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Update from the forgotten war in Yemen


  • A very brief history of Yemen

Despite its ancient roots as the crossroads of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, the modern Republic of Yemen is a relatively new state.It was created after communist South Yemen and traditional North Yemen merged in 1990, following years of strife.

Tensions remain between the north and the south, however. A southern separatist movement was defeated in a short civil war in 1994, and tensions re-emerged in 2009 when government troops and rebels, known as the Houthi, clashed in the north, killing hundreds and displacing more than a quarter of a million people.

A fresh wave of protests in 2011, inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, forced then-President Ali Abdallah Saleh to resign.

The Yemeni Civil War is an ongoing conflict that began in 2015 between two factions claiming to constitute the Yemeni government, along with their supporters and allies. Houthi forces controlling the capital Sana’a and allied with forces loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh have clashed with forces loyal to the government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, based in AdenAl-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have also carried out attacks, with AQAP controlling swathes of territory in the hinterlands, and along stretches of the coast.

A child dies in Yemen every ten minutes from preventable causes, UNICEF reported in June. These deaths are only part of a humanitarian catastrophe, among the worst in the world, including a rampaging cholera epidemic, to which the witness of the overwhelming majority of the West’s warmongering Goebbelist media pretends to be deaf, mute, and blind.

Nevertheless, information is accessible. There are sporadic exceptions to the conspiracy of silence in officialdom and the media. The week of July 10, The Independent published in the “Voices” section the appeal of Wael Ibrahim, an aid worker in Yemen:

“It is going to take years to restore any infrastructure like health services, and rewire the city [Sana’a] for electricity. We need more people to talk about Yemen.”

Yemen is currently in a state of political limbo. The Houthis claim the parliament has been dissolved and replaced by a transitional revolutionary council, headed by Mohammed Ali al-Houthi. But the UN, US and Gulf Co-operation Council refuse to recognize the Houthis’ rule.

  • The Saudi Coalition Intervention in Yemen and the role of Iran

Few honest observers doubt that the war in Yemen, instigated by the Obama administration and their British junior partners in the Cameron cabinet, is a war of strategy in which the real target is Iran.

Yemen, thus, is the unfortunate country inconveniently placed by geography between Iran and Western objectives, bombed, economically besieged, its currency in collapse—the war tactics of the feudal Middle Ages.

Since March 2015, 3.2 million Yemenis have been displaced; 13,000 civilians have been casualties (UN official count); 2 million children cannot attend schools; nearly 15 million people have no access to basic medical care.

 The Saudi-coalition warplanes planes usually target civilians and vital infrastructure. Yemen’s Popular Forces (which includes Ansarullah and the Republican Guard among other factions) on the other hand, only attack military targets. Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Arab world. Yet they remain steadfast in their resistance against Saudi Arabia: one of the wealthiest and best-armed countries in the region.

Since the U.S., the UK and the Saudis wage war against Yemen they claim that Iran is allied with the Zaydi people of northern Yemen who, together with the Yemeni army, resist the Saudi invasion. Iran is regularly accused of smuggling weapons to them even as no evidence for this has ever been shown.

Despite an intense bombing campaign from the Saudi aggression, Yemen’s Popular Forces had an impressive July hitting several high value military targets and demonstrating advanced homegrown missile capabilities. Yemen’s popular forces have long been working on developing their own long-range ballistic missiles called the Borkan H-2 aka “Volcano H-2” which has a range of nearly 900 miles.

According to military experts, Yemen has a large arsenal of surface-to-surface missiles, various old Soviet missiles, most notably the Scud missiles that Yemen obtained during the Cold War from the Soviet Union, which supported the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen and supplied them with weapons, Tactical rocket.

The Yemeni Sniper Unit carries out a special operation beyond the Saudi border in the provinces of Jizan, Najran, and Asir. All of these areas were previously a part of Yemen at one point so Yemen’s resistance has expanded their ground operation in these provinces in retaliation for the ongoing Saudi air campaign and aggression. The Yemeni Sniper Unit recorded 26 confirmed kills last month. Bringing their total for the year to nearly 330. Yemeni ground forces report the deaths of 117 Saudi mercenaries on various other fronts for July.

Saudi Arabia’s Air defence forces downed the missile over the Wasaliyah area of Taif province, 69 km from Mecca, without causing any damage, the coalition said in a statement carried by Saudi state news agency SPA end of July.

In over 850 days of war against Yemen, the Saudi-led air raids have destroyed everything needed to sustain life. Targets include homes, schools, farms, shipyards, and much more. The numbers of civilian lives lost is astronomical. The aggression has internally displaced thousands fleeing airstrikes or chaos. A blockade cripples Yemen financially and deprives citizens of basic goods most people would consider human rights; like food, water, and medicine.

Just at the end of last month, the Saudi coalition prohibited 4 oil tankers from entering the Hodeidah port. Yemen’s water pumps need fuel to run. So depriving Yemen of fuel is depriving Yemen of clean water. This is an absolute necessity since the Saudi aggression against Yemen has triggered a globally unprecedented cholera outbreak. Experts estimate that over 400,000 will be infected by the end of 2017. About 2,000 people have already died from the preventable disease. Not only has the Saudi-led war directly caused this outbreak, but they’re further exploiting it to beat Yemen into submission.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have started using a new route across the Gulf to funnel covert arms shipments to their Houthi allies in Yemen’s civil war, sources familiar with the matter have told Reuters.

For the last six months the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has begun using waters further up the Gulf between Kuwait and Iran as it looks for new ways to beat an embargo on arms shipments to fellow Shi’ites in the Houthi movement, Western and Iranian sources say.Using this new route, Iranian ships transfer equipment to smaller vessels at the top of the Gulf, where they face less scrutiny. The transhipments take place in Kuwaiti waters and in nearby international shipping lanes, the sources said.

“Parts of missiles, launchers and drugs are smuggled into Yemen via Kuwaiti waters,” said a senior Iranian official. “The route sometimes is used for transferring cash as well.”

According to the Journal Moon of Alabama and its analysis even an expert  as the Reuters one can err :

The Houthi are not Shia in the sense that Iran is predominantly Shia. They are Zaidi and follow the Hanafi school of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence. They pray in same mosques as Sunni believers do. Using the term Shia for the Zaidi side of the Yemen conflict is a lazy repeat of unfounded Saudi claims which try to set any local conflict in the Middle East into a “Sunni-Shia” frame even when that is completely inappropriate. As the Carnegie Endowment states:

Claims of Iran’s influence over the Houthis have been overblown. While the Houthis do receive some support from Iran, it is mostly political, with minimal financial and military assistance. However, since the Houthis took control of Sanaa, the group has increasingly been portrayed as “Iran-backed” or “Shia,” often suggesting a sectarian relationship with the Islamic Republic. Yet until after the 2011 upheavals, the term “Shia” was not used in the Yemeni public to refer to any Yemeni groups or individuals.

The Reuters piece comes with this rather unhelpful map.

 

While that map (bigger, original linkis headlined “Iran’s new route to Yemen” it shows no route at all.

Pushing anonymous rumors of Iranian weapon transfers at high sea the Reuters piece totally fails to explain how these weapons would then be transported INTO Yemen. There is no route shown for that. Saudi Arabia and its al-Qaeda allies on the ground blockade and control all sea and land routes into Yemen. Millions of Yemenis are near starving and a huge Cholera epidemic is ravaging the country with 400,000 infected and hundreds dying each day. Hardly any food and no medicine comes through. How please are Iranian weapons supposed to jump from some Daus into the hands of the Houthi when not even food can be passed along?

The United States:

Washington Post reports that a contingent of U.S. troops is involved in a Yemeni operation to push al-Qaeda militants from one of their key strongholds in central Yemen, the Pentagon said Friday. Since Feb. 28, the United States has conducted roughly 80 airstrikes against al-Qaeda militants in Yemen Pentagon added to this statement.

.The announcement comes a day after the United Arab Emirates said in a statement that its forces, along with U.S. troops, were supporting the Yemeni military in the Shabwa governorate in a bid to oust al-Qaeda fighters entrenched there.

The United States and United Arab Emirates (UAE), in coordination with Yemeni proxy forces, are operating a network of torture chambers in the war-torn country into which hundreds of men have been disappeared.

As revealed by an Associated Press (AP) report published last week, the US and UAE have established a network of at least 18 secret prisons in Yemen used for torturing and interrogating men who are suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.Since Trump took office earlier this year, US Special Forces have increased their activity on the ground in Yemen, carrying out raids and providing support to the UAE and its various proxy militias.

Moreover, this whole (cholera) crisis has been created by the activities and the war that has been unleashed by the Saudis and its allies which includes the United States, Britain and the West, and they are systematically attacking civilians, they have destroyed all infrastructure,” Massoud Shadjareh, head of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, told Press TV in an interview on Friday.

  • Numbers given in this article may not be accurate 

Sources:

BBC: Yemen: Country Profile -BBC

Moon of Alabama: Reuters Suggests But Can Not Find “Iran’s new route to Yemen”

Wael Ibrahim’s report on cholera in Yemen:http://www.independent.co.uk/author/wael-ibrahim

Britain training Saudi pilotshttp://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/saudi-arabia-yemen-conflict-bombing-latest-uk-training-pilots-alleged-war-crimes-a7375551.html

Life Beneath Bombs and Blockade:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/opinion/yemen-houthis.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FSaudi%20Arabia&action=click&contentCollection=world&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection

Cholera Epidemic in Yemen:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/yemen-war-deaths-cholera-epidemic-dying-every-hour-a7782341.html

Britain’s High Court Decision on Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/saudi-arabia-yemen-campaign-against-the-arms-trade-lost-case-a7833766.html

Trump’s Weapons’ Sale to Saudi Arabia:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/world/middleeast/trump-weapons-saudi-arabia.html

YemenPress: Saudi Arabia failed to destroy the Yemeni missile systems because of a proactive step by Ansarullah http://www.yemenpress.org/slider/saudi-arabia-failed-to-destroy-the-yemeni-missile-systems-because-of-a-proactive-step-by-ansarullah.html

World Socialist Website: US, UAE operate network of torture chambers in Yemen

yemen current map
Green:Controlled by Revolutionary Committee Red: Controlled by Hadi-led government and the Southern Movement White: Controlled by Ansar al-Sharia/AQAP forces Grey: Controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Blue: Controlled by local, non-aligned forces like the Hadhramaut Tribal Alliance //source: wikimedia

 

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The Qatar crisis explained (2): The geopolitical puzzle


The biggest challenge facing the Middle East is the “potential domination of the region by an Iran that is both imperial and jihadist,” Henry Kissinger said last year. What he suggest is further isolation of Iran adding that  existing US policy, which is very favorable to Iran should be changed.Mr. Trump (following Kissinger’s policy?) has made clear he seeks no opening to Iran and has no interest in building on the Obama administration’s success in reaching a nuclear deal with it.

For the New York Times, Donald Trump, has taken sides with Saudi Arabia and four other Sunni states in their attempt to isolate and bully Qatar, the tiny gulf nation that is arguably America’s most important military outpost in the region .Rather than position the United States to ease tensions in the Middle East, Mr. Trump has, essentially, picked one side in a small rivalry within a big rivalry.

But even if his goal is to isolate Iran, allying with Saudi Arabia to punish Qatar is a self-defeating way to go about it: Qatar is home to the forward headquarters of the United States Central Command and is a major intelligence hub. It hosts Al Udeid Air Base, with more than 11,000 U.S. and coalition forces.

There is no sign that Mr. Trump has actually thought any of this through. Let’s be honest: Donald Trump doesn’t have a clue where Middle East is. New York Times adds that: even as other American officials were saying they would try to calm the Saudis because Qatar was too important to the United States, the president leapt to Twitter to claim credit for persuading Saudi Arabia to act against Qatar.

During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology,” he wrote, adding, “Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!” In two other tweets he reinforced this message, saying: “So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding … extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”

For years Riyadh has accused its regional neighbor Iran of interfering in the Sunni kingdom’s affairs in order to destabilize it and expand its own role in the Middle East. The Saudis fear such a development not least because of how it might inspire the deprived Shiite minority in the kingdom’s East, which also happens to be an important source of oil. Iran meanwhile has concerned its neighbors by massively enhancing its influence in Iraq and Syria during the ongoing civil war in the latter country. More than ever, Saudi Arabia sees itself as encircled.

Saudi Arabia has long relied on the UAE and Bahrain as its closest regional allies. Egypt, which counts on Riyadh’s financial support, has also been a consistent partner, though in recent years Cairo has also strengthened its ties with Tehran – much to the annoyance of Saudi Arabia.

According to Al-Monitor,in Jerusalem, it is almost inconceivable to hear the Saudis demand publicly that the Qataris cease their cooperation and aid to Hamas. “It is as though the Israeli-Saudi alliance is suddenly breaking out of its dark confines and being showcased internationally,” an Israeli minister told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “But when the actual statement is analyzed, it quickly becomes obvious that this is not about Israeli interests. It is the continuation of that same old war between Sunnis and Shiites.”

The common explanation in Israel is that Hamas is in the wrong camp, as far as Egypt and Saudi Arabia are concerned. The camp of the Muslim Brotherhood includes Turkey and many Sunni terrorist groups.

Saudi Arabia has threatened to blockade its neighbouring Gulf State Qatar by land and sea unless it cuts ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, closes Al Jazeera, and expels local branches of two prestigious U.S. think tanks, the Brookings Doha Center and the Rand Qatar Policy Institute.

Analysts elsewhere in the Gulf expect the Saudi tactics to backfire. They have already paralyzed the Gulf Cooperation Council, with Oman refusing to expel Qatar and Kuwait deeply uneasy. It is also propelling the start of a significant regional realignment. Within hours of the Saudi decision to withdraw its ambassador to Doha, the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad in support. Doha has also become closer to Iran as a result of its bust up with Riyadh.

Sources:

Al-Monitor

Saudi Arabia vs. Qatar vs. Iran,  DW.COM. 06.06.2017

Unraveling the Qatar crisis: Sunni, Shia, Saudi, Iranian — and Trump. CNN.COM 07.06.2017

President Trump Picks Sides, Not Diplomacy, in the Gulf, NYTimes.Com, 07.06.2017

Featured Image credit: @Carlos Latuff

Read: Part 1 of the analysis