By Iraklis Tsavdaridis
The tragedy of Yemen is being silenced by almost all mainstream media in a very sophisticated and coordinated way, despite the outrageous figures and data about the daily suffering of an entire people for the last six years.
It’s worth seeing, on this occasion, the dirty games that have long been played on the backs of the people of a country with more than 28 million population, often portrayed as the poorest in the Arabian Peninsula, although it has one of the most enviable strategic positions for international shipping and multinational monopolies: the strategic “Bab–el–Mandeb Strait” (known since ancient times as the “Gate of Tears”) located off the coast of Eritrea and Djibouti (where interestingly the US, French, Chinese, etc. have military bases) and connect the Red Sea and the Suez Canal with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.
In addition, Yemen’s proximity to the north of Saudi Arabia and to the east of Oman often places the country in the context of regional conflicts and intense competition. The 2015 international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, which gradually led to the lifting of international sanctions against Tehran, exacerbated competition, mainly from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, which have benefited from years of international sanctions, to the detriment of their competitor, both in terms of oil exports and sales, as well as their geopolitical influence in the wider region, to the benefit of their monopoly interests.
The overthrow of former Yemeni President Saleh in 2011, in the context of the so-called “Arab Spring”, brought pro-Western President Hadi to power, until in autumn 2014 the latter was overthrown by Shiite opposition Houthis, supported by Iran.
Hadi, who was supported until his election by the reactionary Gulf monarchies, sought refuge in Saudi Arabia, which, under the pretext of “restoring the rule of law”, launched an imperialist intervention in March 2015 under the name “Operation Decisive Storm”, which was later renamed” Operation Restoration of Hope “.
In those almost six years, the Saudis, with the cooperation of most of the Gulf countries (except Oman and later, due to regional rivalry, Qatar), but also American and European imperialists, destroyed almost all the country’s infrastructure in water and electricity, production units, agricultural production and education.
An entire generation of Yemeni children has suffered the traumas of war, many of them orphaned, malnourished, or displaced. The United Nations reports a death toll of 100,000 people in the ongoing war, with an additional 131,000 people dying from hunger, disease, and a lack of medical care.
More than 4 million people have been internally displaced and the worst cholera outbreak ever recorded has infected 2.26 million and cost nearly 4,000 lives. Attacks on hospitals and clinics have led to the closure of more than half of Yemen’s prewar facilities.
Yemen remains the “world’s worst humanitarian disaster”, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Nearly 80 percent of the population requires some form of humanitarian assistance and protection. Ten million people are a step away from famine, and seven million people are malnourished.
If we project all the above to the conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic, the country is totally exposed without the slightest protection for its people in terms of treatment and much less the perspective for the vaccine in near future.
The war started under the Obama administration but President Trump doubled down on Obama’s support for the Saudis’ war. The US used the pretext of Iran’s support to the Houthis and ignored, of course, Saudi bombings of schools and hospitals. The Saudis’ war is very expensive for the Kingdom (it costs 50 billon USD per year), disastrously devastating for Yemen, and a strategic plus for Iran.
British arms sales to Saudi Arabia increased by 11,000% in the three months following the start of the bombing in March 2015, from £9 million to £1 billion. Half of the Saudi royal air force is made up of military aircraft supplied by the UK. The Royal Saudi Air Force cannot operate without American and British support. The presence of British Special Forces in Yemen has not been officially acknowledged, but has become an open secret in defense circles.
All over the country present are “Security Belt mercenaries”, often collaborating with Salafists, who in turn are linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State jihadists, who continue to operate in southern and central Yemen, giving – of course – the proper pretexts for the action of American, British and other European imperialists. Even the temporary decreased weapons’ exports from the UK have been lifted last year, the same happened with Germany’s exports and the US increased the arms sale again recently.
It is clear and obvious that the imperialists, despite their own internal competition, have a clear view when it comes to Yemen, as is the case of Libya since 2011 and the imperialist intervention in Syria. Their purpose and aim is to create fruitful conditions for the control of energy resources and the pipelines, and to pursue violent regime changes imposing willing allies and puppets for their interests. This is rank hypocrisy and cynicism.
A small example which shows that the coordinated efforts of all NATO states, including the governments of the EU, is the case also of my country Greece, which is sending, in the framework of its strategic partnership with the US, Greek-owned Patriot Missiles to Saudi Arabia.
But what of the role of the UN on this matter of Yemen? The appointment of Martin Griffiths as special envoy of the UN on Yemen some years ago shows the manner the UN is dealing with this crime committed against the people of Yemen. A British diplomat who has served in similar positions also in the imperialist wars of Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, is being asked to serve peace in Yemen! A diplomat from a country which is fueling the war machines, from which his country makes huge profits, is asked to apply international law! The additional “qualities” of this UN envoy, the fact that he has worked with several millionaire NGOs who benefit as well from the imperialist aggressions is just the other side of the same coin.
The recent attempt of the outgoing US Secretary of State Pompeo to label the Houthis as a foreign terrorist group is taking place in the framework of the negotiations and games to divide Yemen maybe into North and South, whereas Saudi Arabia with its allies would be in control of the northern part and the UAE, with its allies in control of the South. This and other similar plans will, of course, not solve the problems and the suffering of the Yemeni people.
The entire region of the Middle East is the biggest “hotspot” in the world. Not by chance if we look at the rich reserves of oil and natural reserves but also the strategic location for the roads and the pipelines etc. All major forces have their involvement in the wars and interventions in one or another way. The different parts of the area are interrelated and the developments of the last 30 years are linked with each other. What matters to the imperialists is of course not the right for self-determination of the peoples, their right to live in peace and prosperity as masters of their wealth. One key issue remains, in this context, the Palestinian cause, the right of the people for their own independent viable State within the borders of pre 4th June 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital. The suffering of the Yemeni people and of the Palestinian people have common root causes and so it is the case for the people of Syria, Libya, Iraq and so many other victims of imperialist aggression.
The World Peace Council demands the end of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from the region, the end of the dirty war against the people of Yemen, the closure of the foreign military bases so that the peoples of the region can decide freely upon their destiny.
This is the text of the speech by Iraklis Tsavdaridis, Executive Secretary of the World Peace Council to the Public Zoom Meeting of Liberation on the war in Yemen on 21 January 2021
Photo: Destroyed house in the south of Sanaa by Ibrahem Qasim / Creative Commons