The announcement that the U.S. is “scaling back” its involvement in the Yemen civil war has lifted the curtain on that bloody conflict, which has seen American and U.K. military intervention driven solely by their pro-Israel foreign policies.
The war in Yemen—despite being marked by repeated and extensive war crimes committed by the U.K. and U.S.-supplied Saudi Arabian-led side—has hardly been covered by the controlled media.
Yemeni civilians have borne the brunt of the U.S. and U.K.-supplied Saudi airstrikes.
According to a Reuters report, the U.S. military has suddenly withdrawn its personnel from Saudi Arabia who were coordinating the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen, and sharply reduced the number of staff elsewhere who were assisting in that planning.
The personnel were assigned to the “Joint Combined Planning Cell” established to coordinate U.S. support, including air-to-air refueling of coalition jets and intelligence-sharing.
An annual U.N. report on children and armed conflict said the Saudi-led coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year.
Last Tuesday, a U.S.-backed coalition air strike hit a hospital operated by medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Yemen, killing 19 people and prompting the group to evacuate staff from six hospitals.
MSF cited a “loss of confidence in the Saudi-led coalition to prevent fatal attacks.”
The MSF hospital bombing (carried out by the U.S. and U.K-backed Saudi airforce) which forced that organization to quit Yemen.
The Yemeni Crisis began with the 2011–12 revolution against the then President Ali Abdullah Saleh during the so-called “Arab Spring” series of uprisings across the Middle East.
Saleh was forced to leave office after negotiations with the rebels, and a shaky new government was formed after a farcical “presidential election” was held—with only one candidate to choose from, namely Saleh’s former vice president, the Sunni Muslim Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
The Hadi government took power among increasing violence, partly from Shia Muslim separatists in the north called Houthis, and from Islamists. By 2016, the Islamists had formalized themselves into two distinct but allied groups, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIS.
The Houthi uprising had been sputtering on for years, but in 2014 they made sudden and unexpected territorial gains, taking control of the country’s capital, Sana’a.
Hadi resigned in January 2015, and the next month, the Houthis declared themselves in control of the government.
Hadi escaped to the port city of Aden, where he declared himself president once again. He then called on loyalists to rally to his side and fight the Houthi uprising. However, a rebel attack on Aden forced Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis backed the Hadi government because it was Sunni, and because the Houthi rebels, while not Islamists, are fiercely anti-Israel, and by extension, fiercely anti-American (because of the latter country’s support of Israel).
The Saudi Arabian government—which is an autocratic monarchy—is also a firm ally of America, and, along with other compliant U.S. proxies in the region (Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Djibouti and Somalia), launched the first air strikes against the Houthi strongholds in Yemen in March 2015.
An amusement park in Yemen after it was hit by a Saudi-led coalition airstrike.
At the same time, the Nobel Peace Prize winner President Barack Obama authorized the supply of over $100 million of weapons—including illegal cluster bombs—to the Saudis to keep the air campaign going, and also personally directed massive numbers of U.S. drone strikes inside Yemen.
The British government has also emerged as one of the largest arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia, and openly expressed support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. In January 2016, it emerged that UK military advisors were assisting Saudi personnel in the selection of targets, as well as supplying material and targeting support for the bombing of Yemen.
Predictably—as U.S. military intervention has caused everywhere else in the Middle East—the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians by both the Saudi strikes and the American drone attacks, have driven hundreds of thousands of Muslims into the arms of the Islamists, so that AQAP and ISIS now control at least a third of Yemen.
Another third of the country is under Houthi control, with the remainder under the control of Sunni Hadi loyalists.
Ironically, the Houthi faction is strongly opposed to the AQAP and ISIS faction, and the two groups are at war with each other as much as they are with the Hadi forces.
The U.S. and U.K.-supplied Saudi bombing campaign has, according to the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien, been a “humanitarian catastrophe.”
A September 2015 report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reported that by the end of June 2015 almost two-thirds of civilians killed in the Yemeni conflict had died as a result of airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition.
In January 2016 an unpublished United Nations panel investigating the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen uncovered “widespread and systematic” attacks on civilian targets in violation of international humanitarian law, and called on the U.N. Security Council for an international commission of inquiry.
The report attributes 60 percent (2,682) of civilian deaths and injuries in Yemen to air-launched explosive weapons, and goes on to say:
The coalition’s targeting of civilians through airstrikes, either by bombing residential neighborhoods or by treating the entire cities of Sa’dah and Maran as military targets, is a grave violation of the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. In certain cases, the panel found such violations to have been conducted in a widespread and systematic manner.
Alongside ground-led obstructions to humanitarian distribution, the panel documented 10 coalition airstrikes on transportation routes (both sea and air routes), four road supply routes and five storage facilities for holding food aid (including two vehicles carrying aid and three warehouses and facilities storing food), along with airstrikes on an Oxfam warehouse storing equipment for a water project funded by the European Union in Sana’a. The panel also documented three coalition attacks on local food and agricultural production sites.
The U.S. and U.K.’s military intervention has not come about to support “democracy”—because none of the sides are democratic, and least of all Saudi Arabia, which has sharia law as its constitutional foundation.
The attacks on the Houthi rebels are purely motivated by the accurate belief that that group is opposed to Israel, and, therefore, like all Arab states opposed to Israel (such as Saddam’s Iraq, Assad’s Syria, Gadaffi’s Libya, and so on) must be destroyed.
There is no other reason for the U.S. and U.K.’s military intervention in Yemen, as no side is actually worthy of support on its own.
The end result of this conflict will be—and already largely is—a further upsurge in support for the Islamists, and even more “refugees.”
Once again, the U.S. and U.K. governments, driven solely by their short-sighted and self-defeating biased foreign policies, are creating a whole new human tragedy for which Europe is likely to pick up the tab.