Saudi Arabian government resumes killing Yemeni civilians again


This video says about itself:

Saudi Cleric: We Will Enjoy Torturing Yemeni Women and Children

1 April 2015

A ‎Saudi cleric on State TV channel Al-Wesaal says: “Right now we’re starving Sa’ada, nothing will enter. Not fuel, we will not allow food for their infants to enter, not medicine for their old/sick ones. By Allah their pain & suffering will only give us more pleasure to see them tortured“.

At a certain point the conscience of the world will explode and people will demand the rulers of Saudi Arabia be brought before a world court to answer for their crimes against humanity and support for terrorism.

By Niles Williamson:

Saudi-led coalition resume air strikes in Yemen

19 May 2015

The coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States resumed its brutal assault against Houthi militia targets throughout Yemen Sunday, following the expiration of a five-day cease-fire that began last week.

A plea by a UN envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, that the five-day “humanitarian truce” should turn into a permanent cease-fire fell on deaf ears. The Saudi-led coalition rejected outright any extension of the truce to allow for the shipment and disbursement of further aid.

There were at least three air strikes reported Monday in the northern province of Saada, the stronghold of the Houthi rebels. Bombs were also dropped on the southern port city of Aden, where the Houthis and allied forces control the presidential palace and have been fighting for control of the airport and other key portions of the city.

Aden’s health chief Al Khader Laswar reported Sunday that four people had been killed and 39 others had been wounded in fighting, including four women and two children. According to Laswar, 517 civilians and pro-Hadi fighters have been killed in the city since fighting began in March.

Saudi Arabia also resumed firing artillery shells and rockets across its southern border against Houthi outposts in northern Yemen. The Saudi military reported Monday that their forces had responded to mortars fired from Yemen at a military garrison in its southern Najran province.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who praised the bloody war in Yemen earlier this month when he met with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh, blamed the Houthis for the resumption of air strikes. …

From the beginning, the Obama administration has backed the assault on Yemen as part of its efforts to maintain control of the country, which occupies a key geostrategic position along critical oil transport lanes. Yemen has also functioned as a base for US drones in the region.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir released a statement in which he expressed “regret that the truce did not achieve its humanitarian goals,” and echoed Kerry’s statement that the Houthis were at fault for continuing violence. …

In fact, the Saudi coalition has repeatedly carried out air strikes on the civilian air strips in Sanaa and Hodeida as part of its efforts to enforce a no-fly zone since it began military operations in March. It has also enforced a punishing blockade of the country’s ports, which, taken together with the no-fly zone, has cut off Yemen’s normal supply of food, fuel and medical supplies. As a result, as many as 20 million people, approximately 80 percent of the population, are going hungry.

Coalition bombs have been dropped on residential neighborhoods, a dairy factory in Hodeida, a refugee camp in northern Yemen and a warehouse containing materials for distributing clean water. The Saudi regime has admitted to targeting hospitals and schools, in violation of international law, because they claim they are being used by the Houthis to store weapons and stage attacks. More than 30 schools have been wrecked by air strikes, while the fighting has kept more than 2 million children from attending class.

The brief cease-fire has done little to ease the increasingly desperate conditions confronting millions of civilians in what was already one of the poorest countries in the Arab world. Residents of Saada and Aden reported that, in spite of the delivery of new aid into the country, the much-needed food and medical supplies had not been adequately distributed.

“There is still no fuel available and an extreme shortage of food,” Ghassan Salah, a resident of Aden told the Wall Street Journal. “Some families have received [aid], some haven’t. Government officials who are supposed to distribute it free sometimes sell it. Nothing has improved.”

Civilians have borne the brunt of the assault, accounting for more than half of those killed and wounded. The UN estimates that in less than two months at least 1,820 people have been killed and 7,330 wounded in air strikes and fighting on the ground. Additionally, the US-backed, Saudi-led war has already displaced more than half a million people.

Saudi Arabian monarchy continues killing Yemeni civilians


This video says about itself:

Yemen: Injured children arrive in hospital amid Saudi-led carnage

26 March 2015

Patients including young children at Al mo’ayed hospital in Sana’a were forced to share hospital beds or lie on the floor after a Saudi-led air attack struck the Yemeni capital on Thursday morning.

By Thomas Gaist:

Yemen war rages on through first day of humanitarian “cease-fire”

14 May 2015

Despite declarations of a temporary cease-fire to allow humanitarian aid into the country, the Saudi-led Arab coalition continued heavy strikes against Yemen’s southwestern city of Abyan and the northern capital of Sanaa Wednesday, killing at least 70.

The strikes have continued despite Saudi promises of a truce aimed at allowing UN agencies to distribute humanitarian aid to Yemeni cities, where hundreds of thousands of Yemenis face desperate shortages of food, drinkable water, electricity and other basic necessities. At least 700,000 Yemenis are in need of food assistance, according to UN estimates.

For weeks, the Saudi blockade, reinforced by the US Navy, has prevented essential supplies from reaching port, leaving millions without reliable access to water and crippling Yemeni medical centers, which are already battling dire supply shortages.

Estimates place the total number of dead as a result of the Saudi-led assault at around 1,500, with the vast majority believed to be civilians. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have been driven from their homes and become refugees since the war began in late March.

US drones also attacked targets inside Yemen this week, including government buildings in the port city of Al Mukalla Wednesday. …

Officials in Tehran announced Wednesday that an Iranian cargo ship has sailed for Yemen loaded with humanitarian supplies. The announcement marks a further escalation of tensions between the US, Saudi and Iranian naval forces now massing around the strategically critical choke-points on either side of the Arabian Peninsula, the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

Recent weeks have seen the strategic waterways transformed into “a tinder box,” according to a commercial risk assessment expert who spoke with Reuters.

US officials immediately denounced the Iranian move as a “political stunt” intended to provoke Washington and Riyadh. Pentagon officials insisted that the Iranian vessel reroute to Djibouti and hand over its cargo for inspection by US and UN officials.

Some 2,000 US Marines are standing by to intervene against any attempt to break the Saudi blockade of Yemen, a US Navy officer told Fox News.

Saudi warships have already begun imposing forced inspections of all ships seeking to dock at Yemeni ports. Saudi officials have insisted publicly that no Iranian vessels will be allowed to reach Yemen without being boarded and thoroughly searched.

Continued reports of intense fighting on the ground have underscored the fact that, official truces notwithstanding, the conflict is escalating. Major clashes continued in Yemen’s southern capital of Aden, where weeks of fighting between the Houthis and militants aligned with the deposed US- and Saudi-backed government have devastated large areas of the city.

Saudi coalition warships joined the action Wednesday, shelling targets including fuel tanks near the historic port city. …

From the beginning, the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen has been backed by the United States, which is determined to retain control over the geostrategically critical country. In remarks Wednesday while meeting with officials from Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE in Paris, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Obama administration is prepared to reach a “clearer defense arrangement between the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] and other friendly countries and the United States.”

The US is prepared to offer the Gulf elites “a series of new commitments that will create between the US and GCC a new security understanding, a new set of security initiatives that will take us beyond anything we have had before,” Kerry said.

Kerry’s comment came in response to requests from US imperialism’s regional allies that the US formally recognize them as strategic allies on the same level as the NATO powers and Japan.

To discuss the matter, US President Barack Obama is scheduled to hold private meetings with six leading representatives of the Saudi and Gulf dynasties, including several kings, emirs and sultans, at Camp David this week. The meetings aim to assuage fears on the part of the US-allied regimes that the administration’s negotiations with Iran will undercut their own regional interests, which conflict with those of Tehran.

Saudi skittishness over a possible US-Iranian rapprochement likely explains the sudden cancellation of Saudi King Salman’s plans to attend the Camp David meetings.

Nonetheless, in comments to a recent conference at the Atlantic Council, UAE ambassador Yousef Otaiba made clear that the Gulf regimes are prepared to make compromises and “work together” with the Obama administration to secure whatever forms of strategic support Washington remains prepared to offer.

The Saudis and their Gulf partners ultimately “do not have a viable alternative strategic partnership in Moscow or Beijing,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace researcher Karim Sadjadpour told the New York Times this week.

Saudi and Gulf state demands for recognition as full strategic partners of US imperialism represent a grave warning to the Middle Eastern and international working class. National and sectarian-based conflicts, long incited and manipulated by Washington in the service of US domination of the Middle East, are threatening to ignite all-out war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The imminent possibility of such a conflict is increasingly acknowledged in the bourgeois press. “Middle East giants Saudi Arabia and Iran are squaring up on opposing sides in the Yemen war,” Reuters noted in the opening lines of its report Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia vows to set off new Middle East arms race: here.

Why Saudi Arabia is poised to behead a dissident cleric and publicly display his corpse: here.

Human rights, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, USA


This video says about itself:

Saudi Arabia Beheading

17 January 2015

“I did not commit the murder. I did not commit the murder” cries out the woman as she was dragged off to the street to get beheaded. “I will not forgive you. I will not forgive you” she adds telling her executioners that she will not forgive them for what they were about to do to her. She insists crying out “This is injustice. This is injustice”.

From Middle East Eye:

At GCC summit, Obama must confront Saudi on human rights

Husain Abdulla

Monday 11 May 2015 23:00 BST

Obama needs to take advantage of the upcoming GCC summit to pressure Saudi Arabia on its human rights record

While he was once a candidate promoting the “fierce urgency of now,” US President Barack Obama has approached potential reforms to the Saudi government’s human rights violations with caution. Though he recently promised a “tough conversation” with his Gulf Arab allies on the destabilising effects of their restrictive governing systems, he did not specify when this dialogue would take place. Human rights advocates, myself included, took to the press to inform him that his upcoming security summit with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders was the appropriate venue for this frank exchange. With King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s recent resetting of Saudi succession, however, suitability has transformed into urgency. Even as his time in elected office winds down, Obama must push his allies to reform their repressive practices before a new cohort of Saudi leaders locks them in place for another half-century.

When King Salman promoted Interior Minister Mohammed bin Naif and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman to Crown Prince and Deputy Crown Prince, respectively, some observers hailed the move as a prudent effort to “groom the country’s next generation of leadership”. But if the new line of succession truly marked “the next generation” of Saudi rulers, it represented the same Saudi politics. The reorganisation of the cabinet “concentrated almost all powers under the king” into the hands of two ruling family members who are responsible for some of Saudi Arabia’s most striking human rights abuses.

Under Prince bin Naif’s leadership, the Interior Ministry has purposefully and systematically misconstrued its internal security prerogative, equating dissent with terrorism in order to silence human rights defenders, political activists and members of religious minorities. Utilising specialised criminal courts and a terrorism law that effectively criminalises free speech, the Interior Ministry has brought charges against community activists like Fadhil al-Manasif, human rights advocates like Waleed Abu al-Khair, and religious scholars like Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr. Both al-Manasif and Abu al-Khair were sentenced to 15-year prison terms, and Sheikh Nimr was sentenced to death. As Adam Coogle of Human Rights Watch notes, Prince bin Naif’s efforts to restrict civil society voices are unprecedented.

Like bin Naif, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, just 30 years old, oversees a ministry responsible for committing serious human rights violations. While Prince bin Salman’s Defence Ministry has achieved few of its stated goals in the Yemen campaign, it has succeeded in derailing the former UN envoy’s peace agreement and deepening a massive humanitarian crisis. According to estimates by the UN Children’s Fund and the World Health Organisation, over 500 civilians have been killed in the fighting, including at least 115 children. What little infrastructure remains in the war-torn country – one already teetering on the edge of famine – has been rendered mostly inoperable by Saudi blockades preventing the arrival of supplies. Though his tenure has been brief, Prince bin Salman’s disregard for minimising civilian casualties has set a troubling precedent for future Saudi military operations.

The promotion of these two men signals a significant deterioration of the Saudi government’s already alarming human rights record. Gauging this situation, other leaders may shy away from engaging in a “tough conversation” on human rights and basic freedoms. Obama, however, should recognise that a generational shift can also mark the opportunity for a set of once-in-a-generation reforms. At the Camp David summit, he needs to inform his allies that the status quo is unsustainable, and that their current criminalisation of civil society and perpetuation of humanitarian crises pose the greatest threat to their long-term stability.

As Obama has repeatedly acknowledged, an active civil society is vital to ensuring internal security. In a September 2014 Presidential Memorandum on Civil Society, he wrote: “By giving people peaceful avenues to advance their interests and express their convictions, a free and flourishing civil society contributes to stability and helps to counter violent extremism.”

To weather the challenges posed by extremist groups, activists like Fadhil al-Manasif, Waleed Abu al-Khair and Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr must be promoting peaceful reform in their communities, not languishing in prison or facing execution. At Camp David, President Obama must urge the release of political prisoners and push the Saudi government for greater protections for civil society groups.

While Obama will soon leave the realm of international diplomacy, the next generation of Saudi leaders will remain in politics for decades. Whether they stick with the stability-endangering authoritarian tactics of previous generations will depend, in part, on how the president approaches next week’s GCC summit. He can redefine the security partnership between the US and Saudi Arabia, expanding its prerogatives to encompass the protection of human rights and the guarantee of basic freedoms. This redefinition cannot wait for another summit, or another presidency. The time for urgency is now.

Husain Abdulla, originally from Bahrain, is the founder and executive director of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain. Husain leads the organisation’s efforts to ensure that US policies support the democracy and human rights movement in Bahrain. Husain also works closely with members of the Bahraini-American community to ensure that their voices are heard by US government officials and the broader American public. Husain graduated from the University of South Alabama with a Master’s degree in Political Science and International Relations and a BA in Political Science and Mathematics.

President Obama should urge the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to show greater respect for human rights when he meets them on May 13 and 14, 2015, to discuss partnership and security: here.

Bahrain: End imprisonment of democracy campaigner Nabeel Rajab: here.

Human Rights Defender’s Hunger Strike Protests Torture in Infamous Bahraini Prison: here.

Bahrain: Open Letter from Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja on his 21st day of hunger strike to the High Commissioner for Human Rights: here.

Almusawi stressed on the Bahraini Authorities to allow UN torture expert, Mr. Juan Mendez, to see the victims and those concerned about the allegations of torture, degrading and cruel treatment: here.

Saudi air force kills Yemeni civilians, destroys ancient mosque


Yemenis stand in line for drinking water in between Saudi bombings

This EPA photo shows Yemenis standing in line for drinking water in between Saudi bombings.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Yemenis fleeing Saudi airstrikes

Today, 20:07

Saudi Arabia says it will soon have a humanitarian truce in Yemen, but first it carries out a heavy offensive on targets of the Shiite rebels in the country. Dozens of bombing raids have caused much devastation today and tonight. They also destroyed a historic mosque in Saada province.

In the northern province hundreds of Yemenis are fleeing the air raids of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

Yemen is a Saudi war of aggression, while Syria and Libya are the result of a dangerous Gulf-led strategy of backing groups of sectarian fighters: here.

Saudi air force kills Yemeni civilians with United States cluster bombs


This video says about itself:

HRW says Saudi Arabia using globally-banned arms in Yemeni strikes

2 April 2015

A report by Human Rights Watch said that Saudi Arabia has used internationally-banned weapons in its air offensives against Yemen.

Citing an example, it added that Yemeni officials have provided the rights body with sufficient evidence which indicate that the Saudi-led warplanes on March 26 claimed the lives of 23 civilians, including 6 children and 5 women, in Bani Hawat village, using banned cluster bombs.

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen for six days now, killing at least 126 civilians and injuring hundreds more.
Despite Riyadh’s claims that it is attacking Ansarullah positions, Saudi warplanes have flattened a number of homes near Sana’a international airport.

From Human Rights Watch:

Yemen: Saudi-Led Airstrikes Used Cluster Munitions

US-Supplied Weapon Banned by 2008 Treaty

May 3, 2015

(Beirut) – Credible evidence indicates that the Saudi-led coalition used banned cluster munitions supplied by the United States in airstrikes against Houthi forces in Yemen, Human Rights Watch said today. Cluster munitions pose long-term dangers to civilians and are prohibited by a 2008 treaty adopted by 116 countries, though not Saudi Arabia, Yemen, or the United States.

Photographs, video, and other evidence have emerged since mid-April 2015 indicating that cluster munitions have been used during recent weeks in coalition airstrikes in Yemen’s northern Saada governorate, the traditional Houthi stronghold bordering Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch has established through analysis of satellite imagery that the weapons appeared to land on a cultivated plateau, within 600 meters of several dozen buildings in four to six village clusters.

“Saudi-led cluster munition airstrikes have been hitting areas near villages, putting local people in danger,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch. “These weapons should never be used under any circumstances. Saudi Arabia and other coalition members – and the supplier, the US – are flouting the global standard that rejects cluster munitions because of their long-term threat to civilians.”

Cluster munitions contain dozens or hundreds of submunitions. The submunitions are designed to explode after spreading out over a wide area, often the size of a football field, putting anyone in the area at the time of the attack at risk of death or injury. In addition, many submunitions often do not explode, becoming de facto landmines.

A video with no audio uploaded to YouTube on April 17 by the pro-Houthi September 21 YouTube channel shows numerous objects with parachutes slowly descending from the sky. The video zooms out to show a mid-air detonation and several black smoke clouds from other detonations. Human Rights Watch established the location, using satellite imagery analysis, as al-Shaaf in Saqeen, in the western part of Saada governorate.

An activist based in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, provided Human Rights Watch with photographs he received from a resident of Saada governorate, who said he took them on April 17 at the site of an airstrike in the al-Amar area of al-Safraa, 30 kilometers south of the city of Saada. From the photographs, Human Rights Watch identified the remnants of two CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons manufactured by the Textron Systems Corporation and supplied to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates by the US in recent years. One photograph shows an empty BLU-108 delivery canister, while the other shows a BLU-108 canister with four submunitions still attached to it. The location of the remnants in the photographs is 36 kilometers from where the video was filmed, indicating the possibility of multiple attacks.

Two local residents of al-Safraa told Human Rights Watch that about 5,000 people normally live in the village. They said they witnessed airstrikes in the area on April 27 in which bombs were delivered by parachute. Human Rights Watch was unable to determine whether they saw another attack using CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons or one using other types of bombs.

Human Rights Watch has not been able to obtain information on possible casualties from the attacks.

Since March 26, a Saudi-led coalition including Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan, and the UAE has conducted numerous airstrikes throughout Yemen against Houthi forces, also known as Ansar Allah, who effectively ousted the government of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi in January. None of these countries have signed the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Soon after the airstrikes began, Saudi Arabia denied using cluster munitions in Yemen. At a news conference in Riyadh on March 29, Brig. Gen. al-Assiri told the media, “We are not using cluster bombs at all.”

According to a data sheet issued by the Textron Systems Corporation, the CBU-105 disperses 10 BLU-108 canisters that each subsequently release four submunitions that sense, classify, and engage a target such as an armored vehicle, and are equipped with self-destruct and self-deactivation features. The submunitions of the Sensor Fuzed Weapon explode above the ground and project an explosively formed jet of metal and fragmentation downward.

While the CBU-105 is banned under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, its use is permitted under existing US policy and its export is permitted under existing US export restrictions on cluster munitions.

In August 2013, the US Department of Defense concluded a contract for the manufacture of 1,300 CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons for Saudi Arabia by Textron. The contract stipulated that delivery of the weapons should be completed by December 2015. Human Rights Watch does not know when deliveries began, or if they have finished.

Additionally, the UAE received an unknown number of CBU-105 from Textron Defense Systems in June 2010, fulfilling a contract announced in November 2007.

US policy on cluster munitions is detailed in a June 2008 memorandum issued by then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Under the Gates policy, the US can only use or export cluster munitions that “after arming do not result in more than 1 percent unexploded ordnance across the range of intended operational environments,” and the receiving country must agree that cluster munitions “will only be used against clearly defined military targets and will not be used where civilians are known to be present or in areas normally inhabited by civilians.”

This policy is most recently codified in section 7054(b) of the Consolidated and Continuing Appropriations Act (HR 83) of 2015. According to guidance issued by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency in May 2011, “the only cluster munition with a compliant submunition [compliant with the reliability standard established by the Gates policy] is the CBU-97B/CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon.”

In March 2015, Human Rights Watch called on all parties to the conflict not to use cluster munitions in the Yemen fighting. Credible evidence showed that Saudi Arabia had dropped cluster bombs in Saada governorate in November 2009 during Yemeni government fighting against the Houthis. Cluster munition remnants from the 2009 airstrikes, including unexploded US-made BLU-97 and BLU-61 submunitions, were reported by a number of sources.

In addition to the recent transfer of CBU-105, 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. Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and other countries involved in the conflict in Yemen should ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Human Rights Watch chairs the Cluster Munition Coalition US, which in a March 30 letter to President Barack Obama said that the administration should review the Gates policy, including the exception allowing for cluster munitions resulting in less than 1 percent unexploded ordnance rate.

“The Gates policy is providing the US a handy loophole to send cluster munitions to countries like Saudi Arabia, which shouldn’t be using them at all,” Goose said.

War planes with the US-backed, Saudi-led Arab war coalition dropped illegal cluster munitions amongst several groups of villages in northern Yemen, a report released this week by Human Rights Watch found: here.

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.