Yemen

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Divided Against Each Other, United For The Machine: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 30/10/2020 - 1:12pm in

Tags 

News, Politics, War, Yemen

If your ideology requires slow incremental change while humanity hurtles toward extinction, you don’t have an ideology. You have a pastime while waiting for armageddon.

~

The Corbyn antisemitism psyop was exceptional in that it wasn’t just the political/media class knowingly promoting a lie, but members of the rank-and-file public as well. Countless Brits knew it was a lie, but they helped sell it anyway because they didn’t like his politics.

~

You won’t stop fascism by electing Joe Biden, you’ll just help make sure it uses racially sensitive language while stomping on your face.

~

Yeah, vote Biden or else the government which destroys any nation that disobeys it might start sliding into tyranny.

~

It should not be a big deal to talk about Biden being corrupt. His entire career is made up of decisions that would only be made by someone who serves the interests of corporations, banks and war profiteers. You don’t do that because of your moral compass, you do it for funding.

And I mean sure the type of corruption I’m talking about here may be “legal”, but that just means corruption is legal in America. That’s not an argument that Joe Biden is not corrupt, it’s just something that urgently needs to change.

~

US presidential elections are often very close because the US populace is deliberately kept evenly split between two ideological camps with a lot of emotional hostility and very little policy difference, ensuring they’re kept divided against each other and united for the machine.

~

If you prioritize facts over narrative, America from 2016–2020 looks like the same imperialist and neoliberal agendas being rolled out in pretty much all the same ways as before, just with a really shrill mass media soundtrack playing in the background.

~

It’s not that you can’t beat the machine, it’s that you can’t beat the machine using the tools the machine has offered you.

~

It’s so cute how many Americans think separating families at the border is the most evil thing their government does.

~

Without extensive marketing it would never occur to you that Mountain Dew is something you should put inside your body or that endless war is something you should accept as normal.

~

In days past leaders used to brutally slaughter their enemies in front of everyone and wear their body parts in case anyone got any funny ideas. Nowadays our leaders wear suits and ties, and they talk about freedom and democracy and family values, and they kill way more people.

~

People have been manipulating each other since the invention of language and manipulating each other at mass scale since the invention of government. All that’s changed is the mass scale has gotten much larger and the manipulation much more sophisticated.

~

Sociopaths know that hell is just a religious propaganda construct because they understand how narrative manipulation works. That’s why they can create mass atrocities like Yemen and still sleep like babies.

~

Yemen is like that elderly loved one you know you should see a lot more but you let them wither away in a nursing home out of sight and out of mind instead.

~

To oppose western interventionism is to put yourself in the uniquely absurd position of being branded an extremist lunatic and an intelligence agent for objecting to something that is literally always disastrous.

~

I have never gotten used to being called a Kremlin troll or a CCP propagandist. It has always shocked and disgusted me when people do that. It has never been sane or normal to accuse strangers of covertly working for foreign governments; the age of Maddow has caused people to mistakenly believe this is a sane and normal thing to do, but it has always been crazy and obnoxious.

~

People who think US aggressions with China are going to de-escalate after Biden wins are in for a rude awakening.

Ah who am I kidding they’ll sleep through the whole goddamn thing.

~

In nations like China the government uses propaganda and censorship, which makes them bad. In the west our governments are strictly ornamental and the plutocrats and spies who run things do the propagandizing and censoring, which is obviously far more civilized.

In China you’ll never see media that is critical of Chinese power structures, whereas in the west you might maybe see a criticism of western imperialism if you can get past the total marginalization of anti-imperialist voices and carefully constructed ideological echo chambers.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that in nations like China they propagandize and censor their citizenry, whereas in free western democracies they propagandize and censor their citizenry while telling them how free and democratic they are.

~

The best way to manufacture consent for world-threatening cold war escalations is to convince half the population that a leader they hate opposes those escalations for corrupt reasons. This gives one half of the political spectrum a literally insatiable appetite for more and more escalations, and gives the other half a vested interest in proving that their guy is “tough” on the nation in question. Russiagate was extremely successful, so why change the formula?

No sane person would consent to their nation’s resources and wealth going toward a conflict that could wipe out every terrestrial organism instead of toward the citizenry, so propaganda is necessary. Russiagate was arguably the most successful psyop in history. It’s just the formula to use now.

___________________

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Questions Surround Timing and Details of Trump’s Recent Yemen Prisoner Exchange

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 17/10/2020 - 4:29am in

SANA’A, YEMEN — “Lak Al Hamd Ya Allah.” These words, which translate roughly from Arabic into “All thanks be to God,” were the first uttered by a 60-year-old Yemeni mother upon seeing her son for the first time in five years. The tearful reunion took place in Yemen’s Sana’a International Airport on Wednesday after the young man was released from Saudi Arabia’s notorious Khamis Mushait military prison near the Yemen-Saudi border. She was among hundreds of mothers, wives, and children reunited with loved-ones after a hard-won prisoner exchange between the Houthis (Ansar Allah) on one side and Saudi Arabia and the United States on the other.

In a reception replete with pomp and ceremony, freed prisoners were greeted by a number of Ansar Allah officials, ministers, members of Parliament as well as military leaders and social figures amid patriotic music and folk dances.

The surprise prisoner exchange is the largest to have taken place since the war erupted in 2015 and was overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross. It would likely have never taken place had American prisoners not been involved. ”If there were no American prisoners, we would not have seen our families again,” one fisherman freed in the release told MintPress.

According to the Red Cross, some 1,081 prisoners from all sides were released as a part of an UN-brokered peace deal struck quietly in Switzerland last month. The UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said in a briefing to the UN Security Council on Thursday that the prisoner exchange offers a glimmer of hope for Yemen, adding that it may be the largest operation of its kind in history.

Yemen Prisoner Exchange

Freed Houthi fighters are helped off of a plane at Sana’a International Airport, October, 14 2020. Photo | AMC

Saudi Arabia and its local allies reportedly released 710 Yemeni soldiers and abducted expatriates in the deal in exchange for 3 Americans, one of them deceased, 15 Saudi troops, 4 Sudanese soldiers, and 400 Saudi-backed Yemeni militants.

Kash Patel, the Deputy Assistant to Donald Trump, identified the freed U.S. nationals as Sandra Loli and Mikael Gidada. Loli claimed to be an aid worker conducting humanitarian work in Yemen and Gidada said he was an American businessman conducting business in the country when he was detained by the Houthis. The remains of Bilal Fateen, the third U.S. captive who died during clashes with Houthi fighters, were transported to Oman. The Houthis claim that they have documents proving that the American detainees were arrested conducting intelligence activity on behalf of the United States and Saudi-led coalition.

U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said in a statement on Wednesday that “the United States welcomes the release today of U.S. citizens Sandra Loli and Mikael Gidada from Houthi custody in Yemen. He added, “We send our condolences to the family of Bilal Fateen, whose remains will be repatriated as well.”

Abdul Qader Al-Murtaza, chairman of the Houthi-run Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs, said that 250 prisoners were freed from Saudi prisons and 220 from prisons in Marib province on Thursday, in four separate batches. Al-Murtaza said that 680 prisoners were originally supposed to have been released into Houthi custody but the “coalition excluded tens [of] prisoners from the prisons of Marib province, which prompted us to exclude prisoners.”

The oil-rich Marib province has been the scene of fierce fighting between the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition. Houthi spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Saree revealed on Thursday that Saudi Arabia was concerned about the Houthi advance in Marib, making the Kingdom eager to negotiate.

 

Another October surprise

Speaking on behalf of the Trump administration, Patel said that the released Houthis did not pose a major threat to Saudi security interests, adding that the individuals were not on any terrorism watch lists. He also said that an undisclosed number of “high-risk” fighters were blocked from release.

According to a senior Hothi official who spoke to MintPress on the condition of anonymity, “The deal was initially discussed at the start of 2020 by an Omani broker, but the American administration postponed the exchange until today to use it as leverage in the coming presidential election.” The exchange took place less than three weeks before the start of the U.S. election.

According to a senior Hothi official who spoke to MintPress on the condition of anonymity, “The deal was initially discussed at the start of 2020 by an Omani broker, but the American administration postponed the exchange until today to use it as leverage in the coming presidential election.” The exchange took place less than three weeks before the U.S. election season kicks off.

Despite what appears to many Yemenis to have been little more than a political stunt, Houthis officials remained positive about the move, confirming that they are open to other deals with the United States to end the war in Yemen. Mohammed AbdulSalam, the spokesman for the movement, said in the wake of the deal, “These steps restore hope in building peace. We have made offers to implement such a step, and we expect it to be positively reflected in the political file.” He claimed the release of Saudi and Sudanese prisoners was aimed at encouraging the other side to move towards peace. “We made a major concession in this regard.”

Feature photo | US citizens, Sandra Loli, right, and Mikael Gidada, left, are pictured in Muscat, Oman on October 14, 2020 after being released from Houthi custody back to the United States as part of a massive prisoner exchange.

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

The post Questions Surround Timing and Details of Trump’s Recent Yemen Prisoner Exchange appeared first on MintPress News.

Four Years Ago, US Bombs Killed Hundreds at a Yemeni Funeral. Those Bombs Are Still Used Today

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 10/10/2020 - 2:35am in

Ten-year-old Ahmed Radwan al-Khazan holds his father’s photo in one hand and a wilted rose in the other. He sits on a chair surrounded by rubble and ash in what is left of Mourning Square. Dozens of children, along with their young widowed mothers, are perched on dozens of rows of chairs under a very long tent, its shadow cast across the wreckage of the Al Kubra Grand Hall building. There, family members of 240 people killed gathered yesterday to mark the fourth anniversary of the attack that saw Saudi warplanes drop an MK82 guided bomb on a funeral hall. There were at least 1,000 mourners inside Al Kubra, located in Yemen’s capital city of Sanaa, when the bombs struck on October 8, 2016.

 
Many of the children that survived the horrific event are still too young to fully grasp the gravity of the moment. Some carried red roses or white flowers, while the others carried posters emblazoned with images of their lost relatives. “American bombs killed my father. We will never forget that” Ahmed said angrily, his eyes brimming with tears. His mother pulled him away protectingly, tugging at his hand and saying, “your dad has gone to heaven.”

Images of the charred and mutilated remains of funeral-goers are still fresh in the minds of survivors and witnesses who spoke to MintPress. Sami Abdullah, who is now wearing newly fitted prosthesis to replace his missing left leg lost in the attack, said “We arrived early, at noon, and shook hands with the family members of al-Ruwayshan, after a while, we heard the loud screaming sound of a jet and then a bombing with big pressure… shrapnel… fire… and intense black smoke.  Everything turned upside down, then, I stood up and ran and realized I had lost my leg. When I was a few steps from the gate, a second bomb hit the tent.”

Al Kubra Yemen

Mourners hold photos of loved ones during an event commemorating the attack on Al Kubra. Photo | Ahmed AbdulKareem

A UN panel of experts would later find that the timing of the attack “coincided with a time when the funeral was expected to receive the highest number of mourners.”

 

US arms sales fuel the carnage

The bombing of the funeral was the deadliest single attack in Yemen’s six-year war, but was not the first Saudi attack on a civilian target, nor was it the last. But what made it different was its sheer scale, the fact it occurred in broad daylight, and that the Saudi military used by a double-tap airstrike to assure maximum carnage. Like the Saudi attack on a school bus that took place in August of 201  that killed more than 40 children and also used a U.S.-made MK82 guided bomb, justice for the victims of the Al Kubra attack has not been served. The United States still supplies weapons to Saudi Arabia and all attempts to put limits on those sales have been ignored.


MK82 bomb fragments found in the rubble of Al Kubra are seen at a crime lab in Sanaa, Yemen, Oct. 8, 2016. Hani Mohammed | AP

Since 2015, UN investigators have repeatedly warned of the heavy civilian death toll from the Saudi-led Coalition’s bombing campaigns, which almost exclusively use U.S.-made munitions. Yet the U.S. has continued selling arms to the Kingdom resulting in numerous massacres and the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians like those lost in the Al Kubra Hall attack. The catastrophic impact that western weapons, particularly American weapons, have had on Yemen is clear not only in terms of loss of life but in the creation of refugees, mental turmoil, and the destruction of vital infrastructure, especially the country’s healthcare system.

The United States claims that it does not make targeting decisions for the Saudi Coalition. But it does support Coalition operations through training, arms sales, the refueling of Saudi combat aircraft, and the sharing of intelligence. Those arms sales include precision-guided missiles as well as precision guidance parts used on the same warplanes responsible for civilian casualties in the Saudi-UAE’s military campaign in Yemen.

According to mourners gathered to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the funeral hall bombing, the carnage will continue until Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who are still using U.S. and British weapons, are held accountable. Until that happens, they say, they will continue to gather and mourn bombing victims until justice is served.

The anniversary of the Al Kubra Massacre must serve as a reminder of the need for justice to be served, but also as a remember that death in Yemen’s war comes in many forms. Thousands are dying without shedding a drop of blood as a direct result of the war. Hunger, COVID-19, and a deadly cocktail of diseases have set upon the country. In a message to the United Nations on Thursday, the Presidium of Yemen’s Parliament warned that thousands of children in Yemeni hospitals now face death along with thousands of kidney failure patients as the country’s store of petroleum withers amid a U.S.-backed Saudi blockade.

Feature photo | A forensic expert displays glasses and other personal items of a victim as he inspects the destroyed funeral hall, two days after a Saudi-led airstrike targeted it, in Sanaa, Yemen, Oct. 10, 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 Four Years Ago, US Bombs Killed Hundreds at a Yemeni Funeral. Those Bombs Are Still Used Today appeared first on MintPress News.

Following US Pressure, Aid to Yemen Falls to Just 25 Cents Per Day

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/10/2020 - 3:27am in

Home to what the United Nations has described as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” Yemen is on the brink of total disaster after five years of protracted war. Yet crucial international aid to the country has been cut this year to just 25 cents per person, per day, around half of what was given in 2019. That money translates to just 200 grams (less than half a pound) of beans, three eggs, or 200ml of cooking oil inside the country, where food prices are soaring.

The aid has been channeled primarily through the United Nations. But the organization warns that what they received is less than half of what is necessary to supply clean water, food, shelter, and medicine to the 24 million people (80 percent of the population) who need humanitarian assistance.

Much of the blame for the drop in aid can be placed at the door of the United States with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly pressuring the U.N. to scale back humanitarian assistance to the country in an attempt to starve the rebels of aid. In March, Pompeo traveled to U.N. headquarters to meet with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make his case.

Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director, Muhsin Siddiquey, pleaded with the international community to do more to help the country. “While the economic fallout unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every corner of the globe, in Yemen millions are on the brink of starvation. Yemenis cannot afford aid to be cut, people need more help to survive, not less,” he said.

 

Cashing in on a crisis

Furthermore, the countries that have contributed the most in aid — the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — are the very same ones directing the onslaught against Yemen, with Saudi and Emirati troops leading the fight, supported by British and American arms sales and political cover. Saudi Arabia, for example, is responsible for 49 percent of all weapons purchases, while it has committed to buying $350 billion worth of U.S. arms in the coming years. This economic power has allowed the four to play politics with international aid, directing to groups that allow them to advance their agenda instead of where it is needed most.

“Countries should stop cashing in on this appalling humanitarian crisis and instead put people’s lives above arms manufacturers’ profit,” Siddiquey said. “The Yemenis who’ve had to flee their homes, go without food and clean water, and endure outbreaks of disease need a nationwide ceasefire and inclusive peace talks to end this war so they can rebuild their lives.”

The World Bank has warned of a “famine of biblical proportions,” with over 20 million people also lacking access to clean water. Because of the lack of funds, the U.N. has had to reduce services at 300 health and food distribution centers across Yemen. These sites are already in short supply, as the Saudi-led coalition intentionally targets their Yemeni counterparts, attacking water or medical facilities once every ten days on average since the war began in 2014.

Two-thirds of all districts in the country are already pre-famine, the U.N. explains, and one-third face a convergence of multiple acute vulnerabilities. These include deadly outbreaks of cholera and COVID-19. Officially, the country has seen only 2,047 COVID-19 cases and cholera numbers have dropped from last year. But, as Oxfam warned, these low figures do not show that the country has the epidemics under control. Quite the opposite: it shows their embattled health systems have been completely overwhelmed and are unable to record the devastation wrought.

 

From Arab Spring to Abraham Accord

While the conflict has its origins in the 2011 Arab Spring, the war officially began three years later, when armed Shia Houthi rebels rose up against what they saw as a corrupt and undemocratic government led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Hadi initially fled the country but was given strong support by Saudi Arabia, other Gulf monarchies, and Western powers, who accused Iran of arming and funding the Houthis. However, without many boots on the ground, they have been unable to dislodge the Houthis from their strongholds in the populous south and west of the country, preferring to bomb the country from above. While the official death toll of the war stands at over 100,000, most believe this is a serious underestimate.

Unfortunately, the war is unlikely to cool down in the foreseeable future. The recently signed Abraham Accord between Bahrain, the U.A.E., and Israel, for example, allows for the transfer of high-tech American and Israeli weaponry to the Gulf states, who will doubtless be keen to use it in Yemen.

“The U.A.E. is one of the central protagonists in the cataclysmic war of aggression against Yemen,” Greg Shupak of the University of Guelph, Ontario, told MintPress. “So there is a strong possibility that it will unleash these killing machines on the impoverished Yemeni population that it has already done so much to devastate…Likewise, increased intelligence sharing between Israel and the U.A.E. could entail Israel helping the U.A.E. having more, and possibly more advanced, information that it can use to maim and kill Yemenis.”

Despite promising to draw down its role in the conflict, Sudan is sending hundreds of more troops to the country via Saudi Arabia. A foreign ministry spokesperson also recently revealed that the country is in talks with Israel to normalize relations. Saudi Arabia has also recently begun building a military base in the Hawf nature reserve in eastern Yemen, a crucial oasis in the largely arid country. As always, there appears to be plenty of money for weapons, but not enough for crucial humanitarian aid.

Feature photo | A medic checks a malnourished newborn inside an incubator at Al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, June 27, 2020. 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 Following US Pressure, Aid to Yemen Falls to Just 25 Cents Per Day appeared first on MintPress News.

Yemen: Finding Ways to Fight Back Against Saudi Arabia’s War on Electricity

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 03/10/2020 - 4:09am in

Amid the scorching desert heat, Yemen’s southern provinces suffer frequent blackouts. An hour and a half of power followed by 12-hour outages are the norm, and can sometimes be fatal. Now, barely a week goes by without the citizens of the Southern District holding demonstrations until authorities relent and temporarily restore power until the next blackout, and, inevitably, the next protest.

Hundreds of angry Yemenis began taking to the streets nearly one month ago in the war-torn country’s largest governorate of al-Mukalla, gathering to protest the deterioration of public services and lengthy blackouts that regularly leave them without electricity. They set tires on fire and clashed with UAE-backed militants, who use live ammunition to disperse them. Shops closed as activists launched a campaign of civil disobedience against what they say is “systematic corruption and failure to provide basic public services, in particular the daily power outages.”

“The power cuts reach 8 hours in a day, sometimes reaching 24 hours.” Salah Ben Hamel, a member of the local council in al-Mukalla said. He accuses the UAE-backed authorities of ignoring the suffering of the residents. “We can not sleep because of the high heat” he added.

Just like in al-Mukalla, power outages have left many major cities in the dark since 2015, when the war began. Western weapons supplied to Saudi Arabia and coalition allies have destroyed transmission lines, power stations, and other facilities, and a near-total blockade forbids Yemenis from rebuilding, leaving critical services like health, water, and sanitation woefully underserved.

According to identical data from both Yemen’s Ministry of Electricity and non-governmental organizations, the Saudi-led Coalition has targeted more than 5,000 power stations and other pieces of critical energy infrastructure. Most of them far from any fighting or military site. Ninety percent of the total population now lives without electricity, especially those in remote and semi-urban areas.

On August 26, 2016, Amnesty International reported that U.S bombs dropped by Saudi warplanes destroyed two generating stations at Haradh and Midi in Hajjah province. Eight bombs also hit the main power station in Amran, destroying two transformers. On July 24, 2015, the Saudi Coalition bombed a compound housing employees of a power plant and their families, killing and injuring more than 300. On April 13, 2016, Saudi warplanes destroyed the main power station in Taiz province. According to Yemen’s Public Electricity Corporation, the financial damage from these deliberate attacks on infrastructure amounts to over four billion U.S. dollars.

 

Attacks on the grid run deep

The effects of those attacks run much deeper though. Socially, the collapse of the country’s electric grid has limited children’s ability to study in the evenings and has forced some families to pull their children out of school entirely to fetch water, as electric pumps are no longer operational. Water pumping stations have been closed, forcing people, particularly women and children, to carry water needed for daily use on their heads for long distances.

Economically, the lack of electricity has led to the deterioration of Yemen’s already faltering local economy. Small industrial facilities that survived the war have been shuttered due to the lack of electricity and manufacturing has all but halted.

Yemen Electricity

Workers inspect damage to a transmission tower on the Sanaa-Safer line. Ahmed Abdul Kareem | MintPress News

Hygienically, public health services have worsened significantly as long-lasting power outages have become all too regular in often partially functioning health facilities. The outages are also contributing to the spread of COVID-19 and other epidemics as electricity is required to pump clean water, forcing some to drink surface water contaminated with Cholera and other bacteria.

Throughout its war against Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s strategy has sought to break down and weaken the state to make a recovery impossible for at least the next twenty years. Systematic destruction makes the country more dependent on “helping hands” after the war.

The Saudi blockade, in particular, prevents the entry of fuel and has impacted electricity production as residents are forced to pay a monthly subscription fee of 1,200 YER to private sector producers, even when they are not consuming electricity. When fuel shortages become particularly acute, that price increases to 350-400 YER per kilowatt, before the war it was just seven YER per kilowatt.

 

Sabotaging the Electric Grid

“Electric stations, transmission lines, and towers have all been targeted by U.S bombs and cluster munitions,” the Minister of Electricity and Energy, Ateq Hussein Abbar, told MintPress as he stood in shock near a destroyed electricity tower in Baran. “Just as bad,” he said, “tons of improvised explosive devices, landmines, and countermines have been planted by the coalition forces and their mercenaries under the towers and lines.”

Man poses next to unexploded ordinance

MintPress Reporter Ahmed AbdulKareem inspects unexploded ordnance near the Sanaa-Safer line

The sheer scale of the Saudi campaign, which often sees hundreds of separate airstrikes carried out every day, coupled with its indiscriminate nature, has not only left Yemen one of the most heavily contaminated countries in the world but turned the large areas through which power lines pass or where electric poles are located into fields full of mines and unexploded bombs.

“We have 490 electric towers in the Sanaa-Marib line that passes through Nehm, most of which are now destroyed or affected by the raids, shelling, and unexploded ordnance.” Abdul Qadir Mutahar, Director-General of Transportation at the Electricity Corporation said.

“The dense amount of mines and unexploded ordnance that are now spread near electric transmission lines is huge. It will take a long time before teams are able to reach them to start the rebuilding process,” the head of the UN-backed Yemeni Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC) said.

Even if the infrastructure was in place to begin repairs to the grid, removing unexploded remnants, IEDs and landmines would require an end to the U.S.-backed war and economic blockade as special equipment and machines, such as armored excavators, would need to be brought in, a slim prospect in a country unable to secure even the basic staples of life.

 

All eyes on Marib Power Station

Despite the danger, some electrical engineering teams have forged on. Two weeks ago, engineers in cooperation with mine clearance teams began to assess the extent of damage in the Nihm area, a move aimed at rehabilitating the Sanaa-Safer line. They hope the lines can be ready when the Marib power station is back up and running. In March 2015, the country’s largest power plant in Marib, responsible for powering most of the country, went offline and represented a turning point for the country’s electricity sector.

Man poses next to cluster bomb in Yemen

MintPress Reporter Ahmed AbdulKareem stands near the remanants of a US-made cluster bomb on the Sanaa-Safer line en route to Marib

Local tribes supported by Ansar Allah (Houthis) have been advancing in oil-rich Marib, which lies adjacent to the capital of Sana’a. Over sixty percent of the province has been captured by the Houthis in fierce fighting pitting the outgunned group against Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and fighters from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Penninsula and the so-called Islamic State.

The Houthi advance has attracted the attention of world powers, including the United States, the UK, and even the UN. Negotiations over prisoner exchanges have been activated, but all the renewed attention is focused on stopping the Houthi advance in Marib, the last stronghold of the coalition in the north of the country, and not on ending the war.

Taqi al-Din Al-Mutaa, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Electricity, said that “Simply liberating Marib means restoring electricity to all Yemeni regions, means ending the suffering of people, ending employee suffering.” He confirmed that the ministry plans to start the Marib power station as soon as possible.

There are real fears that Saudi Arabia could strike the Marib power station and regional oil facilities should the Houthis advance succeed. High-ranking officials in Sana’a told MintPress that any such attack would be met with retaliatory attacks on “the most important electrical and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia” “There will be not only thick smoke rising in the sky of Marib,” one military official promised, “there will be smoke rising in the skies of the Arabian Peninsula.”

 

Yemenis look to the sun

There are glimpses of light in the darkness, particularly in Yemen’s northern provinces. In Sana`a, rooftops are now dotted with solar panels. The private sector has stepped in as the most competitive source of electricity in the country, importing cheap solar photovoltaic systems.

Small electronic retailers now sell solar home systems, encouraged by surging demand and supported by the local Ansar Allah government, who recently announced that investment in alternative energy would be 100% tax-exempt.

The World Bank has praised the boom in the usage of solar energy in Yemen and urged countries suffering from wars and crises to emulate the Yemeni experience. Yemen is naturally endowed with huge solar potential. It has interior high mountains, upland desert, and long semi-desert coastal plain across the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea. Moreover, the country is characterized by hot and clear weather. Temperatures are generally very high, particularly in the coastal and desert areas. Geographically, Yemen is located in the world’s Sunbelt.

The important question for many Yemenis is whether Saudi Arabia will allow them to capitalize on this wealth.

Feature photo | A team of engineers and mine sweepers poses for a photo on the Sanaa-Safer line. Ahmed Abdul Kareem | MintPress News

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

The post Yemen: Finding Ways to Fight Back Against Saudi Arabia’s War on Electricity appeared first on MintPress News.

2,000 Days Since It Began, the War in Yemen Is Poised To Turn Even More Deadly

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 19/09/2020 - 4:54am in

Another grim milestone has just passed in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia’s war against the poorest country in the Middle East reached its two-thousandth day. Ostensibly, the war was launched to restore President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi to power after he was ousted following Houthi-led popular protests amid the Arab Spring.

Realistically, the war has become little more than a pretext to control Yemen’s strategic sites and natural wealth. Saudi Arabia and the UAE now occupy entire southern provinces from al-Mahara to the Bab al-Mandab Strait. Somehow, though, they have not yet allowed Haddi and his old guard to return.

 

Grim statistics

The numbers are astonishing. Since 2015, Saudi-led coalition warplanes have pounded the country with over 250,000 airstrikes. Seventy percent of those have hit civilian targets, killing more than 100,000 people since January 2016, according to a report by the Armed Conflict and Location Event Data Project (ACLED). Those numbers do not include those who have died in the humanitarian disasters caused by the war, particularly starvation and 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.

Unexploded ordnances have been left scattered across populated areas, particularly in the urban areas of Sana’a, Sadaa, Hodeida, Hajjah, Marib, and al-Jawf, and have left the country one of the most heavily contaminated in the world.

As the war officially passes its two-thousandth day, the Eye of Humanity Center for Rights and Development, a Yemeni advocacy group, issued a report on where some of the estimated 600,000 bombs have landed. According to the non-governmental organization, those attacks have destroyed more than 21 economically-vital facilities like factories, food storage facilities, fishing boats, markets, and food, and fuel tankers and have damaged 9,000 pieces of critical infrastructure, including 15 airports, 16 seaports, 304 electrical stations, 2,098 tanks and water pumps, and 4,200 roads and bridges. At least 576,528 public service facilities, including more than 1,000 schools, 6,732 agricultural fields, and 1,375 mosques have been destroyed or damaged.

Yemen

A medic checks a malnourished newborn inside an incubator at Al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, June 27, 2020. Hani Mohammed | AP

The blockade and bombing of civilian infrastructure, particularly hospitals, have also crippled Yemen’s health system, leaving it unable to deal with even the basic public health needs. Eye of Humanity reports that the coalition has destroyed 389 hospitals and health centers while most of the country’s estimated 300 remaining facilities are either closed or barely functioning as COVID-19 spreads through the country like wildfire.

Household food insecurity now hovers at over 70 percent, with fifty percent of rural households and 20 percent of urban households now food insecure. Almost one-third of Yemenis do not have enough food to satisfy basic nutritional needs. Underweight and stunted children have become a regular sight, especially among holdouts in rural areas.

This is Yemen after 2,000 days of war. A dirty war and a brutal siege on a forgotten people subsisting in unlivable conditions. If one is able to dodge death from war, starvation, and COVID-19, they face unprecedented levels of disease. Yemen’s average life expectancy now hovers at around 66, one of the lowest in the world. The Saudi blockade has imposed tight control over all aspects of life, severely restricting not only the movement of aid and people but also of UN flights. Last week, both the Ministry of Transportation and the General Authority of Civil Aviation and Meteorology announced that Sana’a International Airport was no longer equipped to receive the official airplane of UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffith.

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is still preventing fuel tankers from delivering much-needed fuel to Yemen’s hospitals, water pumps, bakeries, cleaning trucks, and gas stations, plunging it, particularly northern districts, into a fuel crisis. The blockade has not only forced thousands to wait for days in lines as far as the eye can see but has forced many facilities to shut down altogether. All while Saudi Arabia and its local militias plunder crude oil in Marib, Shabwah, and Hadramout.

 

After normalization, the UAE steps up attacks

For many Yemenis, there is little reason for optimism entering what feels like the third phase of the war against their country, as Israel ostensibly enters the fray. They believe that the situation will escalate as a result of normalization between the UAE and Israel, and indeed, Tel Aviv’s entrance into the already convoluted theater appears to have already opened the door for further escalation.

Since normalization, UAE warplanes have intensified airstrikes against populated areas throughout the country’s northern provinces. In Sana’a, approximately 20 aerial attacks hit densely populated neighborhoods and brazenly targeted the Sana’a Airport, a military engineering camp, and a poultry farm, among other targets.

UAE warplanes are believed by locals to be receiving logistical support by Israel, although no evidence has yet surfaced yet to substantiate those fears. In a stark departure from the UAE’s more conciliatory tone in Yemen over the past year, UAE aircraft have carried out more than 100 airstrikes since August 13, when Trump announced the normalization between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv. They also pounded the oil-rich province of Marib, located east the country, where UAE jets dropped more than 300 bombs targeting transport trucks, fuel stations, homes, and farms. Advanced military sites belonging to the Ansar Allah-led were also targeted.

Reinforcing the heir of hopelessness is that the United States continues to neglect Yemen’s suffering, despite its designation by the United Nations calling as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Even with the 2020 election looming and President Donald Trump leaning heavily into his foreign policy accomplishments, the U.S. role in Yemen has been noticeably absent from the discussion. Biden has been no better, leaving little hope that the December elections could bring an end to the war.

 

Half-hearted attempts at peace

There are efforts underway to bring some semblance of peace to Yemen by parties in both Qatar and Oman. Secret negotiations have been held in Sana’a, but they seem aimed at stopping the Houthi advance in Marib and not the war in general.

In reality, international voices are loudest when the war begins to affect Saudi Arabia, as they were last September when Saudi oil facilities were attacked, or when a Houthi advance threatens the Saudi border as it did in August of 2019 when an operation captured 4,000 square kilometers of Saudi territory in Najran.

Qatari and Omani efforts are not the only ones on the ground. The United Nations envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is leading other efforts aimed at stopping the Houthi advance in Marib. Griffiths said during a recent Security Council session that, “The situation in Marib is of concern. Military shifts in Marib have ripple effects on conflict dynamics. If Marib falls, it’d undermine prospects of convening an inclusive political process that brings about a transition based on partnership and plurality.”

Neither the efforts in Qatar nor those by the UN even purport to be focused on bringing an end to the war or mitigating the blockade, instead, they seem only concerned with assuring the Coalition retains its competitive advantage.

2,000 days of war, in fact, have proven an insufficient term to bring peace to the war-torn country. With the exception of a fragile ceasefire in Hodeida and a small number of prisoner releases, negotiations between the two sides, even on minor issues, often reach a dead end. Numerous negotiations between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia have failed, including UN-brokered peace talks in Switzerland last year.

 

The Houthis grow stronger

When the war began over five years ago, Saudi leaders promised a decisive victory in a matter of weeks, one or two months at most. Yet the Houthis remain steadfast in their resistance and, in fact, have grown even more powerful leading to consternation in the Kingdom, with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz dismissing the leader of the Coalition forces Fahd bin Turki and a number of senior officers following a series of recent Saudi battlefield failures.

On Thursday, Houthi forces carried out drone strikes against the al-Abha Airport in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern province of Asir. The operation was the fifth against the airport and a sign that half of a decade of war has done little to bring security to the Kingdom.

In fact, the Houthis now seem intent on moving the frontline into Saudi Arabia and UAE territory and have even promised retaliatory action against Israel should they continue to escalate their involvement in the war. According to Houthi spokesman Mohammed AbdulSalam, “the Saudi-led war on Yemen the price the Arab nation is paying for taking a firm stance against Israel,”  adding “Israelis are involved in most of the conflicts plaguing the region, including the Riyadh-led aggression against Yemen.”

Feature photo | Tribesmen loyal to the Houthis hold their weapons as they ride in a vehicle during a gathering against the agreement to establish diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, in Sanaa, Yemen, Aug. 22, 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 2,000 Days Since It Began, the War in Yemen Is Poised To Turn Even More Deadly appeared first on MintPress News.

The Electoral Trolley Problem

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 14/09/2020 - 4:31pm in

Voting is always an ethical dilemma. For people thinking about voting for Joe Biden, one of the things that they might not be thinking about as they fantasize about the somewhat remote possibility of a liberal stalwart replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsberg is the higher probability that Biden, given his history, will start another war in the Middle East.

Israel and the UAE Hope to Turn Yemen’s Remote Islands into an Intel Gathering Hub

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 11/09/2020 - 1:58am in

Tags 

News, Israel, Yemen

SOCOTRA, YEMEN — In the wake of the recent normalization of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates in August, it is becoming increasingly clear that Tel Aviv is set to take on an increasingly active role in the war on Yemen, a war that the UAE – together with Saudi Arabia – launched over six years ago.

Yemen’s strategic islands, particularly the sparsely populated archipelago containing Socotra located at the mouth of Gulf Aden in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, is of particular importance. Often a flashpoint for tensions between Iran and the United States, Yemen and the Saudi Coalition, and a major chokepoint for much of the world’s maritime transit, the waters surrounding Yemen, particularly the island of Socotra, have become a much-vaunted prize for regional intelligence and security apparatus. Now, both the UAE and Israel are working to establish military and intelligence centers on Socotra, which lays some 240 kilometers east of the coast of Somalia and 380 kilometers south of the Arabian Peninsula.

According to one Yemeni source, the United Arab Emirates and Israel have already completed logistical operations to establish intelligence-gathering bases and new military facilities on the island. A presence on Socotra will not only allow the new alliance to establish a foothold against Yemen’s Houthi-led opposition, but will allow it to conduct surveillance on Oman, Iran, Pakistan, and China, who, in recent years, has established a presence on the nearby horn of Africa.

Last week, an Emirati ship arrived on Socotra laden with personnel from the UAE and Israel and transporting weapons and communication equipment according to a local source on the island. Even before the UAE-Israel normalization deal was announced, the two countries were sending delegations to Perim Island, known as Mayyun in Arabic, a volcanic island in the Strait of Mandeb at the south entrance to the Red Sea.

Yemen Bab el Mandab Strait Map

Perim Island, the gateway to the Mediterranean

In Socotra, locals report that the same Emirati-Israeli team arrived on an Emirati aircraft various times throughout the year to examine locations in the Momi district on the east of the island and the Qatnan locality on its western coast.

Issa Salem Bin Yaqoot al-Soctari, the head of indigenous tribes on the island, said in a statement recently that the UAE has brought Israel to Socotra and that both sides have already started building new bases there. With much consternation, al-Soctari complained of the UAE’s “policy of repression, starvation, and intimidation” against the island’s residents. Mirroring Israel’s policy in Palestine, al-Soctrai also accused Emirati forces of intentionally changing the Island’s demographics by housing foreigners on the island en masse.

 

Israel has few friends in Yemen

Israel is far from a welcome presence in Yemen and local support for the Palestinian cause is nearly universal. Large demonstrations have already taken place in Abyan, Taiz, and Shabwah against the normalization of ties with Israel and against any Israeli presence in Yemen.

In early September, a meeting of high-ranking officials was held, headed by the prime minister of the National Salvation Government in Houthi-controlled Sana’a, Dr. Abdulaziz bin Habtoor, in which a council affirmed support for the “preparation of lawsuits” to be filed with international courts against the presence of foreign “occupiers.”

All of Yemen’s political parties, including local tribes allied with the Saudi-led Coalition, staunchly reject the presence of Israel in Socotra. or any place in Yemen for that matter, yet of all Yemen’s myriad political forces, the Houthis are likely the most willing to take preemptive action against Israeli ambitions in the country. Sources in Ansar Allah, the political wing of the Houthis, reported that plans are already being made to use ballistic missiles and drones to destroy any intelligence-gathering and military facilities belonging to both Israel and UAE.

Officials in Yemen’s easternmost province of al-Mahrah told MintPress that the security cooperation between UAE and Israel is being actively supported by Saudi Arabia and aims to help the Saudi-led coalition carry out its long-held goal of tightening control over the province by gathering intelligence on the ground. Intelligence gathering operations on Socotra would also cast neighboring Oman under UAE and Israeli radars. Oman enjoys long borders and solid relations with Yemen, and much to the dismay of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, it also enjoys cordial relations with Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran, a relationship that the Coalition is eager to undermine.

Socotra has been a prize for the UAE, and indeed for Israel, for years. The Emirati-backed separatist militant group, the Southern Transitional Council (STC), has already effectively captured Socotra and established a secret relationship with Israel following talks with officials in Tel Aviv sponsored by the UAE. In fact, the UAE has had its grip on the island archipelago since 2018 and has already built military bases, installed communications networks, and used its considerable oil wealth to purchase thousands of hectares of private land from locals.

 

The Chinese connection

The establishment of a strong central intelligence-gathering facility on the Yemeni islands not only has local and regional implications but, supported by the United States, represents a bold bid for Israel’s geopolitical and strategic dominance in the region and could pay off for the U.S.-Israeli axis along with its newly minted Gulf Arab allies.

Israeli and UAE radars on Socotra, located at the mouth of one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, could not only examine sea and air traffic in the region but also could help Israel, a strong ally to India, monitor Pakistan, a country which Israel views with animus and one that is strongly opposed to normalization. Both the UAE and Israel – and more importantly the United States – could also keep a close eye on the Gwadar Port of Pakistan. The Gwadar Port is still under development. A jewel in China’s  Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) crown, once complete, the port is slated to compete directly with Dubai and would allow China to export goods should the United States decide to block China from access to the straits of Malacca.

Yemenis are concerned that the presence of Israel on Socotra not only could pose a security risk but could also undermine China’s efforts to develop Yemen’s economy under the Belt and Road Initiative. Both Yemen and China support the inclusion of Yemen into the BRI. Chinese officials have stated that they stand ready to participate in the economic reconstruction of Yemen and officials in Sana`a are working hard to join the BRI as they hope it will present an opportunity to reconstruct the infrastructure that has been destroyed by six years of Saudi-Colation bombing.

Feature photo | Hadibu city on the capital island of Socotra. Mohamed al-Sayaghi | Reuters

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

The post Israel and the UAE Hope to Turn Yemen’s Remote Islands into an Intel Gathering Hub appeared first on MintPress News.

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