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      Canada Hands Off Yemen!
      Stop Arming Saudi Arabia!

      By Azza Rojbi

      Over five years ago, a Saudi-led coalition, with the support of the United States and other imperialist countries such as England, France, and Germany, started a brutal bombing campaign and a military intervention against Yemen. The goal of this criminal and unholy coalition was to reinstate the puppet leader, deposed Yemeni president Mansour Hadi. Thus, an internal dispute in Yemen became an international military intervention.

      Today as the world fights against the Covid-19 global pandemic, the Saudi-led coalition continues its bombing and military campaign on Yemen. On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, a small wedding gathering at a home in Yemen became the scene of another gruesome massacre by the Saudi-led coalition. According to MintPress News, "At least 31 women and children were killed, and dozens were injured when at least one Saudi warplane dropped a bomb on the Marei family home in the Almasaeifeh District, situated in the Al-Hazm Directorate of the rich-oil province of Al-Jawf. Marzuq Marei told reporters that the wedding was publicly announced, and they specifically informed the Saudi Coalition of the time and place of the ceremony to avoid an attack."

      War Devastated Yemen

      Since the start of the war in March 2015, the people of Yemen have been living under constant bombing and airstrikes. Yemen's quality of life has quickly deteriorated into what the United Nations (UN) calls "the world's worst humanitarian crisis." A UN-commissioned study on Yemen in 2019, conducted by the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, gave a grim image of the worsening humanitarian situation in the country:

      "The impacts of conflict in Yemen are devastating—with nearly a quarter of a million people killed directly by fighting and indirectly through lack of access to food, health services, and infrastructure. Of the dead, 60 percent are children under the age of five. The long-term impacts of conflict are vast and place it among the most destructive conflicts since the end of the Cold War ended. The conflict has already set back human development by 21 years."

      The war on Yemen has destroyed houses, schools, roads, markets, hospitals, water tanks, sanitation facilities, mosques, and other vital infrastructure in the country. According to a press release by the international charity Oxfam on August 18, 2020, "Medical and water infrastructure in Yemen has been hit during air raids almost 200 times since the conflict started more than five years ago.”

      The continuation of the Saudi war on Yemen is aggravating an already collapsed healthcare system. Over half of Yemen's hospitals and healthcare clinics have been destroyed as a result of the war. Those that remain open have extremely limited resources and lack doctors, nurses, equipment, and medicine. Hospitals are stretched trying to cope with malnutrition, cholera, and now the Covid-19 pandemic.

      The burden on the healthcare system gravely impacts children in Yemen. UNICEF estimates that "2 million children in Yemen are acutely malnourished, including 325,000 children under the age of five who suffer from severe acute malnutrition and are fighting to survive." According to the same statement, some children find themselves forced to work or beg to try to get food for themselves and their families. To make the matter worst, Saudi Arabia continues its sea, land, and air blockade on Yemen. In a country that urgently needs unhindered access to fuel, medicine, food, and humanitarian aid, the Saudi blockade is criminal and must be lifted immediately.

      Yemen - Victim of Imperialist Expansion

      Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and their coalition would not carry out the war on Yemen without the full support of the United States and its imperialist allies. Saudi Arabia justifies the intervention in Yemen as necessary to bring back legitimacy and stability to the country and counter Iran's meddling in the region. The mainstream media labels Yemen's Houthis, and any Yemenis resisting the Saudi-led aggression on their land, as "Iranian puppets." Of course, it is easier for them to dismiss and justify the killing, death, and destruction that the Saudi-led intervention has caused in Yemen under the guise of fighting the "evil Iranian proxies." Interestingly, Al-Monitor news on December 5, 2019, quoted Gerald Feierstein, former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen under Obama, saying, "The Houthis have never been proxies of Iran. They never followed Iranian leadership guidance.”

      The Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen is an imperialist war for domination and hegemony in the region. The goal is to smash the democratic aspiration of the Yemeni people for self-determination by intervening in a domestic conflict to impose a puppet government to serve the imperialist interest in the Middle East region. The U.S. and its allies couldn't afford the idea of a free and independent Yemen. They are as responsible as Saudi Arabia and its coalition for the atrocities the war creates in Yemen.

      The United States has offered political and military support to Saudi Arabia since day one of the airstrikes on Yemen. The U.S. continues to provide Saudi Arabia with arms and military equipment, as per the U.S. Department of State website, "The U.S. has $126.6 billion in active government-to-government sales cases with Saudi Arabia under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system." In addition to selling them weaponry, the U.S. military proudly boasts images on its website of their soldiers training with Royal Saudi Air Forces at military bases in the Saudi Kingdom. Saudi military pilots are also receiving training from the U.S. Navy in bases across the United States.

      Canada's Complicity in the War Crimes in Yemen

      Don't let Trudeau's smooth talk of Canada as a champion of human rights fool you. Canada has been selling weapons to Saudi Arabia since the start of the war on Yemen in 2015. Saudi Arabia has been the largest non-U.S. buyer of Canadian military goods for four consecutive years: 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, according to Canada's annual report on the export of military goods.

      In 2020, Canada's export of military goods to Saudi Arabia reached an all-time high of $2.9 billion. This is more than double from the $1.3 billion of military exports to Saudi Arabia in 2018. The Liberal administration has also moved ahead with the $14 billion arms deal to supply Saudi Arabia with light-armored vehicles (LAV), despite proof that similar vehicles that Canada also sold to Saudi Arabia have been used in the war against Yemen.

      Ironically, in 2019, Canada pledged $40 million to the United Nations' Yemen Humanitarian Fund, as reported by CBC. What a farce! Canada is trying to wash the blood from the Yemen war off its hands by donating to the country less than 1.4% of the billions of dollars the government made in 2019 from selling weapons to Saudi Arabia to kill thousands of people in Yemen. The hypocrisy is surreal!

      Canada also has a direct link to the Saudi-led bombing campaign. CAE Inc., a Montreal based Canadian company, is known for training fighter jet and drone pilots. Canada's National Observer reported in 2018 that CAE “has trained U.S. pilots who refueled Saudi fighter jets in mid-air during bombing raids”… “CAE has also trained drone pilots from the United Arab Emirates, whose drones have been deployed in Yemen.” CAE USA, a subsidiary of the Canadian company, also trains military aviation students at a U.S. Navy training centre in Florida where Saudi air force pilots are also being trained.

      A search in the Canadian Armed Forces website and the Veterans Affairs Canada website brings up the list of Canadian Forces members eligible to be awarded the General Service Medal - EXPEDITION (GSM-EXP). The list includes Canadian Forces stationed at Prince Sultan Air Base, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as well as Canadian soldiers deployed at al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. What are Canadian soldiers doing at the airbases of the two countries leading an illegal, criminal, and devastating war on Yemen? Why is it that the only mention of these deployments is through the eligibility rules section for medals? People in Canada have a right to know the extent to which the Trudeau government is complicit in war crimes against the Yemeni people.

      Hands Off Yemen!

      We need a strong and united antiwar movement to organize and mobilize against the war in Yemen and hold the Canadian government accountable for its complicity in the war. We need to mobilize student unions, civil society organizations, labour unions, and all peace-loving people in Canada to follow up with their respective MPs and MLAs and demand the immediate cancellation of Canada's arms sales to Saudi Arabia. In this time of the global pandemic, we stand with the Yemeni people who have been suffering for so long under this brutal war. We demand an immediate end to the war; we demand a complete lifting the blockade of Yemen. We demand the end of the violation of the human rights of the people of Yemen by the Saudi-coalition, U.S., and Canada. We demand that the right of self-determination for the Yemini people be respected. We demand all foreign troops out of Yemen Now!

      Follow Azza on Twitter: @Azza_R14

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