Based on the latest United Nations estimates; ‘as of 1 November 2016 , health facilities reported more than 7000 people killed and more than 43,000 injured since mid-March 2015, including more than 3,200 children killed or injured. (UNOCHA) (out of an estimated totally Yemeni population of 27,913,984).
Medical materials are in chronically short supply, and only 45 per cent of health facilities are functioning. As of October 2016, at least 274 health facilities had been damaged or destroyed in the conflict, 13 health workers had been killed and 31 injured.
Saudi intervention in what was till 2015 a relatively low-level civil war between rival Yemen factions, began in March 2015, to support one of the pro-Saudi factions, and it would appear, to successfully strengthen the hold of Al Qaeda in the south of Yemen.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) states that as of March 2017:
The humanitarian situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate almost one and a half years after the escalation of conflict in March 2015.The escalation amplified an already existing protracted crisis, which was characterised by widespread poverty, conflict, poor governance and weak rule of law, including widely reported human rights violations.
Yemen was already the poorest county in the Middle East when the crisis escalated. Men, women, and children were already facing a humanitarian crisis, stemmed from years of poverty, poor governance, and instability, including widespread violations of human rights. The situation has only worsened in the past year and the speed and scale of the deterioration is alarming. The economy is near collapse, public and private services have all but disappeared, and Yemenis have lost most of their livelihoods and have depleted most of their saving. Yemen has turned into a protection crisis where the average citizen is facing tremendous hardships and the most vulnerable populations are struggling simply to survive.
More than 19 months since conflict escalated have left an estimated 18.8 million people in need some kind of assistance or protection in order to meet their basic needs, including 10.3 million who are in acute need. This represents an increase of almost 20 per cent since late 2014 and is driven by increases across key sectors. The 18.8 million people in need estimation is lower than the 21.2 million cited for 2016. These changes do not reflect an improvement in the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen, but rather a further tightening around priorities based on a rigorous analysis of evidence.
Even Human Rights Watch, a notoriously Western biased “human rights’ organization committed to western ‘human rights interventions’ (read ‘invasions of countries of people who are not white’), has stated that ‘With help from former President Saleh, Houthis, the Zaidi Shia group, took control of the capital and much of the north in late 2014. President Hadi and his cabinet fled to Saudi Arabia in early 2015 and in March, a Saudi Arabia-led coalition launched air strikes against the Houthis. Dozens of the airstrikes appeared to violate the laws of war. Houthi forces laid landmines and used other indiscriminate weapons in unlawful attacks . The UN reported in January 2016 that the conflict had claimed 2,795 civilian lives in 2015.
Not only is Saudi Arabia deploying the largest arsenal in the Middle East courtesy of the United States and the U.K.) against the impoverished country of Yemen, but it has financed armed and trained their Wahabbhi ‘rebels’ like Al Qaeda and Al Nusra in Syria along with Qatar, to a massive degree over the past few years. The vicious sectarian ideologies of the Saudi ‘kingdom’s’ Wahabbists; long supported and bolstered by the U.K. , are the rationale for killing anyone who does not espouse those extremist Sunni views. The 40-45% of Yemenese who follow the Zaidi order of Shia Islam- many of whom are supporters of the Houthis, are therefore regarded as apostates for extermination by the Wahabbists. Small wonder that Saudi pilots are clearly under order to attack Shi-ite civilian centres. It should however be noted that given the U.K.’s longstanding and extensive role in human rights abuses and war crimes in Yemen (particularly in 1964 supporting the Saudis) as detailed in Christopher Davidson’s book “The Shadow Wars: the Secret Struggle for the Middle East” , as well as the huge investment by the UK war machine and the incompetence of the Saudi military, it is highly likely that, as in 1964, “retired’ RAF pilots are engaged in the aerial bombardment of civilians in Yemen and other atrocities.
As supposedly democratic and humanitarian Western governments usually do in times like these, the U.K. government has contracted lawyers to concoct grotesque legal arguments that their massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia and their support of U.S. drone killings in Yemen, do not constitute an equally massive violation of the rule of international law. The U.K. Government, its foreign policy advisors and its hand-in-glove armaments manufacturers are once again undoubtedly guilty of horrifying war crimes.
Middle East Eye notes that The UK government licensed arms exports worth £3.3bn ($4.2bn) to Saudi Arabia during the first 12 months of the Saudi-led conflict in Yemen, a campaign group has revealed. The Campaign Against Arms Trade’s analysis of government figures, released this week, shows the total is at least £500m more than previously thought.
From April 2015, the UK approved exports including so-called smart bombs, components for combat aircraft, armoured vehicles and communications equipment.
The government in Riyadh is the UK arms industry’s biggest customer and the figures show that the Middle East is the UK’s largest overall export market for weapons, including Eurofighter Typhoon jets that have dropped devastating 2,000-lb bombs in urban areas in Yemen.
Note only has the UK been supplying the corrupt regime in Riyadh with massive amounts of military hardware over many many years , but it also has (as do the Americans) personnel on the ground assisting the Saudis in their genocide.
The U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia however, dwarfs the U.K.’s historical complicity with the brutal Saudi regime. Since 2009, the Obama administration’s has signed Saudi Arabia up to $57 billion worth of arms sales.
Manifestly internationally illegal U.S. drone murders in Yemen have been targeting Al Qaeda there for the past 15 years. Supposedly these drone strikes target Al Qaeda leaders in Yemen, yet mysteriously Al Qaeda has steadily grown in power and influence; particularly and predictably since the Saudis launched their war against the Houthis, supported by the U.S. and the U.K. Now the Trump administration is once again increasing the Yemen drone strikes.
In addition, the Saudis, despite their denials, are enforcing a naval and air blockade of Houthi held areas of Yemen, further exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation on the ground. The Saudis and United States and the mainstream media claim, without any evidence, that the Iranians are militarily supporting the Houthis. Should this have been the case, we would have seen satellite imagery of Iranian planes and ships trying to break the blockade, if not Iranian seized vessels and arms.
The reality is that the Houthis have more than enough weaponry through the Yemen army that have largely backed the Houthis, and through seized armaments from the Saudis. While a different branch of Shi-ism, the Iranian government is clearly sympathetic to the Houthis and is likely to have at least supplied the Houthis with the technical now-how for their devastating missile attacks on Saudi troop deployments.
The sad reality is that Western democracies have cloaked their barbarities in pursuit of profit and power under labels of ‘ bringing the true religion’, ‘civilisation’, ‘democracy’ and ‘humanitarian intervention’, since long before the rise of capitalism. Western governments cannot kill their own populations in large numbers as they would no longer be in power at the next election!: instead they are licensed to kill the ‘other’, the ‘dark races’, the ‘uncivilized’, the ‘un-Christian’ in ‘foreign’ countries. Yemen is the epitome of ‘foreign’ to the West. For not only are they of significant interest to the West’s pawns in Riyadh, the Saudis; they are also tribal, dark skinned, and at the bottom of the heap in terms of poverty and far away from the gaze of Western publics. An ‘ideal’ testing ground for Western weapons.
The Gulf potentates are therefore none better for the West to sell vast amounts of weapons to, and watch their incompetent new owners destroy them in vast numbers in the vicious war with the Houthis and their allies in Yemen. It makes little difference to their Western minders that the Saudis are committing genocide in Yemen; aided with targeting facilities and refueling of aircraft by the United States and U.K trainers..
The current application of the rule of law in international politics and conflict is a complete farce. It is grounded purely in ‘right is might’; which for this current and previous century at least, has been the prerogative of Western powers against ‘The South’. That dynamic is now of course changing rapidly with the rise of China and the resurgence of Russian military power.
Should we see the control of the International War Crimes Tribunal pass from Western judges who have been consistently ‘pressured’ by Western governments to take certain political stances, to Russian or even Chinese adjudicators; we may finally see some justice in bringing the long line of Western politicians and military leaders responsible for more than a century of horrendous war crimes around the world, to justice.
Finally, while the removal of suffering of Yemen’s humans should be the priority of our fellow humans; there is no-one and nothing that protects the devastation to the other species that were already struggling to survive before this brutal war erupted.
While we have likely already passed the point of no return in having a relatively liveable climate on this planet; we still, as the sole cause of this destruction in this world, have an obligation to try and save what remains of the other species on this precious Earth. Our constant futile human wars are doing a great deal to speed up that process of planetary destruction.
Christopher Davidson: “The Shadow Wars: the Secret Struggle for the Middle East”