During Yemen’s annual Martyr Week, anti-American sentiment prevails
As the ongoing war and blockade against their country enters its sixth year, Yemenis are commemorating the annual Martyr Week amid an increasing feeling of hatred and resentment towards the United States. For eight consecutive days, Yemeni people commemorate those that have been martyred by the Saudi-led coalition. Programs include holding exhibitions, public ceremonies, and meetings where victim’s families discuss how they cope with the war.
The following is an article concerning this issue written by Yemeni journalist, Ahmed AbdulKareem, under the heading: "During Yemen’s annual Martyr Week, anti-American sentiment prevails." The article was taken from the 'MintPressNews.com.'
In Yemen, a country far from the United States, the size of cemeteries has increased dramatically in the past five years, with new burial sites springing up to house victims of the weapons supplied by western countries, particularly by the United States, as well as the blockade, hunger, and disease that have accompanied them.
Ebtisam al-Harazi is just four-years-old, but as she stands atop her father’s grave amid a meadow of martyrs’ shrines, she knows who sleeps in the soil beneath her and the type of weapon that martyred her father. As she kisses a colorful portrait of her father perched upon a coffin-shaped mound beyond a low stone wall, she says “This my dad.”
Ebtisam’s father was martyred by a Saudi warplane that delivered a U.S.-made bomb to the al-Sultan zone in the Old City of Yemen’s capital Sana’a in July of 2015. The attack martyred and injured dozens of residents and caused tremendous damage to the city, built long before the United States even existed as a nation.
Fatemah, Ebtisam’s widowed mother, packed flowers to place at her husband’s memorial site. She told MintPress “It is the martyr’s anniversary. We come here to share old times with our loved ones.” Their visit to the memorial has become a tradition since 2015 when the war against their home began.
This particular memorial sits in 50th district, in the middle of Sana’a, and is the resting place of more than 1,000 innocent men, women, and children assassinated by the Saudi-led coalition along with countless bodies of fighters martyred in clashes against coalition forces.
The annual feast of the Martyr Week has become, for Fatimah and other Yemenis, a somber occasion amid a suffocating blockade, the threat of epidemics, rubble, tears, and the fear of the may lie ahead.
For eight consecutive days, residents in northern Yemen commemorate those that have been martyred by the Saudi-led coalition. Programs include holding exhibitions, public ceremonies, and meetings where victim’s families discuss how they cope with the war.
To keep the history of the martyrs alive, officials visit the families of victims to show sympathy. Food and gifts are distributed in abundance to orphans and widows and groups of officials visit graveyards housing victims of the war. According to Martyr’s Foundation in Sana’a, there are more than 480 such graveyards spread over several regions in Yemen.
At least 450 exhibitions have been opened in the country. Public streets, city walls, schools, and government buildings in all districts are flooded with millions of flyers and posters bearing the images of civilians and fighters alike that have fallen in the war. Faces stare down from billboards on every highway, and the radios play Zawamil — patriotic battle hymns — day and night. While national TV broadcasts songs that glorify their sacrifices and threaten revenge.
As 70-year-old Ali sought out his son’s photo to show to a group of visitors, he told MintPress “The exhibition shows something terrible but inspiring. Through the exhibition, people will understand how cruel the Saudi-led Coalition war supported by the U.S. is, and they will also know how brave and strong Yemenis are.” The photo of his son was in the midst of crowded collage of pictures hanging on the wall of the al-Janoub Martyrs Exhibition in the 70th district south of Sana’a.
In Sadaa, which lies in Yemen’s north near the Saudi border, dozens of exhibitions and memorials symbolize society’s deep gratitude towards the country’s war heroes and martyrs. The ancient city, among the world’s oldest human-carved landscapes, has been devastated since Saudi Arabia declared it a military zone. Inside the city’s exhibition, visitors flow in an organized way to see more than 11,000 photos of the fighters, women and children who lost their lives in the war
In the exhibition hall, videos show rescuers recovering children from rubble, massive scenes of destruction, martyrs reading their commandments and asking survivors to remain steadfast against Saudi Arabia, and a man stepping up to a lectern in Washington. He says “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia launched military operations in Yemen.” The man in the video was none other than Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States. The clip showed the first time Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen was officially announced, just hours after the first bombs were dropped on the city.
For most Yemenis, the Saudis’ choice of Washington as the place to announce the war had meaning. They saw it as a deliberate signaling of complicity between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Al-Jubeir emphasized in his speech that the Kingdom had consulted very closely and very intensely with the United States before launching its war.
According to a new report by the Armed Conflict and Location Event Data Project (ACLED), more than 100,000 people have been killed in Yemen just since January 2016. However, the number is likely to be closer to one million if deaths from epidemics, diseases, hunger and from fighters who have been martyred from both the resistance and local forces are taken into account.
Ebtisam’s father, who spoke English fluently with American accent, was a tour guide until 2014, he had a shop near Bab al-Yaman (The Gate of Yemen) in the Old City of Sana’a which sold the famed Yemeni agates, a metamorphosed and hardened version of quartz that has been renowned as a gemstone in southern Arabia since ancient times. In 2015, the shop was closed due to a series of attacks that hit the ancient city with over 30 airstrikes.
According to his family, he was a jovial man with many friends from the United States and Britain. In the sitting room of their small home, three charming photos once hung on the wall. The photos showed Ebtisam’s father posing with his American friends. After he was martyred, the family replaced the photos with portraits of the man they lost and banner adorned with the now-infamous slogan, “Death to America.”
Regrettably, this is the prevailing mood in the north of Yemen. Most of the area’s residents are keen to express feelings of hatred towards the leaders of the United States. Phrases deriding the U.S. adorn everything; photos of victims, walls, clothes, coffee shops, car showrooms, and even shopping malls. The Yemeni capital of Sana’a is embracing “Death to America” as their slogan, scrawled as graffiti on the city’s walls. Thanks, in large part, to US' wrong and interfering policy in Yemen.
Everything has changed as the hate against foreigners, particularly the leaders in the United States, has rapidly increased throughout Yemen because of western involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war or from the death of innocents killed by drones under the pretext of targeting al-Qaeda. Policies that predate the Trump administration.
Addressing a large audience at a Martyr Week exhibition in Sana'a, an Ansarullah said “The slogan Death to America, as we see it, is not against the people of the United States but against the U.S.’ policies in our district.” Most Yemenis differentiate between the Americans who support Saudi Arabia and those who reject the war. But to angry families who have lost loved ones in Saudi-coalition attacks, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate.
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 warplanes blamed for civilians casualties in the Saudi-UAE’s military campaign in Yemen.
Furthermore, as a result of the U.S. involvement in the war and the economic blockade against their country, Yemeni people have reinforced their relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran, one of the only countries that has been consistently outspoken in its opposition to the war and always supported and praised the resistance of Yemeni nation against the US and Saudi crimes. Now, at the annual ceremony of Martyr Week, photos of Iranian Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the late Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Deputy Head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) who were assassinated in a U.S. airstrike at Baghdad International Airport on January 3, are proudly displayed.
Ten of thousands of Yemenis staged a symbolic funeral ceremony in the country’s cities including in Hodeida, Sana’a and Sa'daa to commemorate Lt. Gen Soleimani and al-Muhandis, chanting that their blood is neither is Iranian or Iraqi, but rather belongs to all freedom-loving nations targeted by the United States.