Hands off Yemen!

Following nearly one month of savage bombardment, overwhelmingly and indiscriminately targeted on defenceless civilians and against infrastructure, the reactionary regime of Saudi Arabia announced on 21 April that it was halting its bombing campaign against Yemen, already the poorest country in the Middle East [STOP PRESS: though 24 hours later it was back on].

The Saudi defence ministry risibly claimed that the aims of its supposed Operation Decisive Storm had been achieved, despite the fact that it had not succeeded in reclaiming a single piece of territory held by the anti-imperialist Houthi-led forces, who, in the recent period, have entered into an alliance with the long-term former president, and their erstwhile foe, Ali Abdullah Saleh, an alliance which has won them the support of a substantial section of the Yemeni military, a support likely to have been copper-fastened by the flagrant assault on Yemeni sovereignty.

Whilst the bombing campaign, in which Saudi Arabia was joined by nine other Arab states, namely Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and Egypt, and which was facilitated in every way, in fact controlled and dictated, by US imperialism, did not achieve a single military objective, it certainly inflicted a horrendous toll on an already poor and vulnerable population.

Many hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians were killed, and thousands more maimed and wounded, to an extent that it appears that the mounting anger and revulsion among the Arab masses, including in parts of Saudi Arabia itself, may have become a material factor staying, to a certain extent, the hand of the warmongers. The New York Times reported:

“A senior American official said ‘there have been discussions’ in the past several days among officials from the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates…about ending the bombing. Asked why, the American official, speaking on condition of anonymity said: ‘Too much collateral damage.'”

The report continued to state that “there has been no indication…that the Houthis and their allies have retreated from any of the territory they have occupied, including Sana, the capital, and areas further south, including parts of Aden”, but:

“International aid groups have criticised the Saudis for what they have described as indiscriminate air strikes and for the enforcement of a rigid embargo that has been starving the Yemenis of food, water, fuel and medicine.

“Officials at the World Health Organisation in Geneva said on Tuesday that Yemen’s health services have collapsed. They said the cumulative death toll in Yemen since the fighting escalated last month was at least 944, with nearly 3,500 wounded. Many thousands more have been displaced from their homes.” (‘Saudis announce halt to Yemen bombing campaign’, by Rick Gladstone, 21 April 2015)

Earlier bombing raids had, for example, hit: the country’s major grain silos, with enough food to feed the whole country; a refugee camp in Hajjah province, killing at least 40 people and injuring 200 others, according to the International Organisation for Migration, a United Nations body; and a dairy and juicing factory in the western port city of Hodeida, killing at least 37 workers and injuring 80 others. Then on 20 April, just a day before the halt in the air campaign was announced, dozens of people were killed in Sana’a after a Saudi air strike triggered a massive explosion that flattened homes and shook buildings miles away.

The New York Times described part of the aftermath:

“Hundreds of people across the city were injured by the blast’s effects. Patients arrived in ambulances and trucks at the Yemen German Hospital, including one man whose legs appeared to be broken…’ Look what you did, House of Saud,’ he said, referring to the Saudi royal family. ‘You killed my daughter.'”

The paper continued: “The relief organisation Oxfam said in a statement on Sunday that the coalition had bombed one of its storage facilities in Saada Province, in northwest Yemen. ‘The contents of the warehouse had no military value’, the organisation said… The Obama administration is supporting the Saudi-led military action by providing intelligence and logistical assistance.” (‘At least 25 die as air strike sets off huge blast in Yemen’ by Mohammed Ali Kalfood and Kareem Fahim, 20 April 2015)

Besides Oxfam, the World Health Organisation and the International Organisation for Migration, numerous other world bodies have also spoken out concerning the devastating impact of the US-directed, Saudi-led aggression.

On 31 March, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, in a statement, warned that Yemen was “on the verge of total collapse”. The UN children’s organisation UNICEF said on 6 April that: “Children are paying an intolerable price for this conflict.” It added that if the bombing continued more than a quarter of a million children were in danger of starving to death.

The main responsibility for these despicable crimes against humanity rests squarely with US imperialism and its current commander-in-chief Barack Obama. The Saudi rulers are, after all, but their servants and running dogs.

The Pentagon has expedited the delivery of bombs, ammunition and guidance systems to assist the war and has been providing logistical support to maximise the impact of the bombing raids, providing daily aerial re-fuelling platforms to allow it to continue non-stop. Moreover, between 2010-2014, the Obama administration secured US$90 billion worth of arms deals with the Saudi monarchy, making them the biggest customers of the US merchants of death.

On 20 April, the US took a significant step towards even more overt involvement in the conflict, and fuelled the prospects of a wider regional conflagration, when it despatched the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt and a guided missile destroyer to join 10 other US warships in Yemeni waters, ostensibly to prevent shipments of Iranian weapons to the Houthis and their allies.

A US official said: “It is a message to our partners that we are in this and willing to support. It is a message to the Iranians that we’re watching.” In stark contrast to the genocidal Saudi bombing campaign, no Iranian weapons shipments to Yemen have been intercepted, yet White House press secretary Josh Earnest accused Iran of continuing to “supply arms to one party to that dispute so that the violence can continue”!

Earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry, referring to the unproven accusations against Iran, stated in a PBS News interview:

“Iran needs to recognise that the United States is not going to stand by while the region is destabilised, or while people engage…in overt warfare across … international boundaries.” Washington “would stand up to interference that is inappropriate or against international law, or contrary to the region’s stability.”

One would really have to go back to the 1930s, and the Hitlerites’ justifications for their aggression against Poland and Czechoslovakia, to find such blatant falsehoods and such outrageous hypocrisy deployed in the discourse of international relations.

Space does not permit us to outline in detail US imperialism’s “inappropriate interference”, violations of international law or acts contrary to Middle Eastern stability. It would take many volumes. Suffice to mention the destruction and devastation that have all but destroyed Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Somalia and which are presently tearing Syria apart. Not to mention the fact that the current war of aggression in Yemen has greatly served to strengthen al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which, unlike the civilian population, has not been a target of the last month of saturation bombing, not surprisingly, as they are the Houthis’ greatest domestic foes.

In announcing the end of Operation Decisive Storm, the Saudis also announced the calling up of their National Guard for what they have dubbed Operation Restoration of Hope. As Lalkar goes to press, it remains to be seen exactly what this entails, but it is unlikely that the Saudi armed forces, a parasitic and spoiled bunch, have much stomach or ability to wage a land war in another country.

Meanwhile, Abdel Malik al-Houthi, a leader of the Houthi patriotic forces, declared in a televised speech: “Those who want the people to give in are just dreaming…Our Yemeni people have the right to fend off the aggression and to confront the aggressor with all possible and available means.”

Let us recall the memorable words of the late revolutionary president of Egypt, Gamal Abdul Nasser:

“Will the reactionary rulers of Saudi Arabia manage to break the legitimate hopes and enthusiastic dreams burning in the hearts of thousands of young people of the Arabian Peninsula? Never!”



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