From the US “War on Terror” to the national “Spring” and the Saudi-US “humanitarian intervention,” the Yemeni people are being totally disregarded – and indiscriminately attacked – as well as in every single “peace process,” as the country is a stage of international and local elites disputes, just feeding – and practicing – terror
As Biden approved to sell more weapons to the Saudis allegedly for “defense” purposes, Chomsky is concerned. “The line between offensive and defensive weapons is very blurred,” exclusively says the legendary American analyst
Sure not by accident as some say, US-Saudi weapons end up in Al-Qaeda‘s hands in Yemen. “The Saudis do provide weapons to Al-Qaeda,” tells Kiriakou. According to Kivimäki, “unilateral efforts escalate violence”
The “truce” renewed in early August in the catastrophic Yemen war, which has been deadlocked for years, is nothing more than another deception for the local people as much as both the local “Spring” in early 2011, and the US “War on Terror” in the 2000s on Yemeni soil were. A new front in the “Middle East Cold War,” as defined by Peter Krause and Tyler B. Parker.
Worst of all, the military response by neighboring Saudi Arabia to the power grab by the Shi’ite Houthis is transforming the poorest country in the Middle East into the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe in nearly a century, according to the exceedingly ineffective (to say the least) United Nations (UN).
Moreover, the Saudi-led coalition by itself in the Yemeni territory, even if it were docile, would be violating international law, as much as Washington’s arms sales to Riyadh violate US law.
As for the United Nations (UN), it has not only been silenced about humanitarian law or laws of the war being violated in Yemen, but the international body has been as well even blocking organizations for human rights from investigating them, in a dead-end conflict that, among other things, serves to warm up the world elites through the business of war.
International analysts and peacemakers are skeptical about a way out of the Yemen tragedy. It’s been impossible, even theoretically, to point out a solution for a failed State as a by-product of those, once again, “fighting terror” in the region.
US Protection to Aggressors, Not Victims
In the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden vowed to stop US arms sales to Saudi Arabia: the Democrat candidate claimed he would end all American support for operations in the Middle Eastern-torn country.
Shortly after taking power, Biden stressed his campaign promises regarding trading weapons to the Saudis, “including relevant arms sales” as his commitment to “ending all support” for a war that had created “a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe.” Which would mean a radical change compared to his predecessors in the White House.
Not surprisingly, however, the president-elect soon contradicted himself alleging the US would sell sales to the Saudis for “defensive purposes,” and for “national security objectives of the United States” as the figures of the Yemen humanitarian catastrophe – for the West and its media no more than just numbers, if so when scarcely mentioned -, are dramatically increasing.
The Saudi-led coalition is responsible for the vast majority of heavy and asymmetrical civilian deaths in Yemen, also using weapons to blockade Yemenis’ vital spaces through air strikes, such as airports and ports preventing people from having access to medicines, food, and all sort of humanitarian help from abroad.
As it hasn’t been heard of US protective weapons for Yemenis against foreign attacks, the Saudi “protective” war on the country located on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula also includes bombing indiscriminately hospitals, schools, roads, and residences, among others, which strongly disturbs world-renowned analyst, political dissident, linguist, and author, Noam Chomsky.
“The US has materially contributed throughout by providing weapons, training, and crucial intelligence information to Saudi Arabia,” regretted the “father of modern linguistics,” the most important voice about politics, sociology, and human rights, clearly desolate about the issue in a recent talk to this journalist.
The U.S. has also confirmed that it has previously sold white phosphorus, a napalm-like chemical, to the Saudis, who attacked Yemen with the chemical weapon.
In an interview with this journalist, Timo Kivimäki, a Finish professor of International Relations and Director of Research at the University of Bath, UK, pointed out:
“The dictatorial Saudi Arabian regime that has received some 90 percent of its weapons from the US and about five percent from the UK.”
Such facts would be enough for the US to be accused of committing war crimes in the conflict, by providing logistical and intelligence support to the Saudi-led coalition. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange once said that “the United States government has provided most of the bombs and is deeply involved in the conduct of the [Yemeni] war itself.”
Chomsky is a long-time, strong critic of the US-Saudi alliance. While in the particular case of the Yemeni scenario “it’s a horrible catastrophe,” for the American professor of Linguistics at the University of Arizona, who’s skeptical about Yemeni pacification.
Actually, shielding the Saudis from their horrible, endless aggressions is the US rule throughout history.
Al-Qaeda: Right Hands
Contradictions involving the world’s sheriff are not limited to an electoral coup when it comes to trading weapons with Riyadh.
In 2019, nothing new when it involves the US “policy” in the Middle East and all over the world, it came to light that US-Saudi weapons, allegedly to defend the Saudis, especially from Houthis’ violent attacks, end up in “wrong hands,” that is, groups affiliated to Al-Qaeda‘s.
According to a CNN report, some weapons have made their way into the “enemy’s hands” just “by accident.” As well as Al-Qaeda is not a US enemy as many think – and seem not to wish to see what’s right in front of them for 21 years (not to go even further in time) -, both Washington and Riyadh regimes are not too incompetent as they look.
21 years on, since the scapegoat called Al-Qaeda, trained and armed by the US, served as the American new Pearl Harbor and saved an asshole’s term, George W. Bush, who got to the White House by corrupt means, then leading the US to economic chaos.
Even so, and here is a key point, the US regime goes ahead, filling Yemen with weapons.
The question is: isn’t it the US that fights terrorists across the globe, especially Al-Qaeda which, under the title Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), operates in Yemen, having caused “the worst trauma in American history”, for which “it must be avenged at any cost, and fiercely fought” in the name of the “American pride”?
A deafening silence about the “accident” regarding the destination of US-Saudi weapons, as the weapons trade goes on. And the Yemeni massacre just intensifies.
Al-Qaeda, an everlasting US puppet as Uncle Sam’s justification to occupy the Middle East.
US Regime: The ‘Our Son of a Bitch’ Old ‘Policy’
“I believe that the Saudis do provide weapons to Al-Qaeda in Yemen because Al-Qaeda is fighting the Houthis, just like Riyadh is,” said the ex-CIA agent John Kiriakou, in a talk to this author.
The Houthis, the official name Ansar Allah (Assistants of God), and Al-Qaeda fiercely fight themselves in Yemen. Whether the Saudis and Americans support Al-Qaeda even more than the Iranians arm the Houthis, is still a matter for investigation.
Kiriakou pointed out, too, that the Saudis “always say in the Middle East, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.'” Chomksy himself observed, in a 2016 interview with US Democracy Now! TV show, that “Saudi Arabia is the center of radical Islamic extremism.”
“The basic story is that the United States, like Britain before it, has tended to support radical Islamism against secular nationalism,” told the renowned American commentator, then.
“The spread of Saudi extremist Wahhabi doctrine over Sunni Islam, the Sunni world, is one of the real disasters of modern. It’s a source of not only funding for extremist radical Islam and the jihadi outgrowths of it, but also, doctrinally, mosques, clerics and so on, schools, you know, madrassas, where you study just Qur’an, is spreading all over the huge Sunni areas from Saudi influence. And it continues,” added Chomsky, pointing out, too, that “Saudi Arabia itself has one of the most grotesque human rights records in the world. The ISIS beheadings, which shocked everyone, I think Saudi Arabia is the only country where you have regular beheadings.”
Historically, Riyadh hasn’t had any problem with terror groups – just like the US -, whenever they serve their regional and economic interests in the region. Afghanistan and Iraq are catastrophic examples of it.
Al-Qaeda itself is a US creation, a by-product of the American “fight for freedom” in the Afghan territory: its members started to be directly taught at madrassas and even armed by the Americans, supposedly to fight the Soviets since the end of the 1970s.
Books used in Afghan madrassas, preaching religious radicalism that includes jihad, were printed in the US. In 1985, then-President Ronald Reagan kindly welcomed in the White House the mujahedin (guerrilla fighters in Islamic countries commonly referred to as jihad, fighting against non-Muslim forces), “warlords” as said in Afghanistan who would become in the following decade Taliban and Al-Qaeda members, labeling them “freedom fighters, moral equivalents of our founding fathers”.
In this 1979 video Zbigniew Brzezinski, then President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor urged the Afghan mujahedin to fight in the name of religion, “your cause is right and God is on your side!“
The US Council on Foreign Relations reported on October 7, 2009, about madrassas in Pakistan as a historical US ally:
“The 9/11 Commission report released in 2004 said some of Pakistan’s religious schools or madrassas served as ‘incubators for violent extremism.’ Since then, there has been much debate over madrassas and their connection to militancy.
“(…) New madrassas sprouted, funded, and supported by Saudi Arabia and U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, where students were encouraged to join the Afghan resistance. The Taliban was formed in the early 1990s by an Afghan faction of mujahideen, Islamic fighters who had resisted the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979–1989) with the covert backing of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and its Pakistani counterpart, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI).
“They were joined by younger Pashtun tribesmen who studied in Pakistani madrassas or seminaries; Taliban is Pashto for ‘students’.”
On March 23, 2002, The Washington Post reported:
“The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers, and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books, though the radical movement scratched out human faces in keeping with its strict fundamentalist code.”
Later on December 8, 2014, the Post pointed out:
“Printed both in Pashto and Dari, Afghanistan’s two major languages, books such as ‘The Alphabet for Jihad Literacy’ were produced under the auspices of the U.S. Agency for International Development by the University of Nebraska, and smuggled into Afghanistan through networks built by the CIA and Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, the ISI. (…) According to at least one American scholar, these old anti-Soviet textbooks are still in circulation.
“(…) The Pashto version includes such chilling entries as ‘T’ is for ‘topak,’ or gun. How do you use the word? ‘My uncle has a gun,’ the entry reads. ‘He does jihad with the gun’.
“Other lessons instruct that Kabul can be ruled only by Muslims and that all Russians and invaders are nonbelievers.”
“Our religion is Islam. Muhammad is our leader. All the Russians and infidels are our enemy,” reported Al-Jazeera on December 7, 2014, about the jihadist textbooks sponsored by the US. “Kabul is the capital of our dear country,” reads the entry for the letter K.
“No one can invade our country. Only Muslim Afghans can rule over this country,” taught the US-produced books, inciting students to practice jihad, Western terror-version.
History shows, too, that the US even trades weapons with those it fights, as in the case of the Iran-Contra scandal. At the same time, the Washington regime was arming Saddam Hussein, then engaged in the bloody war against Iran (1980-1988), in which the Iraqi dictator used to attack with chemical weapons.
Even the so-called US fight against the Soviets was another big lie, according to Brzezinski himself in a 1998 interview with the French paper Le Nouvel Observateur:
“Yes. According to the official version, the CIA’s support for the Mujahideen began in 1980, i.e. after the Soviet army’s invasion of Afghanistan on 24 December 1979. But the reality, which was kept secret until today, is completely different.
“Actually, it was on 3 July 1979 that president Carter signed the first directive for the secret support of the opposition against the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And on the same day, I wrote a note, in which I explained to the president that this support would in my opinion lead to a military intervention by the Soviets.”
Since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch,” nothing has changed in US foreign “policy,” on the contrary: things have gotten much worse considering double standard policy, and generating terror across the globe.
Yemen is the most recent, tragic example of it.
Defensive Weapons, US Deception: Chomsky
During the Democratic primary in 2020, Biden referred to Saudi Arabia as a “pariah,” saying that it needed to be held accountable for “murdering children” in Yemen and orchestrating the killing of the dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Now, despite the horrific civilian death toll in Yemen unleashed by the more than seven-year-long US-backed war, last August 2 Biden approved and notified Congress of possible multibillion-dollar weapons sales to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The US State Department approved a possible sale of PATRIOT MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical Ballistic Missiles (GEM-T) and related equipment to Saudi Arabia for an estimated $3.05 billion.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a partner country that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Gulf region,” the State Department noticed.
As for a potential $2.2 billion sale of 96 Lockheed Martin-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system missiles as well as related equipment to the UAE, in early August the State Department “cleared” this way US trading:
“The proposed sale will improve the UAE’s ability to meet current and future ballistic missile threats in the region, and reduce dependence on U.S. forces.”
In October 2021, the Biden administration signed a $500m military contract with Saudi Arabia, allowing Riyadh to maintain its fleet of attack helicopters in Yemen.
In the following month, the White House approved a $650m sale of air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia “to help Riyadh counter current and future threats,” announced the Pentagon.
According to a State Department spokesperson, the trade was aimed at “keeping with the President’s commitment to supporting the territorial defense of Saudi Arabia.”
“This proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that continues to be an important force for political and economic progress in the Middle East,” the Pentagon said.
According to the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, the missiles are “not used to engage ground targets.”
Something that “puzzles” Timo Kivimäki.
“Each of the presidents of the new millennium won their presidency with a campaign that promised to demilitarise US foreign policy: Bush and Trump wanted to focus on America’s own problems and reduce the moralistic interventionism of their predecessors, while Obama and Biden promised to end Guantanamo Bay torture facility and clean up the act of the US military and intelligence apparatus.
“Yet, they all ended up increasing the US military effort, with the exception of Trump they all started new wars and backed down from the peace rhetoric they had campaigned with,” said the renowned Finish researcher in his interview with this author.
“The military-industrial complex is but a small minority of the US capital owners, the only one that benefits from this tax burden. Yet, it seems that the system forces presidents that get elected based on promises of peace to choose a policy of war.
“Can it be that the political system is bought by the arms traders, can corruption, and a relaxed attitude toward corruptive “lobbying, be the explanation? Frankly, I do not know,” questioned the Professor of International Relations.
“Yet it is puzzling why Biden and Trump wanted out of the Yemeni war crimes as they were presidential candidates and yet they fully participated in it after having been elected,” added the expert, whose observations make us remember Dwight Eisenhower’s warnings about the military-industrial power as a threat to democracy and peace, in his 1961 farewell address, leaving the US presidency:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist”
In the Yemeni case, the endless US double standard speech especially when it comes to Saudi Arabia, just making clear the unconditional support to Riyadh no matter how much it violates the law, kills innocents, and arms terrorists, as in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
Asked by this journalist about the Biden Administration’s justification to trade weapons with the Saudis now, for “defensive” purposes in Yemen, Chomsky observed: “The line between offensive and defensive weapons is very blurred.”
Author of more than one hundred books, Noam Chomsky pointed out, too, the false propaganda involving Anti-Ballistic Missiles, which, in practice according to the legendary American analyst, produces the reverse effect concerning what is largely said.
“Anti-Ballistic Missile systems are advertised as defensive weapons, and strategic analysts on all sides regard them as first-strike weapons. If they were to work, which is unlikely, they might deter a weak retaliatory strike thus enhancing the temptation of a first strike,” added the laureate professor of Linguists at the University of Arizona.
“The same with the Iron Dome missiles provided to Israel, which facilitate murderous Israeli assaults on Gaza by providing defense against the very weak deterrent. ‘Defensive’ weapons for Saudi Arabia are subject to the same logic,” concluded the American analyst.
US Interests above Law
American presidents’ arms sales to the Saudis for the “protective” war on Yemen seriously violate American law, as it establishes the conditions under which the US government and US commercial entities may sell defense articles to foreign countries.
Several law articles prevent a US president from trading weapons in the conditions the Biden Administration is doing in this case, as his predecessors, Donald Trump and Barack Obama, used to do.
For instance, according to an In Focus study, by the US Congressional Research Service:
Section 38(a)(1) of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) [22 U.S.C. 2778(a)(1)] authorizes the President to control the import and export of defense articles for broad policy goals, including world peace and U.S. security and foreign policy;
Section 42(a) of AECA [22 U.S.C. 2791(a)] requires the executive branch, to consider, among other factors, whether a given defense article sale might “increase the possibility of outbreak or escalation of a conflict”;
Section 502B(a)(1) of the FAA [22 U.S.C. 2304(a)(1)] states that a “principal goal” of U.S. foreign policy “shall be to promote the increased observance of internationally recognized human rights by all countries”;
Section 502B(a)(2) of the FAA [22 U.S.C. 2304(a)(2)] stipulates that,
No security assistance may be provided to any country in which the government engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.
“Gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” is defined, too, by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA) [22 U.S.C. 2304(d)(1)], in Section 502B(d)(1).
Contrary to the Biden Administration’s allegation, selling weapons to the Saudis doesn’t preserve US national security, so not selling them would never put Americans and the US territory at risk.
Such a justification is as much nonsense as saying that those weapons are used for defensive purposes by Riyadh. Not least because the military intervention itself in Yemen’s internal power struggle started by Saudi Arabia in March 2015, itself violates international law.
The UN Charter prohibits preemptive wars or wars of aggression, that is, an attack by a State against another one that doesn’t have attacked first, or doesn’t represent any threat to peace.
The Yemeni state does not represent and has never represented any threat to the Saudi Kingdom, as much as both Iraq and the Afghanistan States never threatened US security.
Currently, it’s not the Yemeni State attacking, and committing war crimes beyond the Yemen borders, but the Houthis – through missile wigs and ballistic drones –, a local group without any official representative: instead of overestimating the Houthis as a justification to militarily attack – and destroy – the country.
The unlawful Coalition should estimate the Houthis before invading the country, considering their popular claim before and during the 2011 “Spring,” and after it. But the US and the Saudis are specialists in radicalizing movements everywhere, and strengthening or even creating terrorists.
According to Chapter 7, Article 51 of the UN Charter only self-defense measures can be taken by a State, far from being the case in the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
All this, under the UN’s deafening, accessory silence, always kneeling, turning an outrageous blind eye before the US and its allies’ crimes.
The pathology of exceptionalism goes too far in some cases in the United States, reaching advanced degrees making it possible that when it comes to US interests, even US laws themselves don’t matter, despised by the hawkish, “exceptional owners of the world” which, too, largely explains the American decay.
Expecting minimal coherence from the Washington regime is always too much for any sane mind.
‘Unbelievably Awful’: Chomsky
Lack of food, medicines, and health services, destruction of infrastructure across the country, and frighteningly growing killing of hundreds of thousands of human lives have been unimaginable in Yemen since the Saudi-led coalition started its aggression seven years and a half ago, named Operation Decisive Storm.
According to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 24 of Yemen’s 29 million people are in immediate need of humanitarian assistance.
In the 2021 Global Hunger Index (GHI), Yemen’s level of famine was “alarming”: the country ranked 115th out of the 116 countries, just before Somalia. Right now, some 20 million Yemenis, fully 70 percent of the population, are hungry, “a 15 percent increase from last year,” according to Mark Lowcock, UN humanitarian chief, last June. “For the first time 250,000 are facing “catastrophe,” he said.
UNICEF has reported that a Yemeni child dies every ten minutes from preventable causes; more than one million pregnant women suffer from malnourishment.
The Yemeni catastrophe itself raises another question to the US, precariously self-called “world exporters of democracy and human rights,” for a long time feeding with weapons the aggressor Saudis who have a vastly superior bombing capacity compared with the Houthi rebels, in a terror scenario “unbelievably awful, and few know,” added the prominent American linguist in his talk to this author.
It was reported in November 2018 by the UN Human Rights Office, that 61.5 percent of all civilian casualties in Yemen’s war, a huge majority, were caused by “airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led Coalition.”
“In 2021, the UN recorded just under 600 airstrikes a month by the Saudi-led coalition across Yemen,” said another report, at the same time, pointing out the escalating conflict, and its devastating impact on civilians.
As the United Nations projected late last year that the death toll would reach 377,000 by the end of 2021, including those killed as a result of indirect and direct causes, a United Nations Development Programme report estimated, then, that 70 percent of them would be children under the age of five. Right now, roughly 400,000 people have died since 2014.
The report added that some 1.3 million people would die by 2030: 70 percent of those deaths would be the result of indirect causes such as loss of livelihoods, rising food prices, and the deterioration of basic services such as health and education.
At least 15.6 million people, out of 29.8 million of the total population, are living in extreme poverty today. The number of those experiencing malnutrition, according to the UN study, would surge to 9.2 million by 2030, and the number of people living in extreme poverty would reach 22 million, then, or 65 percent of the population.
In January 2022, the UN warned of “devastating loss of life”, as Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned coalition airstrikes.
Journalists are being more and more assaulted in the country on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. In the first three months of this year, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate (YJS) reported 20 violations against journalists and media professionals.
“The state of impunity continues for all perpetrators of crimes against the press and journalists, and the various authorities ignore positive interaction to bring press violators to justice and deter them,” the YJS report added.
Whenever it comes to US and Saudi Arabia’s violations of law and the practice of State terror, the rule of impunity is imposed. “When they do it, it’s a crime, when we do it, it’s not,” told Chomksy about the US war of aggressions, in a 2004 interview with The Progressive.
Time passes, and nothing changes. And the overall state of mind walks at the same, depressing step: decision-makers, activists “for human rights”, journalists, and commentators in general.
Nothing More than Numbers
A recent US Pew Research survey pointed out that a huge majority of Americans don’t care about suffering people abroad if it doesn’t affect their lives in the country.
It has passed the time when Americans used to take to the streets to protest against their government abuses internationally, for instance in the case of the Vietnam war.
Though much of all this catastrophe has been hidden from Americans, either capitalism or the well-known sense of exceptionalism, or both sold by US politicians and the media have definitely won Americans’ minds and hearts.
Which lives are worth more?
Beyond a Sectarian, Proxy War
Putting aside activists for political and economic reform during the 2011 Revolution from scarce, falsely publicized “agreement processes” since then, just taking into account the elites and international interests; flooding Yemen with weapons; radicalizing groups from north to south in the country; practicing the well-known, old State terror.
Those points are a brief on the recent Yemen history, the real roots of the growing, unthinkable tragedy that is taking place in the Middle Eastern country, stage of a selfish geostrategic fight involving the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, the US, Iran, and Zionists interests behind all this morbid spectacle, poorly depicted by the world media.
Actually, the Yemen conflict goes much beyond the Iran-Saudi proxy war and even local religious sectarianism disputes, as widely depicted. Some of the current conflicts go back to the 1990s.
Even the Iranian role, the only evidence of close contact between the Houthis and Tehran is of very recent date, as observes Roland Popp, a senior researcher at the Center for Security Studies at ETH Zurich.
“Apparently, the Iranians supplied only very moderate assistance and had even tried to dissuade the Houthis from making a bid for power. The simplistic reduction of the conflict to antagonism between Sunni and Shi’ite Islam is misleading anyway,” he adds.
Kivimäki agrees, pointing out that many tend to exaggerate the Iranian role:
“While Saudi bombings constitute most of the organized violence in the country, the role of the Houthi rebels and especially the support they receive from Iran is much smaller.”
The 1990s. It was in the mid-1990s when South Yemen secessionists started to fight for their old region to be reconstituted, opposing the dominance of the northern elites since the national unification of May 1990. The Southerners were protesting, too, the dismissal from the civil and security services.
In a brief civil war in which unintegrated armies of the north and the south faced off, the southern army was defeated, shoring up Yemen’s reunification. At that time, in the context of a too repressive and corrupt dictator for nearly two decades in power, the Houthi movement was born, predominantly a Zaidi Shia force, which makes up about 40 percent of Yemen’s population.
Under the leadership of Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, this group emerged as an opposition to then-president Ali Abdullah Saleh whom they charged with massive financial corruption, as well as being repressive, and backed by Saudi Arabia and the US (Who Are the Houthis, and Why Are We at War with Them?).
The Houthi movement attracted Zaidi-Shia followers in Yemen by advocating regional political-religious issues in its media, such as opposing the US–Israeli-Saudi alliance.
Until the early 2000s, the Houthis were a protest movement of only local significance, opposing the marginalization of their home region and the social and political discrimination of the Shi’ite Zaidis (War in Yemen: Revolution and Saudi Intervention).
The 2000s, “War on Terror”. The US “War on Terror” in Yemen was, like elsewhere, an engagement in order to affirm local Washington’s puppets, so favoring the elites in exchange for assuring American geostrategic interests in the region at the same time that Washington turned a blind eye to repression by his local marionette. And ended up, as predictable then, just generating more terror – in Yemen as well as everywhere.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh attracted foreign aid by amplifying what he called a risk posed by militant groups, especially Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
That allowed him to direct resources to his own political survival throughout the 2000s. So, the dictator began to personalize the use of repressive force by putting most sectors of the armed forces and intelligence services under the control of his family members (Toward a Just Peace in Yemen).
In his talk to this journalist, Timo Kivimäki observed:
“For the United States, the War on Terror was such an important project that it could not tolerate a government that did not accept the American independent military role inside the territory of the Yemeni people.
“At the same time, not many people accept such a role for any foreign power, the right of external power to decide who is to be killed by a drone strike, and thus, there has not been much hope for any Yemeni government to be accepted both by the US and its own people.”
This way, Saleh’s clan was set up, under Uncle Sam’s green light. Another one in the Middle East, under the United States of America’s approval, and Zionists’ enthusiastic clap.
Hoping to win stronger international support, dictator Saleh accused the Houthis of cooperating with Al-Qaeda. In fact, however, the Houthis were and still remain staunchly opposed to Al-Qaeda and Sunni Salafist movements (supported by the Saudis).
As pointed out by Popp:
“Saudi Arabia’s support for Salafist teachings and financing of extremist centers in the home region Sa’ada was one of the key factors in the emergence of the Houthi movement.”
The Houthi movement became radicalized and politically engaged between 2004 and 2010, in the course of six wars ruthlessly waged by the central government under Saleh (War in Yemen: Revolution and Saudi Intervention).
From October to December 2007, a series of nationwide opposition rallies against Saleh’s regime occurred in Yemen. (Southern Yemenis Protest Yemeni Central Government, 2007-2009).
Saleh invited all political parties, civil society organizations, and community leaders to the dialogue table in order to reach solutions for the crises. However, the invitation for dialogue did not extend to the Houthi rebellion or southern armed groups (Yemen: Saleh Calls for Dialogue, Opposition Doubtful).
History shows that the Yemenis were right for never trusting the dictator’s proposals for agreement, which would be disgracefully true, too, since the 2011 “Spring” in the country, leading it to the present chaos.
Mass opposition demonstrations occurred again between November 2008 and December 2009, for secession and the restoration of an independent southern Yemeni state.
2011 “Spring”. “Yemen is not like Tunisia or Egypt,” said on February 7, 2011, the Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, when upheavals started to break out in the country. The Saleh regime, shielded by Washington and Riyadh regimes, was sending a clear message of repression to the Yemeni people.
Like in Tunisia and Egypt, the opposition in Yemen was protesting, among other issues, the authoritarian rule of President Saleh, in power in Sana’a since 1978.
From the beginning of the popular protests across Yemen until he fled to Saudi Arabia in June of that year, Saleh committed crimes against civilians supported by Riyadh and Dubai, and still a US ally.
Those protests against the repressive regime, unemployment, economic policy, corruption, and the regime’s proposals to modify the Constitution, would become once again a series of events in which the Yemeni people would be left behind, deceived by “agreement proposals” and constitution drafts just favoring the elites and foreign geostrategic interests. And repressing people more than ever in Yemen’s history, a deep nightmare being extended, and intensified more and more in the current days.
New and even non-Shi’ite population groups soon started to support the Houthis, due to their steadfast opposition to the influence of the established power elite, and in particular their convincing stance against the ubiquitous corruption of the government bureaucracy.
UN-like position when it comes to Yemen: the international body has only considered, over years, the State’s interests, never popular claims and needs.
Motivated to contain what they characterized as an Iranian-backed coup, the Saudi-UAE coalition was launched in 2011 by the pro-Saleh regime with the initial aim to settle and prevent the effects of the Arab spring. In Yemen, such a coalition was remarkably noticeable (The Other Side of the Yemeni War: UAE and Saudi Arabia Soft-Hard Power Games in Socotra).
The 2011 US and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-backed transitional process, excluded local groups: it ended up, of course, stymying the transition, just increasing popular dissatisfaction, and paving the road for war started in 2015.
As observed by Stacey Philbrick Yadav, and Jillian Schwedler, Indeed, the US and GCC-backed transitional process that unfolded at the end of Yemen’s 2011 popular uprising made political choices about which groups to recognize and which to exclude. The choices always would be the local, corrupt elites and foreign actors, instead of the substantive demands of the millions of Yemenis who mobilized for change.
Enhancing their popularity even outside of their core constituency, protesters cast themselves as principled defenders of the authentic revolutionary goals, and accordingly, they rejected the GCC initiative: in practice, an attempt by the Gulf Arabs and the US to ensure power remained with the traditional elites and to safeguard their own strategic interests. Which they’d get.
When former Vice President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi succeeded Saleh in 2012, refuged in Saudi Arabia, “he created ad hoc committees where real decision-making took place without any participation from the Houthis or the voices of those independent women and youth who had been so crucial to the 2011 uprising’s success” (Yadav and Schwedler).
The National Dialog Conference debates from March 2013 to January 2014, theoretically should have led to a kind of re-founding of the Republic: democratization, federalization, and a power-sharing compromise between old elites and revolutionary activists.
From Saudi Arabia, Saleh used his insider connections and networks of patronage to sabotage the transition process. The military skirmishes, then, escalated.
Since late 2017, Hadi has been residing in Riyadh under house arrest. Only in April 2022, he would transfer his powers to a newly formed Presidential Leadership Council led by Rashad al-Alimi, which would seek a political solution to Yemen’s war.
A lawyer and human rights activist involved in organizing protests, Khaled al-Anesi, stated at that time: “There is a popular movement and a political movement in Yemen. But there is no support from the political parties for the popular movement, which is not organized. It is still weak and in the beginning stages.”
In the interview with this author, Kivimäki told:
“People feel that the State serves only some of the groups of the country, while political elites also use the State prioritizing their own ethnic, religious, regional, or other groups. Such factionalism explains almost half of the fatalities of organized violence in the MENA [the Middle East and North Africa] region.”
The Finish expert on international conflicts, author of several books on the issue, added:
“The Yemeni ‘government’ has stayed much of the Yemeni war outside the Yemeni territory, supported by an American ally, Saudi Arabia, unable to create a state that could serve as an instrument of the Yemeni people.”
As much as the conflict goes much beyond a proxy war and local sectarianism, in Yemen one of the too serious issues is not only the humanitarian catastrophe hidden from the world – hidden, too, to hide this other, clear factor who is the cause of the current tragedy: is taking place in the country the support for terrorist organizations to fight those who fight the local elites, who favor the US-Saudi-Zionist alliance.
Last August 2, the parties involved in the conflict in the country on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, sponsored by the UN agreed to extend the “truce” for two months more.
The UN has said that both sides have reported alleged truce violations, and reinforcements to the main front lines since the truce started, last April 1. In practice, violence and blockades across Yemen haven’t ceased during these five months of truce, with some exceptions.
Since 2016, the UAE has supported separatists in the south providing them with military and financial aid. Loyal to the Southern Transitional Council (STC), those aiming to restore independence in the south had a total of about 90,000 fighters.
In south Yemen, separatists’ leadership shares the UAE’s worldview of apolitical Islam. While the UAE has been more focused on the south than the Sadis on the north, fights in south Yemen are escalating dramatically, especially since 2019 (Who Are South Yemen’s Separatists?).
On the other side, Al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State are fighting the Houthis – in conflict with southerners – as apostates.
“Given that the parties to the conflict have sharply different ideas about what a peace process might look like, it will be very difficult to transition from truce to talks,” Peter Salisbury of Crisis Group told Reuters.
The Human Rights Watch has urged the US, the UK, France, and others to stop selling arms to their allies in the Yemeni war whose tragedy is, as pointed out at the beginning of this research, warming up great powers’ economies, through belligerent trade.
For Kivimäki, unilateralism also tends to harm the people it claims to protect.
“I am sure it should be possible to persuade governments from supporting it. What we need is good data and exposure to the consequences of international efforts by big powers to enact their own interpretations of justice,” he stated.
“The impact of the US military involvement after March 2008 in Yemen can be clearly seen in the following graph that shows the number of monthly fatalities as dots and a trend curve of escalating violence soon after the US military involvement in the country,” told this reporter the Finish researcher.
Noam Chomsky doesn’t see much hope for Yemen right now: “Maybe, just maybe, UN-led efforts will alleviate the tragedy.”
Timo Kivimaki agrees, saying that governments should be encouraged to rely on the UN, and UN institutions for the ‘enforcement of the humanitarian norms,’ so that unilateral powers would not have the justification for it.
“Unilateral efforts tend to escalate violence as we have seen in Yemen, while my recent book showed that UN peacekeeping efforts have been exceptionally successful in reducing violence and tackling problems of war crimes and crimes against humanity,” concluded the Finish expert in conflicts around the world.
Robert Popp considers that “Oman, the only GCC country not to have taken part in the attack on Yemen, might be an acceptable mediator.”
The fact is that nothing is advancing in Yemen after the truce last April, not even dialogue and the possibility of an agreement. Not to mention the escalation of violence, famine, and sickness still taking place around the country.
The prospects are far from being optimistic for the Middle Eastern country, in every aspect one takes into account.
Either a Gangsters Agreement or the Continuation of Terror
In his Democracy Now! interview, Chomsky pointed out Riyadh as one of the world’s most violators of human rights. There’s as much to expect from the US-Saudi alliance in Yemen, as from the US “Operation Enduring Freedom” to defeat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan today, 22 years after its beginning.
There’s no military solution to Yemen, as much as – like in Afghanistan – the only winner in the war is Al-Qaeda: is all this, again in the region, “just” a total failure by the US-Saudi alliance?
The truth is that Al-Qaeda’s strengthening justifies the US stay in the Middle East, the world’s richest region in oil, and so the billionaire war economy (throughout history, the salvation for agonizing capitalism).
As a way out for Yemen under such a so-called “truce”, as it is now without a minimal prospect of being changed, there are two clear options: either an agreement of gangsters or the continuation, even an escalation of terror.
Or more likely, both: which the US, the Saudi regime, and Zionists best can do in the region in order to preserve their interests, no matter how.
Just like Afghanistan, Yemen has become a dead-end quagmire as the US keeps its presence in the Middle East, be it through direct military occupation or through proxy wars.
The Yemeni quagmire started with the US “War on Terror” in the 2000s, supporting the bloody dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh who, in exchange, played the role of US puppet in the country.
“War on Terror” in Yemen that like everywhere fought everything, but terrorists; fought the Yemeni people in practice, as kept in power a president that only practiced terror, favored the local elites, and US interests far from being fighting terrorism, on the contrary like everywhere: it has only multiplied terrorists.
US Double Standard Policy
The US-Saudi role in the Yemen tragedy makes us remember John Kiriakou’s words in an interview with this author, about Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.
According to the former intelligence agent, it shows “the double standard in U.S. policy: if a country is friendly with the U.S. and has human rights problems, there is no cost; if the country is unfriendly, like Iran, then it is constantly in danger of sanctions or military action.”
In a 2011 lecture, Chomsky warned that the US and its Western allies are assured to do whatever they can to prevent authentic democracy in the Arab world. In his approach, the American expert quoted studies of Arab opinion on the US conducted by the most prestigious US polling agencies, exposing that overwhelming majorities of Arabs consider the US and Israel the major threat they face.
Kivimaki’s research First Do Not Harm: Do Air Raids Protect Civilians? points in the same direction:
“The people we try to protect by enforcing global humanitarian norms also tend to resist our protection. In Iraq, Western protection was always unpopular.
“In 2008, a U.S. Defense Department poll suggested that only 22 percent of Iraqis felt the United States was contributing to security in their country, while only 3 percent felt the U.S. security role in their neighborhood was legitimate.
“A British Ministry of Defence poll pointed in the same direction. Up to 82 percent of Iraqis were strongly opposed to the presence of coalition forces in their country, while less than 1 percent believed that coalition forces were good for their security.”
Generating chaos through poverty, radicalism, terror, and dividing societies: an imperialist resource to occupy, dominate, and exploit. Nothing new, but deplorable in the same way.
If the Washington regime’s speech about foreign affairs would be minimally taken into account about itself internationally, the US should be militarily occupied by an international joint effort, for a regime change, carrying its leaders to courts for countless, heinous crimes against humanity.
And there should be a regime change in the US, from the current, long-time bipartisan dictatorship to a true democracy.
The most terrorist empire in history. Jamal Khashoggi sure agrees, wherever he is now.
Orinoco Tribune special by Edu Montesanti