have bombed the Technical School in our village of Manakha. In Amran, the cemetery has been destroyed and last week, in Sana’a, the oldest textile factory near Bab Al Shub was also hit by bombs. Our country is already so poor, what will be left after this war? What do the Saudis want; that our youth remain unschooled and without work and out of desperation, ready to join the ranks of Daech? [ISIS].”
Those are the words of Fatima Al Kohlani, 78 years old living in Sana’a. She lost friends and family members who died in the war in Yemen. Fatima and her family are far from alone. On May 25, 2016, an air strike carried out by the Saudi led coalition in Southern Yemen hit a family’s house killing 11 members of the family including 4 children. Death, suffering and mourning has been the reality of everyday life for hundreds of families in Yemen since the start of the Saudi led bombing.
The bombing campaign began after rebels opposed to the former President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi began to gain ground across the country including in the capital. Mansour Hadi resigned from being president on January 22, 2015 and later fled Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia was fast to declare war on Yemen arguing for national security and claiming to want to bring peace and stability to Yemen by re-instating Yemen’s ‘legitimate’ president Hadi. Where is the legitimacy of a president who resigns, fled his country and calls on foreign power to destroy, bomb and kill his own people?
The Saudi led coalition, backed by the US, began bombing Yemen and imposing an aerial and naval blockade on the country on 26 March 2015 under the title “Operation Decisive Storm”. The Saudi-led coalition includes United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Senegal and Sudan.
After a month of indiscriminate killings and destruction under international pressure, Saudi Arabia announced the end of “Operation Decisive Storm” and the start of “Operation Renewal of Hope”. This attempt of Saudi Arabia to appear less brutal was a complete farce as Saudi air strikes continued against the Yemeni people less than 6 hours after the announcement.
Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen intensifies
Since the Saudi bombing started, about 10,000 people have been killed, more than 30,000 people have been left injured, about 3 million remain displaced and 21.2 million Yemenis — 82 per cent of the total population — are currently in need of urgent humanitarian assistance according to the UN.
Day after day the situation in Yemen worsened, as air strikes destroyed not only many of Yemen’s ancient and beautiful historical sites, but also hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, housing complexes and other vital infrastructure. The shortage of fuel in the country has caused widespread power outages and forced hospitals to close, leaving those injured without medical care.
According to a report released in January 2016 by the Yemeni Civilian Association the Saudi attack on Yemen have destroyed around 345,722 houses, 262 hospitals, 810 schools and educational centers, 547 food stores, 530 bridges and roads and the list goes on!! Add to this destruction, Saudi Arabia maintained a cruel air and naval blockade of Yemen stopping commercial goods and humanitarian aid from reaching the most needed.
“The humanitarian situation in Yemen is among the world’s worst crises. The scale and intensity of the humanitarian situation here is bleak – and by many measures it’s continuing to get worse,” Jamie McGoldrick, the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, said in a press briefing in Sana’a.
A recent report released by UNICEF estimates that “nearly 2,300 children have been hurt in the most extreme and cruel ways in the past year. On average at least six children have been killed or maimed every day since March, 2015, a sevenfold increase compared with the whole of 2014.”
A U.N. annual report on children and armed conflict said the Saudi led coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen.
Use of Cluster bombs
On May 2015, Human Rights Watch visited the Saada province in the north of Yemen to compile a report on the use of cluster bombs in Yemen. Even after the release of the report and the international condemnation of the use of cluster bombs on civilians, the Saudi led coalition carried on with its inhumane and brutal bombing campaign.
“The coalition’s repeated use of cluster bombs in the middle of a crowded city suggests an intent to harm civilians, which is a war crime,” said Stephen Goose, Human Rights Watch arms director. “These outrageous attacks show that the coalition seems less concerned than ever about sparing civilians from war’s horrors.”
Cluster bombs are very dangerous as they contain hundreds of smaller explosive submunitions that are spread over a wide area and can leave unexploded munitions buried in the ground for decades to come. Civilians and particularly children have been the primary victims of such a weapon.
“These weapons should never be used under any circumstances. Saudi Arabia and other coalition members – and the supplier, the US – are flouting the global standard that rejects cluster munitions because of their long-term threat to civilians,” said Stephen Goose.
Photos and testimonies collected on the ground in Yemen by various human right organizations recorded that the Saudi led coalition used UK and US made cluster bombs against civilians in Yemen.
US hidden war on Yemen
US intervention and criminal track record in Yemen is not new! Since 2002, US have carried covered drone strikes in Yemen under the pretext of fighting terrorism. According to “The Bureau of Investigative Journalism” in London there were 147 drone strikes in Yemen between 2002 and 2016 with the most recent covert action carried on July 26, 2016. These criminal and illegitimate US drone strikes were responsible of the killing of close to 806 people in Yemen.
On June 2015, a CIA drone killed a 13-year old named Mohammed Tuaiman in al-Zur village in Marib province. Only few months before being killed Mohammed described to the Guardian newspaper in an interview how he lived in constant fear of the “death machines” that killed in 2011 his father and brother as they were out herding the family’s camels. He said in the interview “A lot of the kids in this area wake up from sleeping because of nightmares from them and some now have mental problems. They turned our area into hell and continuous horror, day and night, we even dream of them in our sleep.”
Mohammed’s family tragedy is not an isolated one. The tragedy and loss of Yemeni life has skyrocketed as the US continues its drone strikes and is backing the Saudi led bombing campaign on the country.
On March 25, 2015 the White House posted a statement declaring: “President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council]-led military operations.”
The Obama administration argued that it is not in war with Yemen and tried to downplay its involvement and confuse and deceive working people.
But we only have to look at the track record of the US government! The same Obama that said, “a decade of war is now ending.” in his 2013 inaugural speech, have since expanded further the new era of war and occupation in the Middle East and North Africa.
The United States is providing aerial refueling for planes flying with the Saudi led coalition, it is also providing targeting intelligence, as the Wall Street Journal cites “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.” The US Navy also has several ships nearby, including an assault ship and two destroyers.
On May 6, 2016, the US military has for the first time publicly acknowledged that US troops are operating inside Yemen to help pro-Hadi forces. Defense Department spokesman Navy captain Jeff Davis said that a “very small number” of military personnel has been working with “Arab Coalition”.
The hypocrisy of the US government is more and more clear as they continue to preach human and democratic rights while supporting and participating in the war crimes committed by their Saudi puppet regime against the innoc people of Yemen.
This brutal and inhuman war on Yemen was justified on the basis of stopping terrorism and restoring stability to Yemen. What the U.S. and the Gulf Cooperation Council are really trying to stop is a popular opposition movement to the US and the Saudi-backed government of Mansour Hadi. This movement has been labeled as so-called “Iranian-backed Houthis” but in fact the popular movement against the government, which began in 2011, was much broader than this.
The US and its puppet regimes in the gulf region don’t have the well being of the Yemeni people in mind. They want to expand their control and hegemony over the region and impose on Yemen a corrupt pro-imperialist government to serve their interest in a desperate move to quell the growing popularity of Iran in the region. Their biggest fear will be the formation of an independent state in Yemen chosen by the people of Yemen.
The people of Yemen will prevail
On March 26, 2016 thousand of Yemenis took to the street of Sanaa in a massive protest marking the one year anniversary of the Saudi led bombing campaign in Yemen.
The crowds included people from all different sects and political affiliations that all opposed the criminal Saudi war on Yemen.
The Middle East Eye, an online news portal, spoke to some protesters at the rally. Hamdi Abubaker, 28, said he was protesting because he lost his job in the tourism industry soon after the war began. “The Houthis took over Sanaa on 21 September 2014, and we continued to work until March 2015, and when the Saudi-led coalition started their campaign against Yemen we lost our jobs,” he said. “Saudi Arabia is our enemy and not the Houthis.” Hamdi stated that he was not a Houthi supporter but was against Hadi and his government, which “destroyed the country”.
Today about a year and a half after the start of the war on Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the US are continuing their air strikes and drone strikes on the country while claiming to want to find a diplomatic and peaceful solution to the war. They are basically trying to ease the international pressure by creating a climate of reconciliation and of endless peace negotiations while continuing to inflict death and destruction to the country.
The US, Saudi Arabia and their imperialist allies are denying the people of Yemen of their human rights, self-determination and sovereignty. But the people of Yemen have not stopped fighting back for their rights to choose the future of their country without foreign intervention.
Hands Off Yemen!
As peace loving people living in Canada, the United States, and around the world, we must support the struggle of the Yemeni people by demanding an end to the ongoing US drone war and the Saudi led bombing campaign on the country.
Vancouver’s peace coalition Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) have been organizing, rallies, petition drives and educational forums to demand an end to the Saudi led bombing campaign against Yemen and the lift of the blockade to allow commercial goods and humanitarian aid to reach people in need.
MAWO will also be participating in the First International Conference in Support of the Yemeni People held in London, UK, August 20th -21st. The conference is sponsored by Stop the War Coalition, Campaign Against Arms Trade, Human Rights for Yemen, Sheba for Democracy and Human Rights and Arabian Rights Watch Association.
This conference is a very important effort to bring together individuals, groups and coalitions against the war on Yemen. It will present a platform for international delegates to discuss the situation in Yemen and join their voices to demand an end to the Saudi led war and aggression on the country. For more information on the conference visit: www.shebarights.org
In Canada, we invite you to join the MAWO Yemen campaign which includes protests, street actions and public forums, to learn more and join us visit: www.mawovancouver.org
The victory of the Yemeni people in their struggle would not only mean defeat for the US, but a victory for people all around the Middle East and the entire world who are struggling for their sovereignty and democratic and human rights. The US, Saudi and the Saudi led coalition must respect self-determination for people of Yemen and hands off of their internal affair. This vicious, brutal, criminal and immoral bombing and destruction of Yemen must stop immediately.
Follow Azza on Twitter:@Azza_R14
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