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      What is Going on in Yemen? What is Canada's Role in This War?

      Chris Cook of Gorilla Radio Interviews Author,
      Activist and Fire This Time Journalist Azza Rojbi

      Chris Cook: Welcome back to Gorilla Radio. Well, April begins the 8th year of the world's most dire humanitarian crisis, the asymmetrical conflict in Yemen. They're backed by Western nations. Saudi Arabia has led a coalition of wealthy Arab states in a protracted war that has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians and threatens millions more. Well, I haven't talked to somebody who's written a book about it, and I'm really anxious to get your take on it, and especially from a Canadian point of view. What is Canada doing right now? What is Canada's role in this ongoing war?

      Azza Rojbi: Definitely. I think that's a really good question and a very important thing to talk about. And this doesn't, unfortunately, get covered by a lot of the media in Canada. So, I'm glad to be here and able to speak about this issue because Canada is basically fueling this humanitarian crisis, this war that's happening in Yemen for over seven years now. We are entering the eighth year of the war, and even the United Nations has called Canada twice as one of the countries fueling the war. One might ask, how is Canada doing this? Canada, the United States, and other European countries have consistently and are still selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, the main country leading the war against the people of Yemen. So, by continuing to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, we are continuing to fuel this war. So, for example, since the start of this war in 2015, Canada has exported over $8 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia. So basically, the Liberal government of Canada is making a profit at the expense of Yemeni lives. This war has created a tragedy in Yemen. It is the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

      Chris Cook: Well, in 2019, Azza, the same year that your book was released, Canada signed an international treaty, the arms treaty agreement that Canada said it would not export arms into conflict areas. That was a part of the treaty. And yet they're still selling arms to the Saudis, as you mentioned. How does Canada rectify these two seemingly disparate positions?

      Azza Rojbi: Exactly. That's a very good point, Chris, because I think that's a point that unfortunately shows the hypocrisy of the government of Canada. On one point, signing such a treaty, and then on the other end, continuing to arm and fund, and sell weapons to Saudi Arabia. Another important piece is that the Liberal Trudeau government has said that they were going to look and review these arms sales with Saudi Arabia. They paused them for a little bit. They went and reviewed them and then came back and said, all is good here, nothing to see. We're going to continue selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. This is total hypocrisy by the government of Canada. But we can look at it from the point of view of how basically Saudi Arabia, after the United States, is the largest buyer of Canadian military goods. And so, of course, unfortunately, Canada is prioritizing profit for the big manufacturing of military and weaponry as opposed to prioritizing the life of the people of Yemen. And so the government of Canada is continuing to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia to fuel this war. Despite the hypocrisy that you're pointing out, Chris, and many other hypocrisies really, Canada is talking about being a champion of human rights and Trudeau being a feminist leader and championing human rights around the world while continuing to arm a country that is a despotic monarchy regime, who has human rights abuses against their own people, but also has been killing and continuing this war against the people of Yemen for over seven years now.

      Chris Cook:Well, we've suffered Justin Trudeau for just as long, and he's reversed himself on many positions in that period. What are the opposition in the House saying about the continuing Canadian supplying of arms to the belligerent Saudi Arabia?

      Azza Rojbi: Yeah, and unfortunately, the issue of Yemen has not been really at the forefront of discussions either in the media in Canada or the Parliament of Canada. But it's also important to point out that different Members of Parliament from the NDP have supported and sponsored a petition to the Parliament of Canada against the sale of weapons. A coalition of organizations, including us in Vancouver with Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), and other groups from across Canada came together under an umbrella that Canada stop arming Saudi, and we reached out to different Members of Parliament. And so the MP Matthew Green, an NDP Member of Parliament, sponsored this petition.

      I would invite folks listening here today and wondering, what can I do? What can I do to add pressure on my Member of Parliament, whether I live in Victoria, whether I live in Vancouver, Manitoba or anywhere around Canada? As the Canada Stop Arming Saudi Coalition, there are little things that we invite people to do. I will just explain to people quickly that we have, as I mentioned, this petition sponsored by MP Matthew Green. It is open for signatures. People are encouraged to sign it and share it. And we also we have created a tool that helps you to send an email directly to your Member of Parliament where you are expressing your opposition to the war, but specifically, your opposition to Canada continuing to sell arms to Saudi Arabia.

      So if folks are interested in signing the petition or sending the letter to a Member of Parliament, they can visit the Mobilization Against War & Occupation website www.mawovancouver.org.You can find these tools, and I encourage people to join us in this because we have to put pressure on the government of Canada. This issue is silent. This war has been going on for over seven years, and Members of Parliament rarely speak about it. So by joining with folks across Canada, we can put pressure on the government of Canada, saying this is enough, this war is enough, and the complicity of the government of Canada is enough.

      Chris Cook: Well, and again, that is Trudeau Stop Arming Saudi Arabia. Canada Stop Arming Saudi. Go to the website and that is www.mawovancouver.org. So you can sign on to the petition Azza mentions there. Azza well about this ongoing disaster in Yemen, it's difficult to get consistent information about it, even about something as simple as the amount of casualties being suffered. Even when you go to organizations like Human Rights Watch, the numbers vary wildly. Can you give us a source of information on what's happening in Yemen that you trust?

      Azza Rojbi: Yeah, that's a very good point, Chris, because that really shows the general media silence and the lack of interest in the issue of Yemen. As you said, there is very little information when anybody tries to find out what's happening in Yemen. As you mentioned, there are not a lot of clear numbers or clear statistics. And part of that is that we must remember that the Saudi-led coalition has also been imposing a blockade on Yemen. This is an air, land and sea blockade, which also means that it's really hard for a lot of different aid organizations and humanitarian organizations actually to send their staff or to be able to work inside of Yemen. Collecting this data or collecting this different information and seeing what's happening on the ground in Yemen is hard. And a lot of the data that comes from what's happening in Yemen a lot of the time, as you mentioned, can be conflicting and not very straightforward. But the United Nations actually has been releasing data a little bit too late generally. For example, their most recent data is that almost 400,000 people were killed during this war on Yemen. If we think about this, nearly 400,000 people are tremendous loss of life in this war that has been going on for too long.

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      Follow Azza on Twitter: @Azza_R14

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