Yemen is “a living hell for its citizens and their children.”
This was how Sherin Varkey, deputy representative of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Yemen described the current humanitarian situation in the country. Over three years of the horrific bombing of Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition has devastated the already impoverished country; more than 56,000 people were killed, not including those who lost their lives due to famine or disease. The Saudi bombing has destroyed schools, hospitals, homes, factories, markets, water and sanitation systems, and other vital civilian infrastructure. Despite all of these atrocities, the war on Yemen hasn’t been a focus of the conscious of the world to oppose and stop this madness. However, today, the tide is turning. Many around the world are becoming aware of the atrocities committed by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to destroy Yemen for the interests of imperialism and their strategic positioning in the Middle East.
People in Yemen continue to face daily bombing and aggressions by the Saudi-led coalition. Also, Saudi Arabia has imposed an air, land and sea blockade on the country, further destabilizing the local economy and creating shortages in food, medicine and all life essentials.
The United Nations has classified the situation in Yemen as “the world's worst humanitarian crisis” with “75% of the population, 22 million people, need some form of humanitarian assistance and protection.”
Is Canada Really Concerned?
Don’t let the Canadian government’s rhetoric of “human rights champion” fool you. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland might want you to believe that they care about the well-being of the people of Yemen, but as CBC online columnist Neil Macdonald wrote: “Let's not kid ourselves, Canada is in the war business.”
As the worldwide opinion becomes more aware of the atrocities of the Saudi-led war on Yemen, the government of Canada said in a statement:
“We deplore the ongoing violence, which has led to mass malnourishment, severe food insecurity, death and the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Since the beginning of the conflict in 2015, Canada has provided $130 million of life-saving humanitarian aid to affected communities…We join the call from allies in urging the international community to stand united in demanding a swift end to the violence.”
What the statement intentionally fails to mention is that Canada has exported over $735 million of military goods to Saudi Arabia in between 2015-2017 according to Canada’s annual “Report on the Export of Military Goods.” To put this number in context, 2015 was the start of the Saudi-led coalition war on Yemen. Since then Canada’s military export to Saudi Arabia has increased annually.
As CTV reported: “In 2017, the [Saudi] kingdom accounted for 48 percent of Canada’s military goods and technology exports, outside the U.S. The next closest trade partner was the United Kingdom, at just over 8 percent.”
The Liberal government has also approved a $15 billion deal to supply Saudi Arabia with light-armoured vehicles (LAV) equipped with heavy guns and cannon, which Trudeau referred to as “jeeps.”
In a more recent attempt to justify this arms deal with Saudi Arabia, especially as the opposition to the deal continues to grow in Canada, Trudeau said:
“The contract signed by the previous government … makes it very difficult to suspend or leave that contract,” and “I do not want to leave Canadians holding a billion-dollar bill because we’re trying to move forward on doing the right thing.”
Somehow Trudeau is trying to convince us that he can’t do “the right thing” because he claims cancelling the deal would cost a billion-dollars and he doesn’t want to leave taxpayers with the bill. It seems Trudeau forgot the $4.5billion his government wasted to buy the hugely unpopular and disastrous Kinder Morgan pipeline and billions more it will spend if the Trans Mountain expansion project moves forward. It looks like Trudeau has a track record for doing the wrong thing!
How Concerned is the U.S. Government About Yemen?
Since day one, the United States government has been providing political, logistical and military support to the Saudi-led coalition's war on Yemen. U.S. military airplanes are flying over Yemen providing intelligence gathering and refuelling the Saudi-led coalition warplanes. Also, the United States has continued and increased its weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE and other states part of the military coalition.
Despite their direct implication in the war, the U.S. government claims to be concerned about the loss of life and destruction in Yemen. While speaking about the situation in Yemen on October 30, 2018 U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said, "Thirty days from now we want to see everybody around a peace table based on a ceasefire.” Later, on that same day, Secretary of State Pompeo said, “The United States calls on all parties to support UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths in finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Yemen.”
Their words are meaningless! These two U.S. officials claim to want an end to the war and killings in Yemen while at the same time the U.S. military continues to refuel Saudi-led coalition fighter jets currently bombing the country. If the United States truly cared about the people of Yemen it would not need 30 days to end the bombing and destruction; it is a matter of only one day to end the massacres if the U.S. stops its political, logistical and military support of the war.
These statements about a ceasefire are only an attempt to buy them time as they manoeuvr under the pressure of worldwide public opinion which is increasingly opposed to the war and horrors committed by Saudi Arabia against the Yemeni people. A day after Washington’s statements for a ceasefire in Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates deployed 30,000 troops near Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah. This is in no way a sign towards a ceasefire or a peaceful resolution. The Saudi-led coalition is ramping up its siege of Hodeidah and preparing for an assault to gain control over the city, which is the key entry point to Yemen's imports and international aid. As well, with taking over Hodeidah, the U.S. and Saudi coalition will have the upper-hand and political and strategical advantage in the coming negotiations.
Role of EU on the Ground
Several European countries joined the United States in its public relations stunt calling for a ceasefire and an end to the war in Yemen. Most of these countries, including the UK, France, Spain and Germany, have been making billions in weapons sales to the Saudi Kingdom and UAE.
In 2017, France sold $1.7 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, while the UK exported at least $1.4 billion of arms and military equipment to the kingdom. Both countries have also provided logistical, training and military support to Saudi and Emirati forces. According to Sky News, U.S. and British military experts are working alongside Saudi military officers in their Air Operation Command Centre. France is also present on the ground as the French newspaper Le Figaro reported that French special forces are assisting UAE forces fighting in Yemen.
Are Imperialists Really Having a Change of Heart?
With all this big new fuss by imperialist countries and their mainstream media about creating a ceasefire in Yemen, it is not as if they have suddenly been touched by the dire situation of the Yemeni people or they have just suddenly become champions of the self-determination for Yemen. For over three years, these countries have been accomplices to all the atrocities committed by their puppets - the Saudi government and its allies. This is just their new deceptive tactic to win some time for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen in the hope that it will change the balance of forces in their favour in the country, and to appease the worldwide growing opposition to the war. Despite having all this military support and weaponry, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and their allies have failed to win or crush the resistance and bravery of the Yemeni people. Now they have to find a new way to continue their destruction and create divisions to split Yemen and prevent it from healing, uniting and rebuilding from this horrendous war.
In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, a former head of air force operations at King Abdulaziz airbase in Saudi Arabia, who defected from the Saudi armed forces, said: “This is a war against the Yemeni nation and against Yemen becoming independent.”
Saudi Arabia and its imperialist masters want to increase their hegemony and influence in the Middle East and North and East Africa. They can’t afford the possibility of an independent, sovereign Yemen. They are doing the same thing they have been doing to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, and Cuba, to name a few. In this new era of war and occupation which started with the occupation of Afghanistan in 2001, a dozen countries of the Middle East and North Africa have been under threat of war and occupation. The U.S. and their allies have imposed total sanctions and blockades in an attempt to break the will of sovereign nations and force independent countries to accept imperialist dictated plans and domination.
What’s Next for Yemen?
It is very obvious and clear that the war in Yemen is not a fight just between two opposite forces, it is about expanding imperialist hegemony and control in the Middle East. The war on Yemen was planned and created by the U.S. and its imperialist allies and implemented by their puppets in the region, Saudi Arabia, UAE and their coalition.
The brave Yemeni people are continuing to resist against vicious imperialist war and aggression on their country. They are sharing their stories and struggles with people around the world to counter the Saudi lies and deceptions. More and more people around the world are increasingly becoming aware of the plight and suffering of the Yemeni people under the Saudi-led war on their country.
As peace, loving people and anti-war activists around the world, we need to continue to pay central attention to this issue and build an effective opposition to the U.S. backed Saudi-led war on Yemen. We must hold our respective imperialist governments accountable for their support and participation in this genocide and atrocities. We must call for an immediate end to the war on people of Yemen and demand all foreign troops out of Yemen.
Follow Azza on Twitter: @Azza_R14
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