Stop Saudi war on Yemen now

This video from London, England says about itself:

Hands Off Yemen protest outside Saudi Embassy, London

11 April 2015

A protest arranged by the Stop The War Coalition outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London today attracted large crowds of people who held placards aloft and chanted. Yemeni people want the Saudis to stop attacking their country.

John Rees from the Stop The War Coalition addresses the crowds gathered opposite the Saudia Arabian Embassy in London earlier today.

This video is also about that demonstration in London.

From daily The Independent in England:

Daniel Wickham

Friday 10 April 2015

Britain and America are helping Saudi Arabia push Yemen towards total collapse

As the humanitarian crisis deepens, the UK has said that it will support the bombing campaign ‘in every practical way short of engaging in combat’

As Yemen’s political and economic crisis deepens, the United States and Britain have decided to throw their weight behind a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states currently bombing the Houthi rebel group. …

By providing warplanes and, in the case of the United States, logistical and intelligence support, both countries are playing an important, enabling role in the operation, which in recent weeks has contributed to a sharp escalation of violence in Yemen.

Why should this concern us? Well, for a start, the air campaign is killing large numbers of innocent civilians, and is greatly exacerbating a severe, pre-existing humanitarian crisis.

Secondly, opposition to it is reportedly so “widespread” in Yemen that even opponents of the Houthi rebels have promised to back them against the coalition.

And thirdly, informed observers like Adam Baron and Frederic Wehrey have already warned that the airstrikes could create a vacuum for extremist groups like al-Qai’da in the Arabian Peninsula to take advantage of (something which is apparently already happening). …

The most obvious reason for this is the indiscriminate way it is being fought. In one of the worst attacks of the operation so far, airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition killed at least 29 civilians who were sheltering in a camp for displaced people in the north, burning beyond recognition and tearing apart their bodies in the process. Four children and two women were also burnt to death in a coalition airstrike purportedly targeting a Houthi checkpoint in the governorate of Ibb a day later.

Shocking though they are, reports like these should not come as a surprise. Back in 2009, the Saudi air force killed hundreds, if not thousands, of Yemeni civilians in another misguided bombing campaign against the Houthis. Amnesty International later found that it was “extremely likely” that British-supplied jets were used in the attacks, and called for arms exports to be suspended in response. Sadly, this fell on deaf ears. Today, Saudi Arabia provides the largest market for British-manufactured warplanes and military equipment in the world – arms which may now be helping them to devastate Yemen’s civilian population all over again.

The humanitarian situation is another important, but gravely overlooked factor. Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world, with 14.7m people in need of aid, 13.1m people without access to safe water and 10.6m people not knowing where their next meal is coming from. Since the bombing began, the crisis has deteriorated, with life-saving aid being blocked – in some cases deliberately by the Saudi-led coalition – and much-needed food imports grinding to a halt.

As the civilian death toll increases, infrastructure is destroyed and tens of thousands of people are forced to flee their homes, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has warned that the country is “on the verge of total collapse.”

The West’s role in all of this goes far beyond just public statements of approval for the anti-Houthi campaign. An early statement by the White House confirmed that President Obama has authorised logistical and intelligence support, which officials say includes helping Saudi Arabia to “decide what and where to bomb”. According to the Washington Post, most of the jets used by the Saudi air force are likely to be US-made, as indeed are the warplanes contributed by Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan and Morocco to the coalition.

Several days in, the US then said that it was also providing additional bombs and aerial refuelling missions for planes carrying out the strikes. This announcement, it should be stressed, came after reports of civilian casualties had begun to surface, including of the killing of six children under the age of ten in a coalition airstrike in Sana’a the day before.

Britain, for its part, has said that it will support the bombing campaign “in every practical way short of engaging in combat”, and has openly acknowledged that British-made jets have been involved. This has led to calls for the British government to investigate whether or not these jets may have been responsible for the killing of civilians, with questions being raised in particular over their possible use in the horrifying attack on a camp for displaced people last week (though, in reality, the use of US-made jets is far more likely).

So what can be done to improve the situation? The short answer is there is no short answer. But steps can be taken, including by the Saudi-led coalition’s Western allies, to reduce the suffering of Yemen’s civilian population and bring the warring parties closer to a resolution.

As the International Crisis Group, an international conflict prevention NGO, explained in a recent briefing, “the slim chance to salvage a political process requires that regional actors immediately cease military action”. The United States and Britain should therefore be doing everything they can to restrain their allies and bring this disastrous operation – which they are both fully complicit in – to an immediate end. If they don’t, it will be the people of Yemen who pay the price.

TURKEY AND SAUDI ARABIA DISCUSSING OUSTER OF ASSAD “Turkey and Saudi Arabia, two nations with a long history of rivalry, are in high-level talks with the goal of forming a military alliance to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to sources familiar with the discussions … As the partnership is currently envisioned, Turkey would provide ground troops, supported by Saudi Arabian airstrikes, to assist moderate Syrian opposition fighters against Assad’s regime, according to one of the sources.” [Ryan Grim, Sophia Jones and Jessica Schulberg, HuffPost]

Saudi bombs make humanitarian disaster in Yemen

This video from the USA says about itself:

Yemen: Saudi strike on military base hits school instead

7 April 2015

A violent power struggle in Yemen is plunging the country into a deepening humanitarian crisis. Reports that an airstrike from the Saudi-led coalition may have hit the wrong target are circulating. CCTV’s Jim Spellman filed this report from Washington.

By Niles Williamson:

US-backed assault creating humanitarian disaster in Yemen

8 April 2015

The United Nations warned on Monday that ongoing fighting in Yemen combined with the Saudi-led campaign of airstrikes backed by Washington is taking an “intolerable toll” on children in the deeply impoverished Middle Eastern country.

UNICEF has confirmed that at least 74 children have been killed and another 44 maimed since Saudi-led airstrikes began nearly two weeks ago. The real death toll for children is likely much higher and is expected to rise as airstrikes continue to hit civilian targets in urban areas throughout the country.

“Children are paying an intolerable price for this conflict,” UNICEF Yemen Representative Julien Harneis said in a statement Monday. “They are being killed, maimed and forced to flee their homes, their health threatened and their education interrupted.”

Grant Pritchard, Oxfam’s director in Yemen, cautioned that without a ceasefire there could be “a humanitarian disaster on our hands in the coming weeks and months.” Even before the outbreak of fighting, 16 million Yemenis relied on humanitarian aid and 53 percent of the country’s population, approximately 13 million people, lacked access to clean water.

Airstrikes began on March 26 after Houthi rebels, who had captured the capital city of Sanaa in January, advanced on the compound of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi in the southern port city of Aden.

Since then, the bombardment, as well as fighting on the ground between the Houthi militia and military elements loyal to Hadi and hostile tribal forces, has resulted in hundreds of casualties.

Hadi was installed as president in 2012 by the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council in a bid to quell the mass uprising against the Saleh government. Lacking any real base of support, Hadi fled the country for Saudi Arabia in the face of a Houthi assault on Aden, which has continued despite the widespread campaign of bombardment.

The Saudi regime has charged that Iran is attempting to expand its influence in the region by backing the Houthis. In reality, the Houthi rebellion was sparked in large measure by Saudi Arabia’s own repressive influence over Yemen and its sectarian campaign against the Zaidi Shia Yemenis, who make up one-third of the country’s population and are the majority in the north. While they have received some aid from Iran, they are neither controlled by nor a proxy of Tehran. …

In less than two weeks of Saudi-led aerial bombardments and fighting on the ground more than 100,000 people have been displaced from their homes. Many people have fled to rural villages in hopes of avoiding the airstrikes which have pounded urban areas throughout the country, including Sanaa, the Houthi stronghold of Sadaa, the western port city of Hodeida and Aden.

Airstrikes have been launched by forces from a coalition of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt and Sudan. Though they have not been involved directly in the bombing, the campaign has been given support by the governments of Turkey and Pakistan.

This bloody campaign has been facilitated by the US government, which has provided the Saudi-led coalition with intelligence and logistical support. Stepping up its direct involvement, the Pentagon announced this week that it would begin refueling jet fighters taking part in airstrikes.

Army Colonel Steve Warren told reporters in Washington on Monday that the Pentagon had authorized tankers to refuel Saudi and other coalition aircraft outside Yemeni airspace. “It’s been authorized, assets are in place. The Saudis have not requested it. Any refueling will not take place over Yemen. Any refueling will take place over Saudi Arabia or other places,” he stated.

Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on a diplomatic visit to the Saudi capital of Riyadh, told reporters that the Obama administration was expanding its support for the assault by accelerating the delivery of weapons to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the coalition.

“As part of that effort, we have expedited weapons deliveries, we have increased our intelligence sharing, and we have established a joint coordination planning cell in the Saudi operation center,” Blinken told reporters.

The “intelligence sharing” referred to by Blinken involves providing Saudis with intelligence from US surveillance flights over Yemen to determine what targets to strike, making Washington fully complicit in the ongoing slaughter of civilians on the ground.

The US-backed assault, approaching its third week, is severely worsening conditions in a country where food insecurity and malnutrition were already widespread amongst the most vulnerable segments of the population. According to the World Bank, more than half of Yemen’s population lived in poverty in 2012, and 45 percent were food insecure.

Airstrikes as well as fighting on the ground has knocked out electrical infrastructure, cutting off power in many urban areas and stopping the operation of crucial pumps that supply Yemen’s cities with drinking water. “We’re worried that this system will break down shortly; Aden is a dry, hot place, and without water people will really suffer,” UNICEF representative Harneis told reporters.

Aid workers have been unable to access many areas where fighting has taken place; hospitals are overflowing with casualties, while bodies have been left to fester in the streets. Hospitals and aid workers have also come under repeated assault; at least three health workers have been killed in separate attacks.

“Conditions are very dangerous right now,” Doctor Gamila Hibatullah, a UNICEF volunteer stationed in Aden said Monday. “Hospitals are overflowing, and even ambulances have been hijacked.”

Adding to the death toll on Tuesday, Yemeni officials reported that three students were killed in a Saudi airstrike that hit the Al Bastain School in Maitam, 100 miles south of Sanaa. The airstrikes were reportedly intended for the Al Hamza military base, a third of a mile from the school, which has been taken over by members of the Houthi militia. No casualties were reported at the base.

The International Committee of the Red Cross announced Tuesday that it had finally reached an agreement with Saudi Arabia to airlift 16 tons of medical supplies from Amman, Jordan into Sanaa by Wednesday morning, and a further 32 tons of supplies by Thursday afternoon. The no-fly zone and blockade enforced by Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners has effectively blocked the delivery of medical aid and supplies for the last two weeks, exacerbating the developing crisis.

Yemen: «We are living through pure horror» was how one man described the aftermath of nightly aerial bombardments: here.

The US isn’t winding down its wars – it’s just running them at arm’s length: Seumas Milne. Barack Obama is playing all sides against each other, but support for the Saudi war in Yemen will only spread conflagration in the Middle East: here.

TO SUGGEST that United States policies in Yemen are a failure is an understatement. That would imply that the US has at least attempted to succeed. But succeed at what? Here.

Saudi monarch wages war, Yemeni children suffer

This video from the USA is called Yemen Does Not Need Another War: Report from Sana’a as Saudi Attack Enters Second Day.

From Associated Press:

Unicef reveals growing humanitarian cost of Yemen conflict

At least 74 children killed and 100,000 left homes since Saudi-led air air strikes began against Houthi rebels, says UN agency

Tuesday 7 April 2015 13.41 BST

More than 100,000 people in Yemen have left their homes in search of safety and at least 74 children have been killed since fighting in the country intensified almost two weeks ago, according to the UN children’s agency.

Unicef said the violence had disrupted water supplies in areas of southern Yemen and sewage was overflowing in some areas, raising the risk of disease.

Hospitals with limited supplies were struggling to treat large numbers of wounded people and some medical facilities had come under attack, with at least three health workers, including an ambulance driver, having been killed.

Children were especially vulnerable, said Unicef’s Yemen representative, Julien Harneis.

“They are being killed, maimed and forced to flee their homes, their health threatened and their education interrupted,” Harneis said in a statement, released on Monday in Amman, Jordan.

The agency said at least 74 children had been killed and 44 wounded since 26 March, when a Saudi-led air campaign began against Shia rebels and their allies. …

“Conditions are very dangerous right now,” Unicef’s Dr Gamila Hibatullah was quoted as saying in Aden. “Hospitals are overflowing, and even ambulances have been hijacked.”

Water systems had been repeatedly damaged in three southern systems, including Aden, the agency said, adding that it was providing fuel for pumping water. It said that in other southern areas, there were reports of water accumulating in the streets and sewage overflowing.

This 26 March 2015 video says about itself:

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

By Thomas Gaist:

Preparing ground invasion of Yemen, Saudi military to raze some 100 border towns

7 April 2015

Saudi Arabian military forces participating in the US-backed war against Yemen will raze to the ground nearly 100 villages along the Yemen-Saudi border, according to reports in Saudi media Monday.

The mass demolitions are part of the preparations by Saudi Arabia to expand its ongoing air campaign into a full-scale ground invasion of its impoverished neighbor to the south. Saturday marked the 11th day of a Saudi-led bombing campaign pounding the country, with concentrated strikes against targets around Aden and the northern city of Saada.

Strikes launched by the Saudis and allied forces from the Persian Gulf monarchies, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, as well as from Jordan, Egypt and Sudan, continued to pound the capital of Sanaa over the weekend.

Saudi special forces are already on the ground inside Yemen, according to some reports. Saudi Arabia demanded this weekend that Pakistan join the “Arab coalition” and supply military aid in advance of a ground invasion.

At least 500 are dead and 1,700 wounded as a result of the fighting that has raged across the Saudi-Yemeni border and throughout the interior of the country. The streets of Aden are “strewn with dead bodies,” and freshly wounded residents are flooding local medical centers, according to the Red Cross. Nearly 200 civilians have been killed and more than 1,200 wounded in Aden in the past 10 days, according to a local health official cited by the BBC.

The Red Cross has called for a 24-hour “humanitarian pause” in the fighting and the Saudi blockade of Yemen, which the agency said was necessary to prevent further mass deaths of civilians.

The breakdown of Yemen’s sanitation infrastructure under the impact of the Saudi air war threatens a devastating public health crisis, experts warn. Medical programs, including immunization programs for children, have been disrupted by severe supply shortages. Much of Aden has been without water and electricity for days, according to Reuters.

“Many, many” children have been killed since the Saudi-led assault began, according to UNICEF’s Yemen representative. Reports are emerging of mass recruitment of children into rival militias.

There is a widespread understanding that Yemen is being rapidly transformed into a slaughterhouse. Numerous governments scrambled to evacuate their citizens from Yemen over the weekend, in anticipation of further escalation of the violence, with Pakistan evacuating some 170 nationals by air on this weekend, Algeria evacuating 160, Jordan 150, Egypt 380, India 440, and Turkey rescuing some 230 of its nationals.

As Yemen’s cities and towns face bombardment from the air, the country is being torn apart by clashes between warring tribal-based militias that have stepped into the void produced by the collapse of the US puppet government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Installed by the US and Saudi-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council in early 2012, Hadi is currently in exile in Saudi Arabia after being deposed at gunpoint by Houthi forces in the opening weeks of 2015.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and other sectarian militant forces, meanwhile, have expanded their control over substantial areas, seizing entire towns and springing hundreds of imprisoned fighters from government jails.

The Houthi rebels now control territory in the northwest and the south and along the strategically critical western coastline, and are engaged in a chaotic civil war with AQAP fighters and other militant groups that effectively control areas along the southern coast.

AQAP captured the city of al Mukalla on Friday, forcing government forces to flee their fortifications and abandon their US-made weapons. It is becoming clear that the group is seen by Saudi Arabia as a critical fighting force against the Houthis.

Previously, AQAP’s activities were invoked as the pretext for US intervention and military presence in Yemen, with AQAP constituting one of the main targets of Washington’s drone warfare. Now, the group may soon be fighting on behalf of the Saudi coalition, and thus effectively on behalf of Washington.

The Saudi monarchy seeks to maintain power over the impoverished Saudi and Middle Eastern working classes through a counterrevolutionary and sectarian strategy that includes the violent suppression of Shia minorities both inside and along its borders, making the extreme-right Sunni militants of AQAP all the more attractive as potential allies against the Iran-linked Houthis.

Nonetheless, the efforts of Western media to try to portray the conflict as driven primarily by a sectarian struggle of Sunni versus Shia are calculated to cover over the fundamental responsibility of the US government and ruling elite for the rising tide of war in Yemen and throughout the broader region.

Far from the product of medieval religious disputes, as the self-proclaimed pundits of the US media establishment contend, the accelerating destruction of Yemen has been waged in close coordination with the US and with direct US logistical support and weaponry and flows directly from the efforts of US imperialism to maintain political domination over the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf through endless wars and militarist conspiracies.

In an analysis posted in late March, “America, Saudi Arabia, and the Strategic Importance of Yemen,” Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) drew out the geopolitical considerations behind the war against Yemen.

Because the new Yemen war involves essential US global interests, the Pentagon must prepare to provide direct “combat support” for the Saudi-led war, Cordesman argued.

“US strategic interests require a broad level of stability in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula,” the CSIS chief, who serves as unofficial foreign policy advisor to the White House, noted.

“Yemen is of major strategic importance to the United States, as is the broader stability of Saudi Arabia and all of the Arab Gulf states. For all of the talk of U.S. energy ‘independence,’ the reality remains very different. The increase in petroleum and alternative fuels outside the Gulf has not changed its vital strategic importance to the global and U.S. economy,” Cordesman wrote.

Cordesman’s point is that historic oil surpluses do not free the US from the need to control the strategic reserves and shipping channels of the region, levers of global power that are essential to US domination over the main European and Asian powers.

Yemen’s proximity to two of the most important commercial waterways on the planet, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Straits of Hormuz, make it a linchpin of US regional strategy. Traffic exiting the Persian Gulf must cross through Bab el-Mandeb, which is less than 20 miles across with only two shipping lanes at its narrowest point, before reaching the Suez Canal and SUMED pipeline.

“The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is a chokepoint between the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, and it is a strategic link between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean,” Cordesman noted.

Control over even small portions of Yemen by hostile forces could threaten key US allied regimes in Riyadh and Cairo, calling into question both “the economic stability of [the US-backed military dictatorship in] Egypt,” and “the security of Saudi Arabia’s key port at Jeddah and major petroleum export facility outside the Gulf,” Cordesman noted.