Yemen – Chaos to Annihilation
On December 30, Houthi militants launched a missile attack on Aden Airport, just when members of the country’s new cabinet that had sworn-in in Saudi Arabia, landed. The first thing to ponder upon is, how is a government of one country created in another country and then imported from there via shuttle.
However, the US, furious upon this interruption of the swift deliverance of this ready-made democratic process, has notified Congress of the intent to designate Ansarullah (Houthi militant arm), as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Yemen imports 90% of its food, Yemeni importers are linked with foreign supply chains that are already backing off in fear of being blacklisted because of this designation.
Mark Lowcock of the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs has said that ‘the cost of food is likely to rise by as much as 400%’ after this designation. Yemen is already the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula. With a population of 30million, the UN has predicted that 16 million, more than half, will go hungry this year, while ‘50,000 are already essentially starving to death, amid a shortfall in aid’. Calls for the prevention of massive famine and the risk of disease outbreaks have been hitting the deaf ears of humanity for years now. In 2017, UNICEF reported that almost 2 million Yemeni children were acutely malnourished, a quarter of whom were acutely malnutrition and that this was ‘posing a serious threat to an entire generation in Yemen’.
The Yemen War has only added to all this misery. The ousting of Ali Abdullah Saleh in the 2011-12 Arab Spring resulted in Al-Qaeda and Houthi rebels occupying several regions and cities of Yemen, starting endless chaos in the country. Unfortunately, the emergence of Al Qaeda and Houthi militants in the country was not without painful precedence. The scuffle between the Saudi funded Islah Party that was spreading the Wahabi/Salafi ideology in South Yemen and the Houthi Shias of the North who despised both this Saudi influence and Saleh’s inclination towards the US had been decades old. Saleh’s numerous operations against the Houthis had made them battle-ready and by the time of Saleh’s ousting the Houthis were ready to take charge.
Al Qaeda in Yemen had followed the usual pattern, just as this jihadi network had shown in other countries – Afghan War veterans of different origins were captured, trained in jails and replanted to the countries of origin. Like Ibrahim Arbaysh, Abu Sufyan al-Shahri, Abu al-Hareth al-Oufi, Othman al-Ghamdi were captured from Afghanistan, remained in Guantanamo Bay, were transferred to Saudi Arabia, escaped from prisons there, and ran into Yemen. Or like Nasir al-Wuhayshi and Qasim al-Raymi who were in Afghanistan, arrested by Iran, repatriated to Yemen, jailed there and escaped in jail-breaks.
In 2000, when Al Qaeda attacked USS Cole of the US navy at port Aden, this presumable false-flag led Saleh to visit the US and pledge assistance in the War on Terror, allowing the CIA and MI6 to strengthen their footholds in the country. In 2009, British Special Air Service & Special Reconnaissance Regiment was deployed in Yemen & Somalia to carry out operations against Al Qaeda. These attacks were carried with impunity by the special forces, on ‘suspects’ who are exterminated without confirmations or trials, numerous civilians were also killed along with the targets as collateral damage. The killing of US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki by a US drone in 2011 was one episode of such operations.
In 2015, with the Saudi assault on Yemen and their 9 coalition partners, along with Eric Prince’s mercenaries and the usual US/UK backing, Yemen was turned into a proxy war theater. By 2016 al Qaeda had partial territorial control in five major governorates in South Yemen. And UAE had made its parallel path in defiance of the Saudis, wherein it helped deposed governor al-Zoubaida form the STC. UAE started setting up a parallel security structure in South Yemen, by establishing military bases in Hadhramaut to train South Yemeni Forces. Forces ‘whose local troops solely answer to Abu Dhabi’ – so much so that in May 2017 Hadi accused the Emiratis of ‘behaving like an occupier of Yemen rather than its liberator’. UAE’s ambitions peaked when it occupied the Yemeni islands of Perim and Socotra, but the Saudis ordered them to vacate them, announcing their own developmental plans for the islands.
On the opposite end, Iran, with its limited resources and despite the strictly guarded maritime routes to Yemeni ports, has been arming and funding the Houthis. Though at the receiving end from Iran, the Houthis realize that they are a small part of a larger Sunni construct in Yemen, and recognize themselves with the general widespread socioeconomic distress of the population and the deep-seated economic and political problems that had fueled the 2011 uprising. Nevertheless, Houthis’ Iran-link does raise fear of the becoming of a Hezbollah-like entity in southern Arabia, though it remains arguable if the Saudi’s undue involvement created the Houthi militancy in the first place?
So, the question is, is Yemen the new competitive free-market for occupiers? Was deepening the north-south divide by equipping different opposing groups, wreaking havoc internally in Yemen; and then attacking from outside with military power, the blueprint for a pro-Saudi future of the Arabian Peninsula, or was it a blueprint for endless chaos leading to annihilation for the Yemenis?
The ACLED data project reported over 90,000 Yemenis killed by coalition aerial bombing and offensives between the UAE-supported Yemeni forces and the Houthis, as of June 2019. Upon this, hunger, disease and the ruining of livelihoods and infrastructure, followed by these new genocidal sanctions – when all you had to do was to share a little progress, help in food and medicine, allow them to drill their oil, and let them feel at home with the rest of the rich peninsular states.
You cannot kill a people, destroy their homes and then think that latter you will win their hearts and minds – but perhaps the Saudis are envisioning just that!
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