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      Hands Off Yemen!
      Let’s Build an Effective Opposition to the War and Destruction in Yemen

      By Azza Rojbi

      Speech delivered at the November 30, 2018, public forum organized by Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO). An excerpt.

      What I want to talk about for a bit is the role of the United States, which I think was very clear in the video we watched of Trump in his meeting with Saudi crown prince in Washington. How he put out his props and signs showing off the U.S. arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The video looked ridiculous. It looked like a joke, but it's real. Those are not only numbers and pictures, but they're actual bombs and weapons that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are using against the people of Yemen.

      One example is the video we watched of the bombing of the bus full of school children on a field trip in Yemen’s Saada province, 51 people were killed, 40 of them children aged from 6 to 11. CNN reported that the bomb used in this atrocious attack "was a 500-pound (227 kilograms) laser-guided MK 82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US defence contractors." This is just one example of the use of U.S. made bombs against the people of Yemen.

      Another important point to share is that the United States is not only providing logistical support, selling bombs, refueling the coalition fighter jets but also the New York Times reported that a team of U.S. Army special elite forces called “Green Berets” were secretly deployed to the border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen and they're working closely with Saudi Arabia’s military.

      In addition to the U.S., we need to highlight the role of Canada in the war on Yemen. As somebody that lives in Canada it is really important to talk about what this government is doing and its role in this atrocious war. Canada tries to portray itself as a country that cares about peace and humanitarian causes by only highlighting its humanitarian aid to Yemen. But they are purposely deceiving people by avoiding talking about Canada’s massive weapons sells to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. I have a few important facts that I want to share with you on this because I think it is important that we all challenge the misconceptions about Canada’s role in the war on Yemen.

      Through research on the website of the Canadian government, you can learn a lot about its involvement with Saud Arabia, the information is there, but the government and the mainstream media don't want to talk about it. An important fact I learned is that in 2011, Royal Saudi Air Force pilots were trained by the NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) program at military facilities in Saskatchewan and Alberta. They were being trained by the Canadian Forces and a company called CAE Inc., which is a Montreal based flight simulator company. The same Canadian company also has a training facility in Saudi Arabia and two in the UAE. Let’s think about this, in 2011 Saudi Air Force Pilots were trained in Canada, what do you think those Saudi military pilots are doing now? They are flying and bombing missions over Yemen as we speak.

      The other important information to know about Canada is that between 2015 and 2017 Canada sold over $735 million of military goods to Saudi Arabia, according to Canada’s annual “Report on the Export of Military Goods.” When you look at the reports, you look at the numbers; you notice that since the start of the war on Yemen in 2015, every year Canada is selling more weapons and military goods to Saudi Arabia. After the U.S., Saudi Arabia is the second largest buyer of Canadian made military goods. CTV News reported that, “In 2017, the kingdom accounted for 48 percent of Canada’s military goods and technology exports.”

      Also, the Trudeau Liberal government is going ahead with the $15 billion arms to supply Saudi Arabia with light-armoured vehicles (LAV). Trudeau called them “jeeps,” but as you can see in the picture behind me those are not jeeps, they are military vehicles equipped with heavy guns and cannon. That is a war vehicle, not a car! The Liberal government and Trudeau are trying to convince us that they can’t afford to cancel this arms deal as it might cost $1 billion to do so. This is the same government that bought a failing unpopular pipeline project for 4.5 billion dollars. I believe Prime Minister Trudeau needs some classes in humanity and math!

      I want to share a quote from the Toronto Star, because I think it's important when the mainstream media in Canada does honest good reporting. The quote is from an interview with Anthony Fenton, an academic who follows Canada’s arms exports to the Middle East, “There is not a shred of doubt Canadian equipment is being used in Yemen…We track this on a daily basis, and there hasn’t been a week since this war began that there hasn’t been some sighting of Canadian goods being used.”

      As we have seen in the videos, the U.S. and Canada are not alone in their complicity in the war on Yemen. Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK have all been selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. The U.K. has also been providing training and targeting assistance to the Saudi military while French special forces are reported to be assisting UAE forces fighting inside Yemen.

      Do Imperialists Care?

      We have noticed recently an increase of media coverage on the war on Yemen and the case of the brutally murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It might seem that the U.S., Canada and their imperialist allies have suddenly gained consciousness and opened their hearts to the plight of the Yemeni people. Suddenly now they are talking about a ceasefire and ending the war. Let’s examine how real that is. To be honest with you, I think it is another deceiving tactic.

      On October 30, 2018, the United States government started their media campaign talking about a ceasefire in Yemen. On that day, 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 that afternoon, 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.” Shortly similar statements came out from the Canadian government and some Europeans countries calling for a 30 days ceasefire in Yemen.

      Today is November 30, so let’s see what had happened since. No peace or ceasefire in sight in Yemen! This is not the first time we heard the demand of ceasefire and peace negotiations, imperialists have been using it as a deceptive tactic to win more time for Saudi Arabia to gain ground in Yemen, to win more time for them to be in a better position. So that if there were negotiations, Saudi Arabia and the United States will be in a stronger position because they have not been able to quash the resistance in Yemen. The same day that they started their talks about a ceasefire, Saudi Arabia was bombing Yemen’s capital Sana'a. This proofs their utmost hypocrisy.

      Pretending to work towards peace and a ceasefire in Yemen is also a good strategy by imperialists to counter the growing questioning and opposition to the war. They want to confuse people and demobilize them from organizing against the war by claiming that they will work to bring peace to Yemen - so why would we still oppose their actions? The bottom line is that they are saying to trust them to bring this war to a peaceful solution. Can we trust them? Let’s find out.

      It has been over 30 days since the U.S. and their imperialist allies announced their call for a ceasefire, Yemen is still being blockaded and bombed by the Saudi-led coalition every day. People are still being killed every day. There is no ceasefire; there is nothing close to a ceasefire. Even the mainstream imperialist media admits to that, CNN published an article on November 27 titled "U.S. 'slams the break' on UN Yemen ceasefire resolution." They never had the intention of pursuing a real ceasefire in the first place. They just wanted their stooges to gain more time and territory in Yemen.

      Another recent update that came up in the media is that a majority of senators in the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted in favour of advancing a resolution to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Although this is a good development, it doesn’t mean much concretely as it is only at the committee level and it has a very low chance to pass through Congress. Even if this resolution passes through the hurdles of Congress, Trump has already released a "statement of administration policy" in which he vows that he will veto it.

      Why the War on Yemen?

      The Saudi-led coalition started its war on Yemen in 2015. Saudi Arabia claimed that they were going to bring back stability and legitimacy to the country and the whole region. I think it is really clear to everybody that there is no such stability or peace in Yemen or the region today. Actually the situation is even worse.

      There is no way that Saudi Arabia or the UAE could have started this war alone. It is important to look at who is behind this humanitarian tragedy in Yemen. The war on people of Yemen was planned and created by the U.S. and its imperialist allies and then implemented through their Saudi & UAE puppets and their coalition.

      The U.S. and their imperialist allies are using war and occupation to control the Middle East countries and force them to succumb to their hegemony. They can’t afford the possibility of an independent sovereign Yemen. They need another puppet government in the region to serve the interests of the United States and all their imperialist allies.

      They are doing to Yemen the same thing they have been doing to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba, to name a few. In this new era of war and occupation, which started with the occupation of Afghanistan in 2001, the U.S. and their imperialist allies have imposed wars, occupations, sanctions and blockades to break the will of sovereign nations and force independent countries to accept imperialist dictated plans and domination.

      Another important point I wanted to address is how, in all reporting of the war on Yemen, the mainstream media finds an opportunity to blame Iran for the crisis. They have the word Iran in the video probably more than Saudi Arabia, who is the one bombing Yemen. I think this point is really important because by labelling all the resistance to Saudi Arabia’s aggression in Yemen as “Iranian puppets,” the media is vilifying and dismissing anybody in Yemen that resists, that speaks out against Saudi Arabia. This also helps the Saudi government to justify their atrocities committed in Yemen.

      I want to refer to a tweet on November 28 by U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo, “Iran’s regime has no interest in easing Yemeni suffering; the mullahs don’t even care for ordinary Iranians. Saudi Arabia has invested billions to relieve suffering in #Yemen. Iran has invested zero.” It seems that Mr. Pompeo thinks people are fools! I want to point out one of many responses people have posted challenging Pompeo; it is a tweet from Ahmad Algohbary, a Yemeni freelance journalist based in the capital Sana'a. In his response to Pompeo Ahmad said:

      “#Iran is not refuelling #Saudi warplanes.
      #Iran is not providing intelligence to the #Saudi.
      #Iran is not selling arms to #Saudis to kill civilians in #Yemen.
      #Iran is not building its economy by killing innocents in Yemen.
      #US is doing all these horrible things in Yemen.”

      And then he went on and tweeted another response to Secretary Pompeo: “How dare you! You are blaming #Iran while your bombs killed children in their school bus in #Saada. #Yemen.” Ahmad clearly showed the hypocrisy of the United States. Saudi Arabia can’t continue the war for one more day without the support of the U.S., and then they're trying to fool us that it's Iran's fault, not Saudi Arabia, not the United States.

      However, sometimes even the mainstream imperialist media out of necessity and concern exposes their own ruling class lies. In an article published by the Washington Post in 2016 titled “No, Yemen’s Houthis actually aren’t Iranian puppets” the author states that, “Tehran’s support for the Houthis is limited, and its influence in Yemen is marginal. It is simply inaccurate to claim that the Houthis are Iranian proxies.”

      The Fight for Peace in Yemen

      Almost four years of war now, anybody can see that there is no peace in Yemen. More than 56,000 people have been killed according to new counts by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED). Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian crisis and the United States government, and their imperialist allies are responsible for it.

      The opposition to the war in Yemen worldwide is growing significantly. I am a member of a WhatsApp group with over 60 social justice and human rights activists around the world that have been organizing in their respective countries against the war on Yemen. Almost every day I receive articles, photos, and videos from events around the world in solidarity with the Yemeni people. I want to name some of the cities where there were actions against the war in Yemen just in the last week: here in Vancouver, in Toronto, Rhode Island, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Maine, Illinois, D.C., London and Stockholm. There was also protest earlier this morning in Baghdad, Tunisia, Buenos Aires, Argentina where currently the G20 meeting is being held, and Trump and Saudi Crown Prince MBS are attending.

      And I want to end up on showing you this little brochure that Mobilization Against War and Occupation created, which contains some facts and an infographic about the war on Yemen. It is based on an article that I wrote last month on the war on Yemen. We have a lot of copies in the back. Alison is passing some around. So please take more than one, give them to a friend, put them at your favourite coffee shops, in the library. It is a good way to get people to know more about the war in Yemen. Hopefully, with broad information and education, people will join us in opposing the war, occupation and bloodshed in Yemen.

      Follow Azza on Twitter: @Azza_R14

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