The Saudi regime is waging a genocidal war on Yemen yet the world looks the other way. The people of Yemen, however, refuse to take it lying down.
One needs to pause at the mention of the war-torn country, Yemen, located in southern Arabia. One must wonder and ask where humanity has gone in the face of the massive scale of suffering, misery, and unpalatable ignominy that the people of Yemen have been subjected to at the hands of oil giant Saudi Arabia.
If media reports have periodically touched on the escalating humanitarian catastrophe that Yemen has become, little has been said about the many and grave war crimes the impoverished country has had to endure at the hands of the aggressors, Bani Saud. All this so that Riyadh could assert political hegemony in the region. But today the rivers of blood of the innocent have become a flood; it is no longer possible to dismiss this even by the co-opted and heavily compromised media outlets.
Yemenis are being decimated. They have been butchered, slain, murdered, tortured, starved, trafficked, and sold out by those powers, which to this very day, continue to claim sanctity and immunity. The reason is that they wield power. In the world today — and indeed historically — those with power have always gotten away with murder, literally. It is clear that it is not enough to be right; one must have the might to defend that right. Power has now become a justification in and of itself — the rationale by which all logic and all narratives are measured. Might makes right; that is the rule peddled by the powerful; it has now been turned into an absolute necessity!
For all the effort that has been expended to rationalise the war on Yemen — a war we were told had to be waged to restore political authority — it was projected as a necessary war to assert and preserve democracy. The media spin-doctors have long abandoned this campaign to concentrate instead on hiding Yemen from view altogether. Out of sight, out of mind, seems to be the new dictum vis-à-vis Yemen.
Indeed, humanity still shudders at the sight of charred bodies and starved children of Yemen. Humanity still musters concern and anger at the wanton killing and genocide of innocents. But if Yemen was meant to stay a scar hidden from humanity’s conscience, the Yemenis have proved to be far more resilient. They are a proud and dignified people and have shown determination to assert their sovereign rights against Riyadh and Co. The Najdi Bedouins did not anticipate such resilience from the Yemenis.
Bani Saud launched a vicious war of attrition pitting the might of several regional military powers against the will of an impoverished but determined people of southern Arabia. The assumption was that Yemenis would quickly crumble when subjected to the overwhelming firepower of the regional bullies. Led by the young and brash Saudi deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Muhammad bin Salman, the conventional wisdom was that this would be a short campaign. Once the Ansarallah, Houthis, and their allies have been defeated and banished to their northern strongholds, Bani Saud would install their puppet ‘Abd Rabbou Mansour Hadi back in power in Sana‘a.
This was the thinking at the time the vicious air war was launched at the end of March 2015. Bin Salman (BS for short) holds his positions not because of any demonstrated abilities — members of the Saudi ruling family are notoriously incompetent and lazy — but because he happens to be the son of the king. Salman ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, the Saudi monarch is 80 and in poor health. He suffers from dementia and cannot remember what he had said barely a few minutes earlier.
Bin Salman is the de facto ruler. This is how things work in the medieval Kingdom controlled by the Najdi Bedouins; when the father is incapacitated, the son manages the affairs. It is family business, not a government. No one can tell him of the folly he has committed, getting the Kingdom stuck in the quagmire of Yemen, thanks to the determination of its people.
We ought to recognise in the people of Yemen the strength of all our humanity. Who could have imagined the unassuming Yemenis would carry within their hearts and in their arms such boundless strength? It is likely Yemen would be remembered as the fire that consumed Bani Saud’s palace. It is likely history will recall how tribesmen from the Yemeni Highlands reclaimed Arabia’s pride and in the heat of revolution cleansed the filth of the Bani Saud tyranny.
Yemen is dying! This statement no longer emits only from the lips of rights activists. It has become an acknowledged reality — the very work of Saudi Arabia’s illegal blockade of the Yemeni people who had the temerity to demand that they be allowed to exercise political self-determination.
A report from the BBC last month read, “The war in Yemen has pushed the country to the brink of famine.” While the BBC was careful to downgrade the numbers in order not to alarm its readers, the media can no longer bring themselves to ignoring Yemen’s plight.
According to a survey conducted by the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies in coordination with the Mona Relief Organization (a Yemeni-based NGO), Yemen’s death toll stands at more than 14,000, and the number of casualties nearing 50,000. Sheba Rights has estimated the loss of life to be over 9,000 in the last 365 days of the conflict. If such numbers are harrowing in themselves, the reality they point to is unbearable.
“Saudi Arabia appears to be using US-supplied white phosphorous munitions in its war in Yemen, based on images and videos posted to social media, raising concerns among human rights groups that the highly incendiary material could be used against civilians,” read a report published by The Independent on September 19, 2016.
A highly toxic and deadly chemical agent, white phosphorus is considered an illegal weapon of war, according to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Of course this has not stopped Saudi Arabia from targeting Yemeni civilians with this illegal weapon in the pursuit of victory. Interestingly enough and in parallel, what will certainly lead readers to ponder over the nature of the Riyadh regime, only Israel has ever dared of late to use white phosphorus on civilian populations in Gaza in 2014. If nothing else, tyrants seem to agree on their toys of mass destruction!
If burning women and children alive was not cruel enough, Bani Saud have also taken a liking to cluster bombs. “The US has sold Saudi Arabia cluster munitions, a weapon most countries have rejected due to the harm they cause civilians,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch and chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition, the international coalition of groups working to eradicate cluster munitions. “Saudi Arabia should stop using cluster munitions in Yemen or anywhere else, and the US should stop producing and exporting them,” he said in May 2016.
The word “war crimes” has now become a euphemism for the Saudi regime’s war on Yemen. And though many parties and organizations have made their case with clear evidence in hand, international bodies such as the United Nations have yet to intervene.
The Saudi-led coalition has deliberately targeted civilian economic structures in Yemen which may amount to war crimes, says Human Rights Watch. Unrelenting attacks have killed 130 people and injured another 171, according to the latest HRW report released last month. The group has urged Saudi Arabia to agree to an independent international inquiry into the attacks and says the country should be suspended from membership of the UN Human Rights Council. But insofar as the UN is concerned, money talks louder than principle.
The 59-page report titled “Bombing Businesses: Saudi Coalition Airstrikes on Yemen’s Civilian Economic Structures” studies in detail 17 airstrikes on 13 civilian economic sites: factories, warehouses, a farm, and two power facilities. These facilities employed some 2,500 people, and after the strikes, many of them ceased operations, with hundreds losing their jobs. All of the attacks involved breaches of international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, and some of them could amount to war crimes, the report said.
Dr. Riaz Karim from the Mona Relief Organization has documented frightening war crimes over the past 18 months, “Children bear the signs of chemical burns on their malnourished bodies, civilian populations have been earmarked for slaughter by drones and warplanes, businesses and civilian infrastructures have been exploded, bridges destroyed, water tanks poisoned by Saudi mercenaries, and crops were hosed down with deadly chemicals. There is no crime the Kingdom has not committed, no atrocity it has not stooped to and still the United States is happy selling those monsters more weapons,” he noted.
Amid mounting evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the United States government approved last month the sale of another batch of weapons worth $1.15 billion, using the ludicrous pretext that it is good business. Selling weapons to regimes that kill civilians in not good business; it is complicity in war crimes.
“There is no crime the Kingdom has not committed, no atrocity it has not stooped to and still the United States is happy selling those monsters more weapons,”