In the latest atrocity in Yemen, Saudi warplanes bombed a residential area, killing at least 65 people. Most of the victims are reported to be civilians from the Salah district of Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city.
The apparent war crime committed has tragically become an almost daily occurrence during five months of relentless aerial bombardment of Yemen by a Western-backed coalition of foreign powers.
In recent days, there were similar air strikes on civilian centers in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida and the northern province of Saada. In the Hodeida strike, which killed several dock workers, the British charity Save the Children said it believed the attack was a deliberate bid by the Saudis to sabotage aid supplies to the civilian population.
Surely, this should be front page news, with CNN, the BBC and France 24, among other big Western media outlets, splashing it as their top story. The onus is on them because their governments are implicated in grave crimes. However, there has been no news coverage of the tragic events. Aside from some brief, vague reports of a generalized humanitarian crisis, there has been a wall of silence as to how the Western-backed Saudi-led coalition is pulverizing Yemeni civilians and creating the crisis. That suggests a deliberate blackout by Western media.
To date, the death toll in the country has reached near 4,500, according to the World Health Organization. This week, the United Nations put the total number of children who have been killed at 400. Yemeni sources say the civilian casualties are much higher, but can’t verify because of the widespread mayhem.
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Food Program say the country is on the brink of cataclysmic famine, with over 50 percent of the 24 million population at immediate risk.
Yemen was already the Arab region’s poorest country even before the US-backed and Saudi-led military coalition began bombing on March 26. In just five months, the country is crumbling into a “Syria-level crisis,” according to the ICRC.
What’s happening in Yemen cannot be described as anything less than “foreign aggression” on a sovereign country, where civilians are being slaughtered by American-supplied “precision bombs” and F-16 fighter jets. The systematic starvation of people by denying them food, water and medical aid as a result of an air and sea blockade on the country adds to the barbarity. This is genocide by any legal definition of the word.
Despite the horror and complicity of Western governments in that horror, the Western news media avoid providing informative reports on the carnage in Yemen. When the media do give occasional brief reports, they routinely distort the nature of the violence as if it is being perpetrated by two warring sides: on the one hand, “Saudi coalition forces”; and on the other, “Iranian-backed Houthi rebels”.
Let’s quickly dispense with that self-serving distortion. The Houthi rebels are not Iranian-backed. How could they be when Yemen is blockaded by Saudi and American forces? The Houthis are in alliance with the Yemeni national army and other rebel groups, called Popular Committees. Earlier this year, the revolutionary front kicked out the US and Saudi-backed puppet-president Abded Rabbo Mansour Hadi, taking over much of the country’s territory, including the capital Sana’a.
That is why the Saudis and their Persian Gulf Arab dictator cronies, plus the Egyptian dictatorship of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, joined forces to bomb Yemen. They claim to be defending the “legitimate government of Yemen” represented by Hadi and his corrupt clique who are exiled in the Saudi capital Riyadh. No doubt the region’s dictatorships fear the spread of revolutionary contagion, as do the Western patrons of these despotic regimes.
Washington, along with Britain and France, is supporting the Saudi-led bombing coalition, not just politically and diplomatically, but with the supply of warplanes, missiles and logistics. The US has set up a fusion center in Saudi Arabia for the purpose of coordinating the Arab-piloted F-16s.
Germany is also implicated as, according to Der Spiegel, it is the fourth biggest arms supplier to Saudi Arabia, after France, Britain and Italy.
On the ground in Yemen, there are remnant supporters of the deposed Hadi regime. Clashes between these loyalists and the revolutionary forces have indeed contributed to the civilian death toll. But, again, Western media attempts at portraying the conflict as some kind of civil war are grossly misleading.
Among the pro-Hadi forces are troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Several Saudi and Emirati soldiers have been confirmed killed in recent battles in the southern areas around the port city of Aden, as well as in fire fights across Yemen’s northern border with Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-led coalition has expanded its involvement in the ground war over the past month with the arrival of artillery and armored vehicles and up to 3,000 Saudi and UAE troops, according to the Financial Times.
Also among the pro-Hadi forces are Jihadist mercenaries from across the region that have been trafficked into Yemen by the Saudis, according to Yemeni civilian and military sources. This is the same strategy that the Saudis and the Persian Gulf Arab regimes have been using in Syria over the past four years to overthrow the Assad government, along with covert support from Turkey, Jordan, Israel and Western governments.
Western media have, of course, given copious coverage of the Syrian war, with false narratives about “moderate rebels” fighting against a “despotic regime”. Syria gets covered because Washington, London and Paris want to implement regime change there for strategic reasons to do with undermining Assad’s allies in Russia and Iran. Whereas in Yemen “regime re-installation” of a corrupt exiled clique doesn’t quite have the same story appeal. Therefore, the Western media just ignore Yemen.
The jihadists fighting in Yemen are linked to the Sunni extremists of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State network, specializing in suicide bomb attacks on mosques frequented by the Shia Houthis.
Washington and its Western allies are thus heavily involved in an illegal war of aggression against Yemen, prosecuted by Saudi Arabia and other Arab dictatorships working in collusion with Islamist terror networks. Adding “efficacy” to this state-sponsored terrorism is the humanitarian siege imposed on the population.
What is happening in Yemen is truly a heinous crime against humanity committed by Western governments. It is an unspeakable crime. And that is why the Western media will not dare talk about it. The Western media are obliged to ignore, obfuscate and distort the shocking truth of what their governments are committing in Yemen.
This makes the Western media just as complicit in the appalling criminality.
From Regional War, “Regime Change” to Global Warfare
2015 has become a year of living dangerously.
Wars are spreading across the globe.
Wars are escalating as new countries are bombed and the old are ravaged with ever greater intensity.
Countries, where relatively peaceful changes had taken place through recent elections, are now on the verge of civil wars.
These are wars without victors, but plenty of losers; wars that don’t end; wars where imperial occupations are faced with prolonged resistance.
There are never-ending torrents of war refugees flooding across borders. Desperate people are detained, degraded and criminalized for being the survivors and victims of imperial invasions.
Now major nuclear powers face off in Europe and Asia: NATO versus Russia, US-Japan versus China. Will these streams of blood and wars converge into one radiated wilderness drained of its precious life blood?
Living Dangerously: The Rising Tide of Violent Conflicts
There is no question that wars and military threats have replaced diplomacy, negotiations and democratic elections as the principal means of resolving political conflicts. Throughout the present year (2015) wars have spread across borders and escalated in intensity.
The NATO allies, US, Turkey and the EU have openly attacked Syria with air strikes and ground troops. There are plans to occupy the northern sector of that ravaged country, creating what the Erdogan regime dubs a ‘buffer zone’ cleansed of its people and villages.
Under the pretext of ‘fighting ISIS’, the Turkish government is bombing Kurds (civilians and resistance fighters) and their Syrian allies. On Syria’s southern border, US Special Forces have accelerated and expanded operations from their bases in Jordan on behalf of the mercenary terrorists – funded by the monarchist Gulf States.
Over 4 million Syrians have fled their homes as refugees and over 200,000 have been killed since the US-EU-Turkey-Saudi-sponsored war against the secular Syrian government was launched four years ago.
Dozens of terrorist, mercenary and sectarian groups have carved up Syria into rival fiefdoms, pillaged its economic and cultural resources and reduced the economy by over ninety percent.
The US-EU-Turkish military intervention extends the war into Iraq, Lebanon and…. Turkey – attacking secular governments, ethnic minority groups and secular civil society.
The feudal, monarchist Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have invaded Yemen with tanks, launching air strikes against a country without any air defenses. Major cities and towns are devastated. Saudi ground troops and armored carriers are killing and wounding thousands – mostly civilians. The brutal Saudi air and sea blockade of Yemen’s ports have led to a humanitarian crisis, as ten million Yemenis face starvation deliberately imposed by a grotesque and obscenely rich monarchy.
The Yemeni resistance fighters, driven out of the major cities, are preparing for prolonged guerrilla warfare against the Saudi monsters and their puppets. Their resistance has already spread across the frontiers of the absolutist Saudi dictatorship.
The brutal Israeli occupation troops, in collaboration with armed ‘settler’ colonists, have accelerated their violent seizure of Palestinian lands. They have stepped up the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, Bedouins, Druze and Christian inhabitants replacing their communities with racist ‘Jews-only’ colonial settlements.
Daily assaults against the huge ‘concentration camps’ of Gaza accompany an armed blockade of land, air and water, preventing the reconstruction of the tens of thousands of homes, schools, hospital, factories and infrastructure, destroyed by last year’s Israeli blitzkrieg.
Israel’s continued annexation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian territory precludes any diplomatic process; colonial wars have been and continue to be Israel’s policy of choice in dealing with its Arab neighbors and captive populations.
Africa’s wars, resulting from earlier US-EU interventions, continue to ravage-the Continent. Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Libya are riven by bloody conflicts between US-EU backed regimes and armed Islamic and nationalist resistance movements.
Throughout North and Sub-Sahara Africa, US-EU backed regimes have provoked armed upheavals in Libya, Nigeria (Boko Harem), Egypt (ISIS, Moslem Brotherhood et al), Chad, Niger, South Sudan, Somalia and elsewhere.
Imperial client Egyptian and Ethiopian dictators rule with iron fists – financed and armed by their EU and US sponsors.
Imperial wars rage throughout the Middle East and South Asia. Hundreds of experienced Baathist Iraqi military officers, who had been expelled or jailed and tortured by the US Occupation army, have now made common cause with Islamist fighters to form ISIS and effectively occupy a third of Iraq and a strategic swath of Syria.
There are daily bombings in Baghdad undermining its US client. Strategic advances by ISIS are forcing the US to resume and escalate its direct combat role
The US-Baghdad retreat and the defeat of the US-trained Iraqi military in the face of the Baathist-Islamist offensive is the opening salvo of a long-term, large-scale war in Iraq and Syria. The Turkish air-war against the Kurds in Iraq will escalate the war in Northern Iraq and extend it into southeast Turkey.
Closer to ‘home’, the EU-US-backed coup (‘regime change’) in Kiev and the attempt to impose dictatorial-pro-West oligarchic rule in Ukraine have detonated a prolonged civil-national war devastating the country and pitting NATO’s proxies against Russian-backed allies in the Donbas.
US, England, Poland and other NATO powers are deeply committed to pushing war right up to Russia’s borders.
There is a new Cold War, with the imposition of wide-ranging US-EU economic sanctions against Russia and the organizing of major NATO military exercises on Russia’s doorsteps. It is no surprise that these provocations are met with a major counter-response – the Russian military build-up. The NATO power grab in Ukraine, which first led to a local ethnic war, now escalates to a global confrontation and may move toward a nuclear confrontation as Russia absorbs hundreds of thousands of refugees from the slaughter in Ukraine.
The US puppet regime in Afghanistan has faced a major advance of the Taliban in all regions, including the capital, Kabul.
The Afghan war is intensifying and the US-backed Kabul regime is in retreat. US troops can scarcely advance beyond their bunkers.
As the Taliban military advances, its leaders demand total surrender of the Kabul puppets and the withdrawal of US troops. The US response will be a prolonged escalation of war.
Pakistan, bristling with US arms, faces a major conflict along its borders with India and permanent war in its semi-autonomous Northwest frontier states with Islamist and ethnic Pashtu guerrilla movements backed by mass regional political parties. These parties exercise de facto control over the Northwest region providing sanctuary and arms for Taliban militants operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Armed ethno-religious conflicts persist in western China, Myanmar and northern India. There are large-scale popular resistance movements in the militant northeast Thailand opposed to the current military-monarchist dictatorship in Bangkok.
In the 21st century, in South and Southeast Asia, as in the rest of the world, war and armed conflicts have become central in resolving ethnic, social, tribal and regional differences with central states: diplomacy and democratic elections have been rendered obsolete and inefficient.
Latin America – On the Verge
Burgeoning violent extra-parliamentary right-wing movements, intent on overthrowing or ‘impeaching’ elected center-left Latin American governments face major confrontations with the state and its mass supporters.
In Ecuador, Venezuela and Brazil, US-backed opposition groups are engaged in violent demonstrations, directed toward ousting the elected regimes. In the case of Ecuador, ‘popular sectors’, including some indigenous leaders and sectors of the trade union movement, have called for an ‘uprising’ to oust President Correa. They seem oblivious of the fact that the hard-right oligarchs who now control key offices in the three principal cities (Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca) will be the real beneficiaries of their ‘uprisings’.
The resurgent Right envisions violent ‘regime change’ as the first step toward ‘wiping the slate clean’ of a decade of social reforms, independent regional organizations and independent foreign policies.
‘Civil war’ may be too strong a word for the situation in Latin America at this time – but this is the direction which the US-backed opposition is heading. Faced with the mess and difficulty of dislodging incumbent regimes via elections, the US and its local proxies have opted for the choreography of street violence, sabotage, martial law and coups – to be followed by sanitized elections – with US-vetted candidates.
War and violence run rampant through Mexico and most of Central America. A US-backed military coup ousted the popularly elected, independent President Zelaya in Honduras. The ensuing US-proxy regime has murdered and jailed hundreds of pro-democracy dissidents and driven thousands to flee the violence.
The 1990’s US-brokered ‘Peace Accords’ in El Salvador and Guatemala effectively blocked any agrarian reform and income redistribution that might have led to the rebuilding of their civil societies. This has led to over two decades of mass disaffection, the rise of armed ‘gangs’ numbering over 100,000 members and an average of six to ten thousand homicides a year with El Salvador becoming the ‘murder capital of the hemisphere’ on a per capita basis. The annual murder toll under the US-brokered ‘Peace Accords’ now exceeds those killed each year during the civil war.
The real ‘carnage capital’ of the hemisphere is Mexico. Over 100,000 people have been murdered during the decade-long, US-backed ‘war on drugs’ – a war which has become a state-sponsored war on the Mexican people.
The internal war has allowed the Mexican government to privatize and sell the crown jewels of the national economy – the petroleum industry. While thousands of Mexicans are terrorized and slaughtered, the US and EU oil companies are curiously shielded from the drug lords. The same Mexican government, its police, officials and military, who collaborate with the drug lords in dividing up the billions of drug dollars, protect foreign oil companies and their executives. After all, narco-dollars are laundered by banks in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and London to help fuel the speculation!
From Regional to Nuclear Wars
Regional and local wars spread under the shadow of a looming world war. The US moves its arms, planes, bases and operations to the Russian and Chinese borders.
Never have so many US troops and war planes been placed in so many strategic locations, often less than an hour drive from major Russian cities.
Not even during the height of the Cold War, did the US impose so many economic sanctions against Russian enterprises.
In Asia, Washington is organizing major trade, military and diplomatic treaties designed to exclude and undermine China’s growth as a trade competitor. It is engaged in provocative activities comparable to the boycott and blockade of Japan which led to the Second World War in Asia.
Open ‘warfare by proxy’ in Ukraine is perhaps the first salvo of the Third World War in Europe. The US-EU-sponsored coup in Kiev has led to the annexation of Western Ukraine. In response to the threat of violence toward the ethnic Russian majority in Crimea and the loss of its strategic naval base on the Black Sea, Russia annexed Crimea.
In the lead-up to the Second World War, Germany annexed Austria. In a similar manner the US-EU installed a puppet regime in Kiev by violent putsch as its own initial steps toward major power grabs in Central Asia. The military build-up includes the placement of major, forward offensive military bases in Poland.
Warsaw’s newly elected hard-right regime of President Andrzej Duda has demanded that Poland become NATO’s central military base of operation and the front line in a war against Russia.
Wars and More Wars and the Never-ending Torrents of Refugees
The US and EU imperial wars have devastated the lives and livelihoods of scores of millions of people in South Asia, North and Sub-Sahara Africa, Central America, Mexico, the Balkans and now Ukraine.
Four million Syrian refugees have joined millions of Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi, Yemeni, Somali, Libyan, Palestinian and Sudanese refugees fleeing US-EU bombs, drones and proxy mercenaries ravaging their countries.
Millions of war refugees escape toward safety in Western Europe, joining the millions of economic refugees who have fled free market destitution in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, the Balkans and other EU satellites.
Panic among the civilian population of Western Europe sets in as hundreds of thousands cross the Mediterranean, the Aegean and the Balkans.
Droves of refugees perish each day. Tens of thousands crowd detention centers. Local labor markets are saturated. Social services are overwhelmed.
The US builds walls and detention camps for the millions trying to escape the harsh consequences of imperial-centered free markets in Mexico, narco-terror and the fraudulent ‘peace accord’-induced violence in Central America.
As Western wars advance, the desperate refugees multiply. The poor and destitute clamber at the gates of the imperial heartland crying: ‘Your bombs and your destruction of our homelands have driven us here, now you must deal with us in your homeland’.
Fomenting class war between the refugees and ‘natives’ of the imperial West – may not be on the agenda . . . for now, but the future for ‘civil’ society in Europe and the US is bleak.
Meanwhile, more and even bigger wars are on the horizon and additional millions of civilians will be uprooted and face the choice of starving, fleeing with their families or fighting the empire. The ranks of seasoned and infuriated resistance fighters are swelling in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Ukraine and elsewhere.
The US and EU are becoming armed fortresses. US police deal with the marginalized citizenry as an occupying army, assaulting African-Americans, immigrants and dissidents – while looting poor communities . . . and protecting the rich…
War is everywhere and expanding: No continent or region, big or small, is free from the contagion of war.
Imperial wars have spawn local wars . . . igniting mass flights in a never-ending cycle. There are no real diplomatic success stories! There are no enduring, viable peace accords!
Some pundits may protest this analysis: They point to the recent US – Cuba rapprochement as a ‘success’. They conveniently forget that the US is still subverting Cuba’s biggest trading partner, Venezuela; that Washington’s major regional proxies are demanding regime change among Cuba’s allies in Ecuador, Brazil and Bolivia and that Washington is increasingly threatening Cuba’s alternative markets in Russia and China. The vision of the US flag flapping in the breeze outside its embassy in Havana does little to cover Washington’s iron fist threatening Cuba’s allies.
Others cite the US – Iran peace accord as a major ‘success’. They ignore that the US is backing the bloody Saudi invasion of neighboring Yemen and the massacre of Shiite communities; that the US has provided Israel with a road map detailing Iran’s entire defense system and that the US [Israel] and EU are bombing Iran’s Syrian ally without mercy.
As for the US – Cuba and Iranian agreements– are they enduring and strategic or just tactical imperial moves preparing for even greater assaults?
The war epidemic is not receding.
War refugees are still fleeing; they have no homes or communities left.
Disorder and destruction are increasing, not decreasing; there is no rebuilding the shattered societies, not in Gaza, not in Fallujah, not in the Donbas, not in Guerrero, not in Aleppo.
Europe feels the tremors of a major conflagration.
Americans still believe that the two oceans will protect them. They are told that placing NATO missiles on Russia’s borders and stationing warships off China’s shores and building electrified walls and laying barbed wire along the Rio Grande will protect them. Such is their faith in their political leaders and propagandists.
What a packet of lies! Inter-continental missiles can ‘rain down’ on New York, Washington and Los Angeles.
It is time to wake up!
It is time to stop the US – EU headlong race to World War III!
Where to start? Libya has been irrevocably destroyed; it is too late there! Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are aflame. We are being plunged deeper into war while being told we are withdrawing! Ukraine sucks in more guns and more troops!
Can we really have peace with Iran if we cannot control our own government as it dances to the Israelis tune? And Israel insists on war – our waging war for them! As the Israeli war criminal General and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon once told some worried American Zionists: “Trouble with the US? We lead them by the nose…!”
Just look at the terrified families fleeing carnage in the Middle East or Mexico.
What is to be done?
When will we cut our losses and shake off the bonds of these war makers – foreign and domestic?
While four out of five Yemenis require humanitarian assistance amid the airstrikes and ground fighting in the country, UN agencies have still not received the funding from Saudi Arabia of $274 million pledged in April, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien told the Security Council Wednesday.
O’Brien noted the humanitarian assistance alone cannot meet all the needs of an entire country with a population of 26 million people, and that the response plan will only be funded at 33 percent even once the funds from Saudi Arabia are received.
“The civilian population is bearing the brunt of the conflict. A shocking four of out five Yemenis require humanitarian assistance and nearly 1.5 million people are internally displaced… To date only 18 percent, some 282 million US dollars, of the $1.6 billion requested through the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan has been received. UN agencies have still not received the funding from Saudi Arabia of $274 million pledged in April,” O’Brien said in an open briefing.
Yemen has been engulfed in the military conflict between Houthis, the country’s main opposition faction, and government forces loyal to its president in exile.
A coalition of Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, has been launching airstrikes on Yemeni areas under control of the Houthi militants since March under the request of the country’s president-in-exile.
The ongoing hostilities in Yemen have claimed the lives of at least 1,900 civilians and more than 4,000 have suffered injuries, according to the United Nations.
Some 21 million are in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says around 400 children have been killed in Yemen since late March, when Saudi Arabia launched a military campaign against its impoverished neighbor.
In a report titled “Yemen: Childhood Under Threat”, the UNICEF said that as many as 398 children have been killed and nearly 600 others sustained injuries since March 26.
“Since the conflict escalated on 26 March 2015,” the report said, “Nearly three children are being killed every day and another five injured.”
The report also described Yemen as one of “the most terrifying places in the world to be a child,” stressing that almost 10 million children are in the dire need of humanitarian assistance.
“Overall, around 1.8 million children are likely to suffer from some form of malnutrition in Yemen in this year alone,” the reports said.
It said that 95 schools have been completely destroyed due to shelling or airstrikes by Saudi Arabia, and 305 other schools have been damaged since the end of March.
It said that almost 3,600 schools have been closed in the country, which has affected over 1.8 million children.
Julien Harneis, the representative for UNICEF in Yemen said, “This conflict is a particular tragedy for Yemeni children.”
“We urgently need funds so we can reach children in desperate need,” said Harneis, adding, “We cannot stand by and let children suffer the consequences of a humanitarian catastrophe.”
Saudi Arabia launched its aggression against Yemen on March 26 – without a UN mandate – in an effort to undermine Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement and to restore power to the country’s fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.
The UN says the conflict in Yemen has killed more than 4,000 people, nearly half of them civilians, since late March. Local Yemeni sources, however, say the fatality figure is much higher.
The United States has more than doubled the number of its military staff “providing intelligence, munitions and midair refueling” for Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes on Yemen.
The number of so-called American advisors working at joint military operations centers in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain has risen from 20 to 45, The Los Angeles Times reports.
In addition, US warships have also helped enforce a naval blockade in the Gulf of Aden and southern Arabian Sea.
US officials stress the sea cordon is intended to prevent weapons shipments to Ansarullah fighters.
However, human rights groups say the blockade has hindered imports of basic commodities, including food and fuel, to the impoverished nation.
Saudi Arabia launched its military aggression against Yemen on March 26 – without a UN mandate – in an effort to undermine Yemen’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, whose fighters had forced the US-backed president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, into exile.
A US special operations team was deployed at al-Anad, the country’s largest airbase, to collect intelligence and launch drone strikes in southern Yemen, until it was driven out in March as Ansarullah fighters advanced.
American officials said last week that they will not deploy the team back to Yemen until Hadi, the fugitive former president, is restored to power.
The humanitarian situation has become critical in Yemen, with many international aid organizations seeking a safe passage into the country to supply medical and humanitarian supplies to the most affected people.
Human rights group Amnesty International said in a report that the Saudi airstrikes have mostly pounded populated areas with no identifiable military targets nearby, leaving a “bloody trail of civilian death.”
The onslaught has claimed more than 4,300 lives and forced more than 1.3 million others from their homes since March, according to United Nations agencies.
Saudi Arabia has invaded and occupied Yemen’s strategic Island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean and is now building its biggest naval base there, Fars news agency reported.
“Hundreds of workers from Asian countries have been deployed by the Saudi navy to construct the kingdom’s naval base on the island,” Arabic-language Al-Ittihad news website quoted informed sources as saying on Sunday.
Socotra is a small archipelago of four islands in the Indian Ocean; the largest island, also called Socotra, is about 95 percent of the landmass of the archipelago. Socotra is located between the continents of Asia and Africa.
Saudi Arabia is launching a wide-scale military campaign against Yemen and it has been striking the impoverished nation for the last 144 days to restore power to fugitive president Abed-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.
The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 5,419 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.
WASHINGTON — The US armed forces are using a growing number of mercenaries or contractors to operate lethal drone attacks as regular troops are increasingly unwilling to do so, experts told Sputnik.
“‘Private contractors’, mercenaries, have been involved in US drone surveillance and attack for some time, certainly with the CIA, and most probably not only in intelligence analysis, but also in the roles of pilots and sensor operators,” KnowDrones.com Coordinator Nick Mottern told Sputnik on Friday.
The sensor operators are the people who pull the trigger to launch Hellfire missiles and bombs, he said.
Mottern noted the need to hire mercenaries indicates that the US military is not able, for whatever reason, to find enough people within its ranks to do such work.
“This is… because it is involving an increasing amount of killing, and, I suspect, an increasing amount of PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder].”
The situation, Mottern continued, presents a major legal problem for the contracting companies and the military alike, because of the question who should be held accountable for the killing going on conducted by drones.
“[T]he critical decisions of identifying ‘the enemy’ are being made by civilians who are under no official chain of command,” he added.
All drone killing remains clearly in violation of international law and US domestic law against assassination, Mottern pointed out.
Yet, “here we have the US paying civilians to do illegal killing without even the legal accountability applied to the US military,” he said. “[T]he mercenaries are accountable only to their employers who most assuredly are encouraging high kill totals to ensure continued contracts. “
This lack of accountability and of any clear chain of command “obviously means dramatically increased jeopardy for the people under surveillance and drone attack; that is a dramatic increase in the number of people being killed and terrorized,” Mottern explained.
The unwillingness of the US military to comment on this situation is evidence of its illegality, the activist argued.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), Mottern said, has documented up to nearly 6,000 people killed by US drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, not including those killed in Afghanistan before 2015, or those killed by drone attacks in Iraq, Libya or possibly Syria.
“The extent of drone surveillance, killing and terrorism going on is very likely far beyond what is documented by [the BIJ figures],” Mottern warned.
Upstate Drone Acton activist Ed Kinane told Sputnik on Friday that the scale of drone operations and the amount of carnage they will inflict looks likely to increase in coming months.
“The problem isn’t ‘lack of personnel’; the problem is an overabundance of opportunities for surveillance and killing — thanks to the US military’s drive for assassination, intervention and invasion,” Kinane said.
The continued and increasing cycles of war generate further profit for major defense contractors in the United States and its close allies, Kinane claimed.
“More war equals more profit, [therefore] perpetual war equals perpetual profit [and] more regional instability equals more opportunities to secure control over resources of fractured nations,” Kinane argued.
The intelligence analysts now employed by the Pentagon will likely eventually be involved in domestic police and intelligence work as well, Kinane predicted.
WASHINGTON — The United States’ weapons and logistical support for Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen signals that Washington is backing Riyadh’s goal to crush Houthi rebels despite UN calls for a political solution, experts told Sputnik on Friday.
The United States is providing intelligence and refueling support to enable a four-month-old Saudi-led air campaign against Houthi rebels and allied forces.
On Thursday, Washington decided to provide Riyadh with $500 million in ammunition to replenish stocks used up in the campaign.
“The Saudis want an extended war that leads to a Houthi defeat, and the United States is effectively backing that strategy with the arms deal,” Charles Schmitz, a specialist on Yemen at the Middle East Institute told Sputnik.
“The Saudis don’t want a political settlement; they want a Houthi surrender,” he added.
This week’s $500 million weapons deal, which includes ammunition, tracers, artillery shells and mines, is meant to resupply the Saudi military in its campaign against Houthi rebels, according to the State Department.
The sale was approved as Saudi Arabia has come under criticism for human rights abuses and violations of the international law of war by targeting and killing civilians in Yemen.
The conflict has claimed the lives of at least 1,900 civilians and has injured more than 4,000, according to the UN, while leaving 80 percent of the country in need of humanitarian assistance.
“The new sale by the United States of $500 million of munitions to Saudi Arabia is yet another example of how America is actually an active combatant in the Saudi war on the people of Yemen,” Haykal Bafana, Managing Director of Bafana Advisory, told Sputnik from Sana.
“Whether the US munitions are distributed by Riyadh for use by its Yemeni proxy forces or by the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] itself, the effect is similar: the United States is contributing actively to the deaths of more Yemenis,” Bafana added.
The multi-front war in Yemen pits Houthi rebels and loyalists of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against ousted President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi’s Sunni forces, tribes and south Yemen secessionists based in Aden.
Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula and the ISIL have also taken advantage of the situation to strengthen their hold in Yemen.
Saudi trained Yemeni proxies loyal to former president Hadi have recently pushed Houthi forces from Aden as several humanitarian ceasefires and political talks have broken-down.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has delayed a pledge to provide $274 million in humanitarian aid to Yemen as the UN and Riyadh discuss the terms of the assistance, the UN’s humanitarian chief said this week.
Fresh controversy has emerged about RAF airmen embedded in an American drone unit, which is known to be carrying out airstrikes in Syria after the charity Reprieve gained access to a joint US-UK memo.
Responding to Reprieve’s request in November, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said there were “currently” no RAF personnel embedded with the United States Air Force’s (USAF) 432nd unit based at Creech airbase in Nevada.
It now appears that the response was not given in good faith – while there may have been no personnel at Creech in November, RAF airmen have been embedded there since 2008 and are there presently.
The MoD confirmed on Wednesday there were indeed UK armed forces personnel currently at the base.
If UK personnel are involved in strikes in countries like Pakistan and Yemen, with whom the UK is not ‘legally’ at war, there may be legal issues.
Strikes on Syria would also be illegal given a 2013 parliamentary vote on bombing within the borders of the war-ravaged nation.
The memo concerns the embedding of UK personnel in US units in order to make up for manning shortfalls. It referred to them as “a gift of services to fulfill US air force operational requirements.”
The three-year postings for pilot and sensor operators for both Reaper and Predator drones are described as involving a role in “worldwide operations” and taking part in operations that determine and hit viable targets “in conjunction with the combined air operations center rules of engagement, but always adhering to the legal framework for the operation in question.”
Concerns over the activities of embedded personnel have been under the spotlight over the last two weeks since they emerged after a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, also by Reprieve, that UK pilots had been bombing targets in Syria despite the 2013 vote and resulting democratic ban on doing so.
It was later confirmed that each mission, reportedly carried out by Royal Navy pilots operating from US aircraft carriers in the Gulf, received specific parliamentary authorization.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has since defended the operations, saying that UK personnel embedded with allied forces were effectively “foreign troops.”
MOSCOW – Western countries expect changes in Iran’s policy in the Middle East following a nuclear deal concluded between Tehran and the international negotiators, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Sunday.
On Tuesday, Iran and the P5+1 group, comprising China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and the United States, concluded a historic agreement to ensure the peaceful nature of the country’s nuclear program.
“I spoke to [Iranian] President Rouhani yesterday and I said that we want to see a change in an approach that Iran takes to issues like Syria and Yemen and to terrorism in the region and we want the change in [Iran’s] behavior,” Cameron said on NBC News’ Meet the Press.
The prime minister added that the nuclear deal with Iran could lead to this change and was “so much better than the alternative,” since without the deal Iran would obtain nuclear weapon and Western countries might have to begin military action in the region against Iran.
The P5+1 international negotiators have been attempting to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran that would insure the peaceful nature of the country’s nuclear program since November 2013, when an interim was signed.
According to the final text of the nuclear agreement, Iran will under no circumstances seek to develop or acquire a nuclear weapon and, in exchange, will receive sanctions relief. The text details how the final treaty will positively contribute to regional Middle Eastern security.
On Saturday, the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran would not change its rigid stance on defense capability and regional policy in light of the agreement with the international negotiators.
Former engineer Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, according to investigators, was a lone gunman with no prior infractions who this week targeted two US military facilities in Tennessee, killing four militants and no civilians.
Salman bin Abdulaziz is one of the world’s worst dictators. He has many prior infractions, such as publicly announcing becoming a rogue nuclear state, beheading and torturing hundreds of people and repressing millions, and is currently carrying out a war of aggression against one of the poorest countries in the world, Yemen, killing thousands of civilians and enforcing a blockade that risks starving millions, as Yemen imports almost all of its food.
The despot Abdulaziz is one of Washington’s top allies. His terrorist regime is the recipient of the biggest shipment of weapons in US history, approved by Obama in 2010 (the US is the world’s biggest arms trafficker). These killing machines are now being used on the people of Yemen. In 2013, Obama sent the despot almost a billion dollars worth of banned cluster bombs, which both Obama and Abdulaziz have now used against Yemenis.
Many foreign nationals are trapped in the war-zone in Yemen, and eight countries, including India, China, and Russia, are performing risky missions to rescue civilians, their own citizens as well as others. While there are thousands of US civilians trapped in Yemen, Washington vocally refuses to rescue them, issuing a facile claim that it would be too risky, while at the same time performing rescue missions for Saudi pilots whose planes have gone down in Yemen.
Washington is also personally coordinating with dictator Abdulaziz on the strikes, and is refueling the US planes being flown by Saudi pilots.
Obama continues to bomb Yemen himself, killing hundreds of suspects and civilians in a death campaign he has been pursuing for years. He is also participating in enforcing the blockade, which human rights groups say has led the country to the brink of a mass humanitarian catastrophe.
The attack by Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez is a small and diluted taste – no explosives were used and no suspects or civilians were killed – of what drone strikes on one’s country are like.
Whenever the US gets a small taste of its own medicine, it doesn’t like it, yet continues to administer the medicine to others in mega-doses. Washington elites know their violence causes violent retaliation, but continue it because they themselves are insulated and safe, and only lower-level grunts and civilians, their human shields, will take the hits.
The Tennessee shooter is quoted in his high school year book as saying that his name, Abdulazeez, “causes national security alerts”. This is now literally true, but is dependent on circumstances. One attack by an Abdulazeez is saturating US headlines and receiving stark condemnation from the US government/oligarchy (Obama called it “heartbreaking”), while an incomparably worse attack by an incomparably worse Abdulaziz, raining down on thousands of people, including US Americans abandoned by their oligarchy, is met with media silence and extreme support and participation from Washington.
Author is a US-based researcher focusing on force dynamics, national and global. @_DirtyTruths
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the ongoing sectarian and tribal wars have been imposed on the Middle East region to deflect Muslims’ attention away from the atrocities of the Israeli regime.
The Leader made the remarks in a Saturday meeting with senior Iranian officials and ambassadors of Muslim countries posted in Iran on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
“If the Islamic Ummah were united and relied on their own commonalities, they would certainly be a unique power in the international political scene but big powers have imposed such divisions on the Islamic Ummah to pursue their own interests and safeguard the Zionist regime [of Israel],” Ayatollah Khamenei said.
The Leader added that certain incompetent officials in Muslim countries support the “illegitimate” Israeli regime, noting that arrogant powers created “criminal” terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and the ISIL.
“Iran has no trust in the US because American politicians are completely dishonest and unfair,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.
He stressed the importance of reinforcing unity among Muslim nations, and said Shia and Sunni Muslims have long coexisted peacefully in the region.
“With regard to regional issues like Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Bahrain, the Islamic Republic of Iran does not pursue its own interests but it believes that the main decision-makers in these counties are the nations and others have no right to interfere and make decisions,” the Leader said.
Ayatollah Khamenei pointed to arrogant powers’ policies on Yemen, saying the US is supporting the Arab country’s fugitive former president who left the country at a sensitive juncture.
He added that arrogant powers also seek to overthrow a popular government in Iraq, sow discord among Muslims and divide the country, but the Islamic Republic’s policy vis-a-vis its western neighbor is based on supporting a democratic government, resisting factors of civil wars and defending Iraq’s territorial integrity.
Arrogant powers intend to oust the Syrian government which is strongly resisting the Israeli regime, the Leader said, adding that Iran considers an anti-Zionist country as useful for the Muslim world.
Ayatollah Khamenei once again reaffirmed Iran’s support for the Lebanese resistance movement due to its bravery and genuine resistance against aggressive powers.
“The Americans dub the Lebanese resistance as terrorist and regard Iran as a supporter of terrorism because of its support for the Lebanese Hezbollah, while the Americans, themselves, are the real terrorists who have created Daesh [ISIL] and support the wicked Zionists,” the Leader said.
Ayatollah Khamenei further pointed to the latest round of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in Vienna, and called on the Iranian nation to remain united because the negotiators are pursuing national interests.