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      The New Era of War & Occupation
      Hands Off Yemen: Stop Bombing, Killing and Destruction

      By Azza Rojbi

      "Sometimes I sleep two, three hours and then I wake up and stay up until morning... I remember my children and my home…Our lives were humble but it was a quiet life, a good life, we were happy... we lost everything." Those were the words of Abdullah al-Ibbi as he told a BBC reporter about the night where a Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit his home in Saada. The airstrike killed 27 members of his family including 17 children with the youngest being only one month old.

      Horrific stories like this have emerged time and time again about the Saudi-led coalition’s disregard for Yemeni life and their brutal bombing campaign against the people of Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition, backed by the U.S., began its military campaign in Yemen in March 2015 under the pretense of re-instating Yemen’s ‘legitimate’ president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. It is important to note that Mansour Hadi’s presidential term had expired and he resigned from the presidency on January 22, 2015 later fleeing to Saudi Arabia. Any claim of legitimacy is a complete farce!

      Today almost two years after the beginning of the Saudi-led bombing campaign, the coalition has been unsuccessful in restoring their puppet, Mansour Hadi, to power. Their claims of wanting to bring peace and stability to the people of Yemen have only brought death and destruction to the already impoverished country.

      Humanitarian Crisis is Worsening

      On January 16, 2017 the UN Yemen Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick told reporters at a press conference in Sanaa that, “the estimates are that over 10,000 people have been killed in this conflict and almost 40,000 people injured.” He also added that those numbers are based on lists gathered by health facilities in Yemen but that the actual death toll might be higher.

      A UNICEF report on the situation in Yemen from December 2016 indicated, “the state of health of children in the Middle East’s poorest country has never been as catastrophic as it is today.” It continued, “at least one child dies every ten minutes in Yemen because of preventable diseases such as diarrhea, malnutrition and respiratory tract infections.”

      The same report noted that, “less than a third of the country’s population has access to medical care. Less than half of health facilities are functional.” The Saudi-led coalition has targeted hospitals and healthcare facilities with its airstrikes and bombing.

      Medical facilities haven’t been the only target in the Saudi-led/U.S.-backed coalition airstrikes on Yemen. The coalition is also responsible for bombing homes, schools, markets, factories, warehouses storing humanitarian aid and even refugee camps. The Guardian newspaper reported that, “a United Nations panel investigating the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen has uncovered ‘widespread and systematic’ attacks on civilian targets.”

      Saudi Arabia investigates its own crimes!

      “In response to claims that the Saudi lead military coalition have committed violations while conducting the Decisive Storm and the Hope Restoration military operations to support the legitimate government of Yemen, an independent Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) was formed to assess these claims and accidents. The JIAT consists of 14 members with experience and competence in military and legal fields. The members of the JIAT are from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Republic of Yemen, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.” The above is how the Saudi Press Agency described the Joint Incidents Assessment Team created by Saudi Arabia in the guise of independently investigating civilian killings in Yemen.

      Trying to research more on the JIAT, its mandate, its methodology or any information on its members is mission impossible. However from the little we know, it is clear that any claim of ‘impartiality’ or ‘independence’ is a pure sham!

      Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners formed the JIAT and they appointed its members. The 14 members are citizens and officials from countries involved in the coalition bombing of Yemen. This is an obvious conflict of interest. How are we to trust Saudi Arabia and its coalition allies to investigate their own war crimes?! This so-called Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) is basically a mockery of independent investigation! Since its creation in January 2016, the JIAT, has only investigated 14 airstrike incidents that were reported and condemned by the UN and other international human rights organizations. The Joint Incidents Assessment Team cleared the Saudi-led/U.S.-backed coalition of any wrong doing in 10 and acknowledged “shortcomings” in 4 of the airstrikes, of course as a cover to try to legitimize their reports.

      The United States has Blood on its Hands

      Saudi Arabia would not have been able to carry on its brutal and criminal military campaign against Yemen without the backing and full support of the United States government and its imperialist allies. Saudi Arabia and the U.S. don’t have the well being of Yemenis in mind. They are following their own strategic interest in the region. The U.S. and its imperialist allies aim to regain their grip over Yemen and further expand their hegemony over North Africa and the Middle East.

      On the first day of the start of the Saudi-led bombing campaign on Yemen the U.S. government expressed its total support for the operation. A White House statements indicated that “President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] -led military operations. While U.S. forces are not taking direct military action in Yemen in support of this effort, we are establishing a Joint Planning Cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate U.S. military and intelligence support.” The U.S. military has been providing the Saudi-led coalition with air-refueling for coalition fighter jets, as well as, intelligence gathered by U.S. surveillance planes flying over Yemen.

      According to an article by The Intercept, “the U.S. has supplied Saudi Arabia with more than $20 billion worth of weapons during its Yemen campaign, including thousands of MK-82 bombs.” Almost 10% of U.S. arms exports go to Saudi Arabia. The U.S. sold Saudi Arabia over $115 billion worth of weapons only during the last 8 years of Obama’s presidency.

      The new Trump administration is no different than its predecessor. "We are very, very optimistic about the Trump administration. And on working closely with it to deal with the many challenges, not only in our region, but in the world," Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir said during a news conference in Riyadh on January 24, 2017.

      Trump has continued Obama’s legacy of drone war on Yemen. In his first three days as the new President of the United States, the U.S. military carried out 3 drone strikes in Yemen as part of their so-called fight against terrorism.

      On January 29, 2017, Donald Trump ordered his first military raid in the Al Bayda Governorate in Yemen, conducted by American and Emirati Special Forces. The U.S. claimed they were attacking a suspected Al-Qaeda camp. The raid was a complete disaster, claiming the life of a U.S. Navy Seal and over 30 people, including 10 women and children.

      Hands off Yemen!

      As peace loving people living in North America we need to stand up and defend the right of the Yemeni people to their own future without foreign intervention. Here in Canada for example, we need to continue to hold the Canadian government accountable for their support of Saudi Arabia and demand a cancelation of Canada’s $15 billion arms deal to supply Saudi Arabia with armored military vehicles.

      The Yemeni people have showed bravery and courage in their resistance to the Saudi-led aggression on their country. Let’s join them in fighting for their right to life, freedom and sovereignty.

      US/Saudi Arabia Hands off Yemen!
      Stop Bombing Yemen!
      Lift the Naval, Aerial and Land Blockade on Yemen!

      Follow Azza on Twitter:@Azza_R14

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