Saudi Arabia

Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/

Revealed: Saudi Arabia Tripled its Theft of Yemen’s Oil amid Price War with Russia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/07/2020 - 1:49am in

MARIB, YEMEN — Saudi Arabia possesses around 18 percent of the world’s petroleum reserves. That fact though has done little to stifle the Kingdom’s apparent appetite for new sources of crude. Now, following over five years of all-out war against its southern neighbor, Saudi Arabia is scrambling to secure rights over Yemen’s potentially bountiful reserves of oil.

Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company, is seeking decades-long strategic agreements with the internationally recognized government in exile of Abdul Mansour al-Hadi, which is backed by the Saudi-led coalition and the United States, to gain control of Yemen substantial oil and gas reserves, particularly in the oil-rich provinces of al-Jawf, Marib, Shabwa, and Hadramout, according to officials. The move could inflame enough anger among Yemen’s many warring and fractious parties to band together against what is increasingly viewed as an existential threat to Yemen’s sovereignty.

Officials in Yemen’s state-owned oil and gas company, known globally as Safer, as well as members of the transitional Hadi government who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, revealed to MintPress that negotiations are already taking place between Saudi Arabia and its allies with officials in Yemen’s ministry of oil and Safer to reach an agreement that would ostensibly hand control of much of Yemen’s oil and gas reserves to Saudi Arabia for decades to come.

A number of meetings have already taken place between high-ranking Saudi officials, including Saudi ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Al-Jaber and officials from Aramco, and Yemeni leaders, including interim vice president of the transitional government Ali Hussen al-Ahmer, governor of Marib Sheikh Sultan al-Arada and officials from both Safer and Yemen’s Ministry of Oil. Negotiators from French oil company TOTAL reportedly attended some of the meetings held in Marib, al-Mahrah, and the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

According to a source in Yemen’s transitional government, Saudi Arabia is seeking long-term lease agreements over the much of country’s oil reserves, particularly in what some officials have called “the oil triangle,” an area between al-Jawf and Marib provinces. Under the agreement, Saudi Arabia would be allowed to develop Yemen’s oil reserves and retain the profits from the sale of said oil in exchange for an annual remittance that would be paid by Aramco to certain members of the Yemeni government. The agreement stipulates that the payments are only required if the government remains friendly to Saudi Arabia.

Jalal al-Salahi, a Yemeni activist known to have close ties to decision-makers in the transitional government, recently released a video in which he claimed to be in possession of a draft document of an oil agreement between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. In the video, which has already garnered nearly 90,000 views since it was published to YouTube on July 4, Al-Salah said the document shows that the Saudi government is to pay $15 billion to certain Yemeni officials in return for seventy years of oil concessions in al-Jawf. Sources in Yemen’s transitional government refused to deny or confirm the authenticity of the document but told MintPress that some of the claims being made on social media are true without specifying which ones.

According to official sources, under the Saudi deal, payments would go to a fund restricted to what the Kingdom calls “Yemen’s debts and reconstruction.” Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s most repressive monarchies and wealthiest countries, launched a U.S.-backed scorched-earth campaign against its southern neighbor under the auspices of restoring the government of ousted President Hadi to power and is now pushing, along with the UAE, for Yemenis to compensate the Saudi-led coalition for the war it has waged on their country.

Negotiations to wrest long-term de facto control over Yemen ostensibly began in 2019 and have been marked by Saudi pressure and threats according to a source close to the negotiations. In fact, Riyadh has kept high-level officials in the Hadi government, including Hadi himself as well as Yemen’s members of parliament, under house arrest in Saudi Arabia. Yemeni officials that have been allowed to stay in Yemen are confined to coalition-controlled areas and cannot leave the country without permission from Riyadh and Abu Dubai.

The potential Saudi move is not without precedent. Saudi Arabia has been securing its objectives in Yemen by enabling its allies in the Yemeni government to take power in exchange for profitable long-term agreements for years. Yemen’s history is rife with these sorts of long-term agreements, including the Treaty of Taif signed in 1934 between the emerging Saudi state and the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen, which handed Saudi Arabia control over the former Yemeni provinces of Jizan, Najran, and Asir.

Saudi forces and Yemeni tribal leaders with Saudi nationality, along with allied mercenary forces, have been blocking domestic oil exploration in al-Jawf since the war began and it is an open secret that Riyadh bribed former Yemeni government officials to keep them from drilling and exploration activities in the area. In fact, just last week Saudi armored vehicles crossed the border to bury a well that had been dug for water by Yemen’s 1st Brigade Border Guards, apparently fearing they could be covertly drilling for oil.

Saudi Arabia, supported by the United States, has been preventing Yemen from capitalizing its own oil reserves since the 1970s, particularly in the al-Jawf Province which holds most of the country’s reserves and enjoys a unique status as a neighbor to two oil-rich regions of Saudi Arabia.


Yemen’s stolen oil

It was about 9:20 a.m. at the Block 18 oil field in Marib, Yemen when H.A.Y.K., an oil tanker driver who wished to be identified only by his initials, put his hand in his pocket to make sure that his recently acquired “official permit” to cross the Saudi border was where it was supposed to be. H.A.Y.K. was not alone, eight drivers had gotten into their trucks that morning and started their engines in preparation for the journey. Minutes later, the crude oil-laden convoy lurched ahead and was soon inside Saudi territory accompanied by at least six armored Toyota Land Cruisers from the Coalition-backed Al-Abra Military Brigade and laden with a shipment of crude oil stolen from Block 18.

H.A.Y.K told MintPress that after a treacherous drive through Yemen’s northeast border region, he crossed the Saudi border into the Bishah District in the southwestern Saudi province of Asir where he unloaded his truck. Saudi Arabia and UAE are believed to be transferring stolen oil into the Sharq Eaidh desert located between Shabwa and Marib provinces. It is then pumped through a pipeline owned by an unidentified Austrian company to the UAE-controlled Al-Nashima Port on the Arabian Sea where it is then transferred to small oil vessels.

The theft of crude has become a daily occurrence in Safer’s Blocks 4, 5, and 18, as well as in other oil fields in the province, including the al-Uqlah Block (S2) located in the Marib-Shabwa Basin east of Block 18. Thefts have also become prolific in the Shabwa, Hadremout, and al-Mahrah provinces.

But the presence of crude oil-filled trucks crossing the Saudi border tripled in the second week of March when the Saudi-Russia oil price war was at its peak, according to oil engineers and tanker drivers that spoke to MintPress. This could suggest that Saudi Arabia was likely pumping oil stolen from Yemen into the international market, albeit in small quantities, at a time when losses by oil-producing companies in the U.S. were skyrocketing. Hedging untapped Yemeni oil reserves would give Saudi Arabia an important advantage in negotiations with competing oil-producing countries like Russia and the United States.

According to economists and officials who spoke to MintPress, up to 65 percent of Yemen’s oil produced since 2015, when the war began, has been looted by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and international oil companies and some 18-23 percent of crude production, including that produced by Safer and Petrol Masilah, is being looted by tribal leaders and black market traders allied with the Saudi coalition.

Militant groups and tribal factions allied with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in Marib and other eastern provinces, particularly the El-Eslah Party and the Southern Transitional Council as well as personnel close to Hadi, including his son Jalal, are all involved in the looting of Yemen’s oil and gas and have used heavy equipment belonging to Safer and TOTAL to extract crude oil assisted by engineers from both companies.

Safer pipeline Yemen

This undated photo shows workers performing maintenance on a crude pipeline in the remote Marib desert. Photo | Safer

MintPress witnessed small bootleg oil refining operations scattered through the Neqm and Shaharh oil fields. Local residents, as well as oil smugglers, told us that similar machinery could be found throughout Marib, Shabaw, and other districts. These operations, according to witnesses, are owned by members of the Hadi government as well as local tribal leaders who are stealing crude from fields and pipelines belonging to Safer. Pipelines are punctured and the crude oil is siphoned off into small and medium trucks and brought to large open storage pits or floor tanks to be refined or sold on the black market.

The financial returns for the plundered oil are not used to invest in Yemen’s infrastructure or bolster the local economy to keep the value of the Yemeni Riyal from tanking. In fact, they rarely even make it into Yemen’s banks, instead going directly into the personal bank accounts of corrupt Saudi-allied officials or to fund infighting between warring militant groups. Money from plundered Yemeni oil is rumored to have made it into the bank accounts of corrupt officials across the Middle East, and as far off as Turkey.

Ansar Allah leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi said in a televised speech that more than 120 million barrels of crude oil have been looted by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates since 2016, amounting to nearly 80 billion Yemeni Rials worth of lost revenue per month. Ahmed Daris, Ansar Allah’s Sana’a-based Minister of Oil, claimed that Saudi Arabia has looted more than 18 million barrels of oil exports in 2018 alone and that the profits from that oil are now in the Saudi National Bank.

According to an official database maintained by the Hadi government, Yemen used to produce some 300-350 thousand barrels of oil per month before 2010, however, due to Saudi Arabia’s active suppression of Yemeni exploration and development of its oil fields as well as internal conflict, Yemeni crude output has plummeted sharply. The low point was reached at the end of 2015 after oil fields were closed on Saudi orders. At the time, Yemeni production hovered around 35,000 barrels per day. In 2019, the Yemeni government loyal to Saudi Arabia said that it had managed to bump that number up to some 70,000 barrels per day.

Although these figures are likely inaccurate, as many known oil fields were not included in the official lists of the state and international oil bodies such as OPEC, it had long been confirmed that Saudi Arabia has deprived Yemen of revenues from the sale of at least 70,000 barrels a day and at least 126,000,000 barrels over the course of five years of war. That amounts to a total of over six billion dollars based on an average $50 per barrel price of oil. That revenue would have been sufficient to pay the salary of every government employee for at least four years.


The Saudi clock is ticking

Hoping to thwart Saudi ambitions in their oil-rich provinces, some Yemeni tribes have begun an armed uprising against Saudi Arabia and their allies in the province, sparking fear among the Kingdom and its allied militants and triggering a cruel campaign against the families of tribes who have announced their opposition to the Saudi Coalition. Sheikh Mohsen Suba’yan was among the tribal leaders opposed to the Saudi regime. On June 29, he and six of his relatives were killed when their home was surrounded and burned to the ground.

The completion of any long-term contracts with the internationally-recognized Hadi government is very important for Saudi Arabia as Ansar Allah is close to recapturing the Marib Province after gaining control of most of al-Jawf. Just four months ago, Yemeni forces backed by Ansar Allah took control over the rich-oil province of al-Jawf after fierce battles with Saudi forces backed by al-Qaeda and IS militants and supported by American advisers.

Ansar Allah, supported by tribes disenfranchised with de facto Saudi rule, hope to secure the oil for domestic consumption in the country amid an acute fuel crisis that has halted the delivery of much-needed fuel to Yemen.

Feature photo | A Saudi soldier guards a cargo plane at an air base in Marib, Yemen, Feb. 1, 2018. Jon Gambrell | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post Revealed: Saudi Arabia Tripled its Theft of Yemen’s Oil amid Price War with Russia appeared first on MintPress News.

Book Review: Iran and Saudi Arabia: Taming a Chaotic Conflict by Ibrahim Fraihat

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/07/2020 - 9:40pm in

In Iran and Saudi Arabia: Taming a Chaotic Conflict, Ibrahim Fraihat explores the often overlooked possibility of rapprochement between the two states, setting out a potential roadmap for conflict resolution. Read as a starting point for a forward-looking dialogue, this book can be transformative of the discourse on relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, writes Hesham Shafick, and should be read by diplomats and policymakers involved in the conflict as well as students and researchers of the region.

Iran and Saudi Arabia: Taming a Chaotic Conflict. Ibrahim Fraihat. Edinburgh University Press. 2020.

After decades of diplomacy and tons of scholarly print, the Iran-Saudi Arabia conflict seems to be only getting worse; and hundreds of thousands of lives are being sacrificed through proxy wars in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and Iraq. It is hard to think of any regional conflict whose tensions have bled as widely and of any contemporary conflict that is as lethal. Meanwhile, opportunist global powers are making billions of dollars in arm deals to both sides, while academic observers are, unintentionally, reproducing the conflict by emphasising its primordial roots.

Ibrahim Fraihat’s Iran and Saudi Arabia: Taming a Chaotic Conflict disrupts the cycle of academic pessimism and diplomatic opportunism that has been gearing the conflict since the Iranian revolution in 1979. It begins by stressing the overlooked possibility of rapprochement. This possibility is evident in other examples in history, like France and Germany, two traditional enemies which, after two World Wars in the twentieth century, not only became close allies but even came together under a unified supranational political entity. This possibility is also evident in the recent steps towards radical rapprochement taken by Iran and Saudi Arabia themselves with rival states where enmity has been far more immediate and historically profound: like the Iranian nuclear deal with the state it has called ‘the Great Satan’, the United States, and Saudi Arabia’s Arab Peace Initiative for a comprehensive resolution of conflict with Saudi Arabia’s historical enemy, Israel.

The book also underlines a plethora of sporadic, yet serious, steps of reconciliation between the states of Iran and Saudi Arabia, which, although obviously failed, do signal the possibility of conflict resolution: like their bilateral security accord to cooperate on combating terrorism and organised crime in 2001. The first two chapters of the book, the Introduction and Chapter One, underline these overlooked glimpses of hope, getting the reader ready to acknowledge the roadmap of conflict resolution that the remaining chapters outline as a viable possibility.

The roadmap proposed relies on a forward-looking diagnosis: that is, one concerned not with the root causes of the conflict, but its main driving force. The importance of historicisation notwithstanding, Fraihat asserts that moving forward in the dialogue necessitates focusing on what concerns the conflicting parties ‘now’. Drawing on a broad analysis of primary and secondary sources, the book singles out ‘security’ as the issue most pressing at the moment. Fraihat does not exclude other factors emphasised in literature on the conflict, like sectarianism, geopolitics, regional power and regime legitimacy. He rather conceives security as the midpoint around which all these issues revolve. He explains, accordingly, that when security is attained, these issues of conflict could be resolved with more confidence and mutual trust.

Following from this, Fraihat proposes a conflict resolution plan that conceptually focuses on the issue of security and temporally addresses the here and now. He is eager to emphasise that the resolution does not necessitate full reconciliation or the normalisation of relations. It rather aims to institute effective political systems that allow for cooperation despite tension and peace despite conflict. Sectarianism, geopolitical tensions and other aspects of conflict will remain, but these will be effectively regulated through nonviolent diplomatic processes.

The plan proposed is built on three pillars. The first is fleshing out the grounds of insecurity and the real issues of conflict. Moving beyond the contention over narrative, and the finger-pointing in which these contentions are immersed, the book encourages observers and policymakers to reframe the issues of conflict in a way that is both neutral and pragmatic. Chapter Two of the book is a major step on that path. It comprehensively reviews literature on the conflict from a perspective that centralises security, reframing sectarianism as the securitisation of sectarian identities and the competition over regional leadership as preemptive containment. Looking at the conflict from this perspective, the chapter underlines the possibility of constructing a common narrative of the conflict as a security crisis.

The second pillar is installing a conflict management system that contains the crisis and prevents escalation. Chapter Three proposes a system that consists of crisis management apparatuses, like the Riyadh-Tehran hotline, technical committees and senior officials’ coordination; zones of peace and non-aligned states where trilateral cooperation can take place; and confidence-building measures, like the cooperation in multilateral international agreements and the activation of already signed bilateral pacts. This conflict management system has a dual function. On the one hand, it facilitates the pragmatic dilution of tensions. On the other, it feeds into the incremental process of trust-building imperative to eventual rapprochement.

The third pillar is an institution of an integrated resolution approach. Discussed in Chapter Four, the approach proposed comprises three elements. The first is disentangling the reformations and complications of tensions that (mis)position them as essential, primordial and zero-sum. This disentangling strategy involves sectarian policy reforms, regime policy reforms and gradual transformation of the regional competition from an arms race to soft power contention. The second is track-one diplomatic mediation. Fraihat argues that effective mediation must be led by regional powers that have profound interest in ending the conflict, like Pakistan and Turkey, for global powers are, in fact, benefitting from it. The third is track-two diplomacy: the facilitation of unofficial, unstructured interaction that influences public opinion and re-organises human and material relations in ways that dilute the tension and encourage cooperation. This involves people-to-people dialogues, networking and social activities as well as educational and exploratory projects: all of which transcend the state to engage civil society agencies that have higher stakes in reconciliation and whose legitimacy and power are not significantly threatened by it.

These propositions could be controversial and might, as the author himself acknowledges, be accused of ultra-optimism. But if we take them as starting points for a forward-looking dialogue, they could disrupt the irking stagnation in the conflict resolution process. Read from this perspective, the book is no doubt transformative of the discourse on relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. It is an essential read for diplomats and policymakers involved in the conflict as well as students and researchers of International Relations of the Middle East.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 

Image Credit: Image combination of Iran flag courtesy of MohammadAli Dahaghin on Unsplash and cropped image of Saudi Arabia flag courtesy of Chief National Guard Bureau, photo 161128-Z-DZ751-012,  (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill) (Chief National Guard Bureau CC BY 2.0).

UN Warns Many Will “Starve to Death” in Yemen as Saudi Fuel Blockade Hinders COVID-19 Battle

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 27/06/2020 - 4:42am in

SANA’A, YEMEN —  The streets of Sana’a have retained much of their character throughout the past six years of war. This, despite the ever-present threat of Saudi bombardment and the myriad viruses methodically working their way through the population, most recently COVID-19. The afternoon rush hour still brings out the buses, taxis and private vehicles that choke Haddah Street in northern Sana’a. Horns blare at junctions as drivers switch lanes, looking for any advantage they can find in a ritual that, until recently, brought a sense of welcome normalcy to a country faced with constant uncertainty. But six years of war have finally caught up with one of the last semblances of routine in Yemen.

In move undertaken by Saudi Arabia that is sure to exacerbate the country’s already-dire situation, the oil-rich U.S. ally is preventing oil tankers from delivering much-needed fuel to Yemen’s hospitals, water pumps, bakeries, cleaning trucks, and gas stations, plunging it, particularly its northern districts, into an acute fuel crisis.

According to a statement released by the Yemen Oil Company, at least 15 tankers carrying over 419,789 tons of fuel have been trapped at sea for over a month despite being checked and issued permits by both the Saudi-led Coalition and the United Nations. Now, the situation in the war-torn country is no longer tolerable.

The CEO of Yemen Oil said in a press conference held in the front of the United Nation office in Sana’a on Wednesday that the company’s remaining reserves won’t last for more than a few days. A statement issued by the company’s branch in Hodeida confirmed that its reserve stock had reached a critical stage and is no longer sufficient to supply the most important sectors in the country.


“One of the biggest threats in the past 100 years”

This is not the first time that Saudi Arabia has triggered a fuel crisis in Yemen, however, this blockade is significantly larger than previous ones and comes at a time when Yemen is battling COVID-19, which is spreading rapidly across the country. “It is the worse than what we expected to happen,” taxi driver Mohammed Abdullah Masoud said from beneath his mask, bags under his tired eyes. He had been waiting in line for two days for petrol. His older brother died last week from COVID-19 and he is now responsible for providing his brother’s wife and children with food and medicine as they stay quarantined at home. “My brother’s family needs bread and some vegetables. Nobody except me can provide them with essential necessities to stay alive. If I don’t have the fuel by the end of the day, something bad could happen to them.” he told MintPress.

The Saudi fuel blockade has not only forced thousands of Yemenis already struggling against an unprecedented explosion of famine, disease, and epidemics to wait for days in lines as far as the eye can see, it has also left water pumps, hospital generators, and transport vehicles without fuel and that lack of fuel has accelerated the spread of the COVID-19 as lack of as empty generators shut down facilities including an oxygen factory, hospital, nurseries, and a kidney failure center, all which need uninterrupted and stable electricity 24 hours a day.

Yemen Fuel Blockade

A Yemeni man pushes his truck into a petrol station amid fuel shortages in Sanaa, June 15, 2020. Hani Mohammed | AP

Cholera, dengue fever, and malaria rates have also spiked, particularly in Hodeida, Sadaa, and Hajjah where summer temperatures can reach 129 degrees and the lack of fuel has left residents unable to escape the heat as the generators used to power air conditioners sit idle.

The price of food and medicine is also skyrocketing and the already negligible crops in Yemen are at risk of dehydration as farmers are unable to power the wells and pumps needed o to irrigate their fields. At least 80 percent of Yemen’s 28 million-strong population is reliant on food aid to survive in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and the decimation of the remaining agricultural sector is likely to increase that figure.

On Wednesday, Mark Lowcock, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, told a closed UN Security Council meeting that many more people are likely to starve to death, succumb to COVID-19 and die of cholera, adding that the coronavirus was spreading rapidly across Yemen and about 25 percent of the country’s confirmed cases have died – “five times the global average.”

He added, “We have never before seen in Yemen a situation where such a severe acute domestic economic crisis overlaps with a sharp drop in remittances and major cuts to donor support for humanitarian aid – and this of course is all happening in the middle of a devastating pandemic.” For her part, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lise Grande described COVID-19 in Yemen as “one of the biggest threats in the past 100 years.”

COVID-19 Yemen

A medical worker attends to a COVID-19 patient in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Sana’a, June 14, 2020. Hani Mohammed | AP

The Saudi blockade comes amid sustained Saudi-coalition bombing runs. Warplanes have been hovering over Sana’a and other provinces and have targeted several areas in Bydha, al-Jawf, Marib, and Sana’a, killing and injuring dozens of people. On Thursday, at least five people were killed and dozens were injured when Saudi warplanes destroyed four cars traveling on public roads in Radman and Qaneih.


The only effective option

Despite the challenges, Yemenis have strong morale and a seemingly unbreakable will to continue to withstand the Saudi ambitions for their country. “We die silently but with glory. We will never give in to Saudi Arabia,” 37-years-old Hamid told MintPress as he stood in a fuel line at a gas station in Sana’a. It has become a weekly ritual for Hamid, who queues in line for hours to get 30 liters of fuel every seven days. Hamid and the others waiting in line were gleefully checking their social media feeds and celebrating news reports that explosions were taking place in the Saudi capital following attacks bu the Houthi-led Yemeni Army.

In retaliation for the fuel embargo and the continued airstrikes on their country, the Houthi-led Yemeni army carried out large-scale attacks on a number of strategic sites in Saudi Arabia using a barrage of ballistic and winged missiles and drones which targeted the headquarters of the Saudi Defense Ministry and the General Intelligence Agency as well as King Salman Air Base, among other military targets in the capital Riyadh and the southern regions of Najran and Jizan. For many, retaliation against the Kingdom represents the only effective option to quell the Saudi attacks and blockade on their country.

Mohammed Abdulsalam, the spokesman and chief negotiator for Ansar Allah, the political wing of the Houthis, emphasized that the operation was aimed at restoring stability to the country and securing an end to the Saudi-led blockade. He said that Yemenis have no option but to confront and resist Saudi Arabia and urged international bodies to pressure the Saudi regime into ending the offensive.

The Saudi-led coalition has acknowledged the attacks but claims that the missiles and drones were intercepted and destroyed but provided no evidence to back that claim. Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki called the strike a “deliberate and systematic operation to target civilians and civilian objects,” adding later that the coalition had “ intercepted” eight bomb-laden drones and three ballistic missiles. A high-ranking Houthi official told MintPress that the raids did indeed hit their intended targets, adding the army used a new weapon in the attack that will be soon be revealed.

The United States and other countries, including France and Britain, condemned the attack on their Saudi ally. They have thus far remained silent on the recent Saudi attacks and fuel blockade on Yemen which preceded the attacks on Saudi Arabia. Yemenis have accused Western countries of abandoning their much-touted commitment to human rights ​​in exchange for Saudi arms deals. “We are killed by weapons belong[ing] to these countries, and get nothing from them except dirty statements that offend their [own] people,” a Yemeni tribal leader who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, told MintPress in response to the U.S. condemnation.

For their part, Ansar Allah censured statements condemning their retaliatory attacks. Abdulsalam said that “condemnations of our operations are no longer effective. They come within the framework of political courtesies and are in part funded by Saudi Arabia.” He insisted that Western countries should instead pressure the kingdom to stop the war. “The American administration practices the most heinous looting of Saudi money,” he added, “The statement of the American mission in Saudi Arabia following our operation is a kind of blackmail, nothing else.”

The Yemeni attacks are the tip of the iceberg as multiple high-ranking officials in the Houthi-backed Yemeni Army revealed to MintPress that they are preparing more attacks against targets in Saudi Arabia, including on oil facilities, royal palaces, military bases, airports, Saudi oil carriers, and other “sensitive targets” that they declined to mention. The consequences for Saudi Arabia will be dire until the blockade is lifted and the offensive comes to an end, they promise. “We should not let Saudi Arabia starve us and carry on enjoying stability and wealth.”

The Saud-led Coalition is heavily backed by Western countries, especially the United States, Britain, and Frace, which have used systematic economic strangulation as a weapon of war — targeting jobs, infrastructure, the agricultural sector, fuel and water pumping stations, factories, and the provision of basic services, as well as imposing a land, sea, and air embargo.

Meanwhile, as a direct result of the oil blockade, many Yemeni officials say that they are already seeking assistance from Iran, hoping that the Iranian government will come to their aid as they did in Venezuela, where six Iranian vessels carried fuel, food, and medicine to Caracas in defiance of U.S. sanctions. They asked Ansar Allah to work with Iran to circumvent the blockade and supply the vital facilities in the country with fuel. If such a move is carried out, Tehran will no doubt win the hearts and minds of Yemenis wary of any foreign intervention, all thanks to the Saudi-led coalition and the United States which in large part are carrying out the war with hopes to limit “Iranian influence” in Yemen.

Feature photo | Cars line up at a petrol station amid fuel shortages in Sanaa, Yemen, Jun. 15, 2020. Hani Mohammed | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post UN Warns Many Will “Starve to Death” in Yemen as Saudi Fuel Blockade Hinders COVID-19 Battle appeared first on MintPress News.

Yemen: Saudi Airstrike Kills Four Children as UN Removes Kingdom From List of Child Killers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/06/2020 - 4:22am in

SADAA, YEMEN — It was not the first time that the mother of Faisel Ahmed al-Jaser heard the small radio perched in the corner of her kitchen report that Saudi aircraft were once again dropping bombs in the area. This time, though, was different. She sensed something was amiss when she heard the aircraft buzzing overhead and would later come to find that one of the bombs had struck 14-year old Faisel, killing him instantly. The death of Faisel came as the United Nations announced a new decision this week to remove the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen from a blacklist of parties that violate the human rights of children. This, despite the fact UN investigators have themselves reported that the Saudi forces have killed hundreds of children in Yemen in the past year alone.

In fact, even as Virginia Gamba, the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, was busy telling reporters at a news conference that her boss had made the decision to remove Saudi Arabia from the blacklist, the bodies of children were burning inside of a car that was targeted by Saudi warplanes in Yemen’s northwestern province of Sadaa.

MintPress normally refrains from publishing graphic footage, but this latest decision by the United Nations puts the reality of what is happening on the ground in Yemen in the public interest. The aftermath of the Saudi attack on a family car filled with children is not easy to watch but it lays bare the nature of the total war that the Saudi coalition is waging on Yemeni civilians. MintPress cameraman Abdullah al- Humran captured the following images from the aftermath of the attack.

Warning | Graphic Content

“Unbelievable, dirty Saudi Riyals have dropped the Kingdom from the blacklist, shame on the UN,” Abdullah Jaber Ali al-Bojani told MintPress. Al-Bojani was among the family members gathered to recover the body parts of 12-year-old Abdullah, who was killed on Monday when a Saudi airstrike hit the car he was traveling in on a highway in the Sheda district in Saada province. In addition to Faisel and Abdullah, at least 14 people, among them four children and a woman, were killed and others were injured in the attack.

Two mine-clearance personnel and a medic also lost their lives on Monday when Saudi warplanes pounded the Kataf district in the same province just one after a similar attack last Wednesday that killed three civilians and injured another.

The recent United Nations decision has not only completely shaken up Yemen’s broken-heart families who lost children to coalition attacks, but it has also sparked concern that the United Nations is taking steps that will leave their-loved ones vulnerable to further Saudi attacks.

Yemeni activists and human rights groups accuse Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, of bias, saying that the move shows a blatant disregard for Saudi crimes that have documented by the UN itself. They say that the decision places a moral responsibility on Guterres and the United Nations for future Saudi crimes against children.

Yemen’s National Committee for Women views the UN decision as an attempt to provide official cover for all Saudi human rights violations and crimes against children and women in Yemen. The group pointed out that removing Saudi Arabia from the blacklist does not negate the crimes it has committed in Yemen.

For their part, Ansar Allah (Houthis) sharply censured the United Nations over the decision. Mohammed AbdulSalam, the spokesman and chief negotiator for Ansar Allah, condemned the UN decision and said that it cannot erase Saudi crimes from the record. He also stated that the move affirms that the UN is colluding with Saudi Arabia is no longer capable of acting as a broker for any political solution in Yemen or anywhere else.

Hisham Sharaf, Ansar Allah’s Foreign Minister in Sana’a, warned that removing the Saudi-led coalition from the list will only encourage the Saudi regime and its air force to continue their crimes against Yemen’s children. He described the decision as a setback for UN efforts to protect and promote children’s rights all over the world.

In retaliation for the latest Saudi attacks, the Yemeni army loyal to Houthis launched a massive operation on Thursday against coalition aircraft, armories, and other sensitive targets at the Saudi military base in Khamis Masheit.


Guterres’s “list of shame”

International human rights groups have also spoken out against the UN decision. Human Rights Watch accused Guterres of ignoring evidence of grave human rights violations.

“The secretary-general is adding a new level of shame to his ‘list of shame’ by removing the Saudi-led coalition and ignoring the UN’s own evidence of continued grave violations against children,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.

Saudi Arabia United Nations Donation

Saudi Prince bin Salman presents a donation to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, March 2018. Dennis Van Tine | STAR MAX | IPx

Adrianne Lapar, director of Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, said that the delisting “sends the message that powerful actors can get away with killing children,” and called for “an independent, objective, transparent assessment of the process leading to the decision.”

The coalition has been on the blacklist for three years. It was added in 2016 but subsequently removed following protests from the Saudi government. Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accused the kingdom of exerting unacceptable pressure on the UN with allied countries, allegedly threatening to cut vital funding for aid programs.

Guterres returned the Saudi-led coalition to the list in 2017 in the wake of Saudi attacks on Yemeni schools and hospitals but placed it in a newly created category. In 2018, Guterres removed the coalition from a list of parties that attack schools and hospitals, despite 19 UN-documented attacks on schools in the previous year.

In his annual report on children and armed conflict, released on June 15, 2020, Guterres reported that the Saudi-led coalition was responsible for 222 child casualties and four attacks on schools and hospitals in Yemen in 2019, but he removed the Kingdom from a list of parties responsible for grave human rights violations against children.

Guterres’s removal of Saudi Arabia from the list is also at odds with his “Call to Action on Human Rights” announced earlier this year, Human Rights Watch said. In that appeal, he said, “International humanitarian law and human rights law must be respected.” Yet his decision to delist or omit the Saudi Kingdom for grave violations of the rights of children raises questions about that commitment.

Feature photo | Yemeni mourners carry the coffin of a boy who was killed by a Saudi airstrike, during a funeral in Saada, Yemen, Aug. 13, 2018. Hani Mohammed | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post Yemen: Saudi Airstrike Kills Four Children as UN Removes Kingdom From List of Child Killers appeared first on MintPress News.

Trump Rips up Decades-Old WMD Treaty in Order to Sell Drones to Saudi Arabia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 16/06/2020 - 4:13am in

The Trump administration has decided to break the 33-year-old Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) treaty in order to sell high-tech American drones to whomever it wants. First on that list, Reuters reports, are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Romania, with sales to begin almost immediately.

The move will doubtless signal the end of the MTCR, a longstanding international agreement with 34 signatories designed to stop the spread of nuclear missiles and other weapons of mass destruction. Most of the developed world, including Russia, has signed up to its principles. However, the Trump administration’s abrupt shift is another example of the policy of escalating the likelihood of international conflicts.

Last year, Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, an accord signed between President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, stating that he would “move forward with developing our own military response options.” In April, the White House also destroyed the Open Skies Treaty, an agreement that allowed the world’s major players to freely observe each other from the air, increasing knowledge and understanding of everyone’s capabilities, thereby limiting the risk of accidental nuclear war between the East and West. And last month Trump indicated that he would let the New Strategic Arms Reduction (START) Treaty expire in January, allowing the U.S. to rapidly increase its supply of atomic weaponry. This has already begun, as the first batch of low-yield nuclear warheads was delivered to the military in January. Novel weapons like these were specifically mentioned in the Pentagon’s latest budget report for the need for new weaponry to confront China and Russia.

Part of the move appears to be an attempt to force enemy states like Russia and China to react by developing their own nuclear arsenals, thereby crippling their economies through a costly military buildup. “We know how to win these races and we know how to spend the adversary into oblivion. If we have to, we will,” Marshall Billingslea, the president’s Special Envoy, told a think tank in Washington, D.C. last month.

In January, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved their famous “Doomsday Clock” – a measure of how close we are to the end of the world – to 100 seconds to midnight, the most perilous moment in human history, citing the “dangerous rivalry and hostility among the superpowers increases the likelihood of nuclear blunder.” The fact that world experts believe that we are closer to annihilation than even during the Cuban Missile Crisis gained only moderate public attention.

However, those in the know are deathly afraid. An example of this is an article in the U.S. foreign policy journal Foreign Affairs, co-written by the (American) ex-Deputy Secretary-General of NATO, Rose Gottemoeller, describing Trump’s recklessness as “a chilling sign of how dangerous the world has become.” Things have become so serious that Gottemoeller even portrayed Vladimir Putin as a man of peace and one of the only adults in the room, not something NATO leaders are often prone to do.

On the decision to sell drones to Saudi Arabia, Heidi Grant, the Pentagon’s Director of Defense Technology Security Administration, argued that the machines would help the Kingdom fight terrorism and help stop threats reaching the United States. However, others argue that Saudi Arabia is itself one of the leading terrorist states in the world.

Since 2015, a Saudi-led coalition has been attacking nearby Yemen, creating what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, where 24 million people desperately need aid and nearly 10 million are suffering from “extreme levels of hunger”. Yemen, the UN laments, has “all but ceased to exist” as a state. The country’s Ministry of Agriculture estimates that there have been at least 10,000 airstrikes against farms, 800 against local food markets and 450 against food storage facilities in the last four years, meaning that much of its soil is now so toxic it cannot sustain life. The United States has supplied, trained, aided, and defended the Saudi attack, yet it has not been able to destroy the Houthi rebels, partially due to a lack of commitment from their forces. Unmanned drones would likely significantly help the coalition.

In addition to pulling out of treaties, Trump has also threatened both Iran and North Korea with nuclear annihilation while also increasing its aggression in Latin America, supporting a successful coup in Bolivia and many unsuccessful ones against Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

“The novel coronavirus pandemic should serve as a powerful reminder of the fragility of the international system. This is exactly the wrong moment to undermine or weaken other key components of that system, especially in the nuclear realm,” Gottemoeller concluded. Trump, however, appears keen to greatly increase the scope for U.S. arms manufacturers, regardless of the cost to the rest of the world.

Feature photo | President Donald Trump meets with Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a working breakfast on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019. Susan Walsh | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

The post Trump Rips up Decades-Old WMD Treaty in Order to Sell Drones to Saudi Arabia appeared first on MintPress News.

Tommy Robinson’s Equipment Seized After Breaking Lockdown Rules

The odious Dominic Cummings wasn’t the only right-winger to be caught breaking the lockdown. So was Stephen Yaxley Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, the notorious islamophobe. Robinson had been nabbed by the fuzz, which can be extremely painful, in Cumbria when he was trying to get to Barrow-on-Furness. The rozzers seized his equipment – his car, his phone and his camera.

This set the anti-Muslim bully-boy off on a long rant against Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter was caused by the radicalisation of people by Antifa, socialist, communist activists. It’s the product of identity politics imported from the US, and funded by the Americans, communism and Marxism. BLM was also supported by the media and ‘the whole remain movement’. Antifa were a ‘far-left’, Fascist organisation, which is an oxymoron. He also attacked someone called Anthony Joshua, who has apparently called for Blacks not to shop at White businesses. Robinson called him a Black supremacist and claimed he was being funded by Saudi Arabia.

Ominously, Robinson also said that he was coming to London this past weekend for a non-racist, patriotic demonstration. “It’s not an anti-Black Lives Matter protest. Many people were there for the right reasons, but you’ve been hijacked by Antifa, you’re being used … on Saturday, many non-white people will be standing with patriots – here Zelo Street interpolated the right interpretation of this clause – [patriots can clearly only be white, then] cos we cannot rely on the Police”.

But as the events on Saturday showed, it was an anti-BLM demonstration. Thugs and louts from the Democratic Football Lads’ Alliance turned up waving anti-Black Lives Matter placards. They were also seen setting fire to a BLM poster whilst describing the person on it as a ‘Black c***’. They were clearly hoping to start a fight with the BLM protesters, who had planned on demonstrating that day. However, those protesters had moved their event to last Friday. Denied their chosen targets, the Fashy idiots decided to attack the cops instead. One of them spat at and threatened a young woman, who was simply picnicking with her friends, while another was seen urinating next to the memorial for the policeman killed defending parliament from an islamist attack. He wasn’t actually widdling on it, as right-wing rent-a-mouth Julia Hartley-Brewer was keen to point out, as if that somehow exonerated this prize bit of drunken yobbishness. Well, no, but it still was a despicable sacrilege to the memory of a brave man. And as the peeps on Twitter also pointed out, urinating in public is still an offence, as it’s an act of public indecency. They were, in short, a disgraceful, drunken rabble, which, if you read the anti-racism, anti-religious extremism site, Hope Not Hate, is just bog-standard, typical behaviour for the far right.

Black Lives Matter has been imported from America, but I really don’t know if it’s funded from there. The BLM demonstrations seemed to me to be spontaneous and occurred all over the world. They are undoubtedly supported by the left, including socialists and communists, but I doubt very much they are an exclusive socialist or communist movement. For all that the various communist movements and parties would like to believe they are instrumental in mobilising mass protest, the truth is the opposite. The collapse of communism globally took most of the local, national communist parties with it. And they were never very popular anyway. The British Communist party reached its peak of popular support in the mid-’70s. When I was a schoolboy in the 1980s, I noticed that in one set of elections in Bristol – I think it was around ’82 or ‘3’ – the local Communist party got 45 votes, beating the National Front, who only got 40. Hardly anybody voted for them. The Socialist Workers’ Party, now the Socialist Party, has done its level best to infiltrate and colonise other people’s protest movements, but their efforts have always been counterproductive. When they inflitrated ‘Rock Against Racism’ in the early ’80s and tried to turn it into a satellite organisation, the mass of members simply left and the organisation, and their plan for using it to radicalise the masses towards Marxism – collapsed. The people who joined ‘Rock Against Racism’ did so because they were anti-racist, not because they were interested in revolutionary socialism.

I also don’t know how many supporters of anti-racist movements like Black Lives Matter are actually socialists. I got the impression that Jo Cox, the Labour MP murdered by racist fanatic Thomas Mair, was on the anti-socialist, Blairite right of the party. Anti-racism and feminism are liberal movements. They are about expanding democracy, opportunity and social participation to include marginalised groups, in this case, ethnic minorities and women. But that can simply mean improving opportunities for individuals, rather than improving conditions generally for the poor or the working and lower middle classes. Hence Blair could back anti-racism campaigns and the movement to get more women in business, science and parliament, without taking up nationalisation or turning away from the Thatcherite road of privatisation, welfare cuts, the destruction of the unions and selling off the NHS. Socialists have adopted anti-racism and feminism as part of a general concern to emancipate those excluded and exploited by capitalism.

I’ve already blogged about the real reasons for the Black Lives Matter protests, as opposed the stupid conspiracy theories about Marxists spouted by Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s primarily a reaction to the disproportionate use of lethal force by the police against Blacks. But it’s also caused by continuing racial inequalities and the grinding poverty of Black communities, as well as everyday anti-Black racism. It’s why the BLM protest in Cheltenham last weekend included a poem by a little girl, Nylah, about why Blacks should take no notice when people tell them they aren’t beautiful. It’s a subject that has haunted many Black people. I came across a similar poem about Black beauty in an issue I was sent at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum of the magazine of the Black and Asian Studies Association. That was 20 years ago, and it is a disgrace that after nearly fifty years of such campaigning, some Black people still somehow feel that they are less attractive than Whites. But it’s also a demonstration that Black pride and anti-racism are humanist movements that go beyond the ideological boundaries of socialism and communism, although both of the latter may and should support them.

Back to Robinson, by his own admission his phone contains footage of his activities. These includes turning up announced on his critics’ doorsteps with a few of his henchmen in order to intimidate them into silence. He also inadvertently doxes them, posting their private information online but telling his followers not to trouble them, and then deleting the information. It all looks suspiciously like incitement, while Robinson himself pretends the opposite. He didn’t want anyone to harass anybody, honest! Look, he’s deleted their information. Robinson did it to the parents of a lad, who persisted in criticising Robinson online and who had pointed out that Robinson’s expensive house showed he was definitely not the poor, working class lad he claimed. He did it to the anti-racist activist Mike Stuchbery, who was forced to leave his teaching job in this country after Robinson falsely claimed, or insinuated, that he was abusing children. And he did it to Tim Felton himself, the man behind Zelo Street. Naturally Tim hopes that the rozzers crack the codes and passwords into Robinson’s phone, and get all the sordid details. Including who is breaking privacy laws by giving Robinson other peoples’ private addresses.

Robinson’s got a series of convictions as long as your arm. These include assault and contempt of court for his repeated violations of the very tight legislation governing trial reportage. That’s legislation intended to make sure the accused get a fair trial. In the case of the Asian grooming gangs and paedophiles, whose trials Robinson has insisted on covering, this means making sure that if they are guilty, their lawyers can’t have the cases dropped because Robinson’s stupid vlogging stops them getting a fair trial.

So far Robinson has had suspended sentences, or those of only a few months. But depending on what the police are able to get out of his phone, that really could change. And it could net some of Robinson’s vile collaborators with him.

See also:




US Considers New Weapons for Saudi Arabia as Kingdom Renews Yemen Border Bombings

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 02/06/2020 - 2:48am in

YEMEN-SAUDI BORDER — At seven years old, Radhiah Issa’s wide-eyed screams of panic and fear were understandable. Even an adult would be forgiven for waking up in a heated panic after discovering much of their body wrapped in blood-soaked bandages and laying in an unfamiliar room. Radhiah was in the family home of a Yemeni doctor who had scraped together whatever medical supplies he could in a heroic effort to render first aid and perform emergency surgery on Radhiah, who was seriously injured last Wednesday by a Saudi artillery shell while she stood amid her family’s grazing sheep near her home in the Shada District of Yemen’s northwestern province of Sadaa, near the border with Saudi Arabia.

“We needed sterilization tools and masks to avoid COVID-19, not American shells and bombs to smash our children,” one of Radhiah’s family members told MintPress News. For the past few weeks, residents along the Yemen-Saudi border, particularly in the Sadaa, Hajjah, and al-Jawf provinces, have faced two options: contend with life under constant bombardment by Saudi border guards and warplanes or seek refuge farther from the border where the threat of COVID-19 looms amid the other myriad epidemics raging across Yemen. “The bombing and COVID-19 are making our lives hell; if you are quarantined at your home, the bombs will demolish the building on your head, and if you leave the house, you are subjected to coronavirus,”  one of Radhiah’s family members told MintPress as the young girl lay nearby, still dazed.

As locals in the border town of Maran were celebrating Eid, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, four civilians were killed and another injured after Saudi warplanes targeted a highway in the Haydan district of Sa’ada. The attack on Maran accompanied a spat of over 100 Saudi airstrikes focused mostly along the Kingdom’s border with Yemen during Eid celebrations. Malahat, Baqim, al-Jawf, and Marib provinces as well as Abs and Harad district in the country’s northern province of Hajjah, were all heavily targeted causing still known numbers of casualties and damage.

In Hodeida, the Eid al-Fitr festivities failed to bring quiet to the province’s war-weary residents as the Saudi-led Coalition continued to hammer the strategic port city. Since December 13, 2018, Saudi airstrikes on the city have been replaced with snipers, artillery shells, and missiles after the Houthis and Saudi Arabia agreed to a UN-brokered truce in Sweden.  An eight-year-old boy sustained injuries after Saudi mercenaries shelled a residential area in Hodieda’s southern al-Durayhimi district on the same day that Saudi airstrikes were peppering mountaintops near Maran with indiscriminate shelling and airstrikes, as seen in video obtained by MintPress.

The Saudi attacks come at a time when the coronavirus outbreak in the country is spreading like wildfire. Officials in both Houthi-controlled Sana’a and opposition-controlled Aden, as well as officials from the  United Nations, have now confirmed what MinPress already revealed in a previous report: that COVID-19 was already spreading quickly throughout the country. The Ministry of Public Health and Population based in Sana’a affirmed on Thursday that COVID-19 cases have appeared in several areas of the country, including the capital Sana’a, and that the Ministry was working to provide the necessary healthcare for the infected and to initiate contact tracing to track the virus’ spread.

Moreover, the Saudi attacks came as Yemenis, like the rest of the Muslim world, celebrated the sixth Eid al-Fitr since 2015, the year that the richest countries in the Middle East, and amongst the richest in the world, launched a military campaign against Yemen, one of the poorest nations on earth. Though Saudi Arabia is ostensibly a Muslim country, that factor did not dissuade the Kingdom from carrying out a barrage of airstrikes on the Muslim holiday.

On April 8, Saudi Arabia claimed it was halting military attacks and suspending hostilities in support of United Nations’ peace efforts and to avoid the spread of the coronavirus in Yemen, however, the onslaught continued for the sixth consecutive year where Saudi warplanes dropped dozens of tons from the weapons, mostly supplied by the United States. Saudi warplanes hit populated areas in the border provinces with at least 300 airstrikes.

For Yemen’s residents, both U.S. bombs and COVID-19 have dampened Eid festivities, as they have affected every aspect of their lives. Loved ones are no longer present, lost to the brutal war; the blockade, the diseases, and the famine have all radically altered what has traditionally been a joyous occasion.


No end in sight

In what can only be described as a boost to the Saudi-led Coalition war and a tragedy for the civilians who already struggle with COVID-19 and other epidemics, President Donald Trump’s administration plans to provide Saudi Arabia with more bombs one year after pushing through an $8.1 billion weapons contract with the Kingdom.

Influential U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) revealed in an editorial published by CNN that President Trump’s administration was considering selling arms to Saudi Arabia again, following international condemnation during the last such sale. Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, confirmed that there is still no justification for the U.S. to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia, adding  “That is why I am particularly troubled that the State Department has again refused to explain the need to sell thousands more bombs to Saudi Arabia on top of the thousands that have yet to be delivered from last year’s emergency.”

The news has raised concerns from Yemen’s residents, local human rights organizations, and activists, who warn that the United States and Saudi-led coalition are preparing to prolong the war the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. They called on the United States to instead provide testing and protective equipment, respirators, ventilators, sterilization tools and masks instead of bombs.

Grave diggers bury bodies at Radwan Cemetery in Aden where fresh graves are a testament to a spike in coronavirus deaths, May 21, 2020. Photo | AP

With the United States preoccupied with its own record-high number of COVID-19 cases, in Yemen, American weapons in Yemen have killed at least 100,000 civilians according to the U.S.-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, and over 100,00 people die every year as a result of disease and epidemics like cholera and dengue fever, most of them children.

Since 2015, when the war began, coalition warplanes have conducted more than 250,000 airstrikes in Yemen according to the Yemeni Army. 70 percent of those airstrikes have hit civilian targets. Thousands of tons of weapons, most often supplied by the United States, have been dropped on hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, farms, factories, bridges, and power and water treatment plants and have left unexploded ordnance scattered across densely populated areas.

In addition to killing and injuring hundreds of civilians, American-made weapons have exposed Yemen’s people to highly toxic substances on a level not seen before has left Yemen one of the most heavily contaminated countries in the world.

Feature photo | A Houthi man inspects an unexploded US-made cluster bomb in Sanaa, Yemen, 2016. Hani Mohammed | AP

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post US Considers New Weapons for Saudi Arabia as Kingdom Renews Yemen Border Bombings appeared first on MintPress News.

J.A. Hobson on Capitalism and Imperialism

One of the crimes for which Jeremy Corbyn was pilloried as an anti-Semite was that he had written a foreword for an edition of J.A. Hobson’s book, Imperialism. First published in 1903, Hobson’s book has become one of the classic critiques of imperialism. Hobson considered that the motive force behind imperialist expansion and overseas conquest was capitalism and the continual need to find new markets. The book influenced Lenin’s own analysis of imperialism, Imperialism: The Highest Form of Capitalism. Fifty years after the book was published it was praised by the great British historian A.J.P. Taylor, who said that ‘No survey of the international history of the twentieth century can be complete without the name of J.A. Hobson’ because he was the first to identify imperialism’s economic motives. Hobson has been accused of anti-Semitism.

Imperialism and the Anti-Semitism Smears against Corbyn

I think it’s because he believed that Jewish financiers were behind the Anglo-South Africa or ‘Boer’ Wars. I think the real force was the British desire to expand into the African interior,  retain the Afrikaners as imperial subjects and acquire the riches of the southern African diamond fields as well as Cecil Rhodes own megalomaniac personal ambitions. However, when the various witch-hunters were howling about how anti-Semitic Corbyn was for endorsing the book, others pointed out that it was a very well-respected text admired and used by entirely reputable historians. Yes, it was a bit anti-Semitic. A very small bit – there was only one anti-Semitic sentence in it. It was another case of the witch-hunters grasping at whatever they could, no matter how small, to smear a genuinely anti-racist politician.

Financial Capitalism, Imperialism and the Decline of Ancient Rome

There’s an extract from Hobson’s Imperialism in The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century Protest, edited by Brian MacArthur (London: Penguin 1988). This is a collection various writings protesting against a wide variety of issues ranging from indictments of the poverty of Edwardian England, to various wars, including Vietnam, Civil Rights and anti-Racism, as well as feminism, gay rights, the power of television and the threat of nuclear war. Yes, there’s an extract from Hitler’s Mein Kampf, but there’s also a piece by the American Zionist rabbi, Stephen S. Wise, against the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany as well as other condemnations of Nazis and their horrific rule. The book very definitely does not endorse Fascism or the Communism of Stalin, Pol Pot and the other monsters.

The extract included in the book does identify financial capitalism and militarism as the force behind Roman imperialism, which led to the enslavement of Rome’s enemies abroad and the emergence of an immensely wealthy aristocracy, while impoverishing ordinary Romans at the other end of the social hierarchy, and compares it to the comparable development of the British imperialism of his own time. The extract runs

The spirit of imperialism poisons the springs of democracy in the mind and character of the people. As our free self-governing colonies have furnished hope, encouragement and leadership to the popular aspirations in Great Britain, not merely by practical successes in the arts of popular government, but by the wafting of a spirit of freedom and equality, so our despotically ruled dependencies have ever served to damage the character of our people by feeding the habits of snobbish subservience, the admiration of wealth and rank, the corrupt survivals of the inequalities of feudalism. This process began with the advent of the East Indian nabob and the West Indian planter into English society and politics, bring back with his plunders of the slave trade and the gains of corrupt and extortionate officialism the acts of vulgar ostentation, domineering demeanour and corrupting largesse to dazzle and degrade the life of our people. Cobden, writing in 1860 of our Indian Empire, put this pithy question: ‘Is it not just possible that we may become corrupted at home by the reaction of arbitrary political maxims in the East upon our domestic politics, just as Greece and Rome were demoralized by their contact with Asia?’

The rise of a money-loaning aristocracy in Rome, composed of keen, unscrupulous men from many nations, who filled the high offices of state with their creatures, political ‘bosses’ or military adventurers, who had come to the front as usurers, publicans or chiefs of police in the provinces, was the most distinctive feature of later imperial Rome. This class was continually recruited from returned officials and colonial millionaires. The large incomes drawn in private official plunder, public tribute, usury and official incomes from the provinces had the following reactions upon Italy. Italians were no longer wanted for working the land or for manufactures, or even for military service. ‘The later campaigns on the Rhine and the Danube,’ it is pointed out, ‘were really slave-hunts on a gigantic scale.’

The Italian farmers, at first drawn from rural into military life, soon found themselves permanently ousted from agriculture by the serf labour of the latifundia, and they and their families were sucked into the dregs of town life, to be subsisted as a pauper population upon public charity. A mercenary colonial army came more and more displace the home forces. The parasitic city life, with its lowered vitality and the growing infrequency of marriage, to which Gibbon draws attention, rapidly impaired the physique of the native population of Italy, and Rome subsisted more and more upon immigration of raw vigour from Gaul and Germany. The necessity of maintaining powerful mercenary armies to hold the provinces heightened continually the peril, already manifest in the last years of the Republic, arising from the political ambitions of great pro-consuls conspiring with a moneyed interest at Rome against the Commonwealth. As time went on, this moneyed oligarchy became an hereditary aristocracy, and withdrew from military and civil service, relying more and more upon hired foreigners: themselves sapped by luxury and idleness and tainting by mixed servitude and licence the Roman populace, they so enfeebled the state as to destroy the physical and moral vitality required to hold in check and under government the vast repository of forces in the exploited Empire. The direct cause of Rome’s decay and fall is expressed politically by the term ‘over-centralization’, which conveys in brief the real essence of imperialism as distinguished from national growth on the one hand and colonialism upon the other. Parasitism practised through taxation and usury, involved a constantly increasing centralization of the instruments of government, and a growing strain upon this government as the prey became more impoverished by the drain and showed signs of restiveness. ‘The evolution of this centralized society was as logical as every other work of nature. When force reached the stage where it expressed itself exclusively through money the governing class ceased to be chosen because they were valiant or eloquent, artistic, learned or devout, and were selected solely because they had the faculty of acquiring and keeping wealth. As long as the weak retained enough vitality to produce something which could be absorbed, this oligarchy was invariable; and, for very many years after the native peasantry of Gaul and Italy had perished from the land, new blood, injected from more tenacious races, kept the dying civilization alive. The weakness of the moneyed class lay in this very power, for they not only killed the producer, but in the strength of their acquisitiveness they failed to propagate themselves.’

This is the largest, planest instance history presents of the social parasite process by which a moneyed interest within the state, usurping the reins of government, makes for imperial expansion in order to fasten economic suckers into foreign bodies so as to drain them of their wealth in order to support domestic luxury. The new imperialism differs in no vital point from this old example. The element of political tribute is now absent, or quite subsidiary, and the crudest forms of slavery have disappeared: some elements of more genuine and disinterested government serve to qualify and and mask the distinctively parasitic nature of the later sort. But nature is not mocked: the laws which, operative throughout nature, doom the parasite to atrophy, decay, and final extinction, are not evaded by nations any more than by individual organisms. The greater complexity of the modern process, the endeavour to escape the parasitic reaction by rendering some real but quite unequal and inadequate services to ‘the host’, may retard but cannot finally avert the natural consequences of living upon others. The claim that an imperial state forcibly subjugating other peoples and their lands does so for the purpose of rendering services to the conquered equal to those which she exacts is notoriously false: she neither intends equivalent services nor is capable of rendering them, and the pretence that such benefits to the governed form a leading motive or result of imperialism implies a degree of moral or intellectual obliquity so grave as itself to form a new peril for any nation fostering so false a notion of the nature of its conduct. ‘Let the motive be in the deed, not in the event,’ says a Persian proverb…

Imperialism is a depraved choice of national life, imposed by self-seeking interests which appeal to the lusts of quantitative acquisitiveness and of forceful domination surviving in a nation from early centuries of animal struggle for existence. Its adoption as a policy implies a deliberate renunciation of that cultivation of the higher inner qualities which for a nation as for its individual constitutes the ascendancy of reason over brute impulse. It is the besetting sin of all successful state, and its penalty is unalterable in the order of nature.

(Pp. 15-18).

Financial Capitalism Operating to Exploit Former Colonies and Undermine Domestic Economy

While the British Empire has gone the way of Rome’s, the same forces are still operating today. The Iraq invasion was really to enable western multinationals to seize Iraq’s state industries, and for the American and Saudi oil industry to seize its oil reserves. They weren’t about bringing it democracy or freeing its citizens. Although our former African colonies are now free, they are still plundered through highly unfair trade agreements. At home manufacturing industry has declined because Thatcherite economics favours the financial sector. And the immensely rich now hoard their wealth in offshore tax havens or invest it abroad, rather than in domestic industry. Thus denying British industry investment and making millions of domestic workers unemployed. There’s a further parallel in that in the later Roman Empire, the senatorial aristocracy retreated to their estates rather than pay tax, and so the tax burden increasingly fell on the ordinary Roman citizen. This is the same as the way the Tories have given vast tax cuts to the rich, which have ensured that the tax burden must also be increasingly borne by the poor.

Conservatives have also drawn parallels between the fall of the Roman Empire and today’s west. This has mostly been about non-White immigration, which they have compared to the barbarian invasions. But as Hobson’s Imperialism showed, capitalism and imperialism were connected and together responsible for Rome’s decline and fall. 

But strangely they don’t talk about that!



Racist and Biased Equalities and Human Rights Commission Drops Tory Islamophobia Investigation

Here’s another revolting development, as it would be described by Marvel Comics’ ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing, the idol o’ millions and butt of the Yancey Street gangs’ pranks. On Tuesday Mike reported that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission had decided not to go ahead with an investigation into islamophobia in the Tory party. It considered that this would not be ‘proportionate’ after seeing the Tories’ own plans and terms of reference for its own investigation, which included specific reference to islamophobia.

The Muslim Council of Britain declared that these terms were a ‘facade’ and that the investigation was too narrow compared to Labour’s Chakrabarti investigation into anti-Semitism. They went on to say that the investigation would hide the hundreds of incidents of bigotry in the Tory party, which they had uncovered.

Mike in his article makes the very valid point that it doesn’t matter what the EHRC says about ant-Semitism in the Labour party. It has shown it cannot treat the two parties equally. Indeed, BoJob’s own behaviour provides a prima facie case for investigation. Mike concludes

If the EHRC can’t see that, then no decision it makes about the Labour Party can have any weight at all.

I recommend that it be disbanded and replaced by an organisation staffed by people who can do the job properly.

Equalities watchdog undermines itself by refusing to examine Tory Islamophobia

Of course, Mike’s right. There’s Johnson’s wretched book 72 Virgins, a wish-fulfillment fantasy if ever there was one, about a bike-riding Prime Minister foiling an evil Islamist plot to bomb parliament. This also included racist comments about other ethnic groups as well, including a Black character, who is described as a stupid coon, and a shady Jewish businessman who makes his money by exploiting migrant workers. This nasty anti-Semitic stereotype was accompanied by the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about the Jews controlling the media. And then, of course, there’s Johnson’s vile newspaper column in which he compared women in burqas to bin bags and letter boxes. Despite all the bluster about how he was merely being un-PC and it was an act of free speech, nothing more, Johnson’s rhetoric did lead to a spike in islamophobic assaults, especially against women clad in that way.

Zelo Street and other left-wing bloggers have also put up articles about the numerous supporters of BoJob and Rees-Mogg revealed by the internet activist Jacobsmates, who posted viciously islamophobic and anti-Semitic comments on Twitter. Like the various Conservative politicos Mike and Zelo Street also reported were suspended by the Tories for their islamophobic conduct. In their posts they had declared that Sadiq Khan and other Muslim and ethnic minority politicos, like Diane Abbott, should be killed, ranted about how Muslims were plotting to destroy the country and were responsible for rape and terrorism and supported the old anti-Semitic conspiracy libel that Muslims and non-White immigrants were being imported into Europe and the West by the Jews with the intention of destroying the White race.

And the Equalities and Human Rights Commission is grossly disproportionate itself in the importance it gives to the allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour on the one hand and islamophobia in the Tories in another.

The reality is that there was far less anti-Semitism in Labour under Jeremy Corbyn than in wider British society, and that the vast majority of it comes from the right, and especially the far right. What those screaming about Labour anti-Semitism really objected to was anti-Zionism and support for the Palestinians. This is why Corbyn was viciously denounced as an anti-Semite for attending a speech by a Holocaust survivor, who compared Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians to the Nazis’ persecution of himself and other Jews, while the same witch-hunters had nothing to say about Tweezer and Rachel Reeve singing the praises of Nancy Astor, a real anti-Semite and supporter of Hitler. Part of the motivation for the anti-Semitism smears against Labour was pure partisanship. It was a convenient stick for the Tory establishment, including the Thatcherites within the Labour party, to beat Corbyn and try to oust him or prevent the party from ever coming to power. It didn’t matter whether they were true or not. And western geopolitical interests were involved. Israel is one of the pillars of British Middle Eastern policy, along with Saudi Arabia. Tony Greenstein among other bloggers and activists has put up a number of quotes from British officials showing that it always was regarded as a centre of western influence in the region from the days of the British Mandate in Palestine, comparable to Ulster in Ireland.

The anti-Semitism smears had nothing to do with real anti-Jewish hatred. It was purely about defending Israel and preventing a genuine the formation of a socialist, genuinely Labour government.

The EHRC’s decision not to investigate Tory islamophobia may also be connected to the anti-Muslim prejudices of its leader, Trevor Philips. He is, or was, a member of the Labour party, but was suspended a little while ago by General Secretary Jennie Formby for islamophobia. He had accused Muslims of forming a ‘nation within a nation’ and stated that the members of the Asian grooming gangs, who abused White girls, committed their horrendous crimes because ‘Muslims see the world differently’. He seems to regard Muslims as fundamentally different and Other to the rest of British society, stating that they ‘are not like us’. He also chaired a Tory conference on ‘Challenging Islamophobia’, in which he and several of the others attending even blamed Muslims themselves for the terrorist attacks on the mosques in New Zealand and Finsbury Park. They were, Phillips and the others declared, a natural response to Muslim terrorism. In 2006 Ken Livingstone, then mayor of the London Assembly, accused Phillips, who was chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, as the EHRC then was, of pandering to the right and turning it into a huge press department while at the same time winding down its legal work. Six of the EHRC’s commissioners also resigned in protest at Phillips’ leadership. Phillips has also presented programmes for Channel 4 which accused Blacks of being far more inclined towards criminality than Whites, and that a significant number of British Muslims had terrorist sympathies among other accusations. Both of these were misleading. In fact, the number of British Muslims, who had terrorist sympathies was s1-3 per cent, rather than the nearly quarter that has been claimed.

Tony Greenstein has put up a long piece including several other articles, which extensively discusses Phillips’ islamophobia  and shabby career and critiques and demolishes the two programmes he presented. Greenstein states that when he was active in student politics in the 1970s, he came across Phillips politically. It struck him then that Phillips really had nothing to say about racism, and was only using the fact of his colour for political advancement.


And its very noticeable that, as Greenstein describes in the above article, Phillips has received glowing support from a series of notorious racists and islamophobes like Tommy Robinson. Phillips is also another Labour rightist, who has weaponised the anti-Semitism smears for his own benefit. When he was suspended for islamophobia, he claimed that it was really because he had spoken out about Labour anti-Semitism. Which is purest twaddle.

With someone creditably accused of islamophobia himself in charge of the EHRC, it’s not surprising that it has decided not to pursue anti-Muslim prejudice in the Tories.

And this sorry episode also illustrates another point Quentin Letts has made about race relations in this country. In his book, Bog-Standard Britain, the Tory journo argued that there was a racial hierarchy of power and influence amongst ethnic and other minorities. Jews were at, or near the top. Blacks and Muslims were much lower down. I think Muslims may well have been at the bottom.

There’s much truth in this, as Sayeeda Warsi herself has complained that people are able to say things about Muslims with impunity, for which they would be immediately attacked if they said them about Jews.

Tony’s article also reports that Richard Littlejohn, another scummy right-wing hack, has even claimed that Phillips only agreed to chair the EHRC in order to close it down.

Perhaps this would now be the right action to take. Mike’s right in that at present it seems utterly unfit for purpose.

As COVID-19 Grips Yemen, Saudi Warplanes Target Trucks Laden with Medical Supplies

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 09/05/2020 - 3:43am in

AL-BAYDA, YEMEN — Despite calls by the United Nations Secretary General, the Security Council and the World Health Organization to stop its war on Yemen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saudi-led coalition has been intentionally targeting food and drug supplies in the country.

On Wednesday, at least 12 trucks loaded with food and medicine and other basic commodities went up in flames when Saudi warplanes struck them as they awaited passage through a customs checkpoint at the Afar Port in Al-Bayda. Multiple drivers, including foreign nationals, were killed or injured in the attack and others are still missing.

The Afar crossing was recently established in the central province of al-Bayda as a major point of entry for food and medicine in light of the continued siege on the port of Hodeida and Sana’a International Airport. The attack comes amid a number of Saudi-Coalition attacks on food and medicine supplies in Yemen.

On Thursday, at least six civilians, including a child, were killed and others injured when Saudi warships targeted a food storage facility in the al-Jurr area in the Abbs District in the country’s northwestern province of Hajjah.

On April 8, Saudi Arabia claimed it was halting military attacks and suspending hostilities in support of United Nations’ peace efforts and to avoid further spread of the new coronavirus in Yemen, however, the onslaught continues. The Coalition has carried out 76 offensives, over 810 airstrikes since April, according to the Yemen Army. Just last month, a Saudi airstrike killed 31 civilians, 19 of them children, and injured another 18 children in al-Jawf. “It was an attack on a civilian-populated area where children were in the vicinity,” UNICEF reported.


The world’s worst humanitarian crisis

Following the uptick in attacks on Yemeni ports and other vital facilities, Yemen’s health minister held a presser in Sana’a, accusing Saudi Arabia of deliberately attempting to spread the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medical authorities in Sana’a’ reported their first case of the novel coronavirus, a Somali national who had underlying liver and kidney problems and was found dead in their Sana’a hotel. The health minister, Taha al-Mutawakkil, said, “We received a report about a situation in a hotel in the capital Sana’a on Sunday and epidemiological investigation teams went there immediately, where the affected person had died.

As a result of the ongoing blockade, particularly on medical devices, the coronavirus is suspected to have already spread undetected across much of the country, with testing virtually nonexistent. Moreover, 70 percent of all medical facilities in the country are not functioning and are poorly positioned to treat victims of the respiratory virus, let alone to protect healthcare workers.

According to the UN, most Yemeni healthcare workers have not been paid, or have been paid irregularly, for over two years, it added that equipment and medical supplies are insufficient or obsolete.

The attacks on food and medicine trucks come as Yemen grapples with funding cuts from international aid organizations according to the Aid Chief of the World Health Organization (WHO), who said that nutrition programs will also be cut and 80 percent of health services provided through U.N.-funded programs could also stop.

The WHO also said that there are currently 260,000 severely malnourished children and 2 million others that will be affected by moderate malnutrition. “These children’s immune systems will be weakened, making them much more vulnerable to COVID-19 and other diseases,” said Mark Lowcock, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Lowcock has called for nearly $60 million to urgently protect the health and safety of women and girls in Yemen, where figures show that every two hours a woman loses her life during labor.

On Monday, the UN warned that a shocking 16 million Yemenis are at risk of contracting the coronavirus, dealing a whopping blow to what it has already described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The “most likely scenario would see COVID-19 strike 55 percent of Yemen’s entire population, the global body’s aid chief, Lise Grande said. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said $24 million was also needed for the COVID-19 response to protect health workers and help women and girls gain access to reproductive health services.

This pandemic has proven a formidable foe for the health-care systems of advanced, stable countries like those in Europea, but to Yemen, which is suffering from five years of the war and an ongoing Saudi blockade, COVID-19 could result in an unprecedented death toll reminiscent of that that the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 wrought upon much of the world.


A death toll reminiscent of the Spanish flu

The UN said in a statement on Wednesday that the dire humanitarian situation for Yemeni women would deteriorate even further as the COVID-19 pandemic enters the war-torn country. According to the international agency, more than 48,000 Yemeni women could lose their lives from complications of pregnancy and childbirth in the impoverished country due to critical funding shortages and the possible shutting down of reproductive health facilities.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), nearly half of all health facilities in Yemen are not functioning or only partially functioning, and “only 20 percent of health facilities provide maternal and child health services due to staff shortages, lack of supplies, inability to meet operational costs, or damage due to the war.”

The organization also said that “if such facilities shut down, an estimated 320,000 pregnant women would lose services from reproductive health centers and over 48,000 women could lose their lives of emergency obstetric complications in Yemen.

The best preventive measure to control the spread of the COVID-19 has so far been the practice of good hygiene, but the Saudi war and blockade have mired much of the country in filth as chemicals used to sanitize the water supply sit idle for a lack of fuel thanks to the blockade. In fact, the ongoing Saudi blockade has deprived Yemenis of the opportunity to reap the benefit of the sharp decline in crude oil prices.

Saudi Arabia has prevented 18 tankers, carrying more than 450 thousand tons of gasoline, from reaching electric stations and hospitals, despite carrying international permits, according to a statement by the Yemeni Oil Company.

Meanwhile, trucks carrying canned food and medicine en route to the besieged residents of al-Durayhimi have remained in Musai village for two weeks, unable to proceed thanks to the seemingly endless barrage of coalition rocket and artillery attacks, making it difficult to smuggle even to medical aid into the district.

The heavily populated area of al-Durayhimi lies nearly 20 kilometers from the Red Sea port city of Hodeida. The civilians there endure an acute shortage of food and medicine with no corridors for aid amid daily rocket and artillery strikes on the district by Saudi forces. The district has been blockaded by Saudi-led Coalition since June 2018.

Feature photo | A screenshot from video released by the Ansarallah Media Center shows civilian trucks that were targeted in a Wednesday airstrike by the Saudi-led Coalition at the Afar Port in Al-Bayda, Yemen.

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

The post As COVID-19 Grips Yemen, Saudi Warplanes Target Trucks Laden with Medical Supplies appeared first on MintPress News.