Yemen

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Yemen’s Leningrad: The Unforeseen Consequences of the State Department’s Houthi Designation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/01/2021 - 3:46am in

The war-torn country of Yemen is in the midst of the largest humanitarian crisis in the world thanks in large part to a Saudi-led war fueled by American weapons. Now, as the war nears its six-year anniversary in March, any hopes for a diplomatic resolution have faded faster than the presidency of Donald Trump, whose outgoing administration recently announced plans to designate the Houthi rebels, the principal force battling both the Saudi-led Coalition and al-Qaeda militants in Yemen, as a foreign terrorist organization. The move effectively eliminates any ray of hope for the more than 24 million people struggling for survival amid war, siege, famine, and countless diseases and epidemics, according to the United Nations.  

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the State Department would notify Congress of its intent to designate Ansar Allah, known colloquially as the Houthis, as a foreign terrorist organization as well as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity. Of note is the fact Ansar Allah does not own a single company, nor does it own a single bank account outside of Yemen. In fact, ranking members rarely even travel outside of the country’s borders. Pompeo’s announcement was met with alarm by the United Nations, international aid groups, and diplomats who warned that the move would further inflame the situation on the ground, upend any hope for peace talks and exacerbate the country’s humanitarian crisis.

Predictably, Pompeo’s move treats Saudi Arabia as a victim instead of the perpetrator, and perhaps of no surprise to many historians, Saudi Arabia and the militant groups that it backs in Yemen appear to have already taken that message to heart. Since Pompeo’s statement was issued, Saudi warplanes have launched over 200 airstrikes targeting the Sana’a International Airport and the provinces of Marib, Sadaa, Hajjah, and Al-Jawf. Local prisoner exchange deals have stalled and UNICEF has announced plans to stop supplying some water pumps in Sana’a with fuel, according to the Sana’a-based Ministry of Water, who went on to say that the move could potentially harm up to four million people, including the many displaced people taking shelter in the city. 

 

“Pure diplomatic vandalism” 

The United Nations warned of major repercussions for international assistance to a country with a “growing risk of famine.” Mark Lowcock, the UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said of the designation, “What is the likely humanitarian impact? The answer is a large-scale famine on a scale that we have not seen for nearly 40 years.” He added that exemptions to allow aid agencies to deliver supplies, as suggested by Washington, would not be sufficient to avoid a famine, adding “what would prevent it? A reversal of the decision.” 

https://twitter.com/UNReliefChief/status/1349422579623342089

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric echoed that sentiment, warning that “The decision is likely to have serious humanitarian and political repercussions.” Dujarric was likely referring to the fact that the designation will likely dissuade third parties from engaging in any transactions with Houthi authorities for fear of U.S. prosecution. 

It wasn’t just the UN that condemned the move either. David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee called the move, “pure diplomatic vandalism,” adding that “the last thing the Yemeni people need is further interruption of aid and economic flows.” The International Rescue Committee had already ranked Yemen as the top crisis in the world at risk of deterioration in 2021 and said that 24 million Yemenis are at catastrophic humanitarian risk following the designation of Ansar Allah. While the Norwegian Refugee Council, one of the most active aid groups in Yemen, said that the U.S. must ensure sanctions do not block aid from entering “a country already in the middle of a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe.” Save the Children warned that the measures could “threaten the supply of lifesaving food, fuel, and medicine,” and French aid group Action Contre la Faim (ACF)  declared that the designation would have “an immediate impact.”

Not surprisingly, the decision will impact Ansar Allah-controlled areas of northern Yemen the most, but eh the effects will be felt across the entire country – delaying or even halting not only the import of food, medicine, and other humanitarian goods but commercial goods as well, according to the UN. Yemen imports 90% of its food items and the new designation is likely to slow or even stop imports at a time when thousands are at risk of famine. “The U.S. government’s action today is likely to tip the scale towards economic meltdown, famine, and death.” the UN said.

To compare Secretary of State Pompeo’s decision to that of Adolf Hitler’s intentional starving of  Leningrad is no exaggeration. Hitler launched a brutal siege against the three million residents of Leningrad in 1941 in an effort to starve its civilians into submission in one of the most notorious and brutal crimes in history. In many ways, the State Department’s decision is much worse and sets a far more dangerous precedent. In fact, World War II’s Siege of Leningrad stands as a chilling reminder of the toll that the Trump administration’s decision could potentially have on the civilian population in Yemen, particularly the 13 million people who live in the north of the country.

 

Paving the way for an al-Qaeda Resurgence

The designation of the Houthis was predictably met with ire from the group’s allies and supporters in Yemen and abroad. It is being seen as an attempt to balkanize the country and subject its western half to the sort of perpetual famine and suffering endured by nearby Somalia.

There are also fears that the move will hamper the ability of the Houthis to combat Saudi-backed extremist forces in Yemen, especially al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and IS, allowing them to use Yemen and a launching group to plan and carry out terrorist operations inside the United States and the European Union, according to Yemeni security experts who spoke to MintPress. “The environment in Yemen will become more encouraging for the prosperity of al-Qaeda and IS after Washington’s decision against the Ansar Allah forces, who cleared most areas in the north country including al-Bayda province, a stronghold of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. 

 

The Houthi-led government in Sana’a, known as the National Salvation Government of the Republic (NSG) of Yemen said in a statement that Pompeo`s plan to designate Ansar Allah is an unprecedented act of hostility. They warned the international community and the countries sponsoring the peace process in Yemen of the consequences of the move, ”We have the will to defend our country by taking appropriate steps towards the American decision if it takes place including reciprocity,” the NSG said. The statement added that” The steadfastness of our people and their sincere bias towards the issues of the nation, particularly the Palestinian cause as well as the rejection of the normalization project, was not acceptable to the Trump administration.” 

Even some of Yemen’s political rivals in the country have come out against the designation. General People’s Congress Party, the largest political party in the country and the party of Saudi-backed President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, said in a statement that the Trump administration’s decision will have major negative repercussions on peace and political settlement, and will complicate international efforts. The Nasserist Reform Organisation also strongly condemned the State Department’s decision, describing it as a hostile and irresponsible act aimed at serving the personal interest of presidents who struggle to stay in the White House. The Tribal Cohesion Council, the highest tribal body in Yemen said ”we consider [the United States] decision as a source of pride showing that Yemenis have become a challenge to them in the region” and called on tribal leaders to mobilize fighters.

 

What’s behind a designation?

The Houthis, for their part, have downplayed the impact of the decision, warning that it not only means that a peace deal can not be achieved but that the United States could now be directly targeted by the group.

The Trump administration’s assessment of the situation in Yemen, officials say, is flawed, as the Houthis have never threatened the United States unlike al-Qaeda, IS, or the Taliban. And unlike those groups, the Houthis are well-armed with ballistic missiles, drones, and gunboats and Houthi attacks on the Saudi-led Coalition have always been retaliatory and not preemptive. 

Moreover, they warn, any U.S. military action against the Houthis under the pretext of fighting terrorism will serve to gain the group even more supporters in the Middle East, as it is one of the few left in the Arab world to stand in opposition to Washington’s support for Israel’s internationally-recognized theft of Palestinian land. The Houthis see that policy as a major driving force in the U.S. decision to designate them and maintain that it will serve to garner them even more popular support both inside of Yemen and across the Islamic and Arab world.

 

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a leading member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council said in a series of tweets that “the Trump administration’s policy and actions are terrorist. We reserve the right to respond to any designation issued by the Trump administration or any administration.” He also called for the ”formation of independent investigation committees for each crime committed in the country.” 

Ultimately, the decision to designate the Houthis seems aimed at stirring chaos in an already chaotic theater. It spurs on violence by using a political decision as a gruesome tactic to incite Yemenis against the Houthis by compounding the suffering of those in their midst. It is an alternative to the six-year-long failed attempt to take over the whole country by brute military force, despite the fact that that attempt has been fueled with billions of dollars worth of advanced weapons, intelligence information, and training, in addition to active participation in the blockade.

Feature photo | Houthi supporters chant slogans during a demonstration outside the closed U.S. embassy over its decision to designate the Houthis a foreign terrorist organization in Sanaa, Yemen, Jan. 18, 2021. Arabic on posters reads: “America creates terrorism in the world.” 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’s Leningrad: The Unforeseen Consequences of the State Department’s Houthi Designation appeared first on MintPress News.

It’s Spelled ‘Dead Asshole’, Not ‘Philanthropist’: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 2:29pm in

Point of order regarding Sheldon Adelson: the correct term for someone who spent his whole life being an asshole and then died is “dead asshole”, not “philanthropist”.

The Capitol riot wasn’t the worst thing a US president has done.

It’s not even the worst thing this current president has done.

It doesn’t even come near his top ten.

It’s not even the worst thing he’s done this month.

This is clear to anyone who thinks non-American lives matter.

Imagine a world where ordering the butchery of human beings in other countries would elicit the kind of outraged backlash we’re seeing over a riot that was quantifiably far, far less destructive. Imagine a world where the US saw those victims as human beings. It would be good.

If your response to being told the US empire constantly does far worse things than the Capitol riot is to shriek “STOP MINIMIZING THIS!”, then it is you who is trying to minimize the horrors of US imperialism. Obviously the Capitol riot was bad. Now look at US military slaughter.

I wonder if we’re close to finding out how aggressively a civilization can be propagandized before it snaps?

The time to be critical of new authoritarian escalations is precisely the time that consent is being manufactured for them, not when it’s safe and makes you look cool in front of your friends.

I see people bleating the “if you’re choosing this time to take a stand on free speech you’re a fash” line a lot, and it’s fallacious because (A) it pretends opponents of internet censorship just started doing it four days ago, and (B) times of intense emotion are when the most dangerous measures are rolled out.

The online left isn’t as worried about creeping internet censorship as it should be because it hasn’t been experiencing anywhere near the degree of censorship it will encounter if it becomes a real threat to power. And, if we’re serious about this, threatening power is the goal.

“The left is already being censored Caitlin.”

Not compared to what’s coming if we become a threat to power. Institutional censorship of our political speech is very different than being mass-reported by the KHive for saying mean things to a shitlib. It can get much, much worse.

A sane person standing against the mainstream consensus of a society that is bat shit insane will necessarily frequently look like a “contrarian”.

The Saudi-led mass atrocity in Yemen, the worst atrocity on our planet right now, could not take place without the blessing and support of the US and its allies. Right now the best thing anyone can do to help end it is pressure Biden to immediately honor his promise to do so.

I will say again that there is no valid reason for Biden not to be grilled about his Yemen campaign promise and how he plans to implement it any time he’s in front of a member of the press. To my knowledge he’s never been asked one question about Yemen since the election.

Yemen is one of those things that gets more and more horrifying the more you look at it, but if you don’t look it just hangs out in the back burner of your consciousness as an ugly but unacknowledged reality like repressed childhood trauma.

That’s why I’ve been writing about Yemen more and more often over the years. It’s not that it was any less horrifying a few years ago, my consciousness of it just wasn’t there yet. I should’ve been writing about it with extreme urgency this entire time but it wasn’t clearly seen.

The empire couldn’t function without widespread psychological compartmentalization.

It’s so crazy how Israel’s constant airstrikes on Syria are just background noise that hardly anyone is aware of. Imagine a country in western Europe routinely bombing its neighbor and killing large numbers of people and the public being generally unaware that it’s happening because the press barely reports it.

As a gentle reminder, you can be manipulated, and so can I. We must keep this in our awareness if we want to form a clear picture of what’s going on in our world.

I haven’t done psychedelics in years but whenever I did I had a little ritual of sincerely saying to the substance, “Please show me whatever it is I need to see.” And it always did. Highly recommend.

Just because the system is stacked against you doesn’t mean the universe is. We’re up against the ephemeral agendas of a few mortals whose lives are tiny specks in a yawning infinity. There are mysterious forces at work in our species. Life is not against you. Don’t give up hope.

__________________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Poems For Rebels (you can also download a PDF for five bucks) or my old book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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FYI Trump’s Latest Yemen Move Is Far Worse Than The Capitol Riot

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/01/2021 - 3:26pm in

Tags 

War, Yemen, News

While the Capitol riot is being hysterically compared to Pearl Harbor and Kristallnacht by the political/media class, the Trump administration has done something far, far worse that is receiving far, far less attention.

The US State Department has officially announced its intention to designate Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist group, as many had previously warned. Humanitarian organizations have been condemning the move as it will make it more difficult to provide aid to a population that is already being brutalized by the worst mass atrocity in the entire world, a Saudi-led atrocity which could not occur without the help of the western power alliance.

We are already seeing some effects of this designation.

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Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp reports the following:

The terror designation will hamper the efforts of international charities that deliver food to Houthi-controlled areas, where 70 percent of Yemen’s population lives and malnutrition is the most widespread.

Aid agencies fear their work in north Yemen will now be criminalized since the Houthis are the authority they have to deal with and make transactions with. US terror designations open up sanctions on any individuals or entities that do business with those Washington brands as terrorists.

Pompeo said exemptions would be made for humanitarian goods. But any additional roadblocks for aid agencies will cause more suffering in Yemen since the situation is so dire. “Even with exemptions, the operation will be compromised,” said Janti Soeripto, the president of Save the Children, according to AP News.

The United Nations conservatively estimates that some 233,000 Yemenis have been killed in the war between the Houthis and the US-backed Saudi-led coalition, mostly from what it calls “indirect causes”. Those indirect causes would be disease and starvation resulting from what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls “the worst famine the world has seen for decades”.

When people hear the word “famine” they usually think of mass hunger caused by droughts or other naturally occurring phenomena, but in reality the starvation deaths we are seeing in Yemen (a huge percentage of which are children under the age of five) are caused by something that is no more natural than the starvation deaths you’d see in a medieval siege. They are the result of the Saudi coalition’s use of blockades and its deliberate targeting of farms, fishing boats, marketplaces, food storage sites, and cholera treatment centers with airstrikes aimed at making the Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen so weak and miserable that they break.

In other words, the US and its allies have been helping Saudi Arabia deliberately kill children and other civilians on mass scale in order to achieve a political goal. Which would of course be a perfect example of any standard definition of terrorism. The unfathomably savage and bloodthirsty US empire designating the Houthis as a terrorist organization is the least funny joke that has ever been told.

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This move is quantifiably far, far worse than anything Trump could possibly have done to incite the Capitol riot, as it will kill far, far more people, yet the mass media fixate on one news story while virtually ignoring the other. This is because the Capitol riot story feeds into partisan narratives and manufactures consent for authoritarian domestic terrorism laws, while the Yemen story highlights the depravity of US imperialism. The plutocrat-owned media does not exist to give you a truthful representation of the world, it exists to keep the wheels of the empire rolling along.

There’s a weird taboo against saying some things are worse than other things, especially when it involves things the mass media tell us are of cataclysmic significance. People shriek “Why are you minimizing the Capitol raid??” and “Why are you comparing them! It’s not a pissing contest!” This is stupid. All things are not equal to all other things, and figuring out the ways in which news coverage is disproportionate and not reflective of reality is a very important part of making sense of the world.

So now Americans are being fed a steady diet of narratives about the threat Trump’s radicalized base poses to people of color, while ignoring the fact that Trump is currently implementing policies which facilitate the butchery of people of color. Only difference is the latter is hidden behind geographical remoteness, and is far more egregious.

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It matters that the mass media do not cover news stories with an accurate degree of proportion. It matters that they keep the public’s gaze diverted from the horrors of empire while radically distorting their sense of reality. This isn’t some idle “contrarian take”. This matters.

In the last couple of centuries we’ve progressed all the way from expecting our leaders to murder brown-skinned people while saying racist things to expecting our leaders to murder brown-skinned people while condemning racism. The murder hasn’t changed, and the racism hasn’t really changed either. All that’s changed is the norms of how it is put into practice.

This matters.

_______________________

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, throwing some money into my tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Poems For Rebels or my old book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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As US Sanctions a Starving Yemen, Iran Asks Interpol to Arrest Trump

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/01/2021 - 5:50am in

Outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced yesterday that the United States will be designating Yemen’s Houthi rebels a terrorist organization and increasing sanctions on the already beleaguered nation. 

“The Department of State will notify Congress of my intent to designate Ansarallah – sometimes referred to as the Houthis – as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act,” read an official statement. 

Pompeo acknowledged that “these designations will have an impact on the humanitarian situation” but implied it was a price worth paying in “advancing efforts to achieve a peaceful, sovereign, and united Yemen that is both free from Iranian interference and at peace with its neighbors.” In other words, he was signaling U.S. intent to quash the Houthi rebellion and win the Yemeni Civil War on behalf of Saudi-backed president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. 

The State Department’s decision was immediately condemned by humanitarian organizations. “The Trump administration’s decision to designate the Houthi movement in Yemen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization is both reckless and destructive,” wrote Refugees International. “Coming just days before Trump leaves office, the designation will complicate diplomatic efforts to end the war in Yemen and will disrupt relief efforts for the world’s worst humanitarian crisis…it is difficult to imagine a more irresponsible decision,” they added.

 

The United States has played an oversized role in the conflict, supplying weapons to the Saudi-led coalition. In 2017, the Trump administration announced that it had signed a deal to sell $350 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia alone. In addition to the weaponry, the U.S. has trained much of the Saudi armed forces, providing essential military infrastructure and logistical support, and even refueling Saudi bombers in the air and supplying targeting guidance on the ground.

The Saudi coalition (which includes other Middle Eastern monarchies such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates) has targeted civilian buildings for years, with Oxfam calculating that 200 raids — equivalent to one every ten days for the duration of the war — have been carried out against medical and water infrastructure. 

Pompeo continued: “We have expressed our readiness to work with relevant officials at the United Nations, with international and non-governmental organizations, and other international donors to address these implications,” he wrote. Yet, in reality, the U.S. government spent the whole of last year pressuring international bodies like the United Nations to reduce their aid to Yemen in order to conduct a campaign to starve the Houthis into submission. As a result, international aid to the country fell to just 25 cents per person, per day, only about half of what it was in 2019. 

 

This is nowhere near enough. The country topped the list of the International Rescue Committee’s most pressing humanitarian crises of 2021. Around 80% of the population is in need of assistance, with 20.5 million people inside Yemen lacking access to clean water and sanitation. 

Among other reasons, Pompeo’s justification for the sanctions (although he had already been considering the idea for months) was the December 30 terrorist attack at Aden International Airport which left at least 27 people dead and dozens more injured. President Hadi and his new government had been returning from Saudi Arabia, where they had been sworn in, only to return to an airport resembling a war zone. Houthi spokespersons denied responsibility for the incident. They also condemned the State Department’s latest move. “The policy of the Trump administration and its behavior is terrorist,” movement leader Mohammed Ali al-Houthi said. “We reserve the right to respond to any designation issued by the Trump administration or any administration.”

 

While the Trump administration attempts to punish Yemen, Iran is also trying to appeal to international law to extradite American leaders. Last week, it put out a request to Interpol to arrest Trump and 47 other government officials for their role in the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani in January last year. Unlike the attack in Aden, there is no doubt about the identities of Soleimani’s killers, the Trump administration seemingly proud of its work in “taking out the world’s number one bad guy” as CNBC described him. Interpol immediately denied Iran’s request. 

Another controversial target of Washington’s ire is International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. In retaliation to the Gambian lawyer looking into U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, the Trump administration has levied sanctions against her. “The ICC is corrupt, politicized and incompetent. Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda abused her authority, engaged in corrupt acts for her personal benefit, and wasted millions with malicious prosecution of American personnel,” Pompeo tweeted on Saturday. 

While this response might seem an overreaction, the United States has an active law nicknamed “the Netherlands Invasion Act” which states that if the ICC ever tries to press charges against American officials, the U.S. will invade the Netherlands in retaliation. The legislation was passed by the Bush administration soon after the invasion of Afghanistan to protect himself and his associates from any international legal consequences. 

 

Back to the present, Pompeo concluded by stating that, “Progress in addressing Yemen’s instability can only be made when those responsible for obstructing peace are held accountable for their actions.” Presumably, he was not referring to his own efforts in prolonging and intensifying the conflict. 

Feature photo | A woman holds her malnourished boy at a feeding center at Al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. Hani Mohammed | 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 As US Sanctions a Starving Yemen, Iran Asks Interpol to Arrest Trump appeared first on MintPress News.

A Manufactured Crisis: How Saudi Arabia Uses Oil to Bring Yemen to its Knees

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 09/01/2021 - 7:03am in

HODEIDA, YEMEN — Yemen’s oil is in thrall to a complex, intertwined network of elites that control the smuggling of fuel imports and new, thriving black markets. Starving Yemen of petroleum products has always been a conspicuous feature of Saudi Arabia’s nearly six-year-long war on the country, however, the most recent blockade is significantly more extensive than previous ones and comes at a time when a pandemic, diseases, and hunger are spreading rapidly across the country. The most recent byproducts of that blockade: the spread of schistosomiasis, a faltering economy in areas outside of Saudi control, and a dangerous new black market.

Known colloquially as snail fever, schistosomiasis is a rare disease caused by flatworms that thrive in untreated water, something now abundant in Yemen as the diesel fuel needed to power many of the country’s water treatment facilities, especially those in rural areas far removed from any electric grid, has dried up amid the blockade.

In a remote village in the Al-Marawa’ah district, Khalid Abdu looks at his thin daughter, 12-year-old Jamilah, with heartbreak as she lies still in the family’s hut. Jamilah is suffering from abdominal pain, diarrhea, and blood in her stool. Khalid said she has worms in her stomach, now distended and bloated in stark contrast to her otherwise meager frame. Jamilah was later diagnosed with schistosomiasis according to her family, leaving her with just three to ten more years of life if she doesn’t receive proper medical care, a luxury in her war-torn country.

Yemen Famine

Hammadi Issa | AP

Near the family’s hut, hobbled together from a hodgepodge of mud, bamboo sticks, thatch, and reed, sits an old Toyota Hilux, its low tires and thin coating of dust a testament to the fact that it hasn’t moved for weeks. Khalid blames the lack of fuel for the family’s endless problems. “I can’t drive my daughter to the hospital in Aden or bring water to my family, even the treatment plant that I used to go to is closed because there is no diesel,” he said. “Now, we drink, wash our clothes and cooking utensils, and do everything using that old well.” You see the result,” he said, pointing to Jamilah.

 

Another grim milestone

As the war in Yemen closes in on yet another grim milestone, the end of its sixth year in March, oil-rich U.S. ally Saudi Arabia continues to prevent oil tankers from delivering much-needed fuel to hospitals, water pumping stations, bakeries, cleaning trucks, and gas stations, plunging the entire nation into an unending fuel crisis.

The CEO of Yemen Petroleum Company (YPC), Ammar Al-Adrai, told MintPress that at least nine tankers have been trapped in Saudi Arabia’s Jizan Port, which sits on the Kingdom’s western seaboard painfully close to the Yemeni border. The tankers, Al-Adrai says, have been held despite being checked and issued permits by both the Saudi-led Coalition and the United Nations. He confirmed that the vessels are loaded with oil derivatives and that some of them have been detained for over nine months, leading to the suspension of more than 50% of the operational capabilities in the service, health, industrial and commercial sectors. 

That lack of fuel has caused an acute shortage of even the most basic goods. Khalid told MintPress that “the price of fruits, vegetables, and medicine is skyrocketing and my farm is defenseless against desertification.” Like many farmers, Khalid, who like his daughter Jamilah shows symptoms of malnutrition, is unable to power the pumps needed to irrigate his fields, leaving him unable to grow his own food with which to feed his family and the desert sands encroaching on his now derelict fields. At least 80% 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.

“The [Yemeni] government is indifferent and apathetic to the suffering of citizens, even in areas under their control,” Khalid said, accusing the Saudi-backed government of Aden of deliberately compounding the suffering through the proliferation of the black market. “Fuel shortages in the northern provinces are caused by the blockade, but in Aden, we don’t understand what’s going on.”

 

A manufactured oil crisis

By manufacturing an oil crisis in Yemen, Saudi Arabia is able to foment political chaos in the country and stir up popular discontent against domestic oil companies, many of which are run by the Houthi-led resistance. As a sort of grim bonus, the manufactured oil shortages also to incapacitate the Houthi-run port of Hodeida, increasing poverty and unemployment rates and siphoning cash out of the market, according to the Yemen Petroleum Company (YPC). 

YPC released a statement placing the estimated economic damage caused by Saudi Arabia’s refusal to allow tankers to unload their cargo at billions of U.S. dollars. The company also said that demurrage fees are now at an unprecedented level of nearly $107 million and that Saudi forces have illegally impounded 72 Yemen-bound oil tankers last year, resulting in an approximately 45% drop in the amount of desperately-needed fuel shipments arriving at Yemeni ports. 

The fuel blockade has not only forced thousands of Yemenis to wait for days in lines as far as the eye can see, but it has also left water pumps and treatment plants, and hospital generators without fuel. Most drinking water, particularly in rural areas, is extracted using diesel-powered pumps, while the country’s sizable refugee population survives on water brought in by diesel-powered trucks.

Yemen Fuel Feature photo

Hani Mohammed | AP

Food imports which generally arrive via one of the country’s ports are processed and packaged at diesel-fuel-powered facilities, factories in Hodeida or Aden before being transported across the country or sold locally.

Outside of the country’s coastal cities where more than 60% of the population resides, freight is transported by road leaving remote communities at the mercy of trucks that must traverse roads pockmarked and damaged by airstrikes. The few who are willing to undertake the dangerous journey must contend with the high price and scant availability of fuel, pushing the price and availability of even the most basic commodities – food, water, and medicines – through the roof.

 

A thriving black market is born

The oil crisis in Yemen certainly isn’t new, but it has been growing worse recently amid a black market boom which is adding to the already miserable quality of life for Yemenis. The Saudi government is flooding southern areas of Yemen under its control with cheap fuel, exacerbating regional tensions and creating an ideal environment for black market petroleum products to boom. The stark disparity between the availability of fuel in Saudi-controlled areas versus areas under Houthi control is also causing predictable economic damage to the ladder, which is unable to compete amid the Saudi-imposed blockade. 

Despite the suffocating siege on the country, petrol products are sold illegally on roadsides, streets, and isolated areas in the south and north of the country alike, often at double the official price with prices in some areas reach 11,000 riyals for 20 liters. These black market petrol products are mixed with water and other materials and enter from Saudi-controlled ports in Aden port and border crossings such as Al-Wadiah outlet, Al-Shahr, and the rich-oil Marib province.

Yemen’s oil is now in large part controlled by a complex network of corrupt officials that control smuggling routes, imports, and black market sales. Many members of these elite groups are also key allies of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. They not only plunder wealth and destroy the economy, but they put people’s lives and property in danger. People are now forced to seek their fuel from shady black market dealers and store fuel in their homes to get them through tough times. Smuggled petroleum products are sold in residential areas and unlicensed storefronts that do not meet security and safety standards and exacerbate the human cost of the crisis.

The crisis is set amid a backdrop of theft of Yemen’s own of crude oil by the Coalition and Saudi-backed militants, a daily occurrence in the Mari and Shabwa Blocks. Recently, Saudi Arabia brought in heavy drilling equipment made to deepen existing oil wells in Hadramout aimed at increasing the rate of oil extraction there.

The effect of the blockade on Yemen is acute, even when compared to countries that are reeling from U.S. sanctions such as Iran, Syria, and Venezuela, where fuel somehow manages to find its way to citizens. Yemen, though, is completely at the mercy of Saudi Arabia, forcing the  Houthi-backed Yemeni Army to step up their oil war against the Kingdom in the Red Sea and putting sensitive oil facilities deep inside Saudi territory at risk of being targeted as they have been in recent years according to the prominent field commander, Major General Yusef al-Madani, the Commander of the Fifth Military Region, the region responsible for Yemeni coasts and territorial waters.

Feature photo | Workers use a water hose to put down a fire at a vehicle oil store hit by Saudi-led airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, July 2, 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 A Manufactured Crisis: How Saudi Arabia Uses Oil to Bring Yemen to its Knees appeared first on MintPress News.

“An Israeli Blitzkrieg” Signs Point to Imminent Israeli Military Action in Yemen

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/01/2021 - 4:43am in

ADEN, YEMEN —  Saudi Arabia has rung in the new year in a familiar way, with an airstrike targeting a large gathering of civilians at a wedding ceremony in Yemen. On new year’s night, at least five civilians were killed when Saudi-backed militants launched artillery rounds at a wedding ceremony in the populated al-Hawk area in the strategic port city of Hodeida.

Developments taking place across the Middle East are driving the reality home in Yemen that 2021 is unlikely to bring about an end to Saudi Arabia’s nearly six-year-long war on their country. Signs of escalation are beginning to surface gradually in the Yemeni interior and along the Red Sea in the wake of the wave of normalization between the Gulf states and Tel Aviv.

After nearly six years of war, Yemen remains home to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Millions are hungry and destitute and at least 80% of the population requires humanitarian assistance or protection. Some 13.5 million people face severe food shortages and that number could rise to 16.2 million in 2021, according to International Relief Bodies. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) raised the alarm about millions of Yemenis risking falling into worsening levels of hunger by mid-2021. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) also described the crisis in Yemen as “the world’s worst.”

The Saudi blockade on what was already one of the poorest countries on earth has entailed tight control over all aspects of life in Yemen since 2015, however, there are no indications that the Saudi blockade of Sana’a International Airport and Hodeida port will be lifted, the most important air and land ports in the country, and the cause of more Yemeni deaths than Saudi airstrikes, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

An Israeli blitzkrieg

On the ground, signs of escalation are expected to intensify during 2021 as an open military confrontation between Yemen and Israel seems closer than ever in the wake of recent Israel statements, including the statement of the spokesman for the Israeli military, Brigadier General Hidai Zilberman, who revealed to a Saudi website on Saturday the intention of his forces to launch a blitzkrieg in Yemen, confirming that Israel has been monitoring the situation in Yemen and Iraq. The Yemeni people fear that they will pay the price for tensions between Iran and the United States, according to many Yemenis who spoke to MintPress.

Zilberman said in an interview with Saudi news website Elaph that the regime in Tel Aviv expects that an Iranian attack could come from Yemen and Iraq. He referred to Yemen as “Iran`s second circle after Lebanon and Syria.” The recent remarks came after a similar statement made in October by Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli Prime Minister claimed that Iran sought to strike Israel from Yemen using surgical missile strikes.

According to information obtained by MIntPress and confirmed by Yemeni government officials in Sana’a, arrangements, and coordination have been underway between Israel and the Gulf states to escalate the situation in Yemen and justify it as a reaction to an expected Iranian retaliation for the assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, who is revered as a heroic warrior across Yemen. Soleimani was assassinated on January 2020 in a U.S. airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport.

This information has been confirmed by Jalal Al-Ruwaishan, Deputy Prime Minister for Security and Defense Affairs in the Sana’a government when he told local media that Israel began moving military equipment into the region after the recent normalization with Gulf states, including countries participating in the coalition,” referring to the UAE and Bahrain. He added, “what they failed to accomplish within six years, they will not be able to accomplish in a month, even in Biden era.”

Major General Abdullah Al-Hakim, the head of Military Intelligence in Sana’a, said in a statement that the Yemeni Army based in Sana’a is “monitoring the actions and provocations [of Israel] and its planned hostile actions.” Our eyes are not oblivious to the actions of the Zionist enemy in the region,” he said, “and they must understand the seriousness of our warning that any temerity or reckless actions will have dire consequences on Tel Aviv.”

 

The threat of all-out war

A high-ranking official in the Sana’a-based Yemeni Foreign Ministry told MintPress that any Israel attacks or war against Yemen would spark an all-out war in the Middle East and that Israel would be the first to suffer, adding that Israel interests and those of its allies in the Red Sea region would become a legitimate target within the framework of the right of self-defense guaranteed by all international conventions and agreements.

Any Israeli military action in Yemen would undoubtedly lead to an escalation in the region. In the wake of the announcement of Israeli intentions, statements issued by Yemen’s leaders warned of retaliatory attacks on Israel, in the Red Sea, and anywhere else in the region. Given the tone of officials in Sana’a when speaking to MintPress and the fact that the Houthis have not shied away from following through with retaliatory missile and drone attacks on targets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in addition to the volume of field preparations being made for an open and painful confrontation with Israel, the prospect of Houthi missiles raining down on Israel is very real.

Even to those living in areas under the total control of the Saudi-led Coalition, 2021is not likely to ferry in an end to their suffering, as wealthy Gulf monarchies live up to their storied reputations, wreaking havoc and instability, according to residents of those areas who spoke to MintPress in the wake of the violent explosions that struck recently Aden International airport and Al-Maasheeq Presidential Palace.

Yemen Aden airport

A damaged portion of the airport in the southern city of Aden after an explosion on Dec. 30, 2020, Majid Saleh | AP

Last Wednesday, a large explosion struck the airport in the southern Yemeni city of Aden, run by forces affiliated with the UAE-backed militant group, the Southern Transitional Council (STC), shortly after a plane carrying “the Yemeni government,” which had been newly formed in Ryadh, landed there. At least 25 people, including officials, were killed and 110 were wounded in the blast. Moments after the attack on the Aden International Airport, blasts struck Aden’s Al-Ma’asheeq district, where just moments earlier the newly-formed government was transferred.

Although Saudi Arabia’s allies accused the Houthis of the attacks, and the Houthis categorically rejected the accusation. The attacks came after factions affiliated with the Southern Movement loyal to the UAE pledged to thwart the self-proclaimed cabinet after they returned to Aden from Ryadh where they were mostly working under enforced detention.

 

Under Biden, the bombs will keep coming

Most in Yemen are condemned to a gloomy future, not only due to the developments on the ground but also because of the flurry of approvals given by the United States to both the Saudi-led Coalitions and Israel. Approvals for arms sales have been given to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. countries with an appalling record of human rights abuses who are still launching a war against the poorest country in the Middle East.

These approvals, which will likely go ignored by Congress despite a growing revolt to the sales from the U.S. public, include $290 million worth of bombs, a final gift by President Donald Trump’s administration. On Tuesday, the State Department’s defense security cooperation agency approved the sale of GBU-39 small-diameter bombs to Saudi Arabia. The approvals also include the proposed $65.6 million sale of advanced drones and F-35 fighter jets to the UAE, a reward for that country’s normalization of ties with Israel.

Incoming president Joe Biden has expressed some opposition to Saudi Arabia’s malign actions in Yemen, but most Yemenis see little chance that 2021 will bring positive changes by Biden given the current geopolitical reality in the Middle East. That reality includes the sanctity of the U.S. relationship with Israel, Saudi funds, and fever of normalization between Arab countries and Israel sweeping across the Middle East and perhaps most importantly, the ongoing obsession from concurrent U.S. administrations and from Riyadh and Abu Dhabi with trying to contain so-called “Iranian influence” in the Middle East and linking the war in Yemen with that effort.

Regardless of who was behind actually the recent explosions in Aden, there are obvious signs of escalation, meaning that war in Yemen will likely continue to escalate in 2021 and that more Yemenis will lose their lives, more people will become internally displaced, the spread of epidemics will continue unabated, more cities, hospitals, and schools will be destroyed, and millions of helpless families will be left with no means of sustenance.

Though there are international calls to end the war on Yemen as well as indirect talks between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia, few are holding out hope that they can bring an end to the bitter Yemeni war in 2021. Indeed, Saudi warplanes still regularly launch airstrikes across the northern regions of Yemen. On Thursday, at least 15 airstrikes hit populated areas in Sana’a, including the Sana`a International Airport, the Rima Hamid of Sanhan District, and Wadi Rajam in the Bani Hushaish District, east Sana’a. In retaliation for the ongoing war and blockade, the Houthi-allied Yemen Army, which possesses in its arsenal advanced military watercraft, threatened Saudi oil tankers on the Red Sea in the context of a military campaign that it launched two months ago in a bid to pressure the Kingdom to end its devastating war.

Feature photo | A worker stands on the wreckage of a tire store hit by Saudi air strikes in Sanaa, Yemen, December 02, 2020. Photo | Reuters

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

The post “An Israeli Blitzkrieg” Signs Point to Imminent Israeli Military Action in Yemen appeared first on MintPress News.

Mass Starvation Looms as Yemen’s Currency Nears Historic Freefall

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 19/12/2020 - 6:33am in

TAIZ, YEMEN- – Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates seem to be doing everything in their power to prevent an end to the suffering in Yemen. Even those living in areas under the total control of the wealthy Gulf monarchies are facing levels of devastation that harken back to the total destruction of European cities during World War II.

With no functioning government to provide residents with even basic assistance and facing a collapsed economy amid a famine that could soon beset all of Yemen according to the United Nations, the collapse of Yemen’s rial, particularly in Saudi-coalition-controlled areas, is proving to be the coup de grâce that will assure the country faces an apocalyptic level of destruction for years to come.

Her black eyes virtually absent and speaking in a muted voice that is difficult to pick up, Umm Abdu does her best to recount her story to MintPress. She was hiding a bony face and emaciated body in a voluminous black abaya robe and hijab. “I am starving myself to feed my children. It is very difficult to reach for this piece,” the Illiterate mother of six muttered as she held a piece of Roti bread. Umm Abdu lives in a poor neighborhood in Taiz, a city in western Yemen under the control of some of the richest countries in the world.

Yemen famine

Severely malnourished infant Zahra is bathed by her mother in a washtub. Hammadi Issa | AP

After nearly six years of war, Yemen remains home to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Millions are hungry and destitute and at least 80% of the population requires humanitarian assistance or protection. Some 13.5 million people face severe food shortages and that number could rise to 16.2 million in 2021, according to International Relief Bodies.

The economy has already collapsed for virtually every Yemeni living in the south, except for the few who managed to profit by working with Saudi Arabia or the UAE. Savings accounts have long been exhausted and by end of November, the rial depreciated to an all-time low of 850 YR to a single U.S. dollar, leaving most of the population unable to afford even the most basic essentials. Like Umm Abdu, people are reducing portion sizes and skipping meals as a kind of “coping strategy index,” one of many tools used to measure food insecurity. Fruit, fish, and meat have become a rare commodity that most can only dream of.

“Even though there is food in the markets, I can’t afford it. Not because we don’t have money, but because of the crazy prices. So we decide to reduce food to keep our children alive,” one shopper told MintPress. However, that strategy may not be enough as food prices are near double where they were in the wake of the recent currency collapse.

According to International organizations, Yemen, particularly areas under the control of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, will return to alarming levels of food insecurity by mid-2020, and a catastrophic food security crisis is looming. They reported that by December 2020, the population facing high levels of acute food insecurity (what they termed IPC Phase 3 and above) would increase from 2 million to 3.2 million people.

An Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report from October 2020 covering southern Yemen highlighted how acute malnutrition rates among children under five are now the highest ever recorded in some districts. The analysis reveals a near 10 percent increase in cases of acute malnutrition this year. The greatest increase is in cases of young children suffering from severe acute malnutrition which has increased by 15.5 percent, leaving at least 98,000 children under age five at high risk of dying without urgent treatment.

Situation Report Yemen 11 Nov 2020 pdf editedSource: IPC Acute malnutrition analysis (Oct 2020)

A stream of statements from leading aid organization officials reflects how dire the situation has become, including a warning from UN Secretary-General António Guterres that “Yemen is now in imminent danger of the worst famine the world has seen for decades. ”We’ve been warning since July that Yemen is on the brink of a catastrophic food security crisis. If the war doesn’t end now, we are nearing an irreversible situation and risk losing an entire generation of Yemen’s young children,” said Lisa Grande last month,” the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen. “The data we are releasing today confirms that acute malnutrition among children is hitting the highest levels we have seen since the war started,” she added.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) raised the alarm about millions of Yemenis risking falling into worsening levels of hunger by mid-2021. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) also described the crisis in Yemen as “the world’s worst.” The WFP said in a tweet that millions are trapped in a cycle of conflict and hunger. “Everyday life in Yemen gets harder for millions as the window to prevent famine narrows. We must act now.”

Although a mass famine event may be unlikely in the immediate future, officials in Taiz warned that many areas could soon start to see deaths from famine. Many children already have signs of severe acute malnutrition, the most dire stage of hunger where legs and feet begin to swell. “We all sleep hungry, there is not enough food even for our children,“ Umm Abdu told us.

For Umm Abdu and her husband, 37-year-old Saeed, the rial’s collapse has meant skipping meals. Saeed was educated as an English teacher and had a job as a tour guide at a local travel agency before the war. Since he lost his job after the war began, he’s been making money selling qat – a mild stimulant that many Yemenis chew in the afternoon. However, that money is not nearly enough to cover rent, let alone basic needs. Now, their situation is getting worse as the availability of Qat has decreased dramatically after the weather turned cold three months ago when winter began. After the recent collapse of the rial, the ability to bring home food has become nearly impossible.

Umm Abdu and Saeed are now considering extreme options. Over the past six years, they have seen Yemen’s steady dissolution from a nation hoping to transition to democracy post-Arab Spring, to a nation fragmented and a land of warring statelets, mass suffering, and despair.  Many of their neighbors have resorted to stealing, human trafficking, and selling their organs to make ends meet, or even marrying off their daughters because they are unable to feed them.

 

A tale of two cities

Officials in Aden, the de facto center of Saudi-Coalition power in Yemen, blame the collapse of currency on the fact that foreign reserves have dried up. According to them, remittances from Yemenis abroad, the largest source of foreign exchange, dropped by up to 70% as a result of the Covid-induced global downturn. But to Omer, a former fighter in “al-Muqawamah” in Aden who was wounded while fighting with Coalition Forces against the Houthis in 2016, these arguments are grossly inaccurate.

Omer believes that Saudi Arabia has a plan to destroy the national currency in order to intentionally accelerate famine.  “Why is there no collapse of the currency in Houthi areas even though they live in conditions worse than us?” The exchange rate divergence between Houthi-controlled Sana’a and coalition-controlled Aden is indeed stark, with the Yemeni rial worth 35% less in Aden than it is in Sana’a.

Omer was one of the thousands of Yemenis that took the streets in Taiz and other areas this week in a mass protest against the continuing deterioration of the economic situation, denouncing the Saudi-led coalition states and demanding they leave the country. The demonstrators accused coalition countries and ousted Yemeni president Abdul Mansour al-Hadi of practicing a policy of starvation to achieve their personal objectives. They chanted slogans against Saudi Arabia and UAE with phrases like “our revolution is a hungry revolution,” “take your aid, and leave us our oil,” “take your donations, and leave us our ports,” and “take your trust fund and leave us our wealth.”

 

A gloomy future

According to local economists who spoke to MintPress, the reasons behind the collapse of Yemen’s economy and its currency are many and varied but the expansionary monetary policy that has been taken by Saudi Arabia is one of the key drivers of the Yemeni rial’s devaluation.

Local authorities supported by Saudi Arabia have regularly printed new banknotes in order to meet expenses compounded by the purchase of foreign currencies flowing into markets by foreign organizations.

By the end of 2019, the total rial liquidity in circulation in the country was more than three trillion, according to a source in the Aden-based central bank. As of the beginning of 2020, the bank has printed around 300 billion rials in order to address the budget deficit. The government of ousted president Hadi has largely relied on the central bank’s overdraft financing instrument to cover his spending abroad, including rent, travel, and entertainment.

Recently, Saudi’s proxies in southern Yemen have been selling large quantities of newly-printed banknotes in order to purchase foreign currency from the market and replenish their own foreign currency holdings. This has increased downward pressure on the rial’s value and helped drive inflation.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on countries to provide financial assistance to resolve the severe economic crisis in Yemen, saying in a statement issued via his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric on the second anniversary of the Stockholm Agreement, “I call on all member states to help address the severe economic crisis in the country.”

Umm Abdu has a gloomy future. She has no faith in the UN or the Saudi proxies in the south, who she described as “drenched in treason.” Nonetheless, she places hope in God and in her fellow Yemenis that her country will be freed. “Where else on Earth can you find a nation that has gone through what has happened in Yemen, occupied by foreigners, destroyed, with famine and epidemics, and yet somehow, we still managed to survive.”

Feature photo | Yemeni women display paper currency after receiving cash support from UNICEF. 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 Mass Starvation Looms as Yemen’s Currency Nears Historic Freefall appeared first on MintPress News.

We Are The Terrorists

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 04/12/2020 - 3:07pm in

The Trump administration is reportedly close to moving the Houthi rebels in Yemen onto its official list of designated terrorist organizations with the goal of choking them off from money and resources. The head of the UN’s World Food Program along with many other experts caution that this designation will prolong the horrific war which has claimed over a quarter million lives and create an impenetrable barrier of red tape stopping humanitarian aid from getting to the Yemeni people.

The United Nations conservatively estimates that some 233,000 Yemenis have been killed in the war between the Houthis and the US-backed Saudi-led coalition, mostly from what it calls “indirect causes”. Those indirect causes would be disease and starvation resulting from what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls “the worst famine the world has seen for decades”.

When people hear the word “famine” they usually think of mass hunger caused by droughts or other naturally occurring phenomena, but in reality the starvation deaths we are seeing in Yemen (a huge percentage of which are children under the age of five) are caused by something that is no more natural than the starvation deaths you’d see in a medieval siege. They are the result of the Saudi coalition’s use of blockades and its deliberate targeting of farms, fishing boats, marketplaces, food storage sites, and cholera treatment centers with airstrikes aimed at making the Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen so weak and miserable that they break.

In other words, the US and its allies have been helping Saudi Arabia deliberately kill children and other civilians on mass scale in order to achieve a political goal. Which would of course be a perfect example of any standard definition of terrorism.

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We are the terrorists. Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, France and every other nation which has facilitated the horrific mass atrocity in Yemen — this tight globe-spanning power alliance is a terrorist organization the likes of which the world has never seen before. The unfathomably savage and bloodthirsty US empire designating the Houthis as a terrorist organization is the least funny joke that has ever been told.

We are the terrorists. I say “we” instead of our governments because if we are honest with ourselves, we as a civilian population are complicit in this slaughter. The horrors in Yemen are without question the worst thing that is happening in the world right now, yet they comprise barely a blip in our social consciousness. The overwhelming majority of us have seen the pictures and videos of starving Yemeni children, thought something along the lines of “Oh a famine, that’s so sad” and gone back to thinking about sports or whatever other insipid nonsense occupies most of our attention.

We are the terrorists. Yes it is true that we have been propagandized into our complicity with this terrorism and if the news media were doing its purported job Yemen would be front and center in our attention, but we are still complicit. We are still participating in it, still living in a society that is woven of the fabric of slaughter and brutality without rising up and using the power of our numbers to force a change. Just because you are unaware that you sleep on a bed of butchered children doesn’t mean you’re not lying in it.

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We are the terrorists. But we don’t need to be.

We can begin waking up together. Waking up our friends and neighbors, spreading consciousness of what’s going on, raising awareness of the horrors our governments are perpetrating in Yemen and in other nations in the name of imperialist domination, helping each other see through the veils of propaganda to how much life and how many resources are being spent on inflicting unspeakable acts of terror upon our world instead of benefiting humanity.

The US government could force an end to the horrors in Yemen almost immediately if it really wanted to. If maintaining unipolar hegemony were suddenly advanced by giving the Houthis victory in Yemen instead of fighting to ensure Washington-aligned rule, the Saudis would withdraw and the war would be over within days. We could make this happen if we could spread enough awareness of the reality of what’s happening in Yemen.

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Break the silence on Yemen. Pressure Biden to fulfil his campaign pledge to end the war which was initiated under the Obama-Biden administration. Oppose US imperialism. Weaken public trust in the mass media which refuse to give us a clear picture of what’s going on in the world. Help people realize that their perception of reality is being continually warped and distorted by the powerful.

We end our role in the terrorism of the empire by awakening the citizens of that empire to its acts of terror.

________________________

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Yemen: Trump is Showering Saudi Arabia with Last-Minute Gifts

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/12/2020 - 3:57am in

SANA’A -YEMEN — While the administration of Donald Trump readies its exit from the White House and the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s use of American diplomatic cover and weapons alike has taken on a fevered pace as the Kingdom deepens the tragedy it has afflicted upon Yemen, where millions of forgotten people are struggling against a cold winter, starvation, epidemics, and the worst blockade in the modern era.

Since November 3, 2020, when the fifty-ninth quadrennial presidential election began followed by the widespread controversy, lawsuits, and recounts across several states, the oil-riched Kingdom has waged a scorched-earth campaign against the Yemeni districts of Marib and Al-Jawf, as well as border areas in Sana’a, Sadaa, Hajjah, Amran, and Hodeida.

On Friday, Saudi warplanes struck populated neighborhoods in Sana’a with at least 20 airstrikes One person was killed and dozens were injured and a number of purebred Arabian horses were killed in strikes that hit a military college near Suq Al-Rwada. Seven airstrikes hit government buildings located near water pumps.

Thousands of tons of western weapons, particularly from the United States, were also dropped on multiple directorates across the provinces of Sadaa, Marib, and al-Jawf as well as districts and provinces across the country.

The unjustified escalation, which came on the back of a brief period of hope that briefly preceded the U.S. pre-election, was not only a last-minute gift to Saudi Arabia from the Trump administration before he leaves the White House in January, but also served to prevent the advance of the Yemeni army supported by Ansar Allah (Houthis) and tribal fighters in the oil-rich province of Marib.

On the Yemen-Saudi border, an intense Saudi bombing campaign aims to force the remaining residents in the area to flee. Saudi Arabia seeks to establish buffer zones on the border inside Yemeni territory in anticipation of any developments made by the incoming U.S. administration after Riyadh failed to achieve that goal through indirect negotiations with Sana’a, sources told MintPress.

 

Yemen strikes back

In retaliation for Saudi escalation, the Yemeni army, and Ansar Allah targeted Saudi Arabia’s vital oil sector, striking an oil facility in the Kingdom’s Red Sea city of Jeddah. The facility was targeted by the high precision Quds-2 winged missile, a new generation of locally-made winged missiles that recently entered service after successful tests. In the wake attack, videos circulated on social media show a column of smoke rising from burning flames at the facility as sirens of emergency vehicles can be heard in the background.

The move just days before news was leaked that the British government secretly sent British soldiers to protect Saudi oil facilities in the wake of a similar attack in 2009 and occurred the day after the kingdom hosted a virtual summit of G20 nations.

The spokesman for Yemen’s Armed Forces, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, said in a statement in the wake of the attack that the Saudi oil facility was targeted in response to ongoing Saudi military operations and blockade. He warned foreign companies operating in Saudi Arabia “to avoid vital installations” which could be involved in ongoing operations.

The strike was meant to send a signal to both Saudi Arabia and Israel, according to officials in Sana’a. The strike against the Aramco facility, located more than 390 miles from Yemen’s border, underscores Yemen’s increasing ability to hit targets deeper inside Saudi Arabia with cruise and ballistic missiles, as well as drones. A high-ranking source in Sana’a told MintPress that “the consequences of any insane recklessness by Saudi Arabia, Israel, or the current U.S. administration in the lost time of Trump’s term will be dire to Riyadh, Tel Aviv, and the interests of their allies in the region.” When pressed, he gave no additional details.

“An explosion took place as a result of a terrorist attack by a projectile, causing a fire in a fuel tank at the petroleum products distribution terminal in the north of Jeddah,” the Saudi energy ministry said in a statement. On Tuesday, Abdullah al-Ghamdi, the manager of the North Jeddah Bulk Plant, told reporters during a tour of the facility that one of the 13 tanks used for diesel oil, gasoline, and jet fuel at the facility had been damaged and was out of service, adding “ the attack had been “similar to what happened at Khurais and Abqaiq.”

As the kingdom’s policy since 2015, when its war began, Saudi Arabia sold the attack to the world as targeting international interests. The Kingdom went further and accused Ansar Allah of attacking an oil tanker in the Red Sea. A Maltese-flagged oil tanker managed by Greece was damaged due to an explosion near Shuqaiq in southwestern Saudi Arabia but Ansar Allah has not yet claimed responsibility for the incident. Prior to that, the Saudi-led coalition claimed on Tuesday that it had removed and destroyed five naval mines in the southern Red Sea.

On Sunday, 15 Saudi troops, including officers, were killed or injured in another retaliatory attack, this one marketing the Saudi-led coalition’s Tadawain Camp in Ma’rib, 20 kilometers east Sana’a, according to Brigadier Yahya Saree, the spokesman of the Yemeni Army. Saree said in a statement on Sunday that missile forces hit the Joint Operations Room of a coalition camp in Marib, killing eight Saudi troops and injuring seven. He added that Yemeni forces are observing enemy movements, and will target them wherever they are. In the wake of Saree’s announcement, Saudi state media announced that Saudi troops were killed in battle with no mention of where or when they were killed.

For his part, Muhammad Abd al-Salam, a spokesman for Ansar Allah, said that Saudi wailing following every painful retaliation is what is required. He added, “the international community has to pressure Saudi Arabia to stop the aggression and [the] blockade because the Yemeni people deserve to voice their suffering too.”

Yemen suffers from the world’s worst humanitarian sparked by five years of Saudi bombing and blockade. The humanitarian crisis has worsened this year as international donations have dried up and the Trump administration has suspended aid to the north of Yemen where most of the country’s population lives. The U.N. The Secretary-General warned last week that Yemen faces the worst famine in decades, saying that the country is in imminent danger and that without immediate action, millions of lives may be lost.

 

Trump’s parting gift

As the Trump administration gets ready to depart the White House, the Saudi-led Coalition is scrambling to get the last-moment boon by pushing the U.S. to designate Yemen’s most powerful resistance force, Ansar Allah, as a terrorist organization in a move that would not harm the “Houthis,” but would punish millions of innocent Yemenis already suffering from widespread malnutrition, starvation, and disease. ِ

According to media reports, the Trump administration is preparing to designate the Houthis as a terrorist organization before leaving office in January. U.S. policy in Yemen has been a disgrace for the past five years, drawing ire on U.S. soil and from abroad, and few Yemenis were surprised that the Trump administration would enact such a policy on its way out the door after having already suspended aid to 80% of the population residing in the north of the country.

Designating Ansar Allah as a terrorist organization will make an already catastrophic humanitarian crisis even worse and impede the work of the many NGOs providing lifesaving assistance in the country. Almost certainly, the unexpected designation would prevent the critical delivery of food, medical supplies, and other items necessary to combat both COVID-19 and famine, according to international organizations.

“The lives of millions of vulnerable children in Yemen are already at risk—this policy will only deepen their suffering by further restricting humanitarian access to vulnerable communities. Recent evidence continues to point to a worsening malnutrition crisis for children,” said Janti Soeripto, the president and CEO of Save the Children. “Even if a humanitarian exemption is permitted, this designation will likely make reaching children and families more difficult and could also heighten security risks for our staff and hinder the fragile peace process.”

The designation will not only make it more difficult to reach a negotiated settlement to end the war but will put the whole region, particularly in the Red Sea, on the edge. For their part, Ansar Allah will not remain idle by while, as a number of Ansar Allah decision-makers told MintPress, “they see their relatives dying of starvation at a time when others, those who made the country to the worst place on the earth, are blessed with oil and freedom of navigation at sea.” That message, it seems, was delivered to Jeddah on the back of Ansar Allah’s newly minted Quds-2.

Feature photo | A Saudi man holds the daily Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper fronted by a picture of President Donald Trump, at a coffee shop in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 29, 2020. Amr Nabil | 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: Trump is Showering Saudi Arabia with Last-Minute Gifts appeared first on MintPress News.

How Joe Biden Plans to Make The American Empire Great Again

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 21/11/2020 - 8:47am in

Throughout his campaign, Joe Biden railed against Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ foreign policy, claiming it weakened the United States and left the world in disarray.

He pledged to reverse this decline and recover the damage Trump did to America’s reputation. While Donald Trump called to make America Great Again, Biden seeks to Make the American Empire Great Again.

Among the president-elect’s pledges is to end the so-called forever wars – the decades-long imperial projects in Afghanistan and Iraq that began under the Bush administration.

Yet Biden – a fervent supporter of those wars – will task ending them to the most neoconservative elements of the Democratic party and ideologues of permanent war.

Michele Flournoy and Tony Blinken sit atop Biden’s thousands-strong foreign policy brain trust and have played central roles in every U.S. war going back to the Clinton administration.

In the Trump era, they’ve cashed in, founding Westexec Advisors – a corporate consulting firm that has become home for Obama administration officials awaiting a return to government.

Flournoy is Biden’s leading pick for secretary of defense and Blinken is expected to be national security advisor.

 

Biden’s foxes guard the henhouse

Since the 1990s, Flournoy and Blinken have steadily risen through the ranks of the military-industrial complex, shuffling back and forth between the Pentagon and hawkish think-tanks funded by the U.S. government, weapons companies, and oil giants.

Under Bill Clinton, Flournoy was the principal author of the 1996 Quadrinellial Defense Review, the document that outlined the U.S. military’s doctrine of permanent war – what it called “full spectrum dominance.”

Flournoy called for “unilateral use of military power” to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources.”

As Bush administration officials lied to the world about Saddam Hussein’s supposed WMD’s, Flournoy remarked that “In some cases, preemptive strikes against an adversary’s [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities may be the best or only option we have to avert a catastrophic attack against the United States.”

Tony Blinken was a top advisor to then-Senate foreign relations committee chair Joe Biden, who played a key role in shoring up support among the Democrat-controlled Senate for Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq.

As Iraq was plunged into chaos and bloodshed, Flournoy was among the authors of a paper titled “Progressive Internationalism” that called for a “smarter and better” style of permanent war. The paper chastised the anti-war left and stated that  “Democrats will maintain the world’s most capable and technologically advanced military, and we will not flinch from using it to defend our interests anywhere in the world.”

With Bush winning a second term, Flournoy advocated for more troop deployments from the sidelines.

In 2005, Flournoy signed onto a letter from the neoconservative think tank Project for a New American Century, asking Congress to “increase substantially the size of the active duty Army and Marine Corps (by) at least 25,000 troops each year over the next several years.”

In 2007, she leveraged her Pentagon experience and contacts to found what would become one of the premier Washington think tanks advocating endless war across the globe: the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

CNAS is funded by the U.S. government, arms manufacturers, oil giants, Silicon Valley tech giants, billionaire-funded foundations, and big banks.

Flournoy joined the Obama administration and was appointed as under secretary of defense for policy, the position considered the “brains” of the Pentagon.

She was keenly aware that the public was wary of more quagmires. In the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, she crafted a new concept of warfare that would expand the permanent war state while giving the appearance of a drawdown.

Flournoy wrote that “unmanned systems hold great promise” – a reference to the CIA’s drone assassination program.

This was the Obama-era military doctrine of hybrid war. It called for the U.S. to be able to simultaneously wage war on numerous fronts through secret warfare, clandestine weapons transfers to proxies, drone strikes, and cyber-attacks – all buttressed with propaganda campaigns targeting the American public through the internet and corporate news media.

 

Architects of America’s Hybrid wars

Flournoy continued to champion the endless wars that began in the Bush-era and was a key architect of Obama’s disastrous troop surge in Afghanistan. As U.S. soldiers returned in body bags and insurgent attacks and suicide bombings increased some 65% from 2009 and 2010, she deceived the Senate Armed Services Committee, claiming that the U.S. was beginning to turn the tide against the Taliban.

Even with her lie that the U.S. and Afghan government were starting to beat the Taliban back, Flournoy assured the senate that the U.S. would have to remain in Afghanistan long into the future.

Ten years later – as the Afghan death toll passed 150,000 – Flournoy continued to argue against a U.S. withdrawal.

That’s the person Joe Biden has tasked with ending the forever war in Afghanistan. But in Biden’s own words, he’ll “bring the vast majority of our troops home from Afghanistan” implying some number of American troops will remain, and the forever war will be just that. Michele Flournoy explained that even if a political settlement were reached, the U.S. would maintain a presence.

In 2011, the Obama-era doctrine of smart and sophisticated warfare was unveiled in the NATO regime-change war on Libya.

Moammar Gaddafi – the former adversary who sought warm relations with the U.S. and had given up his nuclear weapons program  – was deposed and sodomized with a bayonet.

Flournoy, Hillary Clinton’s State Department, and corporate media were in lockstep as they waged an extensive propaganda campaign to deceive the U.S. public that Gadaffi’s soldiers were on a Viagra-fueled rape and murder spree that demanded a U.S. intervention.

All of this was based on a report from Al Jazeera – the media outlet owned by the Qatari monarchy that was arming extremist militias to overthrow the government.

Yet an investigation by the United Nations called the rape claims “hysteria.” Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch found no credible evidence of even a single rape.

Even after Libya was descended into strife and the deception of Gadaffi’s forces committing rape was debunked, Michele Flournoy stood by her support for the war.

Tony Blinken, then Obama’s deputy national security advisor, also pushed for regime change in Libya. He became Obama’s point man on Syria, pushed to arm the so-called “moderate rebels” that fought alongside al-Qaeda and ISIS, and designed the red line strategy to trigger a full-on U.S. intervention. Syria, he told the public, wasn’t anything like the other wars the U.S. had waging for more than a decade.

Despite Blinken’s promises that it would be a short affair, the war on Syria is now in its ninth year. An estimated half a million people have been killed as a result and the country is facing famine,

Largely thanks to the policy of using “wheat to apply pressure” – a recommendation of Flournoy and Blinken’s CNAS think tank.

 
When the Trump administration launched airstrikes on Syria based on mere accusations of a chemical attack, Tony Blinken praised the bombing, claiming Assad had used the weapon of mass destruction sarin. Yet there was no evidence for this claim, something even then-secretary of Defense James Mattis admitted.

While jihadist mercenaries armed with U..S-supplied weapons took over large swaths of Syria, Tony Blinken played a central role in a coup d’etat in Ukraine that saw a pro-Russia government overthrown in a U.S.-orchestrated color revolution with neo-fascist elements agitating on the ground.

At the time, he was ambivalent about sending lethal weapons to Ukraine, instead opting for economic pressure.

Since then, fascist militias have been incorporated into Ukraine’s armed forces. And Tony Blinken urged Trump to send them deadly weapons – something Obama had declined to do.

Trump obliged.

 

The Third Offset

While the U.S. fuelled wars in Syria and Ukraine, the Pentagon announced a major shift called the Third Offset strategy – a reference to the cold war era strategies the U.S. used to maintain its military supremacy over the Soviet Union.

The Third Offset strategy shifted the focus from counterinsurgency and the war on terror to great power competition against China and Russia, seeking to ensure that the U.S. could win a war against China in Asia. It called for a technological revolution in warfighting capabilities, development of futuristic and autonomous weapons, swarms of undersea and airborne drones, hypersonic weapons, cyber warfare, machine-enhanced soldiers, and artificial intelligence making unimaginably complex battlefield decisions at speeds incomprehensible to the human mind. All of this would be predicated on the Pentagon deepening its relationship with Silicon Valley giants that it birthed decades before: Google and Facebook.

The author of the Third Offset, former undersecretary of defense Robert Work, is a partner of Flournoy and Blinken’s at WestExec Advisors. And Flournoy has been a leading proponent of this dangerous new escalation.

In June, Flournoy published a lengthy commentary laying out her strategy called “Sharpening the U.S. Military’s Edge: Critical Steps for the Next Administration”.

She warned that the United States is losing its military technological advantage and reversing that must be the Pentagon’s priority. Without it, Flournoy warned that the U.S. might not be able to defeat China in Asia.

While Flournoy has called for ramping up U.S. military presence and exercises with allied forces in the region, she went so far as to call for the U.S. to increase its destructive capabilities so much that it could launch a blitzkrieg style-attack that would wipe out the entire Chinese navy and all civilian merchant ships in the South China Sea. Not only a blatant war crime but a direct attack on a nuclear power that would spell the third world war.

At the same time, Biden has announced he’ll take an even more aggressive and confrontational stance against Russia, a position Flournoy shares.

As for ending the forever wars, Tony Blinken says not so fast.

 

The end of forever wars?

So Biden will end the forever wars, but not really end them. Secret wars that the public doesn’t even know the U.S. is involved in – those are here to stay.

In fact, leaving teams of special forces in place throughout the Middle East is part and parcel of the Pentagon’s shift away from counterinsurgency and towards great power competition.

The 2018 National Defense Strategy explains that “Long-term strategic competitions with China and Russia are the principal priorities” and the U.S. will “consolidate gains in Iraq and Afghanistan while moving to a more resource-sustainable approach.”

As for the catastrophic war on Yemen, Biden has said he’ll end U.S. support, but in 2019, Michele Flournoy argued against ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Biden pledged he will rejoin the Iran deal as a starting point for new negotiations. However, Trump’s withdrawal from the deal discredited the Iranian reformists who seek engagement with the west and empowered the principlists who see the JCPOA as a deal with the devil.

In Latin America, Biden will revive the so-called anti-corruption campaigns that were used as a cover to oust the popular social democrat Brazilian president Lula da Silva.

His Venezuela policy will be almost identical to Trump’s – sanctions and regime change.

In Central America, Biden has proposed a 4 billion dollar package to support corrupt right-wing governments and neoliberal privatization projects that create even more destabilization and send vulnerable masses fleeing north to the United States.

Behind their rhetoric, Biden, Flournoy, and Blinken will seek nothing less than global supremacy, escalating a new and even more dangerous arms race that risks the destruction of humanity. That’s what Joe Biden calls “decency” and “normalcy.”

Feature photo | Graphic by Antonio Cabrera for MintPress News

Dan Cohen is a journalist and filmmaker. He has produced widely distributed video reports and print dispatches from across Israel-Palestine. Dan is a correspondent at RT America and tweets at @DanCohen3000.

The post How Joe Biden Plans to Make The American Empire Great Again appeared first on MintPress News.

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