Ten-thousands, and soon hundred-thousands die in Yemen as result of zealotry, greed and bureaucratic infighting of foreign countries. The Wahhabi Saudis fight in Yemen against Iranian Shia that ain’t there. Under the eyes of the CIA they nurture local al-Qaeda forces to do their bidding. The UAE seeks new ports in Yemen thereby disturbing Saudi pipeline dreams.
The Pentagon tussles with the CIA over budgets of special operations. The minor local Yemeni conflicts between the various tribes develop into a war due to foreign interference and financing. Bombing campaigns have replaced tribal mediation.
The executive branch of the United Nations is under pressure from the U.S.-Saudi coalition. It is not allowed to report on the real consequences of the devastating war on Yemen. The leads to rather comical assertions.
On August 31 2016 the UN coordinator on Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said that 10,000 people had died due to the war on Yemen:
Speaking from the capital Sanaa on Tuesday, Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator said the new figure was based on official information from medical facilities in Yemen.The number could rise further, McGoldrick said, as some areas had no medical facilities, and people were often buried without any official record being made.
“We know the numbers are much higher but we can’t tell you by how much,” McGoldrick told reporters
On January 17 2017 the UN coordinator on Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said that 10,000 people had died due to the war on Yemen:
“[T]he estimates are that over 10,000 people have been killed in this conflict and almost 40,000 people injured”, UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Yemen Jamie McGoldrick told reporters in the capital Sanaa on Monday.He did not provide a breakdown between civilians and combatants.
The UN numbers did not change from August 2016 to January 2017. Despite intense bombing and ravaging famine no one seems to have died. But those numbers are of course mere fantasies. The real death toll due to the war on Yemen is at least ten times higher. The numbers the UN envoy claims are political. He is not allowed to reveal the real ones.
In mid 2016 the Saudis pressured the then UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon to take it off a list of countries that are harming children:
Muslim allies of Saudi Arabia piled pressure on UN chief Ban Ki-moon over the blacklisting of a Saudi-led coalition for killing children in Yemen, with Riyadh threatening to cut Palestinian aid and funds to other UN programs, according to diplomatic sources.
A UN Secretary General with some backbone would not have relented but would have publicly shamed the Saudis and their allies at each possible occasion. Not so Ban Ki-moon:
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday he temporarily removed the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen from a U.N. blacklist for violating child rights because its supporters threatened to stop funding many U.N. programs.Ban said he had to consider “the very real prospect” that millions of other children in the Palestinian territories, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and many other places “would suffer grievously” if U.N. programs were defunded.
The United States and Britain actively supported Saudi Arabia in getting its way at the UN and within the UN Security Council.
But the UN giving in to blackmail did not save any children. UNICEF, somewhat independent from the General Secretary, reports much higher (though still incomplete) numbers that come nearer to the truth:
Yemen has lost a decade’s worth of gains in public health as a result of war and economic crisis, with an estimated 63,000 children dying last year of preventable causes often linked to malnutrition, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.
A decade has been lost in health gains,” she said, with 63 out of every 1,000 live births now dying before their fifth birthday, against 53 children in 2014.
Releno later told a news briefing that the rate of severe acute malnutrition had “tripled” between 2014 and 2016 to 460,000 children.”The under-5 mortality rate has increased to the point that we estimate that in 2016 at least 10,000 more children died of preventable diseases,” she said.
In medical statistic terms these are “excess death”. They would not have occurred without the war waged on the country. It is unlikely that these UNICEF numbers are complete.
The mountainous north-west of Yemen is the core area of the Zaidi Shia population from which the Houthi militia fighting the Saudis and their proxies derive. It is now mostly cut off from communication and supply channels. Hospitals and schools in the area have been heavily bombed and its main northern city Sadah has been completely destroyed by Saudi air attacks. The Zaidi comprise about 45% of Yemen’s 24 million people and up to 1962 Zaidi caliph ruled the country for over 1,000 years. For the Saudi Wahhabi zealots the Zaidi are not real Muslims and deserve to die.
Many people in the north west have fled to Yemen’s capital Sanaa. But even there food is running out. Hungry children roam the streets begging for food.
The Yemenis, and especially the Zaidi, have always been independent minded. They will not give in to Saudi pressure. The Saudis can not defeat them. Together with their U.S. and British allies they have therefore decided on a follow a genocidal strategy. They cut off the country, which usually imports up to 90% of its basic food needs, from the outside world. Saudi ships patrol the coast and the land borders are mostly under Saudi control. Only smugglers and the few official UN convoys provide some relief. But this is obviously far from enough. The ten-thousands “excess death” are a direct consequence of the U.S.-Saudi blockade.
Besides the war on the Zaidi, geo-political conflicts are waged in Yemen. The Saudis accuse the Zaidi of being proxy forces of Iran. But there is no evidence for this. No Iranian weapons or Iranian advisor have been seen in Yemen. Iran had warned the Houthi not to expend their rule. Contacts between the Houthi and Iran are now few and superficial. The U.S. navy caught a few smuggling Dau on the way from maybe Iran to Somalia. It claims that the old and few weapons they carried were destined for Yemen which is already overflowing with weapons. No evidence for this claim has been provided.
The real geo-political fight is taking place within the U.S.-Saudi coalition. The United Arab Emirates is nominally part of the coalition. They have provided forces and hired mercenaries to fight the Houthi in Yemen. But it is mainly interested in the southern ports of Aden (containers and general cargo) and Mukalla (oil and gas) and supports a southern independence movement. The UAE owned port management company DP World had its exclusive concessions for the ports canceled when the Houthi kicked out the former government. First the Houthi, then al-Qaeda took control over the ports. The UAE now occupies the port cities with the help of south-Yemeni mercenaries and again manages and controls the ports.
The Saudis have their own interest in those ports. They have plans for pipelines from their main oilfields up north to Mukalla. The pipelines would allow the Saudi oil exports to circumvent the vulnerable sea lane through the street of Hormuz. But for that they need a port on the Yemeni coast.
The Saudis have supported and allied themselves with radical Salafi groups in Yemen. One of these runs under the name al-Qaeda but it is not as tightly joined to the global al-Qaeda organization as it seems. The Saudi supported al-Qaeda groups, originally hired to fight the Houthi, “liberated” the southern ports. They were ordered out when UAE supported forces arrived but intermittently attacks the UAE occupied Aden and, as Yemeni sources claim, also attacks Mukalla under the label ISIS or Islamic State.
This murky conflict is again coming to the fore because UAE special forces took part in a recent U.S. raid on an alleged al-Qaeda camp in Yemen. It has been confirmed that 25 civilians, at least 9 of them children, were killed in the raid. The main U.S. target, an alleged al-Qaeda big wig, escaped. The Saudi proxy government in Yemen protested against the raid. It banned further U.S. ground operation in the country (later taken back). Its ambassador explained that al-Qaeda is part of its fight against the Houthi and not a priority enemy. He repeatedly said that the “highest levels” of the U.S. government were informed of this.
The raid in Yemen was carried out by the Pentagon, not by the CIA. The U.S. special forces were accompanied by UAE forces. After the raid al-Qaeda in Yemen retook three southern towns and is again threatening the UAE controlled port cities.
My recent discussions with Yemeni sources developed around the following speculative picture. In the war on Yemen the Pentagon is mainly allied with UAE and supports its plans for southern Yemen. The CIA is mainly allied with the Saudis, supports their plans and condones their alliance with al-Qaeda. The main target of the U.S. military raid was warned by the Saudis and escaped. The necessary information came from CIA channels.
A similar split between the CIA which supports Jihadis like al-Qaeda and the Pentagon which has to fight them occurred in Syria. The CIA provided weapons, paid by the Saudis, to various militant Islamist groups which the Pentagon knows it will later have to fight. The Pentagon tried to sabotage those CIA operations.
This conflict is between U.S. Budget Title 10 (the Pentagon) and U.S. Budget Title 50 (the Intelligence Services/the CIA) which has been waged for years. The responsibilities and authorities under these titles are disputed and discussed (pdf) over and over again. Has the CIA the lead in special operations or the Pentagon? Who will be able to claim the victories and who can be blamed for the losses?
The Yemeni children, dying of hunger, are the sorry victims of such idiotic fights. Bureaucracy infighting in the U.S. and pissing contests of Arab sheiks over transports routes around the Gulf are deciding their fates.
Yesterday the New York Times editors, again drunk on cool aid, revealed their self-delusions to the world:
At least in recent decades, American presidents who took military action have been driven by the desire to promote freedom and democracy, …
That lie will surely be solace for the relatives of the kids killed in the special force raid in Yemen which was planned and ordered by two U.S. presidents. It will nourish the millions of children who hunger and ten-thousands who die in Yemen due to lack of food. Freedom and democracy will be valued by those dying from U.S. bombs dropped from U.S. build planes by U.S. trained Saudi pilots with the help of U.S. intelligence. The new U.S. administration plans to double down on such support.
As so often in such conflicts the locals are mere pawns in games played by foreign countries. If the foreign powers stayed out, the local conflicts would be solved within weeks and the healing could begin. It would, in the end, be the best solution for all. At the end of the 30 year war in Europe that insight was enshrined in international law. But the valuable experience, paid with blood and devastation, has been discarded. How can it be regained?