CalebMaupin.info | May 24, 2015
From the Port of Djibouti in North Africa, it is with great sadness and burning outrage that I announce that the voyage of the Iran Shahed Rescue Ship has concluded. We will not reach our destination at the Port of Hodiedah in Yemen to deliver humanitarian aid.
The unsuccessful conclusion of our mission is the result of only one thing: US-backed Saudi Terrorism.
Yesterday, as it appeared our arrival was imminent, the Saudi forces bombed the port of Hodiedah. They didn’t just bomb the port once, or even twice. The Saudi forces bombed the port of Hodiedah a total of eight times in a single day!
The total number of innocent dock workers, sailors, longshoremen, and bystanders killed by these eight airstrikes is still being calculated.
Furthermore, the Yemeni revolutionaries arrested 15 people yesterday, who were part of a conspiracy to attack our vessel. The plan was to attack the Iran Shahed when we arrived, and kill everyone onboard, including me.
With its so many criminal threats and actions, the Saudi regime was sending a message to the crew of doctors, medical technicians, anesthesiologists, and other Red Crescent Society volunteers onboard the ship. The message was “If you try to help the hungry children of Yemen we will kill you.”
These actions, designed to terrorize and intimidate those seeking to deliver humanitarian aid, are a clear violation of international law. I can say, without any hesitation, that I have witnessed a crime against humanity.
In the context of the extreme Saudi threats, after lengthy negotiations which have been taking place around the clock in Tehran, it has been determined that the Red Crescent Society cannot complete this mission. The 2,500 tons of medical supplies, food, and water are being unloaded, and handed over to the World Food Program, which has agreed to distribute them on our behalf by June 5th.
Djibouti & US Imperialism
Here in Djibouti, I can clearly see what the people of Yemen and Iran have been fighting against for so long. Unlike in Tehran, here in Djibouti I see masses of desperate staving people. Impoverished Africans, who are desperate for a day of work, are lined up outside the port. They are joined by Yemeni refugees who fled the fighting, and crossed the water. The Yemeni refugees are living in tent cities.
There is a huge US military base here in Djibouti, and this small country of only 3 million people is well under the control of western neo-liberalism. This country was basically carved onto the maps of the world by imperialists. As the European plunderers divided up the African continent for themselves, they created this tiny country so that naval bases could be conveniently placed in a strategic location.
The imperialists falsely drew the borders of the African continent in the same way they divided the Arab peoples and the peoples of Latin America. The maps were drawn to serve the colonizers, and determine who got the right to rob and subjugate the people of each specific region.
The living conditions that I see here in Djibouti are horrific in comparison to Iran. Iran has broken the chains of imperialism, and is independently developing. In Iran, I saw very few people begging for work, and the few I did see are refugees from Afghanistan.
Since the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic has opened its doors to 3 million refugees, and most of them are steadily employed. Iran’s oil resources are in the hands of a government that comes out of a massive people’s revolution. The oil revenue has been utilized to create a vast apparatus of social programs.
One of the Red Crescent Society volunteers told me: “The Iranian government has a department to make sure that everyone in our country who wants to work, can work.” Iranian mothers are given a guaranteed stipend for each of their children. Education in Iranian Universities is absolutely free, and the Ministry of Health provides free medical care to everyone in the country.
Compared to the millions of enslaved guest workers in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, or the impoverished people throughout the African continent, even the poorest Iranians are very, very wealthy. By breaking from neo-liberalism, Iran has been able to guarantee all of its people a great deal of economic security.
The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution has loudly denounced the system of capitalism, and said that religious principles and compassion for those in need, should always be given priority over profits and finance.
“Standing With The Oppressed”
If the resistance forces are successful in their fight against the Saudi onslaught, Yemen will soon join Iran in becoming an independent country. The logo of the Ansarullah organization shows a hand holding a rifle to represent armed resistance. Perpendicular to the rifle on the Ansarullah logo is a shaft of wheat, said to represent “economic development.”
Its no secret that Yemen has vast, untapped oil resources. If the resistance forces are victorious, they can seize these resources, and start using them to build up Yemeni society. Yemen can then begin to do what the people of Venezuela have done, and transform their country with public control of natural resources.
The religious group that leads Ansarullah, the Zaidis, have a slogan. They say: “A True Imam is a Fighting Imam.”
They contrast their religious beliefs with those of the Whabbais who lead Saudi Arabia. The Saudi religious leaders say that Muslims must avoid rebellion and protest because it leads to instability and chaos. They stress obedience to the government and to authority figures.
The Zaidis, who lead Ansurrullah and are at the center of Yemen’s unfolding revolution, emphasize that a religious leader is not truly doing the work of God, unless he picks up a sword or a gun and “fights for the oppressed.”
As I prepare to return to Tehran I have become even more convinced of the need to overthrow the system of western monopoly capitalism. I am reinvigorated in my belief that there must be a global alliance of all forces who oppose imperialism. Whether they are Marxist-Leninists, Bolivarians, Anarchists, Shias, Sunnis, Christians, or Russian nationalists, all forces that oppose the continued domination of the planet by Wall Street bankers must firmly stand together.
The people of Yemen, like the forces of resistance in so many other parts of the world, have refused to surrender. As they face a horrendous onslaught with US made Saudi bombs, I hope that news of our peaceful, humanitarian mission has reached them. I hope they are aware that in their struggle against the Saudi King, the Wall Street bankers, and all the great forces of evil, they are not alone. There are millions of people across the planet who are on their side.
Imperialism is doomed, and all humanity shall soon be free!
TEHRAN – Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Gholam Ali Khoshrou lashed out at Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for raising the possibility of using atomic weapons against Iran, and asked the UN Security Council to condemn the remarks as a threat against the international peace and innocent civilians.
“Moshe Ya’alon’s recent remarks and the Zionist official’s implied reference to the possibility of using nuclear weapons against the Islamic Republic like what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and also his threats against the Lebanese civilians, including the women and children, shows more than ever the regime’s aggressive nature,” Khoshrou said in a letter on Wednesday to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Lithuanian Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite, whose country holds the rotating UN Security council presidency this month.
He underlined that the Israeli minister’s comments are evidence showing that the regime possesses atomic weapons and isn’t afraid of using them against other countries.
“The impudent remarks have challenged the primary principles ruling the armed conflicts and the international humanitarian rights and weaken the international peace and security and therefore, the UNSC is expected to condemn these irresponsible remarks and clear threats of using nuclear bomb and massacre of civilians,” the letter added.
Khoshrou also called on the UNSC president to release the letter as the Council’s document.
Ya’alon claimed last week that Israel would attack entire civilian neighborhoods during any future assault on Gaza or Lebanon.
Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, Ya’alon threatened that “we are going to hurt Lebanese civilians to include kids of the family. We went through a very long deep discussion … we did it then, we did it in [the] Gaza Strip, we are going to do it in any round of hostilities in the future.”
The Israeli official also appeared to threaten to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran, although he said “we are not there yet.”
In response to a question about Iran, Ya’alon said that “in certain cases” when “we feel like we don’t have the answer by surgical operations” Israel might take “certain steps” such as the Americans did in “Nagasaki and Hiroshima, causing at the end the fatalities of 200,000.”
On Monday, I questioned former acting CIA director Michael Morell about the lies leading up to the Iraq War and their relation to torture. He’s been making the rounds on talk shows and started the talk by speaking about the alleged “failures” of the “pre-war Iraq intelligence,” echoing a frequent mantra. The claim is that somehow the Bush administration and others didn’t engage in propaganda and deceit to sell the Iraq War, but rather, were themselves victims of bad intelligence.
So I cited a claim by the Bush administration made during the run-up to the Iraq War that was provably false. On Sept. 7, 2002, President George W. Bush held a news conference with then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Bush claimed there was an International Atomic Energy Agency report that claimed Iraq was “six months away from developing a weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need.”
John R. MacArthur, author of Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War, highlighted — at the time that, when questioned, “the IAEA responded that not only was there no new report, ‘there’s never been a report’ asserting that Iraq was six months away from constructing a nuclear weapon.”
When I confronted Morell — who was Bush’s briefer — about Bush’s statement he took no responsibility at all. “So, you know you have to ask him. You have to ask him,” Morell said.
I found it so laughable that he would say this instead of directly responding to the false statement that my initial reaction was not to bother following up on this. If he’s not going take any responsibility for Bush’s false public claims, what’s the point?
I’d rather expect that if I were able to corner Bush and ask him enough follow-up questions, he’d probably excuse his false statements by saying that’s what his briefers told him; so they’d hide behind each other. But Morell also said, “The only thing I can tell you is what we were telling them at the time.” It would certainly be worthwhile to ask him what he was telling Bush about this — or claims he was.
I then asked Morell about the Shaykh al-Libi case. Contrary to the depiction in movies like “Zero Dark Thirty” — which Morell had a hand in — that torture helped get the bad guys, the al-Libi case shows that torture was used to get false but useful information. That is, al-Libi was tortured him into “confessing” that Iraq was working with al-Qaeda.
Morell gave a lengthy objection to my use of the word “torture,” citing approval for “enhanced interrogation procedures” from Bush’s Justice Department lawyers. Morell said: “When the Central Intelligence Agency used enhanced interrogation techniques to get information from Al Qaeda detainees, the Justice Department of United States of America on multiple occasions said it was legal, said it wasn’t torture. Okay, so for you to call it torture is you calling my officers torturers. And the Justice Department of United States of America said they were not.”
Morell also disputed that Egypt’s torture of al-Libi was done at the U.S. government’s behest, questioning what evidence I had for that. The moderator cut off the discussion at this point.
Journalist Marcy Wheeler succinctly notes about Morell’s response here: “1) He doesn’t deal with torture that exceeded and/or preceded DOJ guidelines. 2) Which al-Libi’s torture did 3) that he doesn’t actually deny al-Libi was tortured 4) which is interesting because he got the same treatment as Abu Zubaydah.”
Al-Libi was captured by the U.S. in Afghanistan and turned over to the Egyptians by the CIA and then tortured into saying what the U.S. government wanted him to say — that Iraq was tied to al-Qaeda — his “confession” was featured in Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech to the UN just before the Iraq invasion. [See my “‘Both Sides’ Are Wrong: Torture Did Work — to Produce Lies for War.”]
But, according to Morell, it’s totally out of bounds for me to suggest that his torture was at the U.S. government’s behest. The U.S. government merely provided him to the Egyptians and benefited from his “confession” to start a gigantic war based on “evidence” that the Bush administration is merely the victim of — or so Morell would have us believe.
There’s been a fair amount said about “if we knew now what we knew then” about Iraq. I’ve tried to debunk the notion that we didn’t know that the Bush administration was falsifying, propagandizing and lying to start the Iraq war at the time. And many, including myself, did real time debunking. [See: “White House Claims: A Pattern of Deceit” “U.S. Credibility Problems” “Tough Questions for Bush on Iraq Tonight.”]
But we should consider this question in one respect: Given what we know now, why are people like Mr. Morell being taken the least bit seriously and why are they not being prosecuted?
One other line of defense by Morell bares comment — and one that few take exception to. When I questioned him about the Bush falsifications for war, part of his response was to say that such statements were made during the Clinton administration, too. Which is true. The Clinton administration did lie about Iraq, including WMDs and many politicos — not just Jeb Bush — continue to fabricate the record.
That in no way defends what the Bush administration did. It merely highlights that establishment Democrats like those in the Clinton administration and others who voted to “authorize” the Iraq invasion are also culpable. Just because both Bushes and Clintons say something doesn’t mean it’s not a lie, merely that it’s a particularly destructive one.
Video of full event with Morell at National Press Club.
Video of Morell questioned by Sam Husseini.
Transcript at 41:00 of the video:
SAM HUSSEINI: Sam Husseini with IPA. Just to sort of get a baseline here. You were a briefer for George Bush for 9/11 and after 9/11.
MICHAEL MORELL: I was President Bush’s first intelligence briefer, so I briefed him kind of the entire calendar year of 2001. Yes.
SAM HUSSEINI: You’re not acknowledging that the Bush administration falsified information on Iraqi WMDs and other aspects in the build up to the Iraq war.
MICHAEL MORELL: I’m not acknowledging it because it’s not true. It is a great myth. It is a great myth that the Bush White House or hard-liners in the Bush administration pushed the Central Intelligence Agency, pushed the U.S. intelligence community and every other intelligence service in the world that looked at this issue to believe that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. All they have to do is tell you this, that the CIA believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction programs long before George Bush ever came to office. We were telling Bill Clinton that.
SAM HUSSEINI: One would not be following Iraq to say the Clinton administration never falsified information on Iraq as well. So for example when Bush —
MICHAEL MORELL: I’m just not with you on the falsification, but go ahead.
SAM HUSSEINI: Yeah, well I’m putting evidence if I could.
MICHAEL MORELL: Okay.
SAM HUSSEINI: So in September 2002, when he was at a news conference with Tony Blair, and this is just one example. That there was an IAEA report saying that Iraq was “six months away from developing a weapon. I don’t know how much more evidence we need.” And then IAEA says there is no such report — that was just an honest mistake?
MICHAEL MORELL: So, you know you have to ask him. You have to ask him. The only thing I can tell you —
SAM HUSSEINI: — You were the briefer. —
MICHAEL MORELL: The only thing I can tell you is what we were telling them at the time. Okay? That’s the only thing I can tell you.
SAM HUSSEINI: So you, among other things, in your time of the CIA had a role in “Zero Dark Thirty,” which in effect glorifies the use of torture to gain “intelligence.” I want to ask you about a different case and that’s the case of Shaykh al-Libi, who all evidence indicates, was tortured by the Egyptian authorities at our behest.
MICHAEL MORELL: So, so —
SAM HUSSEINI: If I might — you can say whatever you want. You can say whatever you want. You’re interrupting me, I’m not interrupting you. —
MICHAEL MORELL: — But your premise is wrong.
SAM HUSSEINI: And you can say that if you like. Who was tortured in order to say that Iraq and Al Qaeda were related. This is actually in the latest Senate report on torture, among other places. Contrary to the mythology that torture breeds good intelligence — or that it’s immoral — it actually breeds intentionally useful but false information. Why not?
MICHAEL MORELL: Okay, so I’m going to go back to your first comment about CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, which you call torture. Which I want to challenge that premise right off the bat. When the Central Intelligence Agency used enhanced interrogation techniques to get information from Al Qaeda detainees, the Justice Department of United States of America on multiple occasions said it was legal, said it wasn’t torture. Okay, so for you to call it torture is you calling my officers torturers. And the Justice Department of United States of America said they were not. So I’m going to defend my officers to my last breath in people calling them torturers. Number two, I’m going to challenge your premise that the Egyptians tortured al-Libi at our behest, at our behest. Not true. We never asked the Egyptians to torture al-Libi. What is your evidence for that?
SAM HUSSEINI: Well — HOST: Let him give you that evidence off-line. We have other people who want to ask questions.
Former CIA analyst and presidential briefer Ray McGovern wrote a pair of relevant pieces, one recently (“The Phony ‘Bad Intel’ Defense on Iraq“) and another, from 2011 (“Rise of Another CIA Yes Man“) on Morell when he was acting CIA director.
Senior UN officials have urged the Israeli government to “halt plans to transfer Palestinian Bedouins” in the central West Bank.
In a joint press release Wednesday, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, James W. Rawley, and the Director of UNRWA Operations West Bank, Felipe Sanchez, expressed their “grave concern” about the proposed expulsions.
According to Rawley, “Israeli practices in Area C, including a marked increase of demolitions and confiscations of donor-funded structures in the first quarter of 2015, have compounded an already untenable situation for Bedouin communities.”
46 Palestinian Bedouin communities – some 7,000 people – are slated for transfer to three proposed “relocation” sites. In March, the UN Secretary-General expressed concern that the plans “may also be connected with settlement expansion”, and noted that “forcible transfer” is “a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
The UN agencies contextualise the threatened expulsions with a “backdrop of a discriminatory zoning and planning regime that facilitates the development of illegal Israeli settlements at the expense of Palestinians, for whom it is almost impossible to obtain permits for construction.”
Sanchez warned that “we are fast approaching the point of irreparable damage.”
As occupying power, Israel is obligated to ensure the wellbeing of these communities and to respect international law. I strongly urge the Israeli authorities to halt all plans and practices that will directly or indirectly lead to the forcible transfer of the Bedouin and call on the international community to support the Bedouins’ wish to remain where they are, pending their return to the Negev, and prevent this transfer from occurring.
Today, the NY Times published what was essentially an unexpurgated series of IDF intelligence reports claiming Hezbollah had taken over a southern Lebanese town and turned it into a fortress bristling with fortifications. The story, written by Isabel Kershner, features photos and descriptions of intelligence data received directly from the army intelligence unit, AMAN.
At no point in the story does Kershner offer any skepticism about the substance of the material or its origins. Nor does she entertain any thoughts about the ultimate purpose of releasing the material to her. As I read the story, the biggest nagging question was: how did she vet this before publication? Did she get someone to visit the village to confirm details? Did she ask a military analyst or consultant to authenticate the documents proffered her?
The only indication in the report that these issues may’ve been considered is a statement that none of the information “could be independently verified.” You’re damn straight they couldn’t be verified. But how hard did you try?
There is an interview conducted by the Times’ Lebanon correspondent Anne Barnard with a figure representing Hezbollah. He refuses to address the specifics of the intelligence information and only affirms the Islamist movement’s determination to protect Lebanese sovereignty from Israeli attack.
I tweeted these questions to Jodi Rudoren, the paper’s Israel bureau chief, and she replied that since it was not her story I should contact Kershner directly. Given that she’s Kershner’s boss, I found the response odd.
We should also remember that Kershner’s husband is former Jerusalem Post IDF correspondent Hirsh Goodman. He is a researcher at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, a think tank deeply connected to the Israeli military and intelligence apparatus.
I should make clear that I’m not taking any position on the accuracy of the report or the IDF documents. Instead, I’m most disturbed by the process used in putting this story together. The IDF and Israeli intelligence in general is well-known for putting forth false or fraudulent claims. Any Israeli journalist who is half-way honest knows this and would freely concede it. It is incumbent on any self-respecting journalist to authenticate such data before accepting it at face value. I don’t see any indication from the story itself that any of this was done.
Another critical aspect of this story you won’t find mentioned by Kershner is that Hezbollah is a Lebanese resistance movement whose goal, at least concerning Israel, is to defend the nation’s sovereignty. Yes, we can argue about its involvement in Syria diverging from this agenda, but aside from a few skirmishes Hezbollah is not fighting Israel in the Syrian Golan. Not to mention, that the IDF is complaining about Hezbollah fortifying a Lebanese village from attack by Israel. In other words, Hezbollah’s purpose is to defend Lebanese territory. How it does this is not something Israel has a right to complain about.
In the article itself, the IDF sources make crystal clear that their military strategy features an invasion of Lebanon. In other words, the Israeli army is conceding that it intends to violate Lebanese sovereignty. Yet on the other hand it denies Lebanese the right to defend against such an invasion. The army also makes clear Israel’s intent to kill civilians, as it has in numerous invasions and occupation over the decades. The difference this time around is that the IDF is warning beforehand that it intends to do this. It is telling the world that we will do to Lebanon what we did to Gaza. There will be no mercy. No punches pulled. It will unleash the full fury of its arsenal. Civilians will be treated no different than combatants.
In the midst of the massive civilian death toll it will trot out Kershner’s stenography and say: See, we told you so. We warned you that Hezbollah was using civilians as human shields. We warned you in no less a venue than the NY Times that we would have no choice but to decimate the militants along with the civilians. Now, you have no right to complain that we did precisely what we told you we would do.
The reporter quotes her intelligence source making yet another mendacious claim about the history of guerrilla warfare:
“Historically, armed forces have separated themselves from the population, in uniform,” the senior Israeli military official said. “This is not the case here or in Gaza.” He accused Hezbollah of cynically using civilians.
This is not only utterly false in general historical terms (remember the 250,000 dead in Leningrad or the two Warsaw Ghetto uprisings?), it’s false in terms of Israel’s own history. The Palmach and other Jewish resistance groups made extensive use of civilian infrastructure, including synagogues, to hide weapons caches. Military forces use whatever advantage they can muster which benefit their strategic position. If the IDF was in the position of Hezbollah it would do nothing different. In such a case, no one could argue Israel didn’t have the right to do so as long as it was defending its territory from invasion, as Hezbollah is doing. … Full article
Reprieve | May 13, 2015
Human rights NGO Reprieve has welcomed the US Department of Defense’s decision, announced today, to drop proceedings against a military nurse who refused to carry out force-feedings at Guantanamo Bay.
In July last year, information received by Reprieve lawyers from one of their clients held at Guantanamo revealed that one military medical professional had refused to carry out force-feedings on prisoners engaged in a peaceful hunger strike. The Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg subsequently obtained confirmation from the DoD that a medical provider had been unwilling to carry out the procedure, and as a result had been reassigned.
Since then, it emerged that the DoD was considering action against the nurse – which today has been dropped.
Involuntary force-feeding has been criticized as unethical and inhuman by medical organizations including the American Medical Association (AMA), and other bodies including the UN.
Lawyers at Reprieve are continuing to fight for the release of video tapes of force-feedings which are held by the US Government. Last Friday (May 8) saw a hearing in a US appeal court at which the Obama administration argued that the public had no right to see the tapes, and the court no ability to challenge that decision. A judgement in the case is pending.
Commenting on the DoD’s decision to drop proceedings against the nurse, Reprieve attorney Cori Crider said: “Better late than never, DoD has rightly dropped its case against the nurse who decided he could not ethically force-feed Guantanamo detainees. It took enormous courage for him to swim against the tide. And as someone who has watched the force-feeding videos, I am certain he did the right thing. If the tapes are ever made public, the American people will watch in horror at what we have asked this man, and many other young servicemen and women, to do.”
A high-profile group of former European political leaders and diplomats has called for the urgent reassessment of EU policy on the question of a Palestinian state and insisted Israel must be held to account for its actions in the occupied territories.
In a letter to the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, the group, known as the European Eminent Persons Group, also questioned the ability of the US to lead the negotiations between Palestine and Israel.
In a damning assessment of EU policy, the letter reads: “Europe has yet to find an effective way of holding Israel to account for the way it maintains the occupation. It is time now to demonstrate to both parties how seriously European public opinion takes contraventions of international law, the perpetration of atrocities and the denial of established rights.”
Signatories to the letter include Hubert Védrine and Roland Dumas, former foreign ministers of France, Andreas van Agt, former prime minister of the Netherlands, John Bruton, a former prime minister of Ireland, Michel Rocard, former prime minister of France, Javier Solana, former Nato secretary general and Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former UK ambassador to the UN.
On Friday, the European United Left group of MEPs demanded an abolition of partnership agreements with Israeldemanded an abolition of partnership agreements with Israel.
A group of humanitarian aid workers, medical technicians, and peace activists from the US, France, and Germany along with journalists and physicians from Iran is setting sail for war-torn Yemen on Iranian “Rescue” ship.
“We are part of a humanitarian mission being carried out by the Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We are attempting to bring medical supplies, flour, and water to the people of Yemen,” read a joint statement released by members of Code Pink Women for Peace, International Action Center, United National AntiWar Committee, and US Veterans for Peace on Sunday.
A large number of physicians and a few journalists from Iran are with us on the ship and we intend to deliver “2,500 tons of medical supplies, foodstuff and tents” to the Hudaydah port on the Red Sea, the capital of the western Yemeni province of Al Hudaydah.
The ship, named Iran Shahed, is preparing to set sail for Yemen from the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas, in Hormozgan province.
In an exclusive Press TV report, the ship’s captain said that after leaving Bandar Abbas, they would travel through the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman, the Arabian Sea, and into the Gulf of Aden, where they might dock, or travel on to the Hudaydah port.
“Everything on the ship has been carefully checked to make sure that nothing that could be considered a weapon is on board,” the statement says.
Earlier in the month, Iranian planes tried to deliver medical aid and were cleared for landing by the Yemeni airports, but were repelled by Saudi fighter jets.
“Blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid is an extreme violation of international law. As our craft propels itself through the Persian Gulf, we are loudly urging no one to interfere with this peaceful humanitarian mission,” the statement read.
Saudi Arabia has unleashed a “horrific bombing campaign” in response to a vast uprising demanding democracy and self-determination in Yemen.
“As citizen of the western world, nothing disturbs us more than the fact that the cruise missiles and other weapons being used to terrorize and kill innocent Yemenis, are provided by the United States government,” the statement noted.
Even though our governments utilize “Human Rights” propaganda, they actually “isolate and demonize” certain countries.
“For more than half a century they have been coddling the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one of the most blatant human rights violators on the planet,” it added.
The Saudi regime, apart from beheading, torturing, and exploiting its own citizens, “represses people throughout the region.”
“The people of Yemen have long been held down by a corrupt un-democratic regime backed and supported by Saudi Arabia and the United States.”
The people of Yemen have “risen up in revolution” in response to years of humiliation, repression and impoverishment.
“The Ansarullah organization, commonly called the “Houthis” in US media, is at the center of a broad coalition of forces that is writing a new constitution. Popular Committees have sprung up all across the country.”
Along with ISIL Takfiri militants and al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia is “waging a campaign of violent terrorism” against Yemen.
The US government backs the Saudi regime and its allies in their “abhorrent and immoral” war against Yemen.
“We call for all parties involved to lay down their weapons and enter the process of peaceful negotiations, and continue with the democratic national dialogue that’s taken place over the last three years,” it concluded.
The statement closed with three wishes for the people of Yemen, “Let the Hungry Children of Yemen Live!”, “This Illegal, Immoral Blockade Must End!” and “Don’t Block the Rescue Boat!”
On April 28, Saudi Arabia forced an Iranian cargo plane carrying medical aid and foodstuff for people in Yemen to return. The Iranian aircraft, which had earlier received permits from Omani and Yemeni aviation officials to cross into Yemen’s airspace, could not land at the Sana’a International Airport, as Saudi warplanes were violently striking the runway of the airport.
The development came less than a week after Saudi warplanes intercepted another Iranian airplane, carrying humanitarian aid to Yemen, and prevented it from entering the Yemeni airspace on April 22.
According to the latest UN figures, the Saudi military campaign has so far claimed the lives of over 1,400 people and injured close to 6,000 people, roughly half of whom have been civilians.
The European United Left group of MEPs has demanded the abolition of partnership agreements with Israel due to its indiscriminate aggression against the Palestinians, Arabs48.com reported on Friday. The demand was made in the wake of the acknowledgement by dozens of Israeli soldiers who took part in the last summer’s Israeli offensive in Gaza that they targeted civilians intentionally; some claimed that they targeted Palestinians “for fun“.
In a statement issued on Friday, a spokesperson for the EU group, Angel Vaina, demanded that Europe’s Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini answer several questions regarding the Israeli human rights abuses. Beside the witness statements of the Israeli soldiers, he noted, there is a UN report which proves that Israel killed 44 civilians and wounded 227 others in UN shelters during the Israeli war against Palestinian civilians.
Vaina said that the Geneva Conventions ban aggression against the offices of humanitarian organisations. “As such, we demand an end to economic preferences and dealing with this aggressive state.”
He pointed out that Israel signed an agreement in 2000 that guarantees human rights, but violates it repetitively. As an example, he cited Israeli violations in respect of 26 foreign activists on 3 May, when police cracked down on a peaceful demonstration in Tel Aviv against institutional violence and racial discrimination targeting Ethiopian Jews.
Operation Protective Edge, launched in early July 2014, was the third major Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip in six years. It was also the most deadly. By the conclusion of hostilities some seven weeks later, 2,200 of Gaza’s population had been killed, and more than 10,000 injured.
In these pages, journalist Mohammed Omer, a resident of Gaza who lived through the terror of those days with his wife and then three-month-old son, provides a first-hand account of life on-the-ground during Israel’s assault. The images he records in this extraordinary chronicle are a literary equivalent of Goya’s “Disasters of War”: children’s corpses stuffed into vegetable refrigerators, pointlessly because the electricity is off; a family rushing out of their home after a phone call from the Israeli military informs them that the building will be obliterated by an F-16 missile in three minutes; donkeys machine-gunned by Israeli soldiers under instructions to shoot anything that moves; graveyards targeted with shells so that mourners can no longer tell where their relatives are buried; fishing boats ablaze in the harbor.
Throughout this carnage, Omer maintains the cool detachment of the professional journalist, determined to create a precise record of what is occurring in front of him. But between his lines the outrage boils, and we are left to wonder how a society such as Israel, widely-praised in the West as democratic and civilized, can visit such monstrosities on a trapped and helpless population.
302 pages • Paperback ISBN 978-1-939293-92-3 • E-book 978-1-939293-93-0
Available from OR Books
The Saudi regime is notoriously adept at funding wars, but exceptionally poor at fighting them.
On March 25, a massive aerial bombing campaign began against Zaidi Houthi rebels who had recently assumed control of Yemen’s capital and forced its U.S. and Saudi-backed president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, to flee first to the southern port city of Aden and then to Riyadh.
This is the second Saudi attack on Yemen—the Arab world’s poorest country bordering one of its richest—in less than six years. “Operation Scorched Earth” was launched by the Yemeni government against the Houthis in August 2009. In November of that year, Saudi troops amassed on the border and began shelling Saada governorate in northwest Yemen where the rebels were based.
The Saudi offensive created tens of thousands of internally displaced civilians, teeming refugee camps and rampant malnutrition. The Houthis, in the face of overwhelming firepower and far worse off in 2009 than today, nevertheless kept Saudi troops at bay and inflicted higher than expected causalities on their forces. Six years later and with nearly all Arab countries aligned against them, they are doing so again.
To put Yemen’s current predicament in context some background history is helpful.
The Zaidi Shia form at least a quarter of Yemen’s population and are concentrated in the north of the country. This area was once ruled by Hashimite Zaidis (those descended from the line of the Prophet Muhammad) for more than 1,000 years until they were overthrown in 1962 by an alliance of nationalist military officers who then founded the Yemen Arab Republic. Zaidi Muslims are nominally categorized as Shia Muslims although they are actually closer to the Sunni schools of jurisprudence.
The rebels were first led by Zaidi cleric Hussein Badr al-Din al-Houthi—from whom the Houthis derive their name—and his Shabab al-Momineen group who fought the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Their dispute dates to June 2004 when Saleh, the Saudi-backed strongman, charged the Houthis with sedition and claimed their true aim was to revive Zaidi Shia Imamate rule deposed four decades earlier. For their part, the Houthis sought to reverse the systemic political and socioeconomic marginalization their community faced as well as stem the rise of Salafi/Wahabi ideology and the al-Qaeda presence it fostered, both of which had gained an increasing foothold in the country.
Hussein al-Houthi was killed by the army in September 2004 and his brother, Abdul Malik assumed leadership. He now leads the Houthi movement under the group Ansarullah. Worried that the Houthis could transform into a Hezbollah-like organization, the Saudis attacked in 2009. Then, as now, this was done with U.S.-supplied advanced weaponry including surface-to-air missiles, Apache attack helicopters and Phantom jet fighters. Despite their sophisticated arms, Saudi Arabia lost an unusually high number of soldiers in the campaign.
The Houthis persevered; their resilience and desire for equitable representation in government led Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Gulf Cooperation Countries (with the exception of Oman) to attack in March of this year when “Operation Decisive Storm” began. Predictably, its pretext was the tired canard of curbing Iranian influence in the Arabian Peninsula. Direct, material support for the Houthis by Iran has never been clearly demonstrated however.
The real motive for the assault and the process it intended to disrupt was revealed by former U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar in an April interview with the Wall Street Journal. Benomar remarks, “When this campaign started, one thing that was significant but went unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would institute power-sharing with all sides, including the Houthis.”
The Saudi offensive led by the young defense minister and newly-appointed deputy crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman, has again exacted a tremendous humanitarian toll: 1,200 killed and more than a quarter of a million people displaced. In 2009, the Saudis were accused of using white phosphorus (as the Israelis had been in their wars on Gaza). Today, they are charged with using cluster bombs (as the Israelis had been in their wars on Lebanon). Human Rights Watch said in a statement, “Credible evidence indicates that the Saudi-led coalition used banned cluster munitions supplied by the United States in air strikes against the Houthi forces.”
Even after all tools of war were placed at their disposal by the West, the House of Saud still pleaded with Pakistan to send (Sunni-only) troops to fight for them. The regime has blockaded the port at Aden and has even resorted to bombing Sanaa’s airport to prevent the delivery of needed relief supplies.
All of these measures have failed to halt the Houthi advance.
Only a political solution will end Yemen’s bloodshed. The GCC though prefers to frame the conflict as an existential one pitting Arabs against Iranians, Sunnis versus Shias. This serves to stoke the sectarian flames already engulfing the region and makes a practical resolution near impossible.
The war has been a disaster for the Yemeni people from the start, both politically and on the most basic humanitarian level. Al-Qaeda now has the potential to flourish as Yemenis are pitted against one another based on sect; the possibility of a just compromise and representative government without Saudi Arabia’s hand-picked man at the helm well forestalled.
Will the Saudi regime find themselves in a military quagmire? The Houthis show no sign of withering under relentless bombing. Or is a decisive ground invasion in the works? There are early signs this may yet occur. But as in Iraq and Syria, the monarchy appears content with the status quo, ensuring chaos, instability and sectarianism prevail.