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      Hands Off Yemen! Hands Off Bahrain!
      Imperialist Countries Impose More War and Destruction in the Middle East

      By Azza Rojbi

      ''The Gulf region has been recognized by every American President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt as an area of absolute vital strategic importance for the United States. Not only is it the energy storehouse of the world -- home to two thirds of the proven oil reserves of the globe -- but it is also the nexus where three continents come together. Nowhere else in the world have U.S. military forces been more actively engaged in the last quarter century than here.'' - Said Bruce Riedel, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst and currently one of the leading security experts in the US

      This excerpt is from a speech that Riedel gave at the Washington Institute's 1998 Soref Symposium, it outlines very clearly the United States policy towards the Gulf region. The US and their imperialist allies have their hands all over the Arabian peninsula, consolidating relationships with puppet regimes and working to stop the rise of any independent or sovereign government in the region.

      Two notable crises have been deepening in the Arabian peninsula and are showing the hypocrisy of the US government and its imperialist allies; the crisis of the Saudi led war on Yemen and the crisis of the tyrannical and repressive regime in Bahrain also with the help and assistance of Saudi regime.

      Yemen: Humanitarian Crisis Intensifies

      A headline from an Associated Press article dated October 31, reads "UN official says Yemen on verge of collapse". The article goes on to cite the UN Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator (USG/ERC) Stephen O'Brien as he ''told the Security Council that 80 percent of Yemenis, some 21.2 million people, need some form of humanitarian assistance and over 2 million people, including 370,000 children, are suffering from malnutrition.''

      It has been over 19 months since the US backed Saudi led coalition started its war against the people of Yemen. Schools, hospitals, homes, and other civilian infrastructure have been constantly bombed and destroyed by the Saudi airstrikes. According to the United Nations (UN), over 10,000 people have been killed and at least 3 million people have been internally displaced due to the Saudi led war on Yemen. Most recently, on October 8 2016, the Saudi led coalition bombed a funeral hall in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen. The Associated Press reported that at least 140 people were killed and more than 600 were wounded in the air strikes. Horrific photos and videos emerged of the human devastation as a result of this brutal attack.

      Scott Paul, Oxfam America Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor, said in a public statement referring to the bombing:'' this was a massacre of civilians, apparently carried out by Saudi warplanes fueled and supported by the United States. It is telling that after initially denying responsibility wholesale, Saudi Arabia announced an investigation into the attack with support from US experts. Not for the first time, Saudi Arabia is using US support to legitimize its criminal conduct and deflect international criticism''

      The United States and Its Imperialist Allies Have Blood on Their Hands

      Under the pretext of brining stability and legitimacy back to Yemen, the Saudi led coalition began its bombing campaign on 26 March 2015. Saudi Arabia has also imposed a naval, aerial and land blockade on the country which restricts people's travel and access to food, fuel, medicine and humanitarian aid. Since the beginning of the airstrikes, the US and UK have been closely providing logistical and political support to the Saudi led coalition. US airplanes carried out more the 1,000 refuelling sorties to refuel the coalition's fighter jets. American and British military officials have been present in the command and control centres with Saudi command officers.

      In addition the US has helped replenish Saudi Arabia's weapons. In 2015, the US government approved $20 billion in arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The U.K. has also approved £2.8 billion (about $3.4 billion) in arms sales to Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the war on Yemen.

      The US, UK and their imperialist allies are accomplice to all the atrocities committed by the Saudi led coalition against the people of Yemen. Contrary to what they pretend, this war is not to bring peace and stability to the Yemenis. The main objective is to diminish the popular movement for freedom and democracy in Yemen and assert the hegemony of the US and its imperialist allies over the Middle East and North Africa. A strong and independent Yemen is not in the interest of US or its puppet regime in Saudi Arabia.

      Building an Antiwar Movement in Defence of People of Yemen

      As peace loving people in North America we have the duty to defend the Yemeni people against this brutal war by the Saudi regime. We also have to hold our governments accountable for their support and complicity in this war crimes against Yemen. Canada is no different! The Canadian government approved a $15 billion arms deal to supply Saudi Arabia with armored military vehicles.

      Yemen is for Yemenis to decide who and how they want their government to be. In Vancouver, the antiwar 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, the cancelling of the Canadian arms deal with Saudi Arabia and the lift of the criminal blockade on the country to allow goods and humanitarian aid to reach people in need.

      Bahrain: Political Crises Deepens

      Since mid-February 2011, Bahrain have been the center of mass protests and demonstration on almost a daily bases. The brave Bahraini people rose up to fight for their democratic rights and were met with brutal crackdown from the ruling Al Khalifah regime with the help of military troops sent from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

      It is important here to note that the armored vehicles that Saudi Arabia sent to crush peaceful protest in Bahrain were very likely made in Canada and sold to Saudi Arabia throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. In May 2015, The Globe and Mail reported, “Asked if it believes the Saudis used made-in-Canada LAVs when they went into Bahrain, the Canadian government doesn’t deny this happened.” The Canadian government continues to turn a blind eye on Saudi human rights violations. A more sophisticated version of this armored vehicles is currently being sold to Saudi Arabia.

      Bahrain is a very strategic ally to imperialist countries. The kingdom is home to the Fifth Fleet of the United States Navy deployed in the Persian Gulf which include military ships, combat aircraft and more than 3000 US marines and sailors.

      On Saturday October 29, 2016, Britain's Express newspaper announced in an article the opening of a British military base in Bahrain ''A MASSIVE Middle Eastern military base will be opened by Britain for the first time in more than 40 years amid growing global tensions...Around 600 UK military personnel will be stationed at the Bahrain Royal Navy facility, which will be used as a platform to stamp out terror in the volatile region.''

      The interests of the US and their imperialist allies lies in keeping the current Bahraini tyrannical regime in power. It comes as no surprise that they overlook the Bahraini government inhuman and brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters.

      Repression and Oppression of Protest Continues

      Despite the government’s attempts to crush the opposition movement, the Bahraini people have continued their struggle against the U.S. puppet Al Khalifa dynasty’s over-40-year rule. The Bahrain government have been torturing and jailing human rights and pro-democracy activist, as well as revoking the citizenship of some and deporting them out of the country to try to silence their voices. Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, said in a report released on March 2016 that ''The increasing tendency to resort to expulsion of individuals who have had their nationality arbitrarily revoked is a chilling development that points to the wider erosion of human rights in Bahrain in recent years.''

      Recently on October 27 2016, a Bahraini court has imprisoned and revoked the citizenship of more than a dozen people. According to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights BCHR, more than 261 Bahrainis were stripped of their citizenship since 2012.

      Free Nabeel Rajab and All Political Prisoners in Bahrain!

      Nabeel Rajab, the President of BCHR and prominent human rights activist, has been detained since 13 June 2016 on charges of “false or malicious news, statements, or rumours,” “offending a foreign country” (Saudi Arabia), and “offending a statutory body” after tweets he published in 2015 about torture in Bahraini prisons and Saudi violations in the war on Yemen.

      Just recently the Bahraini High Criminal Court postponed the trial of Rajab to December 15 2016 for the fourth time in a row. This shows the lack of evidence against him and the constant attempt of the Bahraini government to gain time to construct a case against Rajab. Nabeel's health situation have been deteriorating in prison due to extremely poor and unhygienic conditions and his detention in solitary confinement.

      On September 4, 2016 Nabeel Rajab published an Op-Ed essay in the New York Times titled " Letter From a Bahraini Jail". After the article came out, The Bahraini prosecutors were quick to add a new charge against Rajab for publishing “false news and statements and malicious rumors that undermine the prestige of the kingdom.”

      Here is an excerpt from Nabeel's letter from prison: ''RIFFA, Bahrain — I write this from a Bahraini jail cell where I have been detained, largely in isolation, since the beginning of summer. This is not new to me: I have been here before, from 2012 to 2014, in 2015, and now again, all because of my work as a human rights defender. Nor am I alone: There are some 4,000 political prisoners in Bahrain, which has the highest prison population per capita in the Middle East. This is a country that has subjected its people to imprisonment, torture and even death for daring to desire democracy. My close colleague Abdulhadi al-Khawaja was tortured and sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for his human rights work.''

      Imprisoning Nabeel Rajab and scores of other activists has not stopped the Bahraini people from continuing their struggle for freedom, democracy and respect for human rights while the US government and its allies are continuing their hypocritical support of the al-Khalifa regime. As peace loving people we support the Bahraini people fight for human rights and freedom without the meddling of the US or any other foreign country.

      Hands Off Nabeel Rajab! Free All Political Prisoners in Bahrain! US/UK, Saudi Arabia Out of Bahrain!

      Follow Azza on Twitter:@Azza_R14

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