Saudi war on Yemen means more terrorism, more refugees


This video from London, England says about itself:

Stop the bloodshed in Yemen is theme of protest in London

25 April 2015

Hundreds of Yemenis marched to the Saudi Embassy to protest against Saudi Arabia and US imperialism, and to stop the bloodshed in Yemen. Yemenis [should] choose their own government, not the Saudis or the West.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Patrick Cockburn

Sunday 26 April 2015

Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe’s problem

World View: Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign

Yemen is short of many things, but weapons is not one of them. Yemenis own between 40 and 60 million guns, according to a report by UN experts published earlier this year. This should be enough for Yemen’s 26 million people, although the experts note that demand for grenades that used to cost $5, handguns ($150) and AK-47s ($150) has increased eightfold. Whatever else happens, the war in Yemen is not going to end because any of the participants are short of weaponry.

Yemeni politics is notoriously complicated and exotic, with shifting alliances in which former enemies embrace and old friends make strenuous efforts to kill each other. But this exoticism does not mean that the war in Yemen, where the Saudis started bombing on 26 March, is irrelevant to the rest of the world. Already the turmoil there is a breeding ground for al-Qaeda type attacks such as that on Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

The collapse of the country into a permanent state of warfare will send waves of boat-people towards Western Europe or anywhere else they can find refuge. It is absurd for European leaders to pretend that they are doing something about “terrorism” or the refugees drowning in the Mediterranean when they ignore the wars that are the root causes of these events.

Yemen war has been left to the Saudis and the Gulf monarchies, with the US ineffectually trying to end it. The reality of what is happening is very different from the way it is presented. The Saudis allege that they are crushing a takeover of Yemen by the Houthi Shia militia backed by Iran and intend to return the legitimate president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, to power. In fact, the Houthis’ seizure of so much of Yemen over the past year has little to do with Iran. It has much more to do with their alliance with their old enemy, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who still controls much of the Yemeni army. This enabled the Houthis, whose strongholds are in the north of the country, to capture Sanaa easily last September, though UN experts note that the capital “was guarded by no less than 100,000 Republican Guards and Reserve Forces, most of them loyal to the former president”.

The Saudi air campaign is geared more to inflicting severe damage on the units of the Yemeni army loyal to Saleh than it is to weakening the Houthis. The Houthi militiamen are experienced fighters, their military skills and ability to withstand air attack honed between 2004 and 2010, when they fought off six offensives launched by Saleh, who was then in power and closely allied to Saudi Arabia. It was only after he was ousted from office in 2012 that he reconciled with the Houthis.

The Saudi war aim is to break this alliance between the Houthis and the Saleh-controlled military units by destroying the army’s bases and heavy weapons. The more lightly armed Houthis are less likely to be hard-hit by air strikes, but without the support or neutrality of the regular army they will be over-stretched in the provinces south of Sanaa. In Aden, they are fighting not so much Hadi-supporters, but southern separatists who want to reverse the unification agreed in 1990.

The problem with the Saudi strategy is the same as that with most military plans. The 19th-century German chief of staff, General Helmuth von Moltke, said that in war “no plan survives contact with the enemy”. The same warning was pithily restated more recently by the American boxer Mike Tyson, who said that “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.

The danger for Saudi Arabia is that wars build up an uncontrollable momentum that transforms the political landscape in which they are conceived. Had the Saudis not intervened in Yemen, it is unlikely that in the long term the Houthis would have been able to dominate the country because they are opposed by so many regions, parties and tribes. Yemen is too divided for any single faction to win an outright victory. But the air war has been justified by Saudi Arabia to their own citizens and the Sunni world as a counterattack against Iranian and Shia aggression. It will not be easy for Riyadh to back off from these exaggerated claims to reach the sort of compromises required if Yemen is to return to peace. A further danger is that demonising the Houthis as Iranian puppets may well prove self-fulfilling, if the Houthis are compelled to look for allies wherever they can find them.

Yemenis insist that their society has not traditionally been divided along sectarian lines between the Zaidi Shia, a third of the population, and the two-thirds of Yemenis who are Sunni. But this could change very quickly as the Yemen conflict gets plugged into the wider and increasingly warlike regional confrontation between a Sunni coalition led by Saudi Arabia and a Shia counterpart led by Iran.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been one of the main beneficiaries of the militarisation of Yemeni politics, because it can present itself as the shock troops of the Sunni community and its fighters are no longer under pressure from the regular army. As many Iraqis, Syrians and Afghans have discovered to their cost, Sunni-Shia sectarian hatred and fear is often only one massacre away.

The Saudis and the Gulf monarchies worry so much about Yemen because it is very much their backyard. But there is every reason for the rest of the world to worry too, because Yemen is joining Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and Somalia as places where warlords rule in conditions of anarchy. They are places where life has become unlivable for much of the population, who will take any risk to escape.

This is the sort of national calamity that is filling the boats and rafts crowded with desperate emigrants that are heading across the Mediterranean for Europe.

And this calamity is particularly bad in Yemen, because the country was in crisis even before the present conflict. According to UN agencies, malnutrition in Yemen is about the same as in much of sub-Saharan Africa and only half the population has access to clean water. The country imports 90 per cent of the grains used for food, but no ships are coming in because its ports are blockaded by the Saudis or caught up in the fighting. In any case it is difficult to move food supplies because of a chronic shortage of fuel. Lack of electricity means that essential medicines in hospitals cannot be stored.

This is not a short-term problem, Yemen is finally falling apart, but it may take a long time doing so, which means that there will be a vacuum of power. AQAP and other jihadi groups are already taking advantage of this. America’s much vaunted drone war against AQAP has not prevented the organisation taking over whole provinces.

The Sunni-Shia confrontation has a fresh injection of venom. Yemen has endured many wars that the rest of the world has ignored, but this one may well prove uncontainable.

The Saudi royal air force bombed Sanaa, capital of Yemen, again today: here.

SAUDI coalition warplanes launched dozens of air strikes on Yemen’s southern port city of Aden on Saturday: here.

Why Pakistan said no to King Salman. Pakistan’s unanimous decision to stay out of the conflict brewing in Yemen, and to push for a political resolution rather than a military one, puts significant strain on bilateral relations, complicating Saudi-Pakistani diplomatic relations: here.

How the U.S. contributed to Yemen’s crisis. Washington’s support for Yemen’s former dictatorship — and of Saudi efforts to sideline the country’s nonviolent pro-democracy movement — helped create the current crisis: here.

Why post-1865 Reconstruction failed for African Americans


1874 cartoon by Thomas Nast, about violence by organisations like the Ku Klux Klan and the White League against African Americans in the southern states of the USA

This is an October 1874 cartoon from Harper’s Weekly, by Thomas Nast, about violence by organisations like the Ku Klux Klan and the White League against African Americans in the southern states of the USA.

Translated from Leiden University in the Netherlands today:

US government offered little protection to black population

The federal government ignored the rights of the black population after the American Civil War. Historian Mark Leon de Vries discovered that the national government virtually did not help at all. Doctorate ceremony on 23 April.

Terror campaign by the Ku Klux Klan

After the American Civil War (1861-1865) the national government passed a number of laws that should provide far-reaching social and political equality for blacks in the southern United States. This did not happen: a group of conservative whites in the region, the Ku Klux Klan, vehemently protested against this policy and orchestrated a campaign of terror against blacks and whites who supported them.

Government did not maintain its own laws

But not only local opposition was a cause of the sorry state of black Americans. De Vries: “Politicians from the north did little to enforce their own laws in the south. That was because the topic did not really live in the north, where relatively few blacks lived. It did not help the government much electorally to deploy people and resources accordingly. In addition, after some time the recovery of the relationship with the southern states became increasingly important.”

Red River Valley: hotbed of violence

De Vries discovered this by the study of violence against blacks in the Red River Valley, Louisiana. “According to statistics, this was one of the regions where most violence occurred against black people. That was also because the federal court was far away: to get there you had to travel a few days, first on the Red River, then along the Mississippi. When the water was high enough, at least. Law enforcement was done mainly by local sheriffs and judges who disliked the ideas from the north.”

Washington knew of abuses

He believes that compliance with the laws certainly would have had effect on the position of black people. “First, because the violence in the area noticeably decreased in those places where local federal officials themselves took the initiative to enforce existing laws. Because there were abuses in the Red River Valley, Washington heard that too. After a few years, after federal enforcement was greatly reduced, violence flared up again. Second, if the legislation would have brought nothing, why did the southerners there resist it so much?” De Vries was the first historian who through the study of a particular subject area studied how the national government in the United States reacted to violence against blacks.

Echo of the past

De Vries explains on the basis of his research there is a link between the past and the present. “The racial terror and lawlessness of that period reverberates in the recent murders of black Americans.” Does he think that even now the national government should intervene more actively? “That’s a tough question. You can see that now more organs react to abuses. The policeman who recently shot and killed black man Walter Scott will be prosecuted, the police union does not support him. Let’s hope that change in culture will continue.”

In the Walter Scott case, it was extremely important that a bystander made an amateur video. If there would have been no video, then things might unfortunately have gone like in the case of the death of Michael Brown.

Also translated from Leiden University about this:

The prevailing view, often based on research into federal level politics, is that the failure of Reconstruction was a more or less inevitable consequence of the compromises that the Republican party had to make and of, as a consequence, the relatively conservative reforms that they endorsed.

This research suggests, in contrast, that the failure of Reconstruction was by no means inevitable.

It was due to the refusal of the federal government to maintain in practice its reforms, limited as they were. These reforms could have achieved much more if the federal government would have found an adequate response to the violent opposition among the white population. The outcome of Reconstruction was therefore not so much a “compromise of principles,” but overall a capitulation to terror.

‘War on terror’ causes more terror


This 16 November 2014 video from the USA says about itself:

Jon Stewart: Turkey’s Erdogan helps ISIS at Kobane.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

The terror threat in the Netherlands is still “substantial,” the National Coordinator against Terrorism (NCTV), Dick Schoof, writes in his latest report. The air attacks on targets of terrorist group IS in Syria and Iraq have not reduced the threat. On the contrary, the risk of attacks has increased because of that …

Jihadists are extra motivated by the air strikes to oppose the West, Schoof writes in the Terrorist Threat Assessment for the Netherlands. That applies not only to sympathizers of ISIS, but also for supporters of al-Nusra, the paramilitary group in Syria that is linked to al-Qaida.

The leader of al-Nusra warned in September 2014 that the air attacks could lead to attacks in the West. Until then, the group had never uttered a public threat against the West, the report says.