Reprinted from The Fire This Time Newspaper, Vol 11, Issue 11
“I was inside sitting at the funeral when the airstrike happened… I couldn’t see who was next to me, I was looking for an exit. There were dead bodies and body parts, some people under rubble… There were children inside before the strike, but I couldn’t see anyone after the strike. It was dark. I just saw the light and ran toward it to escape.” This how Abdulla al-Shami, 35, described to Human Rights Watch workers his experience surviving one of the bloodiest Saudi airstrikes. October 8, 2017, marked one year since this horrendous attack by the Saudi-led coalition on a crowded funeral hall in the Yemeni capital Sana’a.
This indiscriminate bombing on a civilian target was described by Human Rights Watch and other humanitarian organizations as a war crime carried out with complete disregard for civilian life. According to a spokesperson for the health ministry in Sana’a, at least 110 people were killed and 610 wounded, including children as a result of this attack. This criminal bombardment by the US backed Saudi-led coalition continues today. Vital infrastructures such as hospitals, schools, homes, water tanks, sanitary systems, and roads, as well as important historical and cultural sites, have been completely destroyed by the airstrikes.
Human tragedy worsens in Yemen
According to the UN, over 10,000 people have been killed and over 40,000 have been injured. The level of the humanitarian crisis is worsening daily as more than 21million people in Yemen are in immediate need of humanitarian assistance and nearly 900,000 people have been affected by a devastating cholera epidemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) referred to the outbreak in Yemen as “the worst cholera outbreak in the world.”
In addition to the criminal bombing campaign on Yemen, the Saudi government and their allies are imposing an air, land and sea blockade on the country. This criminal blockade has been creating shortages of many essential items, including food, fuel and medical supplies. More recently Saudi Arabia has tightened this blockade, shutting off all entry points to Yemen, blocking much needed food and humanitarian supplies from being delivered.
Over 20 international humanitarian agencies condemned the move by Saudi Arabia in a joint public statement:
“The people of Yemen are already living with the catastrophic consequences of an armed conflict – lasting for over two and a half years – that has destroyed much of its vital infrastructure and brought the provision of basic services to the brink of collapse…The continued closure of Yemen’s borders will only bring additional hardship and deprivation with deadly consequences to an entire population suffering from a conflict that it is not of their own making. The humanitarian community in Yemen calls for the immediate opening of all air and seaports to ensure food, fuel and medicines can enter the country.”
Speaking to reporters, the UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock warned that unless Saudi Arabia lifts the blockade on Yemen, the country will face “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims.”
What did the Saudi-led coalition achieve in Yemen?
Backed by the United States, the Saudi government and its military coalition began their bombing campaign in March 2015 under the pretense of restoring legitimacy and stability to Yemen. Today, over 2.5 years of war and destruction, Yemen is facing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
The Saudi government has failed to achieve any of the goals of their military campaign in Yemen ambitiously named “Decisive Storm”. The only decisiveness seen on the ground is that of the Yemeni people in their fight against the foreign Saudi-led aggression on their country.
Despite all the logistical and military support offered by the US and the UK, the Saudi-led military coalition has been drastically failing in its so called mission in Yemen, their puppet Abd Raboo Mansur Hadi, viewed as a traitor by Yemenis, remains exiled in his master’s palaces in Riyadh. Not only is Saudi Arabia failing to dominate the military situation in Yemen, but the Yemeni forces are now taking up the fight against the Saudi government aggression across the borders, launching missiles and rockets into the kingdom’s territory.
The Saudi government and their allies are in a quagmire in Yemen with no end at sight. The worsening humanitarian crisis in the country is making it harder for the Saudi government to keep justifying the war internationally. In an article by the Washington Post titled “Yemen is turning into Saudi Arabia’s Vietnam”, Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemen analyst at the Beirut-based Carnegie Middle East Center. said that the war on Yemen “is draining the Saudis militarily, politically, strategically…The problem is, they’re stuck there.”
Yemenis resist against the Saudi War
On March 26, 2017, hundreds of thousands of Yemenis braved the Saudi fighter jets and took to the street of the Yemeni capital Sana’a to protest two years of the Saudi-led coalition ongoing military intervention in Yemen. Since then, the Yemeni people have kept resisting and fighting against the Saudi government aggression on their beloved country.
In addition to their resistance on the ground, Yemenis are voicing their opposition to the war internationally by sharing their stories and experiences online and on social media to try to counter the media blackout on the atrocities committed by the Saudi-led coalition.
Yemen’s internal crisis and problems can not be solved by foreign military aggression. Saudi’s military campaign against the country is only bringing more death and destruction to the Yemeni people. What is needed today, by peace-loving people outside of Yemen especially, is to build an effective united antiwar anti-intervention movement against the Saudi-led war on Yemen.
In Canada, we need to continue to hold the Liberal government accountable for their support of Saudi Arabia’s crimes and demand a cancellation of Canada’s $15 billion arms deal to supply the Saudi government with armored military vehicles.
Let’s join the voices of our brothers and sisters in Yemen to defend their self-determination and their right to decide on the future of their country without the bullying and interventions of the Saudi government and their US master.
US/Saudi Arabia Hands off Yemen!
Stop Bombing Yemen!
Lift the Naval, Aerial and Land Blockade on Yemen!
Follow Azza Rojbi on Twitter: @Azza_R14