President Joe Biden’s foreign policy advisors are applauding themselves for devising a “sensitive” itinerary as he plans to embark on a trip to the Middle East on July 13. In a Washington Post op-ed, Biden defended his controversial planned meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (known as MBS), saying it is meant not only to bolster U.S. interests but also to bring peace to the region. It seems that his trip will not include Yemen, though if this were truly a “sensitive” visit, he would be stopping at one of Yemen’s many beleaguered refugee camps. There he could listen to people displaced by war, some of whom are shell-shocked from years of bombardment. He could hear the stories of bereaved parents and orphaned children, and then express true remorse for the complicity of the United States in the brutal aerial attacks and starvation blockade imposed on Yemen for the past eight years.
More than seven years after the first airstrikes were launched on Yemen by the U.S.-supported Saudi-UAE coalition, a two-month truce with Yemen’s Ansar Allah (also referred to as Houthis) was announced at the beginning of this month. This UN-mediated truce comes after weeks of negotiations in Oman and marks the first pause in airstrikes on Yemen since March 2015. As part of the truce, the first fuel ships were allowed entry into the port of Hodeidah, and limited flights were allowed to enter Sanaa airport from Egypt and Jordan. Despite these positive developments, however, Saudi Arabia and the UAE remain entangled in Yemen — militarily and politically. Days after the truce was announced, the Saudi-led coalition dismissed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who had hitherto been touted as justification for occupying and intervening in Yemen’s conflict, and replaced him with a Presidential Leadership Council.
Rulers divide the world into ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ victims; those we are allowed to pity, such as Ukrainians enduring the hell of modern warfare, and those whose suffering is minimized, dismissed, or ignored. This bifurcation of the world into worthy and unworthy victims is a key component of propaganda, especially in war. In this episode of The Chris Hedges Report, award-winning journalist Peter Oborne joins Chris Hedges to examine how worthy victims are used to allow citizens to see themselves as empathetic, compassionate, and just; how they are an effective tool to demonize the aggressor; and how they are used to obliterate nuance and ambiguity. Peter Oborne is a former political commentator of The Spectator, The Daily Telegraph, and Daily Mail, who covered the war in Yemen.
The US government has increased its military support for Saudi Arabia as the Gulf monarchy's war on Yemen marks its seventh anniversary. This is a clear violation of President Joe Biden's promise to end the US-backed Saudi war - a pledge he reiterated on the campaign trail in 2019 and 2020, and then again after he entered office in January 2021. With US weapons and military assistance, Saudi Arabia has relentlessly bombed Yemen, the poorest country in West Asia, since March 26, 2015. More than one-third of Saudi Arabia's airstrikes have hit civilian areas. The United Nations estimated that at least 377,000 Yemenis have died as a result of this war, in a conservative estimate as of the end of 2021.
The United Nations’ goal was to raise more than $4.2 billion for the people of war-torn Yemen by March 15. But when that deadline rolled around, just $1.3 billion had come in. “I am deeply disappointed,” said Jan Egeland, the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council. “The people of Yemen need the same level of support and solidarity that we’ve seen for the people of Ukraine. The crisis in Europe will dramatically impact Yemenis’ access to food and fuel, making an already dire situation even worse.” With Yemen importing more than 35% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine, disruption to wheat supplies will cause soaring increases in the price of food.
Yemen’s already dire hunger crisis is teetering on the edge of outright catastrophe, with 17.4 million people now in need of food assistance and a growing portion of the population coping with emergency levels of hunger, three UN agencies warned on 14 March 2022. “The humanitarian situation in the country is poised to get even worse between June and December 2022, with the number of people who likely will be unable to meet their minimum food needs in Yemen possibly reaching a record 19 million people in that period.” This has been the strong alarm launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), following the release of a new Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) analysis on Yemen.
Yemen-Saudi Border – Under the scorching midday sun, Hakem Matari Yahya al-Buttaini’s brother was on the cusp of finally being able to purchase the 40 liters of diesel fuel for which he had been waiting in line for seven days, when he got the call. Hakem had been executed by Saudi Arabia and the news had just spread through local media. Hakem was among seven Yemenis executed by Saudi Arabia on Saturday. As much of the world’s attention remained focused on Russia’s war on Ukraine, the Saudi regime carried out a mass execution, killing 81 people in a single day, including the seven Yemenis and civilians from the Kingdom’s eastern provinces. According to Saudi state media, the condemned were accused of various crimes, including terrorism, kidnapping, rape, and traveling to a regional conflict zone.
It should be an obvious truth that the deaths of civilians, and children in particular, as a result of military action can never be acceptable as a price worth paying to achieve any political aim. The most recent figures of deaths in Ukraine from The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) verified a total of 564 civilian deaths during Russia's military attack on Ukraine as of the 10th March, 2022. Of them, 41 were children. In the worsening situation in Yemen, in the four months before the end of the human rights monitoring in October, 2021, 823 civilians were injured or killed in the war. In the four months that followed, it was 1,535 civilians, according to data from the Civilian Impact Monitoring Project. Large numbers of the civilian casualties were caused by airstrikes.
Kiev, Ukraine - We are living in dangerous times. All around the world, intense military actions are taking place. Last week alone, Russia launched a huge military invasion of Ukraine; Saudi Arabia carried out dozens of strikes on Yemen; Israel launched a wave of deadly missile attacks against Syria; and the United States restarted its bombing campaign in Somalia. These four deadly incidents happened concurrently. Yet judging by media coverage, it is highly unlikely that many will even be aware of the final three. A MintPress News study of five leading Western media outlets found that overwhelming attention was paid to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while the others were barely mentioned, if at all.
Hajjah, Yemen – “We’re brutally bombed every day. So why doesn’t the Western world care like it does about Ukraine?!!… Is it because we don’t have blonde hair and blue eyes like Ukrainians?” Ahmed Tamri, a Yemeni father of four, asked with furrowed brows about the outpouring of international support and media coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the lack of such a reaction to the war in Yemen. Over the weekend, a member of Tamri’s family was killed and nine relatives injured when their family home was targeted in a Saudi-led Coalition airstrike in the remote al-Saqf area in Hajjah Governorate. Tamri claims that al-Saqf has been subjected to a brutal Saudi bombing campaign for the past seven years – more so, he says, than all of Ukraine has endured since it was invaded by Russia.
On Friday, February 11th antiwar groups United Against War and Militarism, Veterans for Peace, and Massachusetts Peace Action protested at Elizabeth Warren’s office in Boston to demand that she invoke a War Powers Resolution to end US involvement in the nearly 7 year-long proxy war in Yemen. While Warren has expressed nominal opposition to US involvement and voted for a War Powers Resolution while Trump was in office, she has refused to take any concrete action since Biden was elected. All the while, the US and regional and global powers continue to treat Yemen as a battleground in which to contend for power, profits, and influence. During the Trump administration, some Congressional representatives put forward legislation to block US arm sales to Saudi Arabia and to invoke the War Powers Act, both of which were vetoed by Trump.
Last week, Brett McGurk, the White House coordinator for the Middle East, boiled down the millions suffering in Yemen into a false binary in which Washington has done everything it can for peace. He claimed that the Houthi rebels in Yemen are to blame for the continuation of this seven-year conflict that has become the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. With the Houthis launching ballistic missiles at the United Arab Emirates, and a litany of their own war crimes, it’d be easy to fall for this simplistic analysis of the conflict. Yet, in suggesting that reaching a ceasefire and ending the war is simply up to the Houthis, rather than the Saudi-backed government, McGurk reveals his misunderstanding of the conflict.
The last month has seen a drastic escalation in the war in Yemen. According to the UN, January will most likely be the month with the highest ever casualties reported since the war began in 2014. The January 21 strike on a prison in Sa’ada which killed 91 people marked the highest death toll in a single strike in the last three years. The number of airstrikes carried out by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition last December was already the highest in years. In all likelihood, this figure will be even higher by the end of January. On the other hand, the Houthis have demonstrated their capacity and willingness to retaliate against members of the Saudi-led coalition by sending drones and missiles hundreds of miles away to Abu Dhabi. Exactly at a time when decisive international intervention to find a political solution to end the war is needed, the UN and the international community have shown their unwillingness to take the extra efforts required.
Journalists Benjamin Norton and Alan MacLeod join Mnar Adley to discuss how the mainstream media spent the last week beating drums of war with Russia over Ukraine with headlines and talking heads funded and sponsored by Lockheed Martin and NATO. Meanwhile, there wasn’t a single article covering how the US-Saudi-UAE coalition cut off the internet to Yemen for several days while dropping hundreds of bombs on civilians resulting in hundreds dead and over a thousand injured. Guess which story CNN covered? Both conflicts were brought to you by weapons manufacturers.
Saada, Yemen – In a scene rife with chaos and crying, volunteers and a rescue squad pulled the bodies of 91 prisoners from the rubble of the Sa’ada City Remand Prison in southern Yemen on Tuesday. Early last Friday morning, United Arab Emirates (UAE) warplanes supported by the United States targeted the overcrowded prison, which houses up to 3,000 inmates from across Yemen and Africa. The attack was one of the deadliest since the war began in 2015. At least 91 people were killed and more than 236 seriously injured in the attacks, which left bereaved families in shock across Yemen and Africa. Witnesses describe the scene of the attack in its first minutes as chaotic and tragic. Fighter jets were heard over the skies of Saada while people were sleeping, before three violent explosions were heard from the prison, red fires mixed with dust and smoke illuminated flying rubble.