Yemen’s war is far from over

One of the Middle East’s bloodiest battles is also one of the most overlooked. It is not in Syria or Iraq but it is in Yemen.

According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, in nearly four years, there have been more than 60,000 civilian casualties as a direct result of the civil war directly.[1] Nearly 16 million people are malnourished according to the World Health Organisation,[2] and according to UNICEF, a child dies from starvation every 10 minutes.[3] The UN states that three-quarters of the population rely on humanitarian aid.[4] This could go on but, to sum it up, the UN has called it one of the “largest humanitarian crisis”.[5]

***

The Saudi link

This war has not been helped with foreign intervention, especially Saudi and American intervention.

In March 2015,[6] Saudi Arabia started bombing Houthi controlled areas causing massive civilian casualties. The Saudi forces destroyed targets from marketplaces to hospitals,[7] from schools[8] to even a funeral where 140 people were killed in a single strike.[9]

In August 2015, Saudi Arabia, under Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s orders, damaged the main source of Yemen’s food, the port of Al-Hudaydah.[10] Then bombed it a further 24 times.[11] That was not an accident.

They also bombed the bridge that 80% of food aid travelled across.[12] This helped create the mass starvation of Yemen. The indiscriminate bombings by Saudi Arabia have led to UN investigations concluding that Saudi Arabia has committed war crimes.[13]

However, it is not just Saudi Arabia who is guilty of war crimes. The US’ Green Berets[14] and France’s Special Forces Command[15] [16] have got troops in Yemen fighting in the bloody war. This has been made worse by the fact that they are fighting alongside Al-Qaeda.[17] On one side, the US is fighting against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and on the other side, they are fighting alongside Al-Qaeda. Trump might say this is fake news but Fox News, his friends, acknowledge this.[18] This investigation of the US fighting alongside Al-Qaeda was carried out by the Associated Press and has been reported by various media outlets like Al-Jazeera[17] and San Francisco Chronicle.[19]

***

Double standards

The US argues that this is justified because they are fighting against an Iranian proxy – the Houthis – but the fact is they do not even what is happening. The spokeswoman for the National Security Council told the Huffington Post: “It remains our assessment that Iran does not exert command and control over the Houthis in Yemen.”[20]

One moment, they say the Houthis are an Iranian Proxy, the next moment they say they aren’t. One moment, they are fighting Al-Qaeda, the next moment they are fighting alongside Al-Qaeda. Houthi aggression in Yemen is also highly problematic, but America needs to make up its mind on these various factions if its foreign policy is to be taken more seriously.

Furthermore, the US and UK have been selling arms to Saudi Arabia. In recent years, according to the Stockholm Institute for Peace Research, Saudi Arabia has bought more arms from the USA than any other country has.[21] Also, the UK’s largest military arms customer is Saudi Arabia.[22]

This hasn’t just been happening under the Trump administration, it has also been happening under the Obama administration. Under Barack Obama, The US sold $115 billion worth of arms to the terrorist state.[23] Obama stopped arms sales when Saudi Arabia bombed a funeral in Yemen. Then Trump came along and resumed Obama’s policy all over again.[24]

The weapons that the US and UK sell to the Saudi government include cluster bombs[25] which are banned by the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) international treaty for its indiscriminate strikes. The US and UK are both signatories to this convention.

The US also provides refuelling for Saudi planes whilst they are carrying out airstrikes in Yemen.[26] When refuelling Saudi planes, giant American tankers, such as the KC-135 Stratotanker, take off from the Incirlik airbase in Turkey.[27] They then link up with Saudi airplanes in international airspace. These airborne refuels give the Saudi military a much longer range and allows the Saudi campaign to become more lethal.

***

Conclusion

On the other side of the Atlantic, the British government has recently agreed to sell £4.7 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia.[28]

So why are the US, UK, and France so supportive of the war in Yemen? It’s simple and sad, war fuels the economy. These arms sales make up a tiny but still significant proportion of the economy. The more war there is the more these arms sales increase aggregate demand within the economy and in turn this increases the real and relative GDP of intervening countries.

The US may also want to increase its presence in the Bab-el-Mandeb naval choke point between Yemen and Djibouti. The US economy has been literally fuelled by rivers of blood.

***

References

[1] – ACLED DATA, https://www.acleddata.com/2018/12/11/press-release-yemen-war-death-toll-now-exceeds-60000-according-to-latest-acled-data/
[2] – World Health Organisation, http://www.emro.who.int/yem/yemen-news/cholera-and-malnutrition-in-yemen-a-real-threat-to-millions-of-people.html
[3] – UNICEF, https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/malnutrition-amongst-children-yemen-all-time-high-warns-unicef
[4] – UN, https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/09/1020232
[5] – UN, https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/09/1020232
[6] – Eurasia Review, https://web.archive.org/web/20150402094024/http://www.eurasiareview.com/28032015-yemen-saudi-led-airstrikes-take-civilian-toll-says-hrw/
[7] – CNN, https://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/09/asia/saudi-airstrikes-yemen/
[8] – BBC, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-45176504
[9] – Sky News, https://news.sky.com/story/saudis-probe-heinous-airstrike-that-kills-140-mourners-in-yemen-10611122
[10] – Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security/civilians-flee-bombardment-as-arab-states-pound-yemen-port-idUSKBN1JA0N2
[11] – New York Time, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/02/world/middleeast/yemen-saudi-hudaydah-missiles.html
[12] – The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/jun/13/yemen-port-city-hodeidah-panic-fear-saudi-led-forces
[13] – New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/28/world/middleeast/un-yemen-war-crimes.html
[14] – Al Jazeera, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/05/special-forces-secretly-helping-saudis-combat-houthis-180504201241487.html
[15] – Daily Sabah, https://www.dailysabah.com/mideast/2018/06/16/french-troops-fighting-houthis-in-yemen-alongside-uae-forces-le-figaro-claims
[16] – Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-france/french-special-forces-on-the-ground-in-yemen-le-figaro-idUSKBN1JC099
[17] – Al Jazeera, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/08/report-saudi-uae-coalition-cut-deals-al-qaeda-yemen-180806074659521.html
[18] – Fox News, https://www.foxnews.com/world/us-allies-al-qaeda-battle-rebels-in-yemen
[19] – SF Gate, https://www.sfgate.com/world/article/Allies-cut-deals-with-al-Qaeda-in-Yemen-to-serve-13135822.php
[20] – Huffington Post, https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/iran-houthis-yemen_n_7101456
[21] – CBS news, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/saudi-arabia-is-the-top-buyer-of-u-s-weapons/
[22] -iNews, https://inews.co.uk/news/uk/uk-arms-exports-statistics-increase-saudi-arabia-bombs-yemen/
[23] – Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-saudi-security/obama-administration-arms-sales-offers-to-saudi-top-115-billion-report-idUSKCN11D2JQ
[24] – Defence News, https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2018/10/11/trump-warns-halting-saudi-arms-sales-would-hurt-economy/
[25] – Financial Times, https://www.ft.com/content/a268681a-c60a-11e6-8f29-9445cac8966f
[26] – The Atlantic, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/12/pentagon-refueling-controversy-saudi-led-war-yemen/577666/
[27] – Military Times, https://www.militarytimes.com/2015/04/08/u-s-launches-aerial-refueling-mission-in-yemen/
[28] – Full Fact, https://fullfact.org/news/uk-has-licensed-least-47bn-arms-exports-saudi-arabia-start-yemen-war/

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