Saudi airstrikes kill refugees in Yemen


This 2013 video is called Ethiopian refugees being tortured in Saudi Arabia.

Now, in 2015, it seems that even torturing refugees is still not bad enough …

From Reuters news agency today:

An airstrike [by the Saudi Arabian air force] hit the area of the Mazraq refugee camp in the northern Yemen district of Haradh Monday, killing 21 people, humanitarian workers told Reuters.

An air strike at a camp for displaced people and refugees in Houthi-controlled northern Yemen on Monday killed 45 people and wounded 65, the International Organisation for Migration said: here.

Saudi Arabia’s invasion of Yemen. Perpetuating chaos and lawlessness in the Middle East: here.

Egyptian military dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced at a meeting of the Arab League on Sunday that the organization had agreed in principle to the formation of a regional military force: here.

Pakistan declines to join Saudi Arabia’s anti-Iran alliance. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has rejected, at least for now, Saudi Arabia’s entreaties for Pakistani troops to help guard the Saudi border with northern Yemen, controlled by Iranian-backed Houthi Shiite forces: here.

Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes on Yemen kill civilians, help ISIS


This video says about itself:

26 March 2015

Saudi-led air strikes against the Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen. Anti-aircraft fire over Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. Heavy destruction in a civilian neighborhood of Sanaa. Some pictures are too graphic to show.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Patrick Cockburn

Sunday 29 March 2015

Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf’s fire

World View: Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis

Foreign states that go to war in Yemen usually come to regret it. The Saudi-led military intervention so far involves only air strikes, but a ground assault may follow. The code name for the action is Operation Decisive Storm, which is probably an indication of what Saudi Arabia and its allies would like to happen in Yemen, rather than what will actually occur.

In practice, a decisive outcome is the least likely prospect for Yemen, just as it has long been in Iraq and Afghanistan. A political feature common to all three countries is that power is divided between so many players it is impossible to defeat or placate them all for very long. Saudi Arabia is backing President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi but the humiliating speed of his defeat shows his lack of organised support.

The threat of further intervention by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council may be intended to redress the balance of power in Yemen and prevent the Houthis winning a total victory. But Saudi actions and those of the Sunni coalition will be self-fulfilling if the Houthis – never previously full proxies of Iran – find themselves fighting a war in which they are dependent on Iranian financial, political and military backing.

Likewise, the Houthis, as members of the Zaidi sect, were not always seen by Shia in other countries as part of their religious community. But by leading a Sunni coalition Saudi Arabia will internationalise the Yemen conflict and emphasise its sectarian Sunni-Shia dimension.

The US position becomes even more convoluted. Washington had sought to portray its campaign in Yemen against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) as a success. Drone attacks were supposedly wiping out important AQAP operatives, but the humiliating end result of America’s covert war in Yemen came last week when US Special Operations personnel blew up their heavy equipment and fled the country for the US base at Djibouti. AQAP is becoming a stronger force as the shock troops of the Sunni.

US policy across the Middle East looks contradictory. It is supporting Sunni powers and opposing Iranian allies in Yemen but doing the reverse in Iraq. On Thursday US aircraft for the first time started pounding Islamic State (Isis) positions in Tikrit, 87 miles north of Baghdad. The city has been under assault for four weeks, with 20,000 Shia militia and 3,000 Iraqi soldiers pitted against a few hundred Isis fighters. The Shia militiamen are now reported to have withdrawn but they do not appear to have gone far. Effectively, the battle for Tikrit is being waged by Iranian-directed Shia militia backed by US air power, even if the two sides are rivals as well as allies.

Ultimately, the US may not have much choice. If it refuses to back anti-Islamic State combatants for whatever reason it will be to the benefit of Isis. The numbers tell the story: there are between 100,000 and 120,000 Shia militiamen in Iraq compared with only 12 brigades in the Iraqi army capable of fighting, about 48,000 soldiers, although this total may be inflated. Isis has been conscripting young men across its self-declared caliphate since last October and may have over 100,000 fighters. If the US relies on Iraqi government and Kurdish Peshmerga ground forces alone to put Isis out of business, it will be difficult.

Why did the US finally use its air power at Tikrit, formerly a city of 200,000? First, it was the only help the Baghdad government formally asked for this week. The US may have concluded, as it did with the 134-day siege of the town of Kobani last year, that it could not allow Isis to succeed in Tikrit. Second, if the city did fall, Washington did not want Iran and the Shia militia to get all the credit.

A further motive is that both the US and Iran want to restore some credibility to the Iraqi government and army after their crushing defeats by Isis forces last year. So far the Iraqi army has not recaptured a single city or substantial town from Isis since the fall of Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad in January 2014. Such limited military successes as there have been were won by the militias in the provinces neighbouring Baghdad.

The US-led international coalition opposing Isis also needs to do something to bolster its own credibility. Despite some 2,500 coalition air strike launched against it since last August, the Islamic State has lost little territory. Isis may be battered but it shows no signs of being anywhere near to defeat.

The Independent conducted a series of interviews in February and March with people who had recently left Isis and, while none were sympathetic to it, there was nobody who believed it was going to be destroyed by mounting internal discontent or external military pressure. A prime reason for this is that the Sunni Arab communities in Iraq and Syria are not being offered an acceptable alternative to Isis rule. They are all terrified of becoming the victims of a pogrom that does not distinguish between Isis supporters and ordinary Sunni.

A further feature of life in the Isis caliphate that emerged from these interviews is that it is well organised: it taxes salaries and sales, it conscripts young men of military age, controls education and mercilessly strikes down any opponents. Its stability might be shaken if it suffered a string of military defeats but so far this has not happened.

Air strikes have made it revert to semi-guerrilla tactics, not holding ground against superior forces backed by airpower but counter-attacking briskly when they have moved on or their lines of communication have become longer and more vulnerable. Given the difficulty in capturing Tikrit, it does not look as if an assault on Mosul will be possible for a long time. There seems to be no enthusiasm on the government side [to] retake Fallujah, although it is so much closer to the capital.

Whatever happens in Iraq and Yemen, the political temperature of the region is getting hotter by the day. Looked at from a Saudi and Gulf monarchy point of view, Iran and the Shia are on the advance, becoming either the dominant or the most powerful influence in four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. The Sunni Arabs in Iraq and Syria have linked their futures inextricably and fatally to Isis and other al-Qaeda type organisations. These have military strength, but they make many powerful enemies.

The confrontations between Sunni and Shia, and between Saudi Arabia and its allies and Iran and its allies, is becoming deeper and more militarised. Conflicts cross-infect and exacerbate each other, preventing solutions to individual issues. Thus Saudi intervention in Yemen reduces the chance of a US-Iranian agreement on Tehran’s nuclear programme and sanctions. As these conflicts and divisions spread, the chances of creating a common front that is capable of destroying the Islamic State are getting fewer by the day.

ARAB LEADERS ANNOUNCE JOINT TASK FORCE FOR ‘ARMED INSURGENCIES’ “Arab leaders announced Sunday that they would form a joint military force to intervene in neighboring states grappling with armed insurgencies. It is a dramatic step to quell the unrest that has broken out in the wake of the region’s uprisings, but some analysts warned it could exacerbate the conflicts that have polarized countries and left hundreds of thousands dead.” [WaPo]

Saudi bombs killing Yemeni civilians


This video says about itself:

US Cluster Bomb Legacy Costing Lives In Laos

4 August 2014

The Legacy: The Vietnam war‘s dark legacy is still costing lives in Laos. Meet the brave women trying to clear the bomb fields.

From Human Rights Watch:

Yemen: Saudi-Led Airstrikes Take Civilian Toll

Saudis Should Not Repeat Use of Cluster Bombs

March 28, 2015

(Beirut) – The Saudi Arabia-led coalition of Arab countries that conducted airstrikes in Yemen on March 26 and 27, 2015, killed at least 11 and possibly as many as 34 civilians during the first day of bombings in Sanaa, the capital, Human Rights Watch said today. The 11 dead included 2 children and 2 women. Saudi and other warplanes also carried out strikes on apparent targets in the cities of Saada, Hodaida, Taiz, and Aden.

The airstrikes targeted Ansar Allah, the armed wing of the Zaidi Shia group known as the Houthis, that has controlled much of northern Yemen since September 2014. In January, the group effectively ousted the government of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi …

The governments of the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, and Sudan said that their warplanes also participated in airstrikes on March 26 and 27. Pakistan and Egypt provided naval support and the United States provided intelligence and logistical support, media reports said.

Interior Ministry officials linked to Ansar Allah shared with Human Rights Watch details of their final casualty count from the bombings in Sanaa on March 26. They said that warplanes bombed various parts of the city, including Bani Hawat, a predominantly Houthi neighborhood near Sanaa’s international and military airports, and al-Nasr, near the presidential palace. The officials said they had documented that 23 civilians had been killed and 24 wounded. Among the dead were 5 children, ages 2 to 13, 6 women, and an elderly man, they said. The wounded included 12 children, ages 3 to 8, and 2 women.

These numbers are consistent with information provided by two hospitals that Human Rights Watch visited. At the hospitals, Human Rights Watch documented the deaths of 11 civilians, including 2 women and 2 children, whose names were not included among those provided by Interior Ministry officials as well as 14 more wounded, including 3 children and 1 woman.

Amnesty International reported that bombing destroyed at least 14 homes in Bani Hawat.

Human Rights Watch has not been able to determine whether specific attacks complied with the laws of war, which apply to the armed conflict in Yemen. The laws of war prohibit attacks that target civilians or civilian property, or that do not or cannot discriminate between civilians and fighters. Attacks that cause casualties or damage disproportionate to any anticipated military advantage are also prohibited. All parties to the conflict have an obligation to take all feasible precautions to spare civilians from harm, and not to deploy forces in densely populated areas.

Saudi Arabia’s past use of cluster bombs, which are indiscriminate weapons, raises concerns that they will be used in the current fighting, Human Rights Watch said. There is credible evidence that in November 2009 Saudi Arabia dropped cluster bombs in Yemen’s northern Saada governorate during fighting between the Houthis and the Yemeni and Saudi militaries.

Cluster munition remnants from the 2009 airstrikes, including unexploded submunitions, have been reported by a number of sources. In July 2013, Yemeni clearance personnel photographed unexploded US-made BLU-97 and BLU-61 submunitions. In May 2014, VICE News published photos and a video shot near Saada showing numerous remnants of US-made CBU-52 cluster bombs deployed in 2009.

Cluster munitions contain dozens or hundreds of submunitions. The submunitions are designed to explode when they hit the ground but spread over a wide area, often the size of a football field, putting anyone in the area at the time of attack at risk of death or injury. In addition, many submunitions do not explode on impact but remain armed, becoming de facto landmines.

The US provided Saudi Arabia with significant exports of cluster bombs between 1970 and 1999. Saudi Arabia possesses attack aircraft of US and Western/NATO origin capable of dropping US-made cluster bombs. Human Rights Watch has urged Saudi Arabia and Yemen to join the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which prohibits the use of cluster munitions in any circumstance.

“Saudi forces should publicly reject any use of cluster munitions and recognize that their use could have a devastating impact on civilians,” Stork said.

Defence officials in Washington admitted providing refuelling tankers and surveillance flights for the Saudi operations yesterday and there are several US troops working in the operations centre. Saudi ambassador Adel al-Jubeir said in Washington that the autocratic regime in Riyadh was “very pleased” with the level of co-ordination with the US: here.

Yet another front has been opened in the US-led war drive in the Middle East, this time in Yemen. In flagrant violation of international law, Saudi Arabia, backed by the Obama administration, has now completed its third day of air strikes targeting strategic locations as well as residential neighborhoods in Yemen. At least 39 civilians have been killed, including at least six children. The death toll will no doubt rise sharply in the coming days. These actions are being carried out with US logistical support, utilizing fighter jets and bombs provided by the United States: here.

BAE agrees price on Typhoon jet deal with Saudi Arabia government. British defence firm announces deal on 72 Eurofighter aircraft during Prince Charles visit to Saudi royals and deputy PM: here.

Saudi Arabia says it won’t rule out building nuclear weapons: here.

Saudi warplanes kill Yemeni civilians, and now ground troops’ invasion?


This video, from South Korean Arirang TV, says about itself:

Concern grows as Saudi Arabia,allies bomb Yemen

26 March 2015

Civilians in Yemen were seen picking up the pieces and surveying the damage… when dawn broke following a surprise night-time air assault led by Saudi Arabia and its allies.

Reports say at least 18 civilian, including six children, were killed in the military operation that was to target the Houthi rebels …

Rebel leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi in a televised speech called the campaign ″criminal, unjust, brutal and sinful″ … and promised to fight back.

By Niles Williamson:

Saudi Arabia, Egypt prepare US-backed invasion of Yemen

27 March 2015

Saudi Arabia and Egypt are preparing a US-backed military invasion of Yemen aimed at pushing back the Houthi militia that has taken over much of the country and reasserting the control of besieged President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Egyptian officials told the Associated Press that the three-pronged assault would come from Saudi Arabia in the north and from the Red Sea in the west and the Arabian Sea in the south. As many as five Egyptian troop ships have been stationed off the coast of Yemen. The officials said that the assault would begin after airstrikes had sufficiently weakened the Houthi rebels.

The developing assault on the Yemen, code named Operation Decisive Storm, is drawing on air support and ground troops from a coalition of majority Sunni Muslim countries in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia to suppress the Houthis, who belong to the Zaydi Shiite branch of Islam and have been backed by predominantly Shiite Iran.

The Saudi television channel Al Arabiya announced on Thursday that, in addition to at least 150,000 Saudi soldiers, military forces from Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan and Sudan were preparing [to] take part in the ground invasion. Saudi Arabia has already begun massing soldiers and heavy artillery on its southern border with Yemen.

The imminent intervention of ground forces drawn from countries throughout the region will transform the civil war into a region-wide openly sectarian war pitting forces aligned with the Saudi Sunni monarchy against forces associated with the Shiite-dominated government of Iran.

Sudan’s defense minister Abdel Raheem Mohammed Hussein reported Thursday that his country would contribute fighter jets in addition to ground troops which were already in route to the region. The Egyptian government has dispatched four warships to the Red Sea in order to patrol the Gulf of Aden and blockade Houthi supply lines.

Washington was quick to declare its support for the airstrikes and impending invasion. Bernadette Meehan, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, released a statement Wednesday condemning the Houthis and making it clear that the Obama administration backed the Saudi-led assault. According to Meehan, the US was “establishing a joint planning cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate US military and intelligence support,” to assist military operations in Yemen.

US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke Thursday to the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Cooperation Council states and reiterated the Obama administration’s support for the assault on the Houthi rebels. A State Department official told Reuters that Kerry “commended the work of the coalition taking military action against the Houthis and noted the United States’ support for those coalition efforts–including intelligence sharing, targeting assistance, and advisory and logistical support for strikes against Houthi targets.”

Speaking at a US Senate hearing Thursday, Gen. Lloyd Austin, the head of the Pentagon’s Central Command, stated that the US military would ensure that the shipping lanes through the strategic straits of Mandeb and Hormuz remained open during the conflict. “It is one of our core interests to ensure that we have free flow of commerce through both straits,” he told the assembled Senators. Two US warships, the USS Iwo Jima and USS Fort McHenry, have been positioned in the Red Sea just off Yemen’s coast.

US special operations troops were compelled to evacuate Yemen last week in the face of the Houthi offensive, reportedly leaving behind intelligence files that have fallen into the hands of the militia.

While the French and British governments have also provided support for the airstrikes, the European Union’s foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, released a statement yesterday cautioning against a military assault. “I’m convinced that military action is not a solution,” Mogherini stated. “At this critical juncture all regional actors should act responsibly and constructively, to create as a matter of urgency the conditions for a return to negotiations.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made a statement to reporters opposing the Saudi-led operation. “Military action from outside of Yemen against its territorial integrity and its people will have no other result than more bloodshed and more deaths.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham released a statement Thursday calling for an end to military operations. “Iran wants an immediate halt to all military aggressions and air strikes against Yemen and its people,” Afkham said. She warned that military operations in Yemen would “further complicate the situation” and “hinder efforts to resolve the crisis through peaceful ways.”

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, Adel Al Jubeir, speaking from the country’s embassy in Washington, announced the opening of military operations late Wednesday night with jets from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain participating in airstrikes.

Bombs were dropped on locations throughout Yemen. According to local health officials more than 25 people were killed and another 40 injured in airstrikes on the capital of Sanaa. Reports indicated that many of the casualties were civilians.

Among the reported targets were the Houthis’ home territory in the northern province of Saada, the Al Dailami air base, the international airport in Sanaa and the Al Adnan airbase north of the southern port city of Aden, a former base for US and European special operations soldiers. …

Hadi was forced to announce his resignation and placed under house arrest in January by Shiite Houthi militia after a month’s long occupation of Sanaa. Hadi escaped captivity in February and fled to the southern port city Aden where he was working to marshal support for an assault on the Houthis. On Thursday officials in Saudi Arabia reported that Hadi had fled Yemen and was in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

Yemeni civilians afraid Saudi air force will kill them


Residents of Sanaa on the ruins of a home destroyed by Saudi bombs

This photo shows residents of Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, today, on the ruins of a home destroyed by Saudi air force bombs.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today, which talked to journalist Judith Spiegel:

Terrified

Spiegel had contact with people in the capital Sanaa, the main target of the air strikes. “Last night the people did not believe that the Saudis would bomb, this morning the same people were completely terrified.”

She talked to a woman friend who lives in the city. “She said, we are waiting here with our whole family for death. That sounds dramatic, but that is how it feels there. If a bomb drops somewhere then you can hear that in the whole city.”

Also translated from NOS TV today:

In Sanaa today there was a big protest against the air strikes. According to [correspondent] Van Hoorn, many people feel panicked by the bombing. “There is hoarding there. People have no idea what they are about to suffer.”

US backs Saudi airstrikes against Houthis in Yemen: here.

Les USA et les Saoud au secours de Daech [ISIS] et Al Qaeda au Yémen: here.

Saudi bombing ‘worst ever’, Yemeni civilians say


This video says about itself:

25 March 2015

Saudi Arabian forces, joined by nine other countries, have launched a military operation in Yemen against Shiite Houthi rebels. READ MORE: here.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

“This was bad bombing”

Today, 08:17

“Residents of the Yemeni capital Sanaa speak of the heaviest bombardments that they have ever experienced,” says correspondent Sander van Hoorn. The past few days Houthi rebels progressed in ever larger parts of the country. Saudi Arabia began therefore tonight, along with allies, a military operation in which some 150 bombings were carried out.

“The Saudis are supported by the United Arab Emirates and Jordan says they also sent fighter jets,” says Van Hoorn. …

US support

The support of the Americans, according to Van Hoorn, is more important. “They say they were aware of the operation. They do not actively participate in the bombing, but give, in their own words, information and logistical support.”

Already in 2009, the Saudi air force attacked Yemen.