Wednesday 17 August 2016
The Saudi-led coalition added to its war crimes in Yemen by carrying out an airstrike yesterday afternoon against a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), killing at least 11 people and wounding at least 19 others. As MSF had provided the GPS coordinates of the medical facility to all sides in the conflict, the targeting was deliberate.
With US backing and assistance, Saudi Arabia and its Middle Eastern allies have waged an illegal air war inside Yemen since March 2015, following the seizure of Sana’a, the capital, by Houthi Shiite rebels. The Saudi regime accused its regional arch-rival Iran of backing the Houthis and is seeking to reinstate the government-in-exile of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Yesterday’s airstrike on the Abs hospital in the northern Hajjah province is part of a deliberate campaign to terrorise the Houthi population in the north of Yemen. The Saudi-led war has killed more than 6,500 civilians and destroyed much of the country’s social infrastructure, including some 250 medical centres, 800 schools and hundreds of electricity plants and fuel store houses.
Hospital director Ibrahim Aram told the New York Times by phone that three Yemini MSF staff members—a guard, a logistician and an electrician—were killed in the attack. Another guard, an X-ray technician and a nurse had limbs amputated as a result of their injuries. Three foreign doctors suffered relatively minor injuries.
Ayman Ahmed Mathkoor, health director for Hajjah province, reported that the airstrike destroyed the hospital’s emergency department. He put the death toll at 15 killed and 20 wounded. Health ministry official Ibrahim Jafari, who visited the site yesterday, told the New York Times that the emergency area had been full of patients at the time and that many of the victims were badly burned. He said there were no military forces near the hospital.
Teresa Sancristoval, MSF emergency program manager for Yemen, said it was the fourth attack on an MSF-supported medical facility in Yemen during the past year. Other airstrikes hit Shiara Hospital in Razeh in northern Saada province on January 10, killing six people; Taiz Hospital in the city of Taiz on December 2; and Haydan Hospital in Saada province on October 26.
“Once again, today we witness the tragic consequences of the bombing of a hospital. Once again, a fully functional hospital full of patients and MSF national and international staff members was bombed in a war that has shown no respect for medical facilities or patients,” Sancristoval said in a news release.
Other aid agencies condemned the attack. “This was a horrific attack, killing sick and injured people and the medical staff desperately trying to help them. The world cannot turn a blind eye as the most vulnerable suffer in his conflict,” Sajjad Mohammad Sajid, Oxfam country director in Yemen, said.
The Saudi-led coalition told Associated Press its Joint Incidents Assessment Team was “aware of reports of an airstrike on a hospital in Yemen’s northern Hajjah province” and had opened an investigation. The outcome will undoubtedly be another whitewash. A Saudi report, issued this month, claimed that the MSF hospital hit in October had been used by Houthi rebels for military purposes.
On Saturday, an airstrike on a school in Saada killed at least 10 children and wounded another 28, according to local officials and aid workers. MSF staff treated the victims, who were aged between 6 and 15. The Saudi military said the attack hit a militia training camp, but provided no evidence to support its allegation.
US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau issued a low-key expression of concern over yesterday’s airstrike. “Strikes on humanitarian facilities, including hospitals, are particularly concerning,” she said. “We call on all parties to cease hostilities immediately. Continued military actions only prolong the suffering of the Yemeni people.”
These remarks are utterly hypocritical. The US has backed the Saudi war to the hilt, deploying US military advisers and intelligence officers to coordinate with their Saudi counterparts and assisting airstrikes by providing targeting data and aerial refuelling. In May, the Pentagon announced the deployment of small Special Forces teams inside Yemen to support Saudi operations. The US has waged its own protracted and illegal drone war inside Yemen, nominally against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Last week, the US State Department approved the sale of 150 Abrams battle tanks to Saudi Arabia—part of a package of American weaponry worth $1.15 billion. The package includes a range of additional military hardware, including Galting guns, as well as extensive training for the Saudi military. US arms sales to Saudi Arabia, one of its key Middle Eastern allies, are worth an estimated $20 billion annually.
The State Department’s muted comments about yesterday’s attack on a hospital are in marked contrast to the propaganda campaign by the US and international media over alleged atrocities by Russian and Syrian war planes against US-backed Islamist militias inside Syria.
The US military is responsible for the criminal attack on an MSF hospital at Kunduz in northern Afghanistan last October that killed 42 civilians. An AC-130 gunship unleashed its devastating firepower on the medical facility for more than an hour. Some victims were burned alive in their beds while others were mown down as they tried to flee. The Pentagon’s final report, released in April, was a brazen cover-up which denied that a war crime was committed. None of the personnel involved faced criminal charges or a court martial.
Yesterday’s airstrike on a Yemeni hospital is further evidence of an intensification of the Saudi-led war inside Yemen following the breakdown of UN-sponsored talks between the Houthi government and the government-in-exile led by President Hadi. Backed by Washington and armed to the teeth with US weapons, the Saudi regime is determined to subordinate the country to its interests.
By Peter Symonds
In a clear signal of American imperialism’s unrelenting commitment to the Saudi monarchy and its ongoing war against Yemen, the United States’ State Department approved the sale of one hundred and fifty Abrams main battle tanks to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
The tanks, designed for large-scale ground warfare, are part of a larger package of American weaponry, valued at $1.15 billion, that includes a bevy of additional military hardware.
The US-Saudi deal, which also includes $155 million worth of Gatling guns and $200 million worth of training to the Saudi military, is geared to strengthen the US-Saudi alliance and deepen Washington’s already intimate military partnership with the regime.
The deal is designed, according to the State Department, to “contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a strategic regional partner which has been and continues to be a leading contributor of political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.”
The sale includes various forms of military aid by American personnel and contractors for the Saudi military, including equipment maintenance, training and logistical support, which are intended to “increase the Royal Saudi Land Force’s (RSLF) interoperability with U.S. forces” and “conveys U.S. commitment to Saudi Arabia’s security and armed forces modernization,” the top US diplomatic agency said.
The further lavishing by Washington of instruments of death and destruction upon the government in Riyadh, which already purchases advanced weaponry, almost entirely from American suppliers, at a rate of some $20 billion annually, highlights the central role of American imperialism in organizing and facilitating the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
The murderous war against Yemen has been enabled, from the start, by comprehensive support from Washington, which, from the very beginning of the war last March, has deployed US military advisors and intelligence officers to coordinate the air war with Saudi counterparts, while working from a joint planning cell in the Saudi capital.
The contents of the latest sale, above all its inclusion of the fleet of tanks originally designed for massive land battles against the militaries of the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc during the Cold War, strongly suggest that the monarchy has secured support from its American patrons for a major expansion of its ground operations.
Sixteen months of war in Yemen have already made clear the savage purposes to which the equipment included in the latest weapons deal will be put. The Saudi-led war against Yemen, launched in March of 2015 in response to the seizure of the capital at Sana’a by Houthi Shi’ite militias, has killed at least 6,500 civilians, destroyed most of Yemen’s social infrastructure, turned 2.5 million into internal refugees, and pushed more than 80 percent of the Yemeni population to the brink of starvation.
The Saudi war coalition has regularly and indiscriminately attacked civilian areas, including dense residential neighborhoods and markets, and has employed illegal cluster bombs against villages in northern areas, where the Houthi insurgency is based.
Yemeni society, already impoverished by decades of imperialist-backed civil war and dictatorship, has been completely shattered since the launching of “Operation Decisive Storm” last April, as Saudi forces have pummeled the poorest country in the Arab world with untold quantities of advanced military hardware, ruthlessly destroying the country’s social infrastructure, including some 250 medical centers, 800 schools and hundreds of electricity plants and fuel storehouses.
Amid the chaos produced by the war, Islamist militias, including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), succeeded in overrunning much of southern Yemen, all while enjoying near complete immunity from Saudi air strikes.
The port city of Mukallah, a main port city and transit hub for resource flows traversing the southern coastline of the Arabian peninsula, was left fully at the mercy of AQAP, touted by American media as the “most dangerous terror group in the world,” for nearly a year after the war began, even as the US provided target selection and aerial refueling for the Saudi coalition’s relentless bombardment of civilian targets throughout the rest of the country.
It is already clear that the breakdown of peace talks between the Saudi-backed government-in-exile of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Houthi government, announced over the weekend by a sharp escalation of Saudi airstrikes and on Tuesday by the resumption of direct Saudi attacks against Sana’a, will mark the resumption of Riyadh’s murderous assault against Yemen’s civilian population and working class.
On Sunday, Saudi war planes bombed civilian targets in Yemen, including the Al Mawdeed market in Nehm district and residential areas in the northern Sada’a province, killing at least 18. Saudi bombing runs on Tuesday killed at least 21, including 10 workers at a potato chip factory in Sana’a’s al-Nahda district.
Responsibility for the ever-growing civilian death toll in Yemen lies squarely at the feet of the masters of imperialist war in Washington. While wary, amid the catastrophic debacles produced by its wars in Syria and Iraq, of launching a full military intervention in yet another Middle Eastern quagmire, the American ruling class has effectively sponsored and outsourced the Yemen war, from its planning stages up to the present.
The Pentagon has relied on the Saudis and their Gulf allies to provide the bulk of the frontline forces, while backing their combat-support functions to the hilt. In May, the US announced the deployment of small teams of Special Forces in support of Saudi and UAE operations around Mukallah, officially reengaging the covert war waged by US commandos inside Yemen continuously during the decade following the September 11th attacks.
The vast bloodshed and suffering imposed upon Yemen by Washington and its regional allies has been carried out with the aim of reimposing the government of President Hadi, a neocolonial stooge “elected” in February 2012 in a “democratic transition” process, in which Hadi was the only candidate on the ballot.
Hadi, who was forced to flee the capital after central government compounds in Sana’a were captured by Houthi fighters in January 2015, was anointed to become president by the US- and Saudi-dominated Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), after the 2011 mass struggles in Egypt and Tunisia triggered a protest movement in Yemen that threatened to completely destabilize the US-backed state apparatus controlled by longtime dictator and American puppet Ali Abdullah Saleh.
With Saleh’s credibility shattered, Washington and Riyadh sought to promote Hadi as a means to preserve the core network of the regime and maintain their grip over the military and security services. They have responded to Hadi’s humiliating ouster with a military policy that can only be characterized as sociocide, the destruction of an entire society.
By Thomas Gaist
The US military announced Friday that dozens American “advisers” have been deployed to Yemen over the past two weeks. They are working with Saudi and Arab coalition troops seeking to assert control over southern portions of the country, including the areas controlled by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The deployment of US ground forces to Yemen comes amid a general escalation of US war-making in the region, including the dispatch of 450 US commandos, Apache helicopters and B-52 bombers, along with hundreds of additional US Marines for operations in Iraq and Syria, where US air forces have carried out more than 5,000 strikes since August 2014, as part of an air war that has expended more than $7 billion in Pentagon “contingency funds.”
In what is now standard operating procedure, the escalation of US involvement in Yemen was initiated completely behind the backs of the American people. Military operations were well underway before they were quietly announced in the American media.
The US forces are reportedly partnering with troops deployed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), assisting with a range of military operations providing intelligence, planning and naval support, according to the US Defense Department.
Additionally, the Boxer, a US assault ship carrying additional hundreds of US troops, is now stationed off Yemen’s coast in the Gulf of Aden, together with an American “amphibious readiness group,” including two destroyers, the Gravely and the Gonzalez, according to US News and World Report.
Washington has also deployed attack helicopters to a base in southwestern Yemen. US air forces began carrying out direct strikes inside Yemen last month, with US war planes launching at least four airstrikes since April 23.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis described the deployments as “short-term” and claimed that only a few dozen American soldiers are present.
According to Yemeni media reports, however, the US deployments included some 200 US Marines and 100 Army Rangers. According to Yemen’s Al-Masirah satellite television network an unknown number of the US forces were sent directly into the southeastern port city of Mukallah.
The latest deployment of US troops underscores the ultimate responsibility of US President Barack Obama and his top advisers for the humanitarian catastrophe currently gripping Yemen, widely considered by human rights groups as one of the worst in the world, next to that produced by the US war for regime change in Syria.
Obama, who came into office in 2008 with the full support of all the official “anti-war” organizations, has overseen a major escalation of the US drone war against Yemen, a campaign that has included the first officially acknowledged extra-judicial assassinations of US citizens, including Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki.
With full approval from the White House, the US military has organized and carried out massive acts of military violence and war crimes against Yemen’s impoverished population. US forces have been closely involved in backing Saudi air and ground attacks that have led to the deaths of thousands of Yemeni civilians and the destruction of much of the country’s vital infrastructure. Nearly 3 million Yemeni civilians have been displaced since the launch of war last spring, and more than 6,000 civilians killed, according to UN figures.
Equipped with American military equipment and munitions, and advised by US officers, the Saudi-led coalition has carried out numerous documented war crimes, including multiple uses of illegal, American-made cluster bombs against villages in the north. According to the Associated Press, pro-Saudi gunmen spent Sunday capturing and forcibly evicting some 2,000 residents from Aden, who they claimed were threats to “security.”
Officially, all American troops were withdrawn from the country last year amid the toppling of the US and Saudi backed government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi by Houthi militias. With American Special Forces currently deployed, according to varying reports, in anywhere between 80 and 130 countries worldwide, it is unlikely that all US forces were actually withdrawn. Given the US support for the Saudi war, which has included planning, target selection, and sophisticated logistical aid, there is every reason to believe that at least a skeleton crew of US military and intelligence agents has remained behind throughout the past year.
The renewal of direct, officially acknowledged US air and ground operations is only the latest chapter in more than 15 years of US covert, drone and air war. Washington seized on the 9/11 attacks as a pretext to launch a low-intensity war in Yemen that has seen hundreds of US special forces and intelligence personnel develop joint operations with the Yemeni military over a decade and a half.
While the current redeployment of US troops is being justified under the banner of the war against Al Qaeda, the US-backed Saudi coalition has promoted the Islamist group as part of its war strategy to the point where AQAP was able to seize control of significant portions of the south, including the port city of Mukallah.
Yemeni and Emirati troops backed by the Saudi coalition reportedly retook Mukallah last month, under circumstances that remain murky. The city, which had been transformed over the past year into the main stronghold of AQAP and center of lucrative trading operations run by the group, was recaptured with virtually no fighting.
From all appearances, AQAP reached a settlement with the Saudi coalition, which has sought to utilize the Islamist group as a proxy army in the course of its war. AQAP withdrew visible presence prior to entry of the Saudi-backed units into the city, informing residents via Twitter that it “withdrew to prevent the enemy from moving the battle to your homes, markets, roads and mosques.”
AQAP has actively courted Saudi support by offering its services against the Houthi militants, in return for which the group was allowed to establish, as Reuters put it in a recent report, a “rich mini-state along the Arabian Sea coastline.”
Amid the chaos generated by the Saudi war, AQAP has been allowed to rampage throughout the eastern portion of the country, and last September, Islamist militants flooded into the southern capital of Aden after control of the city had been transferred to UAE forces fighting with the Saudi coalition.
Aside from the occupation of Aden by a few thousand coalition forces, there is nothing to indicate a serious military push against AQAP, the supposed rationale behind the new US intervention.
The latest round of ceasefire talks between the Gulf coalition and the Houthi insurgency broke down Sunday, amid reports that Saudi airstrikes in the north had killed at least seven of the movement’s members.
The Yemen war has intensified regional tensions between the Saudi-led alliance, centered around the Gulf Cooperation Council, and a range of Shia-affiliated forces centered around the Iranian government.
The US-backed Saudi bloc, and an Iranian counter-alliance aligned with Russia and with deepening ties to European ruling elites, are being drawn deeper into a regional proxy war against one another for control over Syria and Iraq. Numerous reports in US media have alleged ties between the Houthi insurgency and Iran as a justification for the current Saudi-led onslaught, but little hard evidence has been produced.
The sharpening of geopolitical tensions globally takes on concentrated expression in the Middle East, which includes immensely strategic resources and commercial routes, including the Bab al Mandeb Strait, a strategic oil shipping sea lane which passes between Yemen and Djibouti in east Africa, connecting the Red Sea to the Sea of Aden.
The pressure of these tensions on the fragmented regional state system is driving a confrontation between Riyadh and Tehran with the potential to serve as the trigger for a third world war.
Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal highlighted as much in comments last week, when he threatened that the Saudi regime is prepared to move forward with plans to develop a nuclear weapons arsenal, if it believes it is necessary to counter Iran.
By Thomas Gaist
On Sunday, a Saudi-led coalition air strike ripped through a market in Sanaa, Yemen, killing 69 civilians and injuring dozens of others. People had been out shopping for Eid al-Adha, the annual Muslim Feast of Sacrifice, when the bombs fell. Photos posted on social media show corpses strewn amidst the rubble in the aftermath of the assault.
Air raids on Friday destroyed portions of Sanaa’s historic Old City, which is on the United Nation’s list of World Heritage sites. The area is the site of thousands of unique multi-storied homes that were constructed before the 11th century. Historic cultural sites throughout Yemen have come under repeated attack in the course of the six-month Saudi-fronted assault.
In the 24 hour period between Friday and Saturday morning, at least 57 civilians were killed and a further 130 people wounded in coalition air strikes throughout the country. The Yemen Health Ministry reported that at least 31 people were killed and 120 wounded in air raids on Sanaa that included multiple strikes on the Interior Ministry. Hospitals in the city, which face a shortage of medical supplies and fuel for power generators, were overwhelmed by the casualties.
While these bloody attacks were carried out by jets belonging to Middle East monarchies fronted by Saudi Arabia, the responsibility ultimately lies with the Obama administration. The atrocities carried out by the Saudi monarchy and its allies would not be possible without the backing of the American government and military.
President Obama welcomed Saudi King Salman to the White House with open arms earlier this month, even as Saudi war planes were slaughtering and terrorizing men, women and children throughout Yemen. A billion dollar deal was announced to replenish the kingdom’s stockpile of bombs. The US government has provided billions of dollars worth of weapons and military equipment, assisting Saudi Arabia in developing one of the largest and most advanced militaries in the Middle East.
The entire assault is being overseen from a joint operations center in Saudi Arabia staffed by dozens of American military advisors. American drone operators are providing live video streams of potential air strike targets, while American advisors give their stamp of approval.
Deploying American-made jet fighters and American bombs, supported by American refueling flights and with the aid of American logistics and intelligence, the Saudi-led coalition has carried out more than 25,000 air strikes over the last six months. This compares to approximately 7,000 air strikes carried out in the air war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now in its second year.
The barrage of air strikes combined with fighting on the ground has killed more than 4,500 people, including a significant number of women and children, who have borne the brunt of the onslaught.
At least 1.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes, with thousands risking the perilous trip by sea across the Gulf of Aden to take up residence in inhospitable refugee camps in Somalia and Djibouti. The UN estimates that more 21 million Yemenis, 80 percent of the country’s population, are in need of some form of humanitarian aid.
There has not been a single week since the assault began in which there has not been an attack that resulted in mass civilian casualties. This is the outcome of the coalition’s practice of deliberately targeting non-military civilian targets for destruction, including water bottling factories, ports, power plants, residential neighborhoods, workers’ housing units, market places, schools and hospitals.
The attacks over the weekend were just the latest in the ongoing assault being waged by Saudi Arabia and its allies to reinstate the government of President Abdrabuh Monsour Hadi, which was forced to flee Yemen earlier this year in the face of an assault by Houthi militias on the port city of Aden.
The Houthis, with the support of military forces loyal to former dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, were able to seize control of most of Yemen’s western provinces in the spring of this year.
In the last few months, a ground offensive spearheaded by troops from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain has successfully pushed the Houthis out of the area surrounding Aden in the south, while thousands of coalition troops have flooded into the central Marib province east of Sanaa.
Reports indicate that the US-backed coalition escalated its campaign of air strikes this weekend in advance of a massive ground offensive to seize control over Marib and move into position to retake Sanaa from the Houthis, who have maintained control over the capital since last year. A bloodbath is being prepared that will put the previous six months in the shade.
Given the brazen and murderous character of the crimes being committed in Yemen, the response—or, more precisely, the non-response—from official political and media circles in the West is striking. Mass civilian casualties and unspeakable suffering are treated at most as an embarrassing public relations problem in the US imperialist drive to dominate the Middle East and its vast energy resources.
There is no limit to the hypocrisy and cynicism of the media. The American press raises a hue and cry over Russia’s reported dispatch of military equipment and some 200 troops to Syria because it disrupts Washington’s drive to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is allied with Russia and Iran, and install a more pliant US puppet regime. The Russian intervention pales in comparison to the billions spent by the CIA and US allies in the region on arms and other forms of support for right-wing Islamist militias, including those linked to Al Qaeda, that are battling the Assad regime.
But the US media has virtually nothing to say about mass murder being committed by US allies, directly aided by Washington, in Yemen.
Over the last decade and a half, under the pretext of fighting terrorism and defending human rights, American imperialism has devastated one country after another in the Middle East and North Africa. Across the region, more than a million people have been killed, while tens of millions more have been made refugees, desperately seeking safety outside their home countries, most recently flooding into Europe.
The Obama administration has overseen a general expansion of neo-colonial interventions, including the wars for regime-change in Libya and Syria and the renewed war in Iraq. The new Iraq war and the escalation in Syria are ostensibly being carried out to contain and defeat ISIS, which has overrun much of Iraq and large parts of Syria. However, as is well known, ISIS is itself a product of US imperialist interventions in the region.
These crimes are carried out in the interests of the same corporate ruling elite that is imposing brutal austerity measures against the working class within the US, by means of a political system it totally controls. The source of these catastrophes is the capitalist system, whose mortal crisis threatens to plunge mankind into another world war. There is only one answer: the struggle of the working class for political power and the disarming of the war criminals by means of socialist revolution.
Speaking before the Human’s Rights Council in Geneva, the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, called for an investigation into allegations of human rights violations by “all parties” in the ongoing conflict in Yemen.
In deliberately neutral terms, Prince Zeid pressed for both sides to show “far greater concern for the protection of civilians” in Yemen. According to the official UN tally, more than 2,000 civilians have been killed and another 4,000 wounded since March, when a Saudi-led coalition began raining bombs down on the country.
In recent weeks, thousands of troops from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Egypt have poured into the country, occupying areas around the southern port city of Aden and the northern province of Marib and setting the stage for a massive assault on the capital of Sana’a, which has been controlled by the Houthi since last fall. Armed and trained by the US military, these forces are preparing to unleash even more carnage against Yemen’s civilians.
If the High Commissioner truly desires to bring to justice the culprits responsible for the mass suffering being inflicted on the population of Yemen, they will not be hard to find. He could start by calling for the indictment of US President Barack Obama and his administration on war crimes charges for their role in facilitating the onslaught fronted by the Saudis.
The Obama administration has routinely relied on the filthy and blood-soaked Saudi monarchy to serve as its gendarme on the Arabian Peninsula, enforcing American imperialist interests with the utmost brutality. With the full support of the Obama administration, the Saudi monarchy sent its military into neighboring Bahrain in 2011 to crush mass protests and prop up the US-backed dictatorship of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Earlier this month, Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, welcomed with open arms Saudi beheader-in-chief, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, to the White House, where they held friendly discussions about a number of issues important to US interests in the Middle East, including the ongoing assault in Yemen.
The coalition of US puppets led by Saudi Arabia have deployed their American-supplied jet fighters, dropping American bombs guided by American intelligence, in an effort to reinstate the government of President Abdrabuh Monsour Hadi.
The beleaguered president established a government in exile in Riyadh after being forced to flee by Houthi militias, which took over much of the country’s western provinces this spring with the backing of former longtime head of state Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The Obama administration has not only provided Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners with bombs, military intelligence and other logistical support in its air campaign. American refueling planes have been flying daily missions to ensure that coalition warplanes can keep pounding targets throughout the country around the clock. American advisers are vetting targets and working alongside Saudi officers in an operations center in Riyadh, which is overseeing military operations in Yemen.
To coincide with the Saudi monarch’s visit to the US, it was announced that the Pentagon had reached a deal to sell Saudi Arabia one billion dollars’ worth of bombs, refilling the stockpiles which have been drawn down by unrelenting airstrikes against the Yemeni population. The Obama administration previously struck a 20-year, $60 billion weapons deal with Saudi Arabia in 2010, the largest in US history, agreeing to sell them, among other things, modern fighter jets and attack helicopters.
Now in its sixth month, the war has plunged the country into the depths of a humanitarian disaster. Human rights organizations estimate that 21 million people, approximately 80 percent of the country’s population, are in need of some form of humanitarian aid.
Shortages of food, medical supplies and clean drinking water have placed the lives of millions at risk. Dire warnings from humanitarian aid organizations that the country is on the verge of famine, with half a million children at risk of severe malnutrition, have done nothing to ease the assault.
Saudi warplanes have carried out a continuous barrage of airstrikes against civilian and military targets alike. Residential neighborhoods, workers barracks, factories, market places, schools, hospitals and commercial ports have all been targeted for destruction. Thousand-year-old mosques and other historic archeological sites have been destroyed by coalition bombs.
The only areas which have escaped coalition airstrikes are those parts of the country controlled by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has proven itself an effective ally of the US in the effort to defeat the Houthis. US drone strikes continue to target individual AQAP leaders, but their fighters have been free to move throughout the country unmolested.
A few examples give a sense of the scale and scope of the criminal devastation being wrought by the Saudi coalition under the direct sponsorship of Obama administration:
On August 30, at least 36 workers were killed when Saudi jet fighters dropped bombs on a water bottling factory in the Abs District of Haajah province. Access to clean drinking water was severely limited prior to the onslaught, which has severely exacerbated the problem and put millions at risk of contracting water-borne diseases. Fuel shortages have also contributed to water shortages in the country.
On August 18, coalition jet fighters dropped bombs on the port of Hodeidad, destroying four cranes used to offload ships and also demolishing nearby warehouses. The port had been the main site for getting humanitarian aid into areas of the country controlled by Houthi forces. A blockade of Yemen enforced by Saudi Arabia and Egypt with the aid of US Navy warships has contributed to a shortage of food, fuel and desperately needed medical supplies. Aid shipments had already been severely limited prior to the bombing of the port.
On July 24, coalition bombs ripped through dormitories housing power plant workers and their families in the southwestern city of Mokah. 63 people were killed and another 50 were injured in the attack. A reporting team from Amnesty International visited the attack site and found no indications that the housing units had ever been used for military purposes by the Houthis or their allies.
On July 6, a devastating airstrike on a busy livestock market in the town of Fayush, north of Aden, killed 45 people and wounded another 50. Livestock and food markets throughout the country have repeatedly been targeted for airstrikes.
Any one these devastating attacks, if they had been carried out by Russia, China or Iran, would have provoked non-stop headlines and media outrage. Politicians would have gone on televisions to weep crocodile tears over the civilian casualties and demand that something be done to bring those governments to account.
Obama, the onetime candidate of hope and change, has not only continued but expanded the imperialist interventions initiated by the Bush administration. In the last seven years, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia have all been subject to one or another form of American military intervention, inflicting death and destruction, while forcing millions of refugees to flee for their lives into Europe and elsewhere.
The brutal assault on Yemen exposes the grotesque hypocrisy of those who cry out for supposedly “humanitarian” interventions against governments which are not fully under the thumb of American imperialism. Over the last fourteen years, the so-called war on terror, “human rights” and the promotion of democracy have all been exposed as mere pretexts for establishing the hegemony of the US over the Middle East and its vast energy reserves.
By Niles Williamson