Ignoring the Human Disaster as Cholera spreads in Saudi-bombed Yemen
According to a recent report in the MintPress, the West’s protestations about human rights sound hollow when one looks at Yemen where the US and UK place profits from arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the carnage those weapons are inflicting.
It is hard to imagine that along with the catastrophe that has been inflicted on Syria for the past six years by the West and its client regimes, another calamity is unfolding in Yemen of alarming proportions with cholera spreading everywhere in a country whose infrastructure has been bombed out, while the whole world looks on with indifference. Following is the excerpts of a feature titled: “Ignoring the Human Disaster as Cholera spreads in Saudi-bombed Yemen.”
What is happening in Yemen is not merely a violent conflict between combating forces for power, but the willful subjugation of millions of innocent civilians to starvation, disease and ruin that transcends the human capacity to descend even below the lowest pit of darkness, from which there is no exit.
Seven million people face starvation, and 19 million out of 28 million of Yemen’s population is in desperate need of humanitarian aid. The Saudis and their clients are restricting food and medicine supplies from reaching starving children; many of them are cholera-ridden, on the verge of joining the thousands who have already died from starvation and disease. More than 140,000 have been killed, and nearly 40,000 injured since super rich Saudi Arabia launched its savage state terrorism on the Arab world’s poorest country over two years ago in a bid to install its puppet in power by crushing the popular Ansarallah Movement. UNICEF reports nearly 300,000 cholera cases, and a joint statement from UNICEF and the World Health Organization declares the infection is spreading at a rate of 5,000 new cases per day.
In addition to epidemics as a result of breakdown of hygienic food and water supply, the Associated Press documented at least 18 clandestine prisons on the mould of Guantanamo across southern Yemen run by the United Arab Emirates’s occupation forces, where torture of unimaginable cruelty is routine. The torture of prisoners is reducing them to less than an animal ready for the slaughter. One example of such extreme torture is the “grill,” in which the prisoner is tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire.
Another method of slow death is where detainees are crammed in shipping containers and guards light a fire underneath to fill it with smoke, slowly suffocating detainees. Prisoners are blindfolded and shackled in place in a box too small to stand in for most of their detention. Constant beating by steel wires is common, which often results in the death of the detainee. As Dostoyevsky said: “People talk sometimes of bestial cruelty, but that’s a great injustice and insult to the beasts; a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel.”
The US, which indulges in similar or worst forms of torture in its prisons in Guantanamo and other places, has been aware for some time of the reports of torture, but professes that there have not been such abuses.
Moreover, the blockade of imports of food, medicine, and fuel, which Yemen is completely dependent on, is making the situation dire beyond comprehension. If humanitarian aid is not provided immediately, millions of children will starve to death, even though the international community is cognizant of this ominous situation.
The conflict escalated in March 2015 when the Saudi-led coalition – including Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Sudan, Qatar, and the UAE – began a military operation to restore to power their client Mansour Hadi, the interim president whose term had long expired. The Saudis’ targets are the popular Ansarall forces, who are a Zaydi Shi’a Muslim community that accounts for 45 percent of Yemen’s population and is the majority in the northern parts. Often called in reference to their martyred leader, Seyyed Hussain Badr od-Din al-Houthi, they are reportedly in alliance with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down in 2011 following an uprising instigated by the so-called Arab Spring.
The Zaydi Shi’a Muslims have suffered immense discrimination and their grievances have been addressed neither before nor after the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council’s March 2013 initiative that launched a National Dialogue Conference, which failed to resolve the dispute over the distribution of power. The Saudis allege that the Islamic Republic of Iran is behind the uprising of the Ansarallah, who have been active for decades and are determined to reclaim their denied birthrights.
Saudi Arabia, which was created by the British in 1932 and is in occupation of the Yemen’s northern provinces of Najran, Jizan and Asir, since 1934, blames Iran for its setbacks all over the region, where its efforts to promote US-Zionist interests, often through macabre terrorist means, such as the Daesh in Syria and Iraq. The popular Ansarallah Movement is thus the main rival to the unpopular Hadi and the US-Saudi alliance for domination of Yemen.
The Ansarallah have reported joined forces with their former antagonist Saleh and expanded their influence in northwestern Yemen, culminating in a major military offensive against the military and a few rival tribes in which they captured the capital Sana’a in September 2014. The Saudis’ bombing of Yemen has been indiscriminate: schools, hospitals, homes, marketplaces, power-generation plants, waterworks, weddings, and even funeral homes were targeted to maximize casualties, egregiously violating the laws of war and continuing to do so with impunity.
The US, along with Britain has been selling weapons to Saudi Arabia for use to attack Yemen. The UAE, Kuwait, and Jordan received licenses to sell and service US-made military helicopters for Saudi Arabia, which sends a clear message of this unholy coalition that they can kill with impunity.
British Home Secretary Amber Rudd shamelessly said [selling arms is] “good for our industry”.
What an unfortunate statement! It is definitely not an acceptable reason to sell offensive weapons that kill people indiscriminately. The US claims it that it seeks to ensure free passage in the Bab al-Mandeb Strait at the entrance of the Red Sea, through which 4.7 million barrels of oil pass each day. That said, the US’ direct involvement in the conflict makes it complicit in the coalition’s violation of the laws of war, and top US officials could be subjected to legal liability.
Sadly, the Trump administration has forfeited its moral responsibility by not insisting that Saudi Arabia, over which it exercises tremendous influence, open the ports to ensure that enough food and aid enters the country, without which millions will starve to death.
The conflict is going from bad to worse as international efforts to press both sides have been woefully inadequate, and media attention is nearly absent. Continued fighting will further fuel the struggle between Saudi Arabia and its rivals, and contribute to other regional conflicts. Moreover, the prospect of finding a peaceful solution is becoming increasingly difficult and laden with uncertainty, as the Trump administration believes that a solution lies with more military force. Trump justifies his bellicose approach as he sees Iran as the culprit who is raging a proxy war against the Saudis and benefiting from continued instability.
The Ansarallah for their part want to negotiate with someone with authority rather than a mediator, and refuse to have talks with UN-appointed envoy Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed, who they consider to be biased and pro Saudi. They also view the US and Britain with suspicion, as they are the chief suppliers of weapons to Saudi Arabia.
Although France and Britain are supportive of the military campaign, they can be coaxed by the EU into introducing a UNSC resolution that must first, focus on a ceasefire; second, address the humanitarian crisis; and third, work on a permanent solution that would take the interests of the Ansarallah and Yemen’s Zaydi Shi’a Muslims into full account. As one intellectual observed “Three-fourths of the series and misunderstandings in the world will disappear, if we step into the shoes of our adversaries and understand their standpoint.”
The conflict in Yemen can end only through a political solution, as no solution secured by force will survive. The Trump administration must learn from Iraq and Syria that violent conflicts cannot be resolved through military means.
Just take a look at the eyes of a starving, sick, and dehydrated little child whose heart is just about to stop. Multiply this image by tens of thousands and ask yourself, where has the West gone wrong? We have gone wrong because it has been long since we lost our humanitarian and moral compass.