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A Yemeni Holodomor - with our taxes, in our names.

Discussion in 'Society, Culture and Politics' started by jhawk, Nov 23, 2017.

  1. jhawk

    jhawk Member

    The Holodomor was the name given to a man-made famine in the Ukraine in the mid-1930s. It killed between 2.5 and 12 million Ukrainians. "Holodomor" in Ukrainian roughly translates to "to kill by starvation."

    A Yemeni Holodomor is being executed by Saudi Arabia, with American, British and Canadian taxes, in the names of American, British and Canadian citizens.

    And frankly, the lack of attention the current situation is getting is absolutely shocking.

    So, to recap...

    In late 2014/early 2015, there was a coup d'etat in Yemen. It was lead by a group calling themselves the Houthis, they are officially known as Ansar Allah or the "Supporters of God". They are a Shi'a militant and religious-political movement, who were founded in 1992 in order to combat what they perceived as an increase in Saudi Arabian and Wahhabi influence in the region, as well as grievances about marginalization under the Government of the day. This became an insurgency in 2004 which carried on for years until a ceasefire was reached in 2010.

    At the time, that Government was lead by President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was supported by Saudi Arabia, both militarily and otherwise. In 2011, the Yemeni Revolution took place, wherein a whole range of issues came to the boil -- right around the time of the Arab Spring -- the revolting groups including the Houthis, who, as the revolution once again became an insurgency, took control of large parts of Yemen.

    The Revolution lasted one year and one month, as President Saleh was forced to resign and elections were held in Yemen on February 21st,2012 and President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi took the reigns -- he was the only candidate in the election and won with 99.8% of the vote. He was chosen to act in the role of President for a two year transitional period thereafter and stayed in his role until his forced resignation in 2015 after the Houthis stormed the Presidential Palace and executed their own coup d'etat.

    He was deposed and fled to Aden, then onto to Saudi Arabia on March 25th, 2015. The Houthis then declared themselves the de-facto Government of Yemen, Saudi Arabia's response was swift. They launched a military campaign known as Operation Decisive Storm, the objective of which was to restore the government of President Hadi -- it featured nine states other Gulf states, all sending various forms of military support, mostly air and naval support. The United States and the United Kingdom provided naval, logistics and intelligence support to the Coalition during OP Decisive Storm. This objective was achieved within three months, following a brutal bombing campaign which killed civilians in droves, and there are multiple allegations of war crimes being committed by the Saudi Government during the initial months of the air campaigns, and even as OP Decisive Storm was replaced by Operation Restoring Hope on April 21st, 2015, the air campaign against the Houthis, primarily conducted by the Royal Saudi Air Force, continues to this day.

    These alleged war crimes include: the bombing of hospitals, schools for the blind, open-air markets, and even air strikes on funerals. On the 8th of May, 2015, Saudi Arabia declared an entire governorate (Sa'ada), home to 50,000 people to be a legitimate military target -- that action alone was a breach of international humanitarian law.

    In late October of 2016, Saudi Arabia cut off Yemenis ability to grow their own food, by targeting it's tiny agricultural sector, forcing it to rely on imported aid.

    To add insult to, well, another violation of international law, the Royal Saudi Navy instituted a naval blockade of the Mandeb Strait, separating Yemen and the Horn of Africa. This naval blockade is supported by the United States, it has, thus far, only allowed a handful of the necessary aid to flow through -- meaning that food and water and medicine are in dire supply in Yemen, as aid organizations that send food and water often have their ships turned back as part of anti-weapons trafficking operations by the Saudi and US Navy, as Iran has been alleged to be smuggling weapons into the hands of the aforementioned Shi'ite Houthis.

    Furthermore, the battle-space that was once shared only between forces loyal to President Hadi, and forces loyal to the Houthis has since ballooned become fertile ground for groups like Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham - Yemen Province (ISIS-YP) to operate.

    AQAP have long had a presence in Yemen -- you'll remember the American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki? He was one of the leaders of AQAP in Yemen and was killed by a US drone strike in 2011, under President Obama's administration. Coincidentally, his daughter Nawar al-Awlaki, also an American citizen was killed in a botched raid in January of this year, as Donald Trump's first major act as Commander-in-Chief was to oversee the operation which killed the eight-year-old girl and a US Navy SEAL.

    By contrast, ISIS-YP's presence in-country is rather nascent and small.

    As of recently updated maps, it looks as though the territorial war in Yemen may be over by next year. I have no dog in this fight, so I don't much care who wins, but it looks like the Saudi-led coalition and other Yemeni Hadi-loyalist forces are close to retaking the country, with the Shi'a Houthis confined to a smallish area of eastern Yemen.

    But it is not the territorial war that concerns me. Who wins does not concern me, either. What does concern me, is the human cost of this war and what it says about the West in general.

    The Government of the United States this year sealed a $110Bn weapons deal with Saudi Arabia -- the largest-ever weapons deal between the two countries since both signed the Mutual Defense Act of 1949.

    The Government of the United Kingdom has granted more than 3 billion pounds worth of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia since it started bombing Yemen in March of 2015. Recently, despite challenges from an NGO -- and despite a Parliamentary committee finding in September of 2016 that it was likely that British weapons had been used to commit war crimes -- the High Court in London ruled that these arms sales are legal.

    The Government of Canada has sold billions of dollars worth of light-armoured vehicles to the Saudi Government -- specifically Ghurka RPVs, which were then seen in a video posted online wherein Saudi soldiers are cracking down on the Shi'a minority in their own country. The Liberal Government is presently investigating the matter, or at least it was, as of late August this year.

    I mentioned a Holodomor earlier... Lest you think that hyperbole, along with: continued airstrikes against targets in Yemen which routinely kill civilians, on November 6th, in response to a Shi'ite Houthi-launched surface-to-surface missile which was intercepted over the Saudi capital of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia closed all ports, borders and airspace around Yemen -- imposing a total blockade of the country, meaning that the trickle of humanitarian aid that was reaching people, was stopped completely. A week later, Saudi partially lifted that restrictive blockade, allowing some traffic to flow through border entry points and ports controlled by President Hadi's Government forces.

    While I do not in any way condone the launch of that missile into Saudi Arabia, which, if it had hit, would have killed hundreds if not thousands of innocent Saudi citizens -- I cannot simultaneously ignore the egregious situation that a combination of factors have created.

    1. The indiscriminate targeting of civilian infrastructure - a deliberate and direct violation of the Geneva Conventions, Protocol II, which states the following:

    "2. The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.

    3. Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this Part, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities."

    Officially, the Saudi Government is a signatory nation to the Geneva Conventions and adheres to those Conventions. Their conduct in Yemen calls that commitment squarely and fairly into question. It is one thing to strike a legitimate military target, , for example -- an Army barracks -- , and accidentally kill civilians contractors working at that barracks. It is quite another thing to strike a target that is a non-military target -- , such as the strike on the MSF facility, or the prison --, and kill many civilians *on purpose* -- you *know* there are civilians present, because it is not a military target, it's a hospital, or a school, or a prison.

    2. The particular targeting for destruction of Yemen's tiny agricultural sector, thereby forcing them to resort to international aid because they cannot grow their own food because you have destroyed their means of self-production.

    3. The institution of a naval blockade by the Royal Saudi Navy, not allowing the very necessary aid to come through that the innocent civilians in Yemen so desperately need. So, not only has the Government of Saudi Arabia blown up vital Yemeni infrastructure AND cut off it's means of self-production of food, it has also cut off any means of help from the outside world.

    This means that medical supplies that could treat the cholera epidemic and other illnesses are not reaching their prospective patients, and those patients are dying.

    The World Health Organization estimates that there will be one million cases of cholera by the end of the year. Two thousand people have already died.

    This means that the food which could help feed the millions of people who are starving -- 20 million people in Yemen rely on foreign aid for food. Seven million of those are on the brink of famine -- is not being allowed to reach them.

    It has been said of those children who die of starvation, that they go quietly. Not because they're not in pain, but because they're so weak they cannot cry.

    Famine. Cholera. Infrastructural destruction. Civil war. Political turmoil. Sunni-Shi'a Sectarian proxy conflict. Three of those things we have directly contributed to -- the Governments of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have contributed -- actively, with our weapons sales -- to the infrastructural destruction of an entire nation. That has then lead to famine conditions and millions of starving and thousands of dead, and those that do not die because they have no food, die because they contract cholera and have no medicine. Again, the United States Navy has helped the Royal Saudi Navy implement their blockade.

    Remember that word? "Holodomor" -- to "kill by starvation" -- do you think that might apply here?

    Do you think that, maybe, if you:

    A) Destroy a population's infrastructure with indiscriminate targeting of military and non-military targets from the air,

    B) Destroy their agricultural infrastructure as well, so they cannot grow their own food and finally,

    C) Shut down their access to outside help, so that they cannot even receive the sympathetic offerings of other people -- that people might die from starvation, or the ensuing disease epidemic?

    Do you think that one of the greatest crimes ever committed by a nation-state in the 1930s is playing out again in Yemen -- with the sanction of the US, British and Canadian Governments?

    Do you think that it is OK that we, the People are essentially complicit in the murder -- and it is murder -- of millions of innocent people, because there are weapons being sold to Saudi Arabia which are then used to murder Yemeni civilians, with our money and in our names?

    Because that's what's happening here. Millions of people are being slowly but systematically murdered, in what essentially amounts to a war of attrition at this point -- with your money, in your name.

    We have to start paying attention. I do not know what real change we can effect. But at the very least, we have to start paying attention.

    You should know that the Government of your country is aiding-and-abetting a Yemeni Holodomor with your money and in your name.

    And it should make your blood boil.

    I am not a pacifist.

    There are times for war.

    There are even times, I will concede, when civilians will die -- that is and always has been fact of war.

    But this -- what's happening in Yemen -- this is not one of those times. And if it is, we do NOT have to be complicit in it.
  2. mr_cellophane

    mr_cellophane Regular Member

    I've read that right though and think I must have missed the part where it says how American, British and Canadian taxes are being spent on this.
  3. Spinney

    Spinney Regular Member



    Supplying arms, from what I can gather. Even if this does not involve 'our money' (although who knows, once all the complexities of government subsidies for business are untangled), our government is complicit.

    I'm not sure what we can do. My MP is a yes man who never votes against the government. All I can do is contribute to organisations like Amnesty who can try to throw a spotlight on this kind of thing.