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Thread: War on Yemen

  1. #1
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    Default War on Yemen

    The US just bombed Yemen, and no one's talking about it


    10/2016


    What if the United States went to war and nobody here even noticed? The question is absurd, isn’t it? And yet, this almost perfectly describes what actually happened this past week.


    While many Americans, myself included, were all hypnotized by the bizarre spectacle of the Republican nominee for president, a US navy destroyer fired a barrage of cruise missiles at three radar sites controlled by the rebel Houthi movement in Yemen. This attack marked the first time the US has fought the rebels directly in Yemen’s devastating civil war.


    The cruise missile salvo ramps up the already significant US military involvement in deeply divided and desperately poor Yemen. While it’s true that the US has launched drone strikes on al-Qaida targets in Yemen for years, sometimes killing civilians and even US citizens, this particular military engagement has the potential to drag the US straight into a protracted and escalating conflict. And, as everyone knows, America has an uncanny ability to enter protracted and escalating military conflicts.


    Yet we’ve heard absolutely nothing about this from our presidential candidates.


    If we investigated, we would find that the Pentagon justified this attack as retaliation. Last week, missiles were fired on two separate occasions at another navy destroyer off of Yemen’s southern coast. Those missiles fell harmlessly into the water, but they were enough of a provocation that the navy responded with its own bombardment.


    But we would also find that immediately prior to those incidents, on Saturday 8 October, a 500lb laser-guided US-made bomb was dropped on a funeral procession by the US-sponsored Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels who, the Saudis say, are backed by Iran. This bomb killed more than 140 people, mostly civilians, and wounded more than 525 people. Human Rights Watch called the incident “an apparent war crime”.


    That heinous attack led to a strong rebuke from the US, which has sold the Saudis $110bn worth of arms since President Obama assumed office, and recently approved the sale of $1.15bn more. The US also supplies the Saudis with necessary intelligence and logistics to prosecute its war. According to Reuters, the US government is also deeply concerned that it may be implicated in future war crimes prosecutions as a result of its support for the Saudi-led coalition.


    This worry might explain why National Security Council spokesman Ned Price stated that “in light of this and other recent incidents, we … are prepared to adjust our support so as to better align [the Saudi-led coalition] with US principles, values and interests, including achieving an immediate and durable end to Yemen’s tragic conflict”. Sounds good. Then again, the US bombed Houthi positions days later.


    The situation in Yemen is already catastrophic and largely out of view. Since the conflict began 18 months ago, more than 6,800 people have been killed. Both rebels and the regime have committed atrocities, though most of the dead are civilians and most have been killed by Saudi-led airstrikes. Almost 14.4 million people are now “food insecure”, according to the UN’s World Food Program, and 2.8 million people have been displaced. In 2015, there were 101 attacks on schools and hospitals. After two Doctors Without Borders hospitals were bombed resulting in 20 deaths – one in Taiz on 2 December 2015 and the other in Abs on 15 August this year – the humanitarian group was forced to withdraw from its six hospitals in northern Yemen. And the latest news is a cholera outbreak.


    The Trump show has managed to bump all the serious and necessary policy debates not just off the table but out of the room. Presidential foreign policy discussions, for example, are now basically limited to who hates Isis more, who said what 13 years ago, and who believes Vladimir Putin is in charge of a roomful of hackers.


    It’s not enough. All the current polls point to Hillary Clinton winning the presidential election, and there’s a desperate need for substantive answers regarding her policies. Will she merely continue Obama’s Yemen strategy, which has not only failed to end the war but could also soon escalate it? The prevailing wisdom among many Democrats has been to focus first on defeating Donald Trump before moving on to what’s next, but that’s no longer fair to voters nor, really, to the people of Yemen. We need to know not only what we’re voting against, but what we’re voting for. As the last few days have shown, the world doesn’t stop spinning while the US holds elections.




    https://www.theguardian.com/commenti...-east-conflict

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    U.S.-backed Saudi War in Yemen Fuels 'Largest Food Security Emergency in the World'



    U.S.-backed bombing has killed thousands of Yemenis and pushed millions to the brink of famine.




    2017

    A prominent famine monitor created by the U.S. government has acknowledged that the U.S.-backed war in Yemen has fueled the "largest food security emergency in the world." And acording to its analysis, the catastrophic situation only continues to get worse.


    Since March 2015, the U.S. has supported a Saudi-led coalition that has bombed Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East. With tens of billions of dollars worth of American and British weapons, more than 1,000 refueling sorties by U.S. planes and intelligence and guidance from the American and British militaries, Saudi Arabia has carried out thousands of airstrikes, at least one-third of which have struck civilian sites.


    The Western-backed, Saudi-led coalition has also intentionally targeted food production and the agricultural sector in its bombing campaign in Yemen, in what a leading expert has described as a "scorched-earth strategy."


    In August, the United Nations reported that more than 10,000 Yemenis had been killed, with an average of 13 civilian casualties per day, in a U.S.-fueled war that has gotten little attention in the U.S. media and which received virtually no mention in the entirety of the 2016 presidential campaign.


    The war has plunged Yemen into what the U.N. has characterized as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. Yemen already suffered from widespread food insecurity before the coalition launched its bombing campaign and implemented a blockade 21 months ago. Since then, the U.N. has repeatedly reported that more than half of Yemen's population is going hungry and that millions are on the brink of famine.


    In a report released in December, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network warned, "Conflict in Yemen is the primary driver of the largest food security emergency in the world."


    The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading monitor of global food insecurity, created by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, in 1985. The monitor is not officially part of the U.S. government, but works with a variety of government agencies.


    According to the group's report, hunger in Yemen is getting worse. Although there is limited access to data, the food security and nutrition data available from the governorate of al-Hudayda, one of Yemen's largest urban centers, suggests that hunger is on the rise. The number of children with severe acute malnutrition admitted to treatment programs in the governorate has increased by roughly 40 percent, compared to 2014 and 2015 levels.


    The Famine Early Warning Systems Network gauges the severity of a hunger crisis on a five-point scale, in which IPC Phase 5 is "Famine" and IPC Phase 1 is "Minimal." In Yemen, at least 2 million people are in IPC Phase 4: Emergency. They "face an increased risk of mortality" from hunger, the monitor says. An additional 5 to 8 million Yemenis are classified in IPC Phase 3: Crisis, and "in need of urgent humanitarian assistance."



    The Famine Early Warning Systems Network's analysis of food insecurity in Yemen in December 2016.



    The whole western half of Yemen, the more populated part of the country with the large urban centers, is in IPC Phase 3: Crisis, according to the monitor. A large strip on the western coast, including the major cities al-Hudayda and Taizz, is in IPC Phase 4: Emergency.


    In the upcoming months, between February and May, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network estimates that large swaths of the country will also be plunged into emergency status, including the capital, Sanaa, along with the Saada, Hajja and Shabwa governorates.


    More than 14 million Yemenis are already food insecure, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in a population of 26 million. The World Food Program is providing assistance to an average of 3.5 million Yemenis per month, but the Famine Early Warning Systems Network warns this "is not sufficient to meet Yemen’s current needs."


    War crimes and targeting of civilian areas


    Since March 2015, a coalition of Middle Eastern countries led by Saudi Arabia and armed and supported by the U.S. and the U.K., has sought to topple Yemen's Houthi movement, which seized power in late 2014, and Houthi-allied forces loyal to former Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh. The coalition has carried out thousands of airstrikes in hopes of restoring to power the former pro-Saudi leader Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was ousted by the Houthis. Hadi had been appointed president in 2012, after winning a putative election in which there were no opposition candidates.


    Human rights groups have documented a vast array of atrocities committed on both sides of the war. The U.N. has nevertheless repeatedly reported that the Western-backed, Saudi-led coalition is responsible for nearly two-thirds of civilian casualties, whereas the Houthis and allied pro-Saleh militias have been responsible for less than one-fourth. The rest of the atrocities have been committed by extremist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS, which have been strengthened by the U.S.-backed war.


    The U.N., Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have on several occasions accused the coalition of carrying out apparent war crimes, documenting Saudi-led bombing of a slew of civilian sites, including hospitals, schools, homes, weddings, funerals, and refugee camps. Cluster munitions, which are banned in much of the world, provided by the U.S. and U.K. have also been used in civilian areas.


    Research conducted by Martha Mundy, a professor emeritus at the London School of Economics, has shown how the coalition is deliberately bombing targets that are part of the system of food production and agricultural sector in Yemen.


    A blockade the coalition imposed in early 2015 has also fueled the humanitarian catastrophe. The blockade was ostensibly created in order to prevent foreign actors from arming the Houthis and pro-Saleh militias. Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have accused Iran of arming the Houthi-Saleh forces. The extent to which Iran is involved in the conflict is debated, nonetheless, and has often been exaggerated.


    Before the war began, Yemen imported 90 percent of its food; the blockade has thus plunged the impoverished country into even worse hunger. The U.S. Navy has helped to implement the Saudi-led coalition's blockade since it was first established.


    The war has led to the displacement of more than 3 million Yemenis. Since the summer of 2015, humanitarian groups have warned that more than 80 percent of Yemen's population has been in desperate need of aid, in the form of food, water, medicine, and oil.


    The war has also totally decimated the poorest country in the Middle East's fragile economy. In November, the New York Times reported that the coalition has been "systematically obliterating Yemen’s already bare-bones economy."


    Health crisis

    Growing hunger is an enormous problem in Yemen, but it is by no means the only one. A public health crisis has also taken thousands of lives. The coalition has bombed scores of hospitals and medical facilities in Yemen. The U.N. has repeatedly warned that Yemen's health-care system is "on the verge of collapse." Less than one-third of the population has access to medical care, and more than half of Yemen's health facilities are non-functional.


    Every week, more than 1,000 Yemeni children die due to preventable diseases — an average of one child every 10 minutes — according to UNICEF. Thousands are perishing from malnutrition, diarrhea, and respiratory infections. More than 2.2 million Yemeni children need urgent care, and at least 462,000 are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, at risk of starvation, a 200 percent increase since 2014.


    "The state of health of children in the Middle East's poorest country has never been as catastrophic as it is today," Meritxell Relano, the deputy UNICEF representative in Yemen, warned in December. "Malnutrition in Yemen is at an all-time high and increasing."


    Cholera, which had nearly been eradicated, is also on the rise on Yemen. In its December humanitarian bulletin, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that it had documented 122 confirmed cases of the disease in 12 governorates, with 7,700 more suspected cases.


    http://www.alternet.org/us-backed-sa...pQqAhI.twitter

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    Yemen Reports First US Drone Strikes Under Trump

    10 Killed in Two Strikes Against Bayda Province

    A pair of US drone strikes in Yemen’s Bayda Province have killed at least 10 people over the weekend, according to Yemeni officials, marking the first drone strikes to be conducted under President Trump, who was inaugurated on Friday.


    Both drone strikes were in roughly the same rural area, with the first killing three “suspects” on motorcycles, and the second strike also hitting a vehicle, and killing seven people. Yemeni officials, as they always do, labeled all of the slain “armed fighters of al-Qaeda.”


    The reliability of the determinations on who was slain in any given strike has been in substantial doubt during the Saudi war in Yemen, as most of the US special forces who had been spotting targets were withdrawn in the lead-up to the war, and it’s not clear how they get intelligence on who they’re aiming at, apart from hitting vehicles in areas known to have an al-Qaeda presence.


    Marking the first strikes under Trump, the drone strikes may suggest that the policy of drone attacks against targets in nations in which the US is not at war is going to continue beyond the Obama Administration. Though drone strikes happened in the waning years of the Bush Administration, they grew substantially under President Obama, becoming a very controversial policy which has fueled anti-US sentiment in several nations that have been targeted.

    http://news.antiwar.com/2017/01/22/y...s-under-trump/

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    Obama Killed a 16-Year-Old American in Yemen. Trump Just Killed His 8-Year-Old Sister.

    Glenn Greenwald

    January 30 2017, 7:04 a.m.




    In 2010, President Obama directed the CIA to assassinate an American citizen in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, despite the fact that he had never been charged with (let alone convicted of) any crime, and the agency successfully carried out that order a year later with a September 2011 drone strike. While that assassination created widespread debate — the once-again-beloved ACLU sued Obama to restrain him from the assassination on the ground of due process and then, when that suit was dismissed, sued Obama again after the killing was carried out — another drone killing carried out shortly thereafter was perhaps even more significant yet generated relatively little attention.




    Two weeks after the killing of Awlaki, a separate CIA drone strike in Yemen killed his 16-year-old American-born son, Abdulrahman, along with the boy’s 17-year-old cousin and several other innocent Yemenis. The U.S. eventually claimed that the boy was not their target but merely “collateral damage.” Abdulrahman’s grief-stricken grandfather, Nasser al-Awlaki, urged the Washington Post “to visit a Facebook memorial page for Abdulrahman,” which explained: “Look at his pictures, his friends, and his hobbies. His Facebook page shows a typical kid.”





    Few events pulled the mask off Obama officials like this one. It highlighted how the Obama administration was ravaging Yemen, one of the world’s poorest countries: just weeks after he won the Nobel Prize, Obama used cluster bombs that killed 35 Yemeni women and children.

    Even Obama-supporting liberal comedians mocked the arguments of the Obama DOJ for why it had the right to execute Americans with no charges: “Due Process Just Means There’s A Process That You Do,” snarked Stephen Colbert. And a firestorm erupted when former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs offered a sociopathic justification for killing the Colorado-born teenager, apparently blaming him for his own killing by saying he should have “had a more responsible father.”

    The U.S. assault on Yemeni civilians not only continued but radically escalated over the next five years through the end of the Obama presidency, as the U.S. and the U.K. armed, supported, and provide crucial assistance to their close ally Saudi Arabia as it devastated Yemen through a criminally reckless bombing campaign. Yemen now faces mass starvation, seemingly exacerbated, deliberately, by the U.S.-U.K.-supported air attacks. Because of the West’s direct responsibility for these atrocities, they have received vanishingly little attention in the responsible countries.


    In a hideous symbol of the bipartisan continuity of U.S. barbarism, Nasser al-Awlaki just lost another one of his young grandchildren to U.S. violence. On Sunday, the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, using armed Reaper drones for cover, carried out a commando raid on what it said was a compound harboring officials of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. A statement issued by President Trump lamented the death of an American service member and several others who were wounded, but made no mention of any civilian deaths. U.S. military officials initially denied any civilian deaths, and (therefore) the CNN report on the raid said nothing about any civilians being killed.


    But reports from Yemen quickly surfaced that 30 people were killed, including 10 women and children. Among the dead: the 8-year-old granddaughter of Nasser al-Awlaki, Nawar, who was also the daughter of Anwar Awlaki.




    As noted by my colleague Jeremy Scahill — who extensively interviewed the grandparents in Yemen for his book and film on Obama’s “Dirty Wars” — the girl “was shot in the neck and killed,” bleeding to death over the course of two hours. “Why kill children?” the grandfather asked. “This is the new (U.S.) administration — it’s very sad, a big crime.”

    video: http://viewpure.com/ViGUSw6NBVU



    The New York Times yesterday reported that military officials had been planning and debating the raid for months under the Obama administration, but Obama officials decided to leave the choice to Trump. The new president personally authorized the attack last week. They claim that the “main target” of the raid “was computer materials inside the house that could contain clues about future terrorist plots.”

    The paper cited a Yemeni official saying that “at least eight women and seven children, ages 3 to 13, had been killed in the raid,” and that the attack also “severely damaged a school, a health facility and a mosque.”


    As my colleague Matthew Cole reported in great detail just weeks ago, Navy SEAL Team 6, for all its public glory, has a long history of “‘revenge ops,’ unjustified killings, mutilations, and other atrocities.” And Trump notoriously vowed during the campaign to target not only terrorists but also their families. All of that demands aggressive, independent inquiries into this operation.


    Perhaps most tragic of all is that — just as was true in Iraq — al Qaeda had very little presence in Yemen before the Obama administration began bombing and droning it and killing civilians, thus driving people into the arms of the militant group. As the late, young Yemeni writer Ibrahim Mothana told Congress in 2013:
    Drone strikes are causing more and more Yemenis to hate America and join radical militants. … Unfortunately, liberal voices in the United States are largely ignoring, if not condoning, civilian deaths and extrajudicial killings in Yemen.


    During George W. Bush’s presidency, the rage would have been tremendous. But today there is little outcry, even though what is happening is in many ways an escalation of Mr. Bush’s policies. …


    Defenders of human rights must speak out. America’s counterterrorism policy here is not only making Yemen less safe by strengthening support for AQAP [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] but it could also ultimately endanger the United States and the entire world.

    This is why it is crucial that — as urgent and valid protests erupt against Trump’s abuses — we not permit recent history to be whitewashed, or long-standing U.S. savagery to be deceitfully depicted as new Trumpian aberrations, or the war on terror framework engendering these new assaults to be forgotten. Some current abuses are unique to Trump, but — as I detailed on Saturday — some are the decades-old byproduct of a mindset and system of war and executive powers that all need uprooting. Obscuring these facts, or allowing those responsible to posture as opponents of all this, is not just misleading but counterproductive: Much of this resides on an odious continuum and did not just appear out of nowhere.


    It’s genuinely inspiring to see pervasive rage over the banning of visa holders and refugees from countries like Yemen. But it’s also infuriating that the U.S. continues to massacre Yemeni civilians, both directly and through its tyrannical Saudi partners. That does not become less infuriating — Yemeni civilians are not less dead — because these policies and the war theories in which they are rooted began before the inauguration of Donald Trump. It’s not just Trump but this mentality and framework that need vehement opposition.

    https://theintercept.com/2017/01/30/...ar-old-sister/







    8-year-old daughter of Anwar Al-Awlaki killed by US Yemen Raids

    Video: https://www.facebook.com/OurProphetO...8382736216012/

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    US soldiers shoot and kill 8-year-old girl in Yemen

    January 30, 2017

    video: https://youtu.be/m5imhy9SYgI

    While the media attention has been focused on the death of one US serviceman who was killed during a raid in Yemen, one of the most tragic casualties of the assault ordered by President Donald Trump was an eight-year-old girl.

    The raid took place over the weekend, as US forces attempted a "site exploitation" attack that attempted to gather intelligence on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the extremist group behind several high-profile terror attacks, including the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in two years ago.

    Though the United States hailed the operation as a success, reports from Yemen would seem to indicate that the price paid by Yemeni civilians and non-combatants was extraordinarily high.

    'Don't cry mama, I'm fine'

    According to medical sources on the ground cited by Reuters, 30 people were killed by US soldiers, at least ten of them women and children in what appeared to be a case of disproportionate force utilised by the American commando unit who were sent in to retrieve intelligence.

    Amongst the casualties was eight-year-old Nawar Al-Awlaki. Nawar is the daughter of US-born preacher Anwar Al-Awlaki who was the first American citizen to be assassinated in a US drone strike in 2011,
    decried by civil rights groups as an extrajudicial execution that denied him his right to a fair trial.

    Two weeks after Anwar's assassination, his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman was killed in another US drone strike. Abdulrahman was a US citizen said to have been born in Denver, Colorado and was a child at the time he was killed on the authority of the Obama administration.

    With Nawar's murder, it appears that no relative of Anwar Al-Awlaki is safe, regardless of whether they are children or not, or even involved in terrorism or not.

    In a Facebook post, Nawar's uncle and former Yemeni Deputy Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, Ammar Al-Aulaqi said: "[Nawar] was shot several times, with one bullet piercing her neck. She was bleeding for two hours because it was not possible to get her medical attention."

    "As Nawar was always a personality and a mind far older than her years, she was reassuring her mother as she was bleeding out; 'Don't cry mama, I'm fine, I'm fine',"
    Ammar's emotional post continued.

    "Then the call to the Dawn prayer came, and her soul departed from her tiny body."

    Trump's fight against 'Islamic terrorism'

    Nawar's violent death came as a result of the Trump administration's fight against so-called "radical Islamic terrorism". In his inaugural speech, Trump vowed to wipe it off the face of the Earth. Trump made no similar vow against other forms of terror, including state terrorism.

    "She was hit with a bullet in her neck and suffered for two hours,"
    Nasser Al-Awlaki, Nawar's grandfather, told Reuters.

    "Why kill children? This is the new [US] administration - it's very sad, a big crime."


    In a statement, the Pentagon did not refer to any civilian casualties, although a US military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they could not be ruled out. Instead, the US was preoccupied with the death of one US serviceman who was killed during the operation that ended up with Nawar and many other children dead.

    Hailing the operation as a success, Trump said: "Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism."

    Two more US servicemen were injured when an American V-22 Osprey military aircraft was sent to evacuate another wounded commando, but came under fire and had to be "intentionally destroyed in place," the Pentagon said.

    Social media reacts

    Social media was awash with anger at the death of Nawar, blaming the US for "assassinating children".



    Mohammad Alrubaa, an Arab journalist and television show host, tweeted: "This is Nawar Al-Awlaki that the American marines came to Yemen to kill...#American_terrorism."


    Mousa Alomar, a Syrian journalist, tweeted "[US] marines killed Nawar Al-Awlaki and tens of women and children in Yemen. #US_terrorism_kills_Yemenis."



    Commenting on the fact that many civilian fatalities are justified as "collateral damage" by US military and political officials, Yemeni politician Ali Albukhaiti tweeted: "Nawar Al-Awlaki was not killed in an airstrike, but by a bullet fired by a marine and at close range. It is terrorism beyond terrorism, but it is defended and justified by a media that markets [such attacks]."


    Though raids like this one in the rural Al-Bayda province in Yemen's south are rare, the United States habitually utilises drone strikes to target individuals in what many deem to be extrajudicial killings, especially of its own citizens. Civilians are routinely killed in such drone strikes that are largely indiscriminate, but justified as a "legal act of war" by the US Justice Department.

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20...girl-in-yemen/

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    Yemen Hit With Unprecedented Number Of US Drone, Air Strikes



    The attacks come a month after a botched US special forces raid ended in the deaths of 25 civilians, including nine children under the age of 13.



    In an unprecedented intensification of America’s counter-terrorism operations in Yemen, the US has confirmed it carried out 20 strikes across three central provinces.

    The strikes, which were carried out in the early morning, targeted fighters from the regional arm of al Qaeda, known as AQAP, their equipment and infrastructure, in the Yemeni provinces of Abyan, al Bayda and Shabwah, according to a press release from the US Department of Defense.


    Pentagon Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said in the statement that the strikes were conducted in partnership with the Government of Yemen, and were coordinated with President Hadi.


    The statement made no mention of how many people were killed and injured – neither AQAP fighters or civilians. However Yemeni officials told AFP seven people died in two of the strikes.


    The attacks come a month after a botched US special forces raid ended in the deaths of 25 civilians, including nine children under the age of 13 as revealed by the Bureau, and a US Navy SEAL. Earlier this week, a Pentagon official told NBC News that the Pentagon did not dispute these numbers.
    US Special Forces descended on Yakla village in Bayda province on January 29 with the hope of capturing key intelligence on AQAP.


    While President Donald Trump has said it was successful in this regard, a US defense official told CNN that the latest strikes, which it reported were both air and drones strikes, had been planned for some time and were not the result of any intelligence gathered in the raid.


    The latest strikes are a considerable increase in military activity in Yemen. The bombardment is a break from the steady pace of strikes in recent years, with the US carrying out an average of three strikes per month last year and never going above two strikes in a single day.


    The US was routinely conducting multiple strikes a day in 2012 during its efforts to expel AQAP from its stronghold in Abyan province. The province was the scene of heavy clashes between the Yemeni military and AQAP fighters – AQAP had taken advantage of the political unrest with the Arab Spring in 2011 to gain control of several towns.


    But even then, the highest number of confirmed strikes on a single day at any point of the Abyan offensive was four.


    In total, the Bureau has recorded at least 186 US air and drone strikes, and special forces raids, since the first in 2002. At least 853 people have been killed, 158 of them reported to be civilians, according to Bureau data.

    http://www.mintpressnews.com/yemen-h...trikes/225515/

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    The UK has made 10 times more in profit from war in Yemen than it has given in aid

    MARCH 22ND, 2017

    Two years ago, Yemen embarked on a civil war that has consumed the country between warring factions. The UK, however, has made around 10 times more in profit from war in Yemen than it has given in aid to the country.

    Yemen and the UK government’s involvement

    The war in Yemen is being fought mainly between the Western-backed Sunni majority administration and the Shia Houthi rebel movement. After seizing the capital Sana’a in 2014, the Houthis took over another important city, Taiz, on 22 March 2015. And by 26 March 2015, Saudi Arabia-led forces launched a full-on offensive against the Houthis. This action has led to criticism, with a conservative civilian death toll estimate at over 10,000; accusations of crimes against humanity; and allegations that al-Qaeda has significantly increased its presence in Yemen thanks to the Saudi intervention. Not to mention placing the country under a siege that has seen it hover at the brink of famine.

    This conflict has prompted two responses from the UK government. First, opportunistic fervor to keep selling arms to Saudi Arabia. Second, to provide cursory aid to a debilitated Yemen. And as Amnesty International’s Yemen Researcher Rasha Mohammad points out, the UK has approved £3.3bn-worth of export licences compared to the £371.5m in aid provided over the last two years.

    Hypocrisy

    Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty’s Deputy Director for Research at its Beirut office, said this in a statement:

    Two years of conflict have forced three million people to flee their homes, shattered the lives of thousands of civilians and left Yemen facing a humanitarian disaster with more than 18 million in desperate need of assistance. Yet despite the millions of dollars’ worth of international assistance allocated to the country, many states have contributed to the suffering of the Yemeni people by continuing to supply billions of dollars’ worth of arms.

    The organisation is unequivocal in its indictment, indicating that the governments of both the UK and the US should reverse their current policy.

    The Saudi regime
    , however, is currently Britain’s most important weapons client. The UK has repeatedly denied there is any evidence that Saudi Arabia has committed ‘war crimes’. Not least using weapons originating from the UK. But mounting evidence has indicated it has. With this lucrative arms trade in mind, critics have previously slammed the government for:

    Whitewashing calls for investigations into how Saudi-led forces are using UK-made arms.
    • The discovery of UK-manufactured cluster bombs in Yemen.
    • The presence of British military officials in the coalition’s airstrike command center.

    Millions of pounds’ worth of aid would not be necessary if the UK did its diplomatic duty. Theresa May’s government should be helping to stop this conflict, not making a bounty from it.


    http://www.thecanary.co/2017/03/22/t...-given-in-aid/

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    Yemeni Victims of Trumps Seal Raid

    Death in al Ghayil: Women and Children in Yemeni Village Recall Horror of Trump's "Highly Successful" SEAL Raid

    by Iona Craig - March 9 2017

    On January 29, 5-year-old Sinan al Ameri was asleep with his mother, his aunt, and 12 other children in a one-room stone hut typical of poor rural villages in the highlands of Yemen. A little after 1 a.m., the women and children awoke to the sound of a gunfight erupting a few hundred feet away. Roughly 30 members of Navy SEAL Team 6 were storming the eastern hillside of the remote settlement.

    According to residents of the village of al Ghayil, in Yemen's al Bayda province, the first to die in the assault was 13-year-old Nasser al Dhahab. The house of his uncle, Sheikh Abdulraouf al Dhahab, and the building behind it, the home of 65-year-old Abdallah al Ameri and his son Mohammed al Ameri, 38, appeared to be the targets of the U.S. forces, who called in air support as they were pinned down in a nearly hourlong firefight.

    With the SEALs taking heavy fire on the lower slopes, attack helicopters swept over the hillside hamlet above. In what seemed to be blind panic, the gunships bombarded the entire village, striking more than a dozen buildings, razing stone dwellings where families slept, and wiping out more than 120 goats, sheep, and donkeys.

    Three projectiles tore through the straw and timber roof of the home where Sinan slept. Cowering in a corner, Sinan's mother, 30-year-old Fatim Saleh Mohsen, decided to flee the bombardment. Grabbing her 18-month-old son and ushering her terrified children into the narrow outdoor passageway between the tightly packed dwellings, she headed into the open. Over a week later, Sinan's aunt Nadr al Ameri wept as she stood in the same room and recalled watching her sister run out the door into the darkness.

    Nesma al Ameri, an elderly village matriarch who lost four family members in the raid, described how the attack helicopters began firing down on anything that moved. As she recounted the horror of what happened, Sinan tapped her on the arm. "No, no. The bullets were coming from behind," the 5-year-old insisted, interrupting to demonstrate how he was shot at and his mother gunned down as they ran for their lives. "From here to here," Sinan said, putting two fingers to the back of his head and drawing an invisible line to illustrate the direction of the bullet exiting her forehead. His mother fell to the ground next to him, still clutching his baby brother in her arms. Sinan kept running.

    His mother's body was found in the early light of dawn, the front of her head split open. The baby was wounded but alive. Sinan's mother was one of at least six women killed in the raid, the first counterterrorism operation of the Trump administration, which also left 10 children under the age of 13 dead. "She was hit by the plane. The American plane," explained Sinan. "She's in heaven now," he added with a shy smile, seemingly unaware of the enormity of what he had witnessed or, as yet, the impact of his loss. "Dog Trump," declared Nesma, turning to the other women in the room for agreement. "Yes, the dog Trump," they agreed.

    According to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, the al Ghayil raid "was a very, very well thought out and executed effort," planning for which began under the Obama administration back in November 2016. Although Ned Price, former National Security Council spokesperson, and Colin Kahl, the national security adviser under Vice President Biden, challenged Spicer's account, what is agreed upon is that Trump gave the final green light over dinner at the White House on January 25. According to two people with direct knowledge, the White House did not notify the U.S. ambassador to Yemen in advance of the operation.


    The Intercept's reporting from al Ghayil in the aftermath of the raid and the eyewitness accounts provided by residents, as well as information from current and former military officials, challenge many of the Trump administration's key claims about the "highly successful" operation, from the description of an assault on a fortified compound - there are no compounds or walled-off houses in the village - to the "large amounts of vital intelligence" the president said were collected.

    According to a current U.S. special operations adviser and a former senior special operations officer, it was not intelligence the Pentagon was after but a key member of al Qaeda. The raid was launched in an effort to capture or kill Qassim al Rimi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to the special operations adviser, who asked to remain anonymous because details behind the raid are classified.

    Villagers interviewed by The Intercept rejected claims that al Rimi was present in al Ghayil, although one resident described seeing an unfamiliar black SUV arriving in the village hours before the raid. Six days after the operation, AQAP media channels released an audio statement from al Rimi, who mocked President Trump and the raid. The White House and the military have denied that the AQAP leader was the target of the mission, insisting the SEALs were sent in to capture electronic devices and material to be used for intelligence gathering. A spokesperson for CENTCOM told The Intercept the military has not yet determined whether al Rimi was in al Ghayil when the SEALs arrived.

    Although some details about the mission remain unclear, the account that has emerged suggests the Trump White House is breaking with Obama administration policies that were intended to limit civilian casualties. The change - if permanent - would increase the likelihood of civilian deaths in so-called capture or kill missions like the January 29 raid.


    The January mission was the fourth time U.S. forces have been involved in ground operations in Yemen. While none of those prior raids could be deemed successful - two were failed attempts to free an American hostage, photojournalist Luke Somers - they did not leave the same trail of destruction as the operation in al Ghayil.

    The village is part of a cluster of settlements known as Yakla in the Qayfa tribal region of Yemen's al Bayda province. A basic knowledge of the local political environment, combined with a grasp of the obvious challenges posed by the geographical layout of al Ghayil, would have provided substantial forewarning that this latest raid was a highly precarious undertaking. American military planners should have foreseen that their forces would face not only al Qaeda militants, but also heavy armed resistance from residents of al Ghayil and surrounding villages.

    This area of al Bayda has been at war for more than 2 1/2 years, and the Qayfa tribe is renowned for its fighting prowess and a long-standing refusal to yield to the state. After the joint forces of Yemen's northern Houthi rebels and military loyalists of the country's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, seized control of the capital, Sana, in September 2014, they swiftly moved southeast into al Bayda. Most of the Qayfa tribe, including the men of Yakla, have been fighting the Houthi-Saleh forces ever since. Saudi Arabia joined the fray in March 2015, leading a coalition of nations in a military intervention and aerial bombing campaign, supported by the U.S., to push back the Houthis, who the Saudis view as an Iranian proxy force. In theory, the residents of al Ghayil are on the same side as the United States in a civil war that has left more than 3 million people displaced and brought the country to the edge of famine.

    Al Ghayil, just a few miles from Houthi-Saleh-controlled territory, came under Houthi rocket fire more than once in the early weeks of 2017, leaving the area of Yakla on high alert for attacks and residents in constant fear of losing their homes to a Houthi-Saleh incursion. The closest town, Rada - home to the nearest hospital - had been a no-go area for the population of Yakla since it fell under Houthi-Saleh control in October 2014.

    When the U.S. Navy SEALs flew into al Ghayil in the early hours of January 29 - a deliberately chosen moonless night - local armed tribesmen assumed the Houthis had arrived to capture their village. After the firefight started, some of the men who ran to defend their families and homes saw colored lasers emanating from the weapons of their opponents, raising suspicions they might be facing Americans.

    Shortly after the firefight erupted, Chief Petty Officer William "Ryan" Owens was shot by a bullet that hit just above his armored chest plate and entered his heart, according to the former senior special operations official briefed on the raid. Owens died shortly after he was hit.

    Further confusion set in when the attack helicopters joined the assault. Knowing the Houthi-Saleh forces do not have an air force, residents could only assume it was the Saudi-led coalition attacking them from the air. They were not entirely wrong. Troops from the United Arab Emirates - leading players in the coalition's two-year fight against the Houthis - also took part in the raid and might have been involved in flying the helicopters that fired on civilians. Dozens of UAE Apache gunships are currently stationed in Emirati-run military bases across Yemen.

    The UAE government did not respond to multiple requests for comment on its role in the raid or answer queries regarding any casualties among its personnel.

    According to the former senior U.S. special operations official and a current military consultant, both of whom were briefed on the raid, the SEALs discovered by the time they arrived in the village that their operation had been compromised. It is still unclear how those on the ground were tipped off, but a current consultant to the Joint Special Operations Command, which oversees SEAL Team 6, said the command is investigating whether UAE forces involved in the raid revealed the details of the mission before the SEALs arrived in al Ghayil. (However, local residents, who are used to hearing the buzz of drones in the remote area, said they noticed the unusual presence of helicopters around 9 p.m. the night before the raid, which raised concern.)

    Some men in the surrounding villages grabbed their weapons and ran to help defend their neighbors when they heard the sound of a battle unfolding, according to residents. Mohammed Ali al Taysi, from the nearby village of Husun at Tuyus, dashed to his battered SUV, tearing down a dry riverbed in the dark to reach al Ghayil from the north. But just short of the village, a helicopter flew low overhead, pounding warning shots into the ground on either side of his vehicle. Al Taysi jumped out, firing his rifle toward the Apache before retreating into the night. Other armed men closer to the village descended from the mountainside on foot to support the tribesmen of al Ghayil, who already held the advantage of the high ground on the western side of the village. The SEALs had come in from the low ground to the north, approaching the homes of Abdulraouf al Dhahab and Mohammed al Ameri from the eastern slopes below.

    According to those present, the firefight quickly escalated around the al Dhahab house, halting the SEALs' advance. As the U.S. forces fought from the lower ground and more men descended the mountainside to join the shootout, airstrikes obliterated Mohammed al Ameri's house on the hill above, killing three of his children, ages 7, 5, and 4, and seemingly destroying any possibility of retrieving laptops, hard drives, or other intelligence material from inside without digging through piles of rubble in the dark.

    With one Navy SEAL dead and two others seriously wounded, the special operations forces began to withdraw. But before they departed, according to local witnesses, the MV-22 Osprey used to extract the retreating soldiers crash-landed, forcing another aircraft to land to pull out the operators. Airstrikes then deliberately destroyed the abandoned Osprey.

    The gunfight had lasted the better part of an hour. It would be another hour or more before the skies fell silent and the sound of helicopters, aircraft, and drones faded. It was in the dawn light that the mass of bodies was revealed, the missing accounted for, and dead children identified. Smoke swirled into the air from the roofs still burning and the carcass of the smoldering Osprey in the distance.


    This was not the first time residents of the remote Yakla area had lost family members to a U.S. attack. In December 2013, a
    drone strike on a wedding convoy killed 12 civilians. The groom, Abdallah al Ameri, survived that attack. But on January 29, the 65-year-old was killed standing unarmed beside his house as it was bombed. A picture posted online shortly after the raid showed his body lying in the rocky sand with his hand clasped around a blood-soaked head torch.

    The aftermath of the raid's destruction left villagers struggling to understand what the Americans were trying to accomplish. Abdulraouf, whose house appeared to be one of the targets, was no stranger to American attempts to kill him. He was the apparent target of at least three separate airstrikes between 2011 and 2013 in al Bayda province, including one in September 2012 that killed 12 civilians - - a pregnant woman and three children were among the dead.

    Following the deaths, Abdulraouf called on the families of victims to hire international lawyers to take their cases to court in the United States. Two of Abdulraouf's brothers were also killed by American drone strikes as the U.S. was drawn into a long-running bloody feud that had split the family of some 18 brothers between those aligned with al Qaeda and those who stood with the state.

    Although Abdulelah al Dhahab, a brother who survived the January raid but lost his 12-year-old son, denied Abdulraouf was an al Qaeda member, the bonds between the family and Yemen's al Qaeda insurgency also extend to marital ties. Al Qaeda propagandist and American citizen Anwar al Awlaki married Abdularouf's sister. Awlaki's 8-year-old daughter, Nawar, was in the al Dhahab house the night of the raid. She bled to death after being shot in the neck - the second of Awlaki's children to be killed by the United States since his own death by an American drone strike in September 2011. His eldest son, 16-year-old Denver-born Abdulrahman, was killed by a U.S. drone two weeks after his father.

    Following the onset of civil war in March 2015, Abdulraouf played a key role in leading the self-described "resistance" of local armed militias loyal to the Saudi-led coalition, fighting on the pro-government side of Yemen's internationally recognized president-in-exile, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. As a senior Qayfa tribal figure, Abdulraouf was a well-respected resistance leader. The day before the January raid, he was handing out salaries for pro-government fighters after collecting the money from the nearest Saudi coalition base in the neighboring province of Marib.

    Although U.S. drone strikes killed a succession of leading AQAP figures in the first six months of 2015, drone, air, and sea-to-land bombings over the preceding 15 years were plagued by poor intelligence and numerous civilian casualties. Survivors of the al Ghayil operation were left to speculate what intelligence led American special operations forces to storm their village "as if they were coming to kill Osama bin Laden," as one resident noted, puzzling over whether the U.S. thought it was going after the leader of the Islamic State [ISIS] rather than an apparent low-level al Qaeda militant of the same name, Abubakr al Baghdadi, who was killed in the raid. "Or the Americans were tricked into killing Abdulraouf, the leading fighter in Qayfa, to help the Houthis and Saleh," hypothesized one anti-Houthi tribal fighter.

    On at least one occasion in Yemen, the U.S. was deliberately fed false intelligence by the regime of then-President Saleh. In May 2010, it resulted in the erroneous killing of the deputy governor of Marib in a drone strike. As one anonymous American official was later quoted as saying, "We think we got played."

    Though the planning for the Yakla operation began many months ago, Abdulraouf's house in al Ghayil was built recently. The modern cinder-block walls and PVC windows stood out among the simple stone huts dominating the rest of the village. The tribal leader had been living in a tent on the rocky hillside after being run out of the al Dhahab family homestead in the village of al Manasa by Houthi-Saleh forces in the fall of 2014.

    Those in the village speculated about the exact target of the January 29 raid. Was the house of Abdulraouf and the tent beside it the objective? Did the U.S. military believe that Qassim al Rimi, the AQAP leader, was inside the house? Or was it the next building on the hillside above, the home of Mohammed al Ameri, the Navy SEALs were aiming for? Others ventured that a woman, Arwa al Baghdadi, might have been the focus.

    Arwa al Baghdadi, according to her own social media postings, was imprisoned in 2010 and tortured by authorities in Saudi Arabia after her brother was shot dead by security forces. She was later used as an apparent bargaining chip in the 2015 release of a Saudi diplomat who had been kidnapped by AQAP in Aden three years earlier (Saudi officials say there was no connection). Arwa al Baghdadi, who fled to Yemen after her release from prison, was killed in the raid along with her son Osama, and another brother, Abubakr al Baghdadi. Her pregnant sister-in-law was shot in the stomach. The unborn infant, grazed by the bullet fired into his mother's stomach, died following an emergency caesarean section at the 26 September hospital, a five-hour drive away in the neighboring province of Marib.

    Many of al Ghayil's residents denied any presence of al Qaeda militants in the village that night. Al Rimi's statement after the raid offered condolences to the families of those killed, and along with AQAP propaganda channels, listed 14 men among the dead, although al Rimi stopped short of calling them AQAP members. (Eight of those names were not included in the toll of the dead that villagers provided to The Intercept, as they were not known to local residents. Family members disputed claims the remaining six men were members of AQAP.)

    In the current context of Yemen's civil war, AQAP has sought to frame the conflict as a sectarian struggle against Shiite Houthis. In that narrative, AQAP regularly describes all opponents of the Houthis as Sunni "brothers" or "one of us" - part of a long-term strategy to create a more seamless blend with the local population and tribes.


    The only evidence released so far to back up Sean Spicer's claim that "the goal of the raid was intelligence gathering, and that's what we received" was a video posted by U.S. Central Command on February 3. CENTCOM presented the clip as confirmation of the "valuable" material collected during the raid and labeled the video as an "AQAP course to attack the West." But it was quickly taken down after it was discovered that the footage was 10 years old - pre-dating the existence of AQAP in Yemen - and was readily available online. The U.S. government has yet to produce any further proof of intelligence collected from the raid.

    There are other suspect details in the U.S. version of events. In the days after the raid, the Pentagon claimed that the women killed were armed and fought the incoming U.S. special operations forces from "pre-established positions." Yet all of the witnesses to the attack interviewed by The Intercept in al Ghayil strongly challenged this accusation, citing a culture that views the prospect of women fighting, as Nesma al Ameri put it, as "eib" - shameful and dishonorable - and pointing out the practical implausibility of women clutching babies while also firing rifles. A CENTCOM spokesperson refused to provide any details about female fighters to support its assertion.

    However, the names of the dead that villagers gave to The Intercept did not include one woman listed by AQAP media channels. Propagandists and supporters of the militants claimed one unnamed woman "fought them with her own gun," with an additional claim that Arwa, the former Saudi prisoner, had thrown a grenade killing a U.S. soldier - assertions strongly denied by Abdulelah al Dhahab, who survived the lengthy gunfight around his brother's home. Sheikh Aziz al Ameri, the head of the al Ameri clan, lost 20 members of his extended family, six of them children, the youngest only 3 months old. "Everyone who tried to run, they killed them," he said, standing on the hilltop outside his home 11 days later.

    In response to The Intercept's findings, Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project, called for a full investigation into the raid, including the legal basis for the operation, the adequacy of intelligence beforehand, what precautions were taken, and why any precautions failed.

    "Each new revelation about this tragic operation is grievous and shocking," Shamsi said. "Even in recognized armed conflict, there are rules to safeguard against the killings of civilians, and even under the Obama administration's imperfect lethal force policy, which to the best of our knowledge remains in effect, there are constraints that should have prevented or at least minimized civilian deaths."

    Last week, the White House announced the Pentagon would be carrying out three reviews of the raid, looking into the death of Owens, the loss of the Osprey, and the civilian casualties.

    During his first address to Congress on February 28, President Trump noted that Owens died "a warrior and a hero," leading to a standing ovation for the Navy SEAL's widow, Carryn Owens. Trump has made no mention of the relatives of the women and children who died that night.

    By the time the whirring sound of drones returned to Yakla two days after the operation, the village of al Ghayil was largely deserted. With little reason to stay after their livestock had been eradicated, families fled in fear of further attack and imminent enemy takeover following the death of Abdulraouf al Dhahab, Qayfa's most eminent adversary of the Houthi-Saleh forces. The majority of the men, women, and children who survived are now indefinitely displaced.

    A month later, amid an unprecedented uptick in U.S. military activity in Yemen last week, the helicopters and drones returned to Yakla. Apaches descended on al Ghayil before dawn on March 2, carrying out "indiscriminate shelling," according to Sheikh Aziz al Ameri, one of the few residents who remained in the village. Later that day, the Pentagon took responsibility for more than 20 airstrikes carried out in the early hours of the morning across three Yemeni provinces, including al Bayda.

    Early on March 3, attack helicopters and drones returned yet again. An airstrike, apparently targeting Abduelah, the surviving brother of Abdulraouf al Dhahab, landed just outside the door of his house, killing three of his extended family members from their home village of al Manasa. Late that night, Abdulelah was yet again the apparent target of a drone strike that killed four men traveling with him in a car in Marib province. It is unclear if Abdulelah survived. At least six houses in al Ghayil were damaged the same night by yet more helicopter gunship fire. With the village coming under attack for the third consecutive night on March 5, Sheikh Aziz and his family finally fled; they are now living under trees several miles away. Less than 24 hours later, another drone strike killed two more children, brothers ages 10 and 12.

    Pentagon spokesperson Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement that the strikes targeting AQAP were conducted in partnership with the government of Yemen and were coordinated with President Hadi. Anti-Houthi resistance fighters on the front lines of the civil war, not far from Yakla, were also killed, according to residents of al Bayda. The following day, Davis told reporters that additional strikes were carried out early on Friday, bringing the total to more than 30 strikes in less than 36 hours - exceeding the 32 confirmed U.S. drone strikes in Yemen during all of last year.

    Although Davis stated that "U.S. forces will continue to target AQAP militants and facilities in order to disrupt the terrorist organization's plots, and ultimately to protect American lives," NBC News reported the strikes were also part of "new directives" to aggressively pursue the Dhahab and Qayfa clans, citing a senior military intelligence source.

    While the Yakla raid supposedly took place under presidential policy guidelines set up under the Obama administration - standards repeatedly used to defend the U.S. drone program - further developments last week indicate the Trump administration is no longer abiding by the condition of "near certainty" that civilians will not be killed or injured in operations.

    A defense official speaking to the Washington Post stated that the military has been granted temporary authority to regard selected areas of Yemen as "areas of active hostility." That change, while shortening the approval process for military action, effectively puts the U.S. on a war footing in any area of Yemen designated, but unlikely to be disclosed, by the military, noted Cori Crider, a lawyer at the international human rights organization Reprieve who has represented Yemeni drone strike victims. This authority has a lower bar: Civilian deaths have to be "proportionate" rather than avoided with a "near certainty," as set out by the previous administration for the use of lethal force "outside areas of active hostilities."

    "This means that all of those much-vaunted 'standards' the Obama administration said they were using to minimize civilian casualties in drone strikes in Yemen have been chucked right out the window," said Crider.

    In a press briefing on March 3, Davis told reporters that the legal authority for carrying out the January raid and recent strikes "was delegated by the president through the secretary of defense" to U.S. Central Command. But when contacted by The Intercept, the Pentagon could not clarify whether al Ghayil was still considered to be outside areas of active hostilities during the botched raid.

    In al Bayda, the continuing aerial bombardments are perceived by some as helping Saleh and the Houthis - who last month Spicer conflated with Iran and accused of attacking an American Navy vessel off Yemen's western Red Sea coast. The Houthis had, in fact, hit a Saudi frigate.

    Meanwhile, the villagers of al Ghayil are not calling for the usual tribal standard of compensation for the families of victims. Few wanted to be named saying so, but all expressed the same sentiment less than two weeks after the raid: This time, they want revenge, not a payout.

    While President Trump continues to hail the mission as a success, quoting Defense Secretary James Mattis in Congress last week that intelligence gathered "will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemy," in Yakla, the clearest outcome appears to be lengthening the list of America's adversaries beyond al Qaeda.

    Mohammed al Taysi, the tribesman who tried to join the fight in al Ghayil, put it succinctly as we parted company at dusk along the track out of Yakla. "If they come back," he said, referring to the SEALs, "tell them to bring their caskets. From now we are ready for any fight with the Americans and the dog Trump."

    https://theintercept.com/2017/03/09/...ful-seal-raid/

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    Death in al Ghayil and US War Crimes

    Women and Children in Yemeni Village Recall Horror of Trump’s “Highly Successful” SEAL Raid

    On January 29, 5-year-old Sinan al Ameri was asleep with his mother, his aunt, and 12 other children in a one-room stone hut typical of poor rural villages in the highlands of Yemen. A little after 1 a.m., the women and children awoke to the sound of a gunfight erupting a few hundred feet away. Roughly 30 members of Navy SEAL Team 6 were storming the eastern hillside of the remote settlement.

    According to residents of the village of al Ghayil, in Yemen’s al Bayda province, the first to die in the assault was 13-year-old Nasser al Dhahab. The house of his uncle, Sheikh Abdulraouf al Dhahab, and the building behind it, the home of 65-year-old Abdallah al Ameri and his son Mohammed al Ameri, 38, appeared to be the targets of the U.S. forces, who called in air support as they were pinned down in a nearly hourlong firefight.

    With the SEALs taking heavy fire on the lower slopes, attack helicopters swept over the hillside hamlet above. In what seemed to be blind panic, the gunships bombarded the entire village, striking more than a dozen buildings, razing stone dwellings where families slept, and wiping out more than 120 goats, sheep, and donkeys.

    Three projectiles tore through the straw and timber roof of the home where Sinan slept. Cowering in a corner, Sinan’s mother, 30-year-old Fatim Saleh Mohsen, decided to flee the bombardment. Grabbing her 18-month-old son and ushering her terrified children into the narrow outdoor passageway between the tightly packed dwellings, she headed into the open. Over a week later, Sinan’s aunt Nadr al Ameri wept as she stood in the same room and recalled watching her sister run out the door into the darkness.

    Nesma al Ameri, an elderly village matriarch who lost four family members in the raid, described how the attack helicopters began firing down on anything that moved. As she recounted the horror of what happened, Sinan tapped her on the arm. “No, no. The bullets were coming from behind,” the 5-year-old insisted, interrupting to demonstrate how he was shot at and his mother gunned down as they ran for their lives. “From here to here,” Sinan said, putting two fingers to the back of his head and drawing an invisible line to illustrate the direction of the bullet exiting her forehead. His mother fell to the ground next to him, still clutching his baby brother in her arms. Sinan kept running.

    His mother’s body was found in the early light of dawn, the front of her head split open. The baby was wounded but alive. Sinan’s mother was one of at least six women killed in the raid, the first counterterrorism operation of the Trump administration, which also left 10 children under the age of 13 dead. “She was hit by the plane. The American plane,” explained Sinan. “She’s in heaven now,” he added with a shy smile, seemingly unaware of the enormity of what he had witnessed or, as yet, the impact of his loss. “Dog Trump,” declared Nesma, turning to the other women in the room for agreement. “Yes, the dog Trump,” they agreed.

    According to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, the al Ghayil raid “was a very, very well thought out and executed effort,” planning for which began under the Obama administration back in November 2016. Although Ned Price, former National Security Council spokesperson, and Colin Kahl, the national security adviser under Vice President Biden, challenged Spicer’s account, what is agreed upon is that Trump gave the final green light over dinner at the White House on January 25. According to two people with direct knowledge, the White House did not notify the U.S. ambassador to Yemen in advance of the operation.

    The Intercept’s reporting from al Ghayil in the aftermath of the raid and the eyewitness accounts provided by residents, as well as information from current and former military officials, challenge many of the Trump administration’s key claims about the “highly successful” operation, from the description of an assault on a fortified compound — there are no compounds or walled-off houses in the village — to the “large amounts of vital intelligence” the president said were collected.

    According to a current U.S. special operations adviser and a former senior special operations officer, it was not intelligence the Pentagon was after but a key member of al Qaeda. The raid was launched in an effort to capture or kill Qassim al Rimi, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to the special operations adviser, who asked to remain anonymous because details behind the raid are classified.

    Villagers interviewed by The Intercept rejected claims that al Rimi was present in al Ghayil, although one resident described seeing an unfamiliar black SUV arriving in the village hours before the raid. Six days after the operation, AQAP media channels released an audio statement from al Rimi, who mocked President Trump and the raid. The White House and the military have denied that the AQAP leader was the target of the mission, insisting the SEALs were sent in to capture electronic devices and material to be used for intelligence gathering. A spokesperson for CENTCOM told The Intercept the military has not yet determined whether al Rimi was in al Ghayil when the SEALs arrived.

    Although some details about the mission remain unclear, the account that has emerged suggests the Trump White House is breaking with Obama administration policies that were intended to limit civilian casualties. The change — if permanent — would increase the likelihood of civilian deaths in so-called capture or kill missions like the January 29 raid.

    The January mission was the fourth time U.S. forces have been involved in ground operations in Yemen. While none of those prior raids could be deemed successful — two were failed attempts to free an American hostage, photojournalist Luke Somers — they did not leave the same trail of destruction as the operation in al Ghayil.

    The village is part of a cluster of settlements known as Yakla in the Qayfa tribal region of Yemen’s al Bayda province. A basic knowledge of the local political environment, combined with a grasp of the obvious challenges posed by the geographical layout of al Ghayil, would have provided substantial forewarning that this latest raid was a highly precarious undertaking. American military planners should have foreseen that their forces would face not only al Qaeda militants, but also heavy armed resistance from residents of al Ghayil and surrounding villages.

    This area of al Bayda has been at war for more than 2 1/2 years, and the Qayfa tribe is renowned for its fighting prowess and a long-standing refusal to yield to the state. After the joint forces of Yemen’s northern Houthi rebels and military loyalists of the country’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, seized control of the capital, Sana, in September 2014, they swiftly moved southeast into al Bayda. Most of the Qayfa tribe, including the men of Yakla, have been fighting the Houthi-Saleh forces ever since. Saudi Arabia joined the fray in March 2015, leading a coalition of nations in a military intervention and aerial bombing campaign, supported by the U.S., to push back the Houthis, who the Saudis view as an Iranian proxy force. In theory, the residents of al Ghayil are on the same side as the United States in a civil war that has left more than 3 million people displaced and brought the country to the edge of famine.

    Al Ghayil, just a few miles from Houthi-Saleh-controlled territory, came under Houthi rocket fire more than once in the early weeks of 2017, leaving the area of Yakla on high alert for attacks and residents in constant fear of losing their homes to a Houthi-Saleh incursion. The closest town, Rada — home to the nearest hospital — had been a no-go area for the population of Yakla since it fell under Houthi-Saleh control in October 2014.

    When the U.S. Navy SEALs flew into al Ghayil in the early hours of January 29 — a deliberately chosen moonless night — local armed tribesmen assumed the Houthis had arrived to capture their village. After the firefight started, some of the men who ran to defend their families and homes saw colored lasers emanating from the weapons of their opponents, raising suspicions they might be facing Americans.

    Shortly after the firefight erupted, Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens was shot by a bullet that hit just above his armored chest plate and entered his heart, according to the former senior special operations official briefed on the raid. Owens died shortly after he was hit.

    Further confusion set in when the attack helicopters joined the assault. Knowing the Houthi-Saleh forces do not have an air force, residents could only assume it was the Saudi-led coalition attacking them from the air. They were not entirely wrong. Troops from the United Arab Emirates — leading players in the coalition’s two-year fight against the Houthis — also took part in the raid and might have been involved in flying the helicopters that fired on civilians. Dozens of UAE Apache gunships are currently stationed in Emirati-run military bases across Yemen.

    The UAE government did not respond to multiple requests for comment on its role in the raid or answer queries regarding any casualties among its personnel.

    According to the former senior U.S. special operations official and a current military consultant, both of whom were briefed on the raid, the SEALs discovered by the time they arrived in the village that their operation had been compromised. It is still unclear how those on the ground were tipped off, but a current consultant to the Joint Special Operations Command, which oversees SEAL Team 6, said the command is investigating whether UAE forces involved in the raid revealed the details of the mission before the SEALs arrived in al Ghayil. (However, local residents, who are used to hearing the buzz of drones in the remote area, said they noticed the unusual presence of helicopters around 9 p.m. the night before the raid, which raised concern.)

    Some men in the surrounding villages grabbed their weapons and ran to help defend their neighbors when they heard the sound of a battle unfolding, according to residents. Mohammed Ali al Taysi, from the nearby village of Husun at Tuyus, dashed to his battered SUV, tearing down a dry riverbed in the dark to reach al Ghayil from the north. But just short of the village, a helicopter flew low overhead, pounding warning shots into the ground on either side of his vehicle. Al Taysi jumped out, firing his rifle toward the Apache before retreating into the night. Other armed men closer to the village descended from the mountainside on foot to support the tribesmen of al Ghayil, who already held the advantage of the high ground on the western side of the village. The SEALs had come in from the low ground to the north, approaching the homes of Abdulraouf al Dhahab and Mohammed al Ameri from the eastern slopes below.

    According to those present, the firefight quickly escalated around the al Dhahab house, halting the SEALs’ advance. As the U.S. forces fought from the lower ground and more men descended the mountainside to join the shootout, airstrikes obliterated Mohammed al Ameri’s house on the hill above, killing three of his children, ages 7, 5, and 4, and seemingly destroying any possibility of retrieving laptops, hard drives, or other intelligence material from inside without digging through piles of rubble in the dark.

    With one Navy SEAL dead and two others seriously wounded, the special operations forces began to withdraw. But before they departed, according to local witnesses, the MV-22 Osprey used to extract the retreating soldiers crash-landed, forcing another aircraft to land to pull out the operators. Airstrikes then deliberately destroyed the abandoned Osprey.

    The gunfight had lasted the better part of an hour. It would be another hour or more before the skies fell silent and the sound of helicopters, aircraft, and drones faded. It was in the dawn light that the mass of bodies was revealed, the missing accounted for, and dead children identified. Smoke swirled into the air from the roofs still burning and the carcass of the smoldering Osprey in the distance.

    This was not the first time residents of the remote Yakla area had lost family members to a U.S. attack. In December 2013, a drone strike on a wedding convoy killed 12 civilians. The groom, Abdallah al Ameri, survived that attack. But on January 29, the 65-year-old was killed standing unarmed beside his house as it was bombed. A picture posted online shortly after the raid showed his body lying in the rocky sand with his hand clasped around a blood-soaked head torch.

    The aftermath of the raid’s destruction left villagers struggling to understand what the Americans were trying to accomplish. Abdulraouf, whose house appeared to be one of the targets, was no stranger to American attempts to kill him. He was the apparent target of at least three separate airstrikes between 2011 and 2013 in al Bayda province, including one in September 2012 that killed 12 civilians — a pregnant woman and three children were among the dead.

    Following the deaths, Abdulraouf called on the families of victims to hire international lawyers to take their cases to court in the United States. Two of Abdulraouf’s brothers were also killed by American drone strikes as the U.S. was drawn into a long-running bloody feud that had split the family of some 18 brothers between those aligned with al Qaeda and those who stood with the state.

    Although Abdulelah al Dhahab, a brother who survived the January raid but lost his 12-year-old son, denied Abdulraouf was an al Qaeda member, the bonds between the family and Yemen’s al Qaeda insurgency also extend to marital ties. Al Qaeda propagandist and American citizen Anwar al Awlaki married Abdularouf’s sister. Awlaki’s 8-year-old daughter, Nawar, was in the al Dhahab house the night of the raid. She bled to death after being shot in the neck — the second of Awlaki’s children to be killed by the United States since his own death by an American drone strike in September 2011. His eldest son, 16-year-old Denver-born Abdulrahman, was killed by a U.S. drone two weeks after his father.

    Following the onset of civil war in March 2015, Abdulraouf played a key role in leading the self-described “resistance” of local armed militias loyal to the Saudi-led coalition, fighting on the pro-government side of Yemen’s internationally recognized president-in-exile, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. As a senior Qayfa tribal figure, Abdulraouf was a well-respected resistance leader. The day before the January raid, he was handing out salaries for pro-government fighters after collecting the money from the nearest Saudi coalition base in the neighboring province of Marib.

    Although U.S. drone strikes killed a succession of leading AQAP figures in the first six months of 2015, drone, air, and sea-to-land bombings over the preceding 15 years were plagued by poor intelligence and numerous civilian casualties. Survivors of the al Ghayil operation were left to speculate what intelligence led American special operations forces to storm their village “as if they were coming to kill Osama bin Laden,” as one resident noted, puzzling over whether the U.S. thought it was going after the leader of the Islamic State rather than an apparent low-level al Qaeda militant of the same name, Abubakr al Baghdadi, who was killed in the raid. “Or the Americans were tricked into killing Abdulraouf, the leading fighter in Qayfa, to help the Houthis and Saleh,” hypothesized one anti-Houthi tribal fighter.

    On at least one occasion in Yemen, the U.S. was deliberately fed false intelligence by the regime of then-President Saleh. In May 2010, it resulted in the erroneous killing of the deputy governor of Marib in a drone strike. As one anonymous American official was later quoted as saying, “We think we got played.”

    Though the planning for the Yakla operation began many months ago, Abdulraouf’s house in al Ghayil was built recently. The modern cinder-block walls and PVC windows stood out among the simple stone huts dominating the rest of the village. The tribal leader had been living in a tent on the rocky hillside after being run out of the al Dhahab family homestead in the village of al Manasa by Houthi-Saleh forces in the fall of 2014.


    One resident, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, stated that Mohammed al Ameri’s home was used as a guest house by passing al Qaeda militants — aggressive men whom the rest of the villagers avoided. To get to Mohammed’s house, the SEALs had to pass the al Dhahab home, where Abdulraouf, his brother Sultan, and their guests were holding a late-night gathering with another tribal leader, octogenarian Saif Mohammed al Jawfi, who also died in the raid. The witness claimed the meeting in al Dhahab’s house was held to resolve an issue regarding one of Saif’s relatives who had been arrested by militants connected to the guest house, as well as to arrange the distribution of the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition cash payments to anti-Houthi resistance fighters.


    Those in the village speculated about the exact target of the January 29 raid. Was the house of Abdulraouf and the tent beside it the objective? Did the U.S. military believe that Qassim al Rimi, the AQAP leader, was inside the house? Or was it the next building on the hillside above, the home of Mohammed al Ameri, the Navy SEALs were aiming for? Others ventured that a woman, Arwa al Baghdadi, might have been the focus.


    Arwa al Baghdadi, according to her own social media postings, was imprisoned in 2010 and tortured by authorities in Saudi Arabia after her brother was shot dead by security forces. She was later used as an apparent bargaining chip in the 2015 release of a Saudi diplomat who had been kidnapped by AQAP in Aden three years earlier (Saudi officials say there was no connection). Arwa al Baghdadi, who fled to Yemen after her release from prison, was killed in the raid along with her son Osama, and another brother, Abubakr al Baghdadi. Her pregnant sister-in-law was shot in the stomach. The unborn infant, grazed by the bullet fired into his mother’s stomach, died following an emergency caesarean section at the 26 September hospital, a five-hour drive away in the neighboring province of Marib.


    Many of al Ghayil’s residents denied any presence of al Qaeda militants in the village that night. Al Rimi’s statement after the raid offered condolences to the families of those killed, and along with AQAP propaganda channels, listed 14 men among the dead, although al Rimi stopped short of calling them AQAP members. (Eight of those names were not included in the toll of the dead that villagers provided to The Intercept, as they were not known to local residents. Family members disputed claims the remaining six men were members of AQAP.)


    In the current context of Yemen’s civil war, AQAP has sought to frame the conflict as a sectarian struggle against Shiite Houthis. In that narrative, AQAP regularly describes all opponents of the Houthis as Sunni “brothers” or “one of us” — part of a long-term strategy to create a more seamless blend with the local population and tribes.

    The only evidence released so far to back up Sean Spicer’s claim that “the goal of the raid was intelligence gathering, and that’s what we received” was a video posted by U.S. Central Command on February 3. CENTCOM presented the clip as confirmation of the “valuable” material collected during the raid and labeled the video as an “AQAP course to attack the West.” But it was quickly taken down after it was discovered that the footage was 10 years old — pre-dating the existence of AQAP in Yemen — and was readily available online. The U.S. government has yet to produce any further proof of intelligence collected from the raid.


    There are other suspect details in the U.S. version of events. In the days after the raid, the Pentagon claimed that the women killed were armed and fought the incoming U.S. special operations forces from “pre-established positions.” Yet all of the witnesses to the attack interviewed by The Intercept in al Ghayil strongly challenged this accusation, citing a culture that views the prospect of women fighting, as Nesma al Ameri put it, as “eib” — shameful and dishonorable — and pointing out the practical implausibility of women clutching babies while also firing rifles. A CENTCOM spokesperson refused to provide any details about female fighters to support its assertion.



    However, the names of the dead that villagers gave to The Intercept did not include one woman listed by AQAP media channels. Propagandists and supporters of the militants claimed one unnamed woman “fought them with her own gun,” with an additional claim that Arwa, the former Saudi prisoner, had thrown a grenade killing a U.S. soldier — assertions strongly denied by Abdulelah al Dhahab, who survived the lengthy gunfight around his brother’s home. Sheikh Aziz al Ameri, the head of the al Ameri clan, lost 20 members of his extended family, six of them children, the youngest only 3 months old. “Everyone who tried to run, they killed them,” he said, standing on the hilltop outside his home 11 days later.

    In response to The Intercept’s findings, Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project, called for a full investigation into the raid, including the legal basis for the operation, the adequacy of intelligence beforehand, what precautions were taken, and why any precautions failed.

    “Each new revelation about this tragic operation is grievous and shocking,” Shamsi said. “Even in recognized armed conflict, there are rules to safeguard against the killings of civilians, and even under the Obama administration’s imperfect lethal force policy, which to the best of our knowledge remains in effect, there are constraints that should have prevented or at least minimized civilian deaths.”

    Last week, the White House announced the Pentagon would be carrying out three reviews of the raid, looking into the death of Owens, the loss of the Osprey, and the civilian casualties.

    During his first address to Congress on February 28, President Trump noted that Owens died “a warrior and a hero,” leading to a standing ovation for the Navy SEAL’s widow, Carryn Owens. Trump has made no mention of the relatives of the women and children who died that night.

    By the time the whirring sound of drones returned to Yakla two days after the operation, the village of al Ghayil was largely deserted. With little reason to stay after their livestock had been eradicated, families fled in fear of further attack and imminent enemy takeover following the death of Abdulraouf al Dhahab, Qayfa’s most eminent adversary of the Houthi-Saleh forces. The majority of the men, women, and children who survived are now indefinitely displaced.

    A month later, amid an unprecedented uptick in U.S. military activity in Yemen last week, the helicopters and drones returned to Yakla. Apaches descended on al Ghayil before dawn on March 2, carrying out “indiscriminate shelling,” according to Sheikh Aziz al Ameri, one of the few residents who remained in the village. Later that day, the Pentagon took responsibility for more than 20 airstrikes carried out in the early hours of the morning across three Yemeni provinces, including al Bayda.

    Early on March 3, attack helicopters and drones returned yet again. An airstrike, apparently targeting Abduelah, the surviving brother of Abdulraouf al Dhahab, landed just outside the door of his house, killing three of his extended family members from their home village of al Manasa. Late that night, Abdulelah was yet again the apparent target of a drone strike that killed four men traveling with him in a car in Marib province. It is unclear if Abdulelah survived. At least six houses in al Ghayil were damaged the same night by yet more helicopter gunship fire. With the village coming under attack for the third consecutive night on March 5, Sheikh Aziz and his family finally fled; they are now living under trees several miles away. Less than 24 hours later, another drone strike killed two more children, brothers ages 10 and 12.


    Pentagon spokesperson Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement that the strikes targeting AQAP were conducted in partnership with the government of Yemen and were coordinated with President Hadi. Anti-Houthi resistance fighters on the front lines of the civil war, not far from Yakla, were also killed, according to residents of al Bayda. The following day, Davis told reporters that additional strikes were carried out early on Friday, bringing the total to more than 30 strikes in less than 36 hours — exceeding the 32 confirmed U.S. drone strikes in Yemen during all of last year.


    Although Davis stated that “U.S. forces will continue to target AQAP militants and facilities in order to disrupt the terrorist organization’s plots, and ultimately to protect American lives,” NBC News reported the strikes were also part of “new directives” to aggressively pursue the Dhahab and Qayfa clans, citing a senior military intelligence source.


    While the Yakla raid supposedly took place under presidential policy guidelines set up under the Obama administration — standards repeatedly used to defend the U.S. drone program — further developments last week indicate the Trump administration is no longer abiding by the condition of “near certainty” that civilians will not be killed or injured in operations.


    A defense official speaking to the Washington Post stated that the military has been granted temporary authority to regard selected areas of Yemen as “areas of active hostility.” That change, while shortening the approval process for military action, effectively puts the U.S. on a war footing in any area of Yemen designated, but unlikely to be disclosed, by the military, noted Cori Crider, a lawyer at the international human rights organization Reprieve who has represented Yemeni drone strike victims. This authority has a lower bar: Civilian deaths have to be “proportionate” rather than avoided with a “near certainty,” as set out by the previous administration for the use of lethal force “outside areas of active hostilities.”




    “This means that all of those much-vaunted ‘standards’ the Obama administration said they were using to minimize civilian casualties in drone strikes in Yemen have been chucked right out the window,” said Crider.


    In a press briefing on March 3, Davis told reporters that the legal authority for carrying out the January raid and recent strikes “was delegated by the president through the secretary of defense” to U.S. Central Command. But when contacted by The Intercept, the Pentagon could not clarify whether al Ghayil was still considered to be outside areas of active hostilities during the botched raid.


    In al Bayda, the continuing aerial bombardments are perceived by some as helping Saleh and the Houthis — who last month Spicer conflated with Iran and accused of attacking an American Navy vessel off Yemen’s western Red Sea coast. The Houthis had, in fact, hit a Saudi frigate.

    Meanwhile, the villagers of al Ghayil are not calling for the usual tribal standard of compensation for the families of victims. Few wanted to be named saying so, but all expressed the same sentiment less than two weeks after the raid: This time, they want revenge, not a payout.

    While President Trump continues to hail the mission as a success, quoting Defense Secretary James Mattis in Congress last week that intelligence gathered “will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemy,” in Yakla, the clearest outcome appears to be lengthening the list of America’s adversaries beyond al Qaeda.

    Mohammed al Taysi, the tribesman who tried to join the fight in al Ghayil, put it succinctly as we parted company at dusk along the track out of Yakla. “If they come back,” he said, referring to the SEALs, “tell them to bring their caskets. From now we are ready for any fight with the Americans and the dog Trump.”


    https://theintercept.com/2017/03/09/...ful-seal-raid/

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    UN says one Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes

    April 26, 2017

    The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that, in Yemen, one child under five dies every 10 minutes from preventable causes.

    In a report on Monday OCHA said that Yemen suffers from the world’s largest humanitarian crisis where nearly 19 million people – two-thirds of the total population – need humanitarian assistance and protection.

    It noted that more than 10 million Yemenis need immediate assistance and more than 8 million people lack access to drinking water and sanitation.

    The United Nations and its partners launched an international appeal earlier this year to raise $2.1 billion to provide immediate life-saving assistance and protection for 12 million people in need.

    According to the appeal, the funding would provide an effective humanitarian response in Yemen, especially since the Office has received only 15 percent of that amount, recording a funding gap of $1.8 billion.

    On Tuesday OCHA will host the Humanitarian Response Plan Financing Meeting in Switzerland under the auspices of Switzerland and Sweden, with the presence of UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierres and Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien.




    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20...ry-10-minutes/


    Saudi Arabia ‘deliberately targeting impoverished Yemen’s farms and agricultural industry’

    Increasing evidence suggests Kingdom is not merely bombing civilians in neighbouring country, but systematically targeting infrastructure survivors will need to avoid starvation when the war is over







    The Yemen war uniquely combines tragedy, hypocrisy and farce. First come the casualties: around 10,000, almost 4,000 of them civilians. Then come those anonymous British and American advisers who seem quite content to go on “helping” the Saudi onslaughts on funerals, markets and other obviously (to the Brits, I suppose) military targets.

    Then come the Saudi costs: more than $250m (£200m) a month, according to Standard Chartered Bank – and this for a country that cannot pay its debts to construction companies. But now comes the dark comedy bit: the Saudis have included in their bombing targets cows, farms and sorghum – which can be used for bread or animal fodder – as well as numerous agricultural facilities.

    In fact, there is substantial evidence emerging that the Saudis and their “coalition” allies – and, I suppose, those horrid British “advisers” – are deliberately targeting Yemen’s tiny agricultural sector in a campaign which, if successful, would lead a post-war Yemeni nation not just into starvation but total reliance on food imports for survival. Much of this would no doubt come from the Gulf states which are currently bombing the poor country to bits.

    The fact that Yemen has long been part of Saudi Arabia’s proxy war against Shiites and especially Iran – which has been accused, without evidence, of furnishing weapons to the Shia Houthi in Yemen – is now meekly accepted as part of the Middle East’s current sectarian “narrative” (like the “good” rebels in eastern Aleppo and the “very bad” rebels in Mosul). So, alas, have the outrageous bombings of civilians. But agricultural targets are something altogether different.

    Academics have been amassing data from Yemen which strongly suggests that the Saudis’ Yemen campaign contains a programme for the destruction of rural livelihood.

    Martha Mundy, emeritus professor at the London School of Economics, who is currently working in Lebanon with her colleague Cynthia Gharios, has been researching through Yemeni agriculture ministry statistics and says that the data “is beginning to show that in some regions, the Saudis are deliberately striking at agricultural infrastructure in order to destroy the civil society”.

    Mundy points out that a conservative report from the ministry of agriculture and irrigation in the Yemeni capital Sana’a, gathered from its officers across the country, details 357 bombing targets in the country’s 20 provinces, including farms, animals, water infrastructure, food stores, agricultural banks, markets and food trucks.

    These include the destruction of farms in Yasnim, the Baqim district of Saadah province and in Marran. Mundy has compared these attacks with figures in the Yemen Data Project, which was published some weeks ago. Her verdict is a most unhappy one.

    “According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, 2.8 per cent of Yemen’s land is cultivated,” Mundy says. “To hit that small amount of agricultural land, you have to target it.” Saudi Arabia has already been accused of war crimes, but striking at the agriculture fields and food products of Yemen in so crude a way adds merely another grim broken promise by the Saudis.

    The kingdom signed up to the additional protocol of the August 1949 Geneva Conventions which specifically states that “it is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock…for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population…whatever the motive…”

    In a lecture in Beirut, Mundy has outlined the grievous consequences of earlier economic policies in Yemen – cheap American wheat from the 1970s and the influx of food from other countries which discouraged farmers from maintaining rural life (terracing of farms, for example, or water husbandry) – and the effect of Saudi Arabia’s war on the land. “The armies and above all air forces of the ‘oil-dollar’,” she said, have “…come to destroy physically those products of Yemeni labour working with land and animals that survived the earlier economic devastation.”

    There are photographs aplenty of destroyed farms, factories and dead animals lying in fields strewn with munitions – effectively preventing farmers returning to work for many months or years. Poultry and beehive farms have been destroyed.

    Even today, more than half the population of Yemen relies in part – or wholly – on agriculture and rural husbandry. Mundy’s research through the files of other ministries suggests that technical support administration buildings for agriculture were also attacked. The major Tihama Development Authority on the Red Sea coastal plain, which was established in the 1970s – and houses, as Mundy says, “the written memory of years of ‘development’ interventions” – is responsible for a series of irrigation structures. It has been heavily bombed twice.

    But I guess that one war – or two – in the Middle East is as much as the world can take right now. Or as much as the media are prepared to advertise. Aleppo and Mosul are quite enough. Yemen is too much. And Libya. And “Palestine”…

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/wo...-a7376576.html

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    World watches as Yemen descends into total collapse


    #YemenWar



    More than 17 million people are facing dire food shortages in Yemen, as Oman seeks to mediate a peace deal







    Yemen is descending into total collapse, its people facing war, famine and a deadly outbreak of cholera, as the world watches, the UN aid chief said on Tuesday.

    Speaking to the UN Security Council, Stephen O'Brien said "the time is now" to end the world's largest food emergency and put Yemen back on the path to survival.

    "Crisis is not coming, it is not looming, it is here today - on our watch and ordinary people are paying the price," said O'Brien, the UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs.

    "The people of Yemen are being subjected to deprivation, disease and death as the world watches."

    The crisis is spiralling towards "total social, economic and institutional collapse" in the poor Arab country, O'Brien added.

    His remarks reflected frustration with the Security Council's failure to pressure the warring sides in Yemen to pull back from the brink and engage in serious negotiations on ending the two-year war.

    More than 8,000 people have been killed since a Saudi-led coalition launched a military campaign in March 2015 against Iran-allied Huthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa.

    The conflict has left 17 million people facing dire food shortages including nearly seven million who are one step away from famine in the country, which is heavily dependent on food imports.

    Cholera is spreading

    Since late April, a cholera outbreak has killed 500 people while 55,206 Yemenis - one third of them children - are ill, according to UN figures.

    Another 150,000 cases of cholera are expected in the next six months.

    After the Saudi-backed government moved the central bank from Sanaa to Aden, more than one million civil servants stopped receiving their salaries, pushing more families toward starvation, said O'Brien.

    He singled out the Saudi-led coalition for criticism, saying its threat of attacks on the rebel-held port of Hodeida - a "lifeline" for Yemen's imports - coupled with clearance delays for ships had sapped traders' confidence.

    "Giving rising costs, major shipping companies are now simply avoiding the Red Sea ports, thereby depriving the Yemeni people of desperately needed food and fuel," said the UN aid chief.

    Returning from talks in the region, UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed reported no progress in his efforts to broker a return to negotiations and to clinch a deal on allowing vital deliveries to Hodeida.

    "I will not hide from this council that we are not close to a comprehensive agreement," he told the council.

    Last week, 22 international and Yemeni humanitarian and human rights groups including Save the Children, the International Rescue Committee and Oxfam raised alarm over Yemen.

    They called on the council, in particular Britain which has the lead for addressing the conflict at the top UN body, to "end its year-long inaction on Yemen, and move decisively to end what is now the largest humanitarian crisis in the world."

    Meanwhile, it emerged late on Tuesday that Oman is mediating between Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government and its Houthi opponents over a U.N. plan to resume peace talks in the war-torn country, according to a Yemeni government official.

    The official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi was in Muscat at Oman's invitation to discuss ways to bridge differences with the Houthis, who control the capital Sanaa with their allies, over plans presented by the U.N. special envoy to Yemen last week.

    The plans, presented by U.N. Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed during a regional tour last week, included confidence building measures such as turning over the Red Sea port of Hodeidah to a neutral party, opening Sanaa airport for civilian traffic and paying civil servants' salaries.

    The Omani side has conveyed to Mekhlafi the Houthis' willingness to accept this plan, but also its insistence that civil servants' salaries be paid first.

    "The differences regarding Hodeidah now centre on the identity of the neutral party which will manage the port," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

    Oman maintains good ties with the Houthis, who seized Sanaa in 2014 in a campaign that eventually forced Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia in 2015 with his government. The Gulf Arab state had long mediated in international affairs, including facilitating talks between Iran and the United States.

    Hadi's government, which had recently made some small gains at the battlefront after months after a long stalemate, has threatened to attack Hodeidah, where most of Yemen's food and humanitarian supplies enter, unless the Houthis agreed to turn the facility over to neutral observers.

    The Houthis have in turn demanded that the Saudi-led coalition that controls Yemen's airspace allow Sanaa airport to reopen and that the Yemen central bank, which Hadi had moved last year from Sanaa to Aden, pay salaries that had been withheld from civil servants for several months.

    The Yemeni official said the Omani side have informed Mekhlafi in talks on Monday that the Houthis were ready to agree to Ould Cheikh Ahmed's plan in full.

    "The differences are not confined to the neutral party that will administer Hodeidah port," the official said.

    http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/wo...-un-1705220057

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    Villagers Say Yemeni Child Was Shot as He Tried to Flee Navy SEAL Raid

    By Iona Craig - May 28 2017

    Five civilians including a child were killed and another five were wounded in the latest U.S. Navy SEAL raid in Yemen,
    according to eyewitness accounts gathered by The Intercept.

    The raid by U.S. commandos in the hamlet of al Adhlan, in the Yemeni province of Mareb on May 23, also destroyed at least four homes. Navy SEALs, with air support from more than half a dozen attack helicopters and aircraft, were locked in a firefight with Yemeni tribesmen for over an hour, according to local residents.

    Details from five eyewitnesses in the village conflict with statements made by the Department of Defense and U.S. Central Command, which have not acknowledged that civilians were harmed. Official military reports claimed seven militants from the Yemen-based Al Qaeda branch, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, were killed "through a combination of small arms fire and precision airstrikes." Two commandos were also reportedly lightly wounded in the gunfight. Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis told reporters on May 23 there were "no credible indications of civilian casualties."

    Yet village residents gave a list of 10 names of civilians killed and wounded during the raid. Fifteen-year-old Abdullah Saeed Salem al Adhal was shot dead as he fled from his home with women and children. Another child, 12-year-old Othman Mohammed Saleh al Adhal, was injured but survived.

    An additional seven men who were guests in one house in the village were also killed, according to a senior figure in al Adhlan whose name is being withheld for fear of reprisals from AQAP. He was not able to identify the guests but they appear to account for the seven Al Qaeda militants Central Command claimed were killed.

    College student Murad al Adhal, 22, the elder brother of 15-year-old Abudullah who was shot and killed, described how he woke to the sound of gunfire around 1:30 a.m. as the SEALs took control of buildings on the mountainside overlooking the village.

    "I walked out of my house and I saw the nearby hills were filled with the American soldiers," he said. When Apache helicopter gunships began firing into buildings, women and children started running out of their homes. "My little brother Abdullah ran for his life with the other women and children. They killed him as he was running."
    Murad was shot in the leg.

    Residents in al Adhlan described to The Intercept how commandos also shot dead unarmed Nasser Ali Mahdi al Adhal, who was at least 70 years-old. An account by Reprieve, a London-based human rights group, said Nasser was partially blind. The elderly man was killed while attempting to greet the Navy SEALs, after apparently mistaking them for visitors, according to Reprieve.

    Local residents estimated some 40 to 60 commandos stormed the village with the support of eight or nine attack helicopters and other aircraft that repeatedly strafed the villagers' homes. Dozens of animals - livestock belonging to the villagers - were also killed in the barrage of gunfire and airstrikes.

    The Intercept collected these accounts through phone interviews with residents and activists who visited the hospital where the wounded were taken. The Pentagon did not respond to a request for comment on The Intercept's findings and civilian casualties in the raid.

    The operation in al Adhlan, a hamlet in the village of al Khathlah in the district of al Jubah in Mareb, is the second U.S. Navy SEAL raid in Yemen acknowledged by the military since Donald Trump took office. The first, on January 29 in al Ghayil, about 40 miles from al Adhlan, left a Navy SEAL dead along with at least 10 children under the age of 13 who were amongst 26 villagers killed in addition to eight apparent Al Qaeda members. Trump billed the operation as "highly successful." Another raid by Navy SEALs in March on Yemen's southern coast was aborted at the last minute. There have also been more than 80 drone, air, and sea-launched strikes on Yemen since Trump took office, a significant escalation of a campaign that had tapered off at the end of President Barack Obama's second term.

    https://theintercept.com/2017/05/28/...avy-seal-raid/

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    Beatings, shocks and ‘the grill’: Reports allege torture in secret prisons run by United Arab Emirates in Yemen

    The United Arab Emirates and allied security forces maintain a secret network of prisons in Yemen where dozens and perhaps hundreds of people are detained, routinely abused and in some cases severely tortured, according to separate reports released Thursday by Human Rights Watch and the Associated Press.

    The investigation by the AP also found that forces from the United States, a close counterterrorism ally to the UAE, had participated in interrogations of prisoners in Yemen. American forces had been “yards” away from a facility where torture took place, one Yemeni security officer told the news agency.

    The UAE is part of a Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen against Houthi rebels and their allies, with the goal of restoring the government of ousted Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The conflict has devastated Yemen, the Arab world’s most impoverished country, and killed more than 10,000 people, according to the United Nations.

    The government of the UAE denied the existence of a clandestine prison network, telling the AP that “there are no secret detention centers, and no torture of prisoners is done during interrogations.”

    Asked about allegations raised in the AP article, Marine Corps Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an email that “as a matter of policy we do not discuss the details of bilateral intelligence arrangements with partner nations.”

    “Under no circumstances do DoD personnel participate in violations of human rights,” he added, referring to the Department of Defense. “Additionally, as a matter of policy, they are required to report any observation of human rights violations through standard reporting procedures.”

    The UAE has taken a leading role in the war, landing troops in southern Yemen and participating in the air campaign against the rebels while also pursuing relief and reconstruction projects. Emirati officials have portrayed the country’s foray into Yemen as part of its increasingly assertive counterterrorism efforts in the region.

    The reports released Thursday added new, troubling details to that effort and to the shadowy conflict that pits coalition forces and their Yemeni allies against extremist groups such as al-Qaeda in southern Yemen.

    In its report, Human Rights Watch said it documented the cases of at least 38 people detained or arrested by Yemeni forces that are financed, armed or trained by the UAE. Some of the detainees were “abused or tortured inside detention facilities, most often through heavy beatings with officers using their fists, their guns or metal objects,” the group said. “Others mentioned electric shocks, forced nudity, threats to the detainees or their family members, and caning on the feet.”

    Witnesses told the AP of a torture method known as the “grill.” Victims were “tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire.” That method and others were used at a detention complex at an airport in the southern city of Mukalla — one of at least 18 secret prisons in southern Yemen documented by the AP and run by the UAE or its allied forces at “military bases, ports, an airport, private villas and even a nightclub.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...=.7d33fd9d813d

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    Yemen: The images Saudi Arabia doesn't want you to see


    Photographs by Giles Clarke for UN/OCHA
    Updated 1443 GMT (2243 HKT) June 22, 2017




    http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/21/wo...ion/index.html

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    WHO: Cholera death toll in Yemen rises to 1500

    AP |

    SANAA: The World Health Organization says a rapidly spreading cholera outbreak in Yemen has claimed 1500 lives since April and is suspected of sickening 246,000 people.

    WHO representative in Yemen Dr. Nevio Zagaria said in a news conference in Sanaa on Saturday that the number of suspected cases in the country’s second outbreak of cholera in six months has multiplied tenfold in the last two months.

    The death toll rose from 1300 as announced two weeks ago by WHO, which put the number of suspected cases at 200,000 at the time. The organization said that a quarter of those killed by the disease in the war-torn country are children.

    http://www.arabnews.com/node/1122672/middle-east

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    Saudi Arabia disallows UN aid staff to fly to crisis-hit Yemen


    Jul 18, 2017

    Saudi Arabia, which is leading an atrocious military campaign against Yemen, has prevented a United Nations charter flight carrying aid agency staff from travelling to its impoverished and crisis-stricken southern neighbor, where millions of people are in need of humanitarian or protection assistance.

    Aviation sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the flight was prevented from taking off from Djibouti to the Yemeni capital city of Sana’a, currently under the control of Houthi Ansarullah fighters, presumably over the presence of three journalists working for British state-run broadcaster BBC.

    “The [Saudi-led] coalition claimed that the security of the journalists could not be guaranteed in Houthi-controlled areas, and advised the three journalists to travel on commercial flights,” Ahmed Ben Lassoued, a spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Yemen, said on Tuesday.

    “It's unfortunate and partially explains why Yemen, which is one of the world's largest humanitarian crises, is not getting enough attention in international media,” he added.

    Ben Lassoued noted, “The lack of coverage is also hindering humanitarians' effort to draw the attention of the international community and donors to the humanitarian catastrophe the country is experiencing.”

    An unnamed source in the Saudi-led military contingent later claimed that the administration of Saudi-backed and resigned Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi is the only party entitled to issue visas for foreigners, adding that visitors to Yemen must fly to the country’s southern port city of Aden, which is under the control of the former government.

    “The United Nations is not concerned with transporting journalists, except those who are coming to cover its own activities,” the source commented, noting that the world agency must ensure the journalists safety and make sure they do not carry out any other activity.

    The United Nations has frequently called on Saudi Arabia to immediately lift its “paralyzing” aerial and naval blockade on Yemen.

    “The unwarranted restrictions on the flow of commercial and humanitarian goods and services into Yemen and impeding distribution within the country are paralyzing a nation that for far too long has been a victim of war,” Idriss Jazairy, UN special rapporteur on the negative impacts of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, said in a statement in mid-April.

    The Saudi blockade is one of the main causes of the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen and has disrupted the import and export of food, fuel and medical supplies as well as humanitarian aid, he added.

    The UN expert also deplored the dramatic situation in the port city of Hudaydah, a major lifeline for imports into Yemen, a country that is 80–90 percent dependent on imported stuff for its survival.

    Earlier this month, the UN announced that more than 17 million people in Yemen are currently food-insecure, of whom 6.8 million are severely food-insecure and in need of immediate aid.

    It underscored that Yemen conflict that has left 18.8 million people in need of assistance, including 10.3 million who require immediate assistance to save or sustain their lives.

    Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to reinstate Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, and to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement. The Riyadh regime has, however, failed to reach its goals despite suffering great expense.

    The military aggression has claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people, mostly civilians.

    http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/0...ff-Yemen-Sanaa

    Comments:

    Zeynab:
    Saudi Arabia has picked up the same oppressive policy as the brutal Burma (Myanmar) which has also recently disallowed UN teams from visiting the Rohingya concentration camps inside Burma that are an epitome of unprecedented suffering. These rogue governments are embarrassed of their own tyranny and they think barring foreign observers will conceal their crimes. Yemenis and Rohingyas are being violated by KSA and Burma, respectively, in such a way that it becomes hard to imagine this is the 21st century. May the curse of The Almighty be on the tyrants. Ameen ya Allah.

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    UK profiting from Yemeni civilians suffering: HRW

    Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the United Kingdom is profiting from the suffering of Yemeni civilians by selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

    The prominent rights group made the remarks in a press release on Tuesday, after a UK High Court ruling earlier in the week declared that London’s arms sales to Riyadh were not illegal.

    Describing the judgment as terrible news for Yemeni civilians, the HRW also expressed disappointment at the ruling for not helping pressure Riyadh to end its “unlawful attacks” in the war-torn country.

    The organization said it had identified at least 81 unlawful attacks conducted by the Saudi-led coalition on schools, markets, hospitals and homes.

    In March 2015, the Saudi regime and its allies, backed by the US, began a military campaign against Yemen to reinstall its former government. The war has killed over 12,000 civilians since then.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has recently licensed £3.5 billion worth of arms export to the Saudi kingdom.

    The war-stricken country is also grappling with the cholera epidemic, which has surpassed 300,000 cases and continues to spiral out of control since it erupted in April.

    International organizations, including the United Nations and the Red Cross, say the Saudi war and an embargo may be responsible for the cholera epidemic.

    Over two years of war and conflict have significantly reduced Yemen’s public healthcare capabilities. All operating hospitals and clinics are now over-burdened by the epidemic for the lack of medicine, equipment and staff.

    Nearly 3.3 million Yemeni people, including 2.1 million children, are currently suffering from acute malnutrition.

    http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/0...ians-suffering

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    Yemen Cholera epidemic is US and Saudi made!

    Yemen is a country that has been ravaged by war and is on the brink of famine. Two years of horrific conflict has killed more than 10,000 people, wounded 45,000 others, and displaced more than 11 percent of the country’s 26 million people.

    Yemen is now facing the worst cholera outbreak in the world, according to international health authorities.

    The outbreak has surpassed 200,000 cases, and that number is growing by 5,000 a day.

    “In just two months, cholera has spread to almost every (part) of this war-torn country”, said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in a joint statement.

    More than 1,300 people have already died — one quarter of them children and the death toll is expected to rise.

    Cholera is caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. If left untreated, it can cause severe dehydration and eventual death.

    Cholera is preventable and easily treatable with the proper resources, said Kurt Tjossem, the International Rescue Committee’s regional director for East Africa and the Horn. In Yemen, however, the collapsing infrastructure has cut off an estimated 14.5 million people — about half the country’s population from regular access to clean water, increasing the likelihood for the disease to spread.

    The crisis is “man-made,” said Stephen O’Brien, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, in a statement last week. For the past two years, Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war between Houthi rebels from the north of the country and a coalition of Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia and supported by the United States.

    “The cholera epidemic is in part due to the bombing of the water supply in Sana’a”, Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn said. “There is a U.S. imprint on every civilian death inside Yemen.”

    The problem in Yemen is even worse considering the ever-widening issue of food insecurity and malnutrition, where 2.2 million children suffer from acute malnutrition.

    When malnutrition rises, the immunity of children falls, which makes them more susceptible to diseases like cholera.

    Yemen’s economy is crumbling and health care workers continue to work without any pay. According to UNICEF and WHO, an estimated 30,000 local health workers have not been paid their salaries for nearly 10 months.

    Almost half the country’s medical facilities have been destroyed. A Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes from the combined effects of hunger and lack of medical facilities.

    Yemen has been torn to pieces. The war which is Saudi led and driven by the US ambitions, has left millions of people at the mercy of deadly diseases like Cholera. Poverty has cursed the population where mothers hold their dying children helpless, not knowing where their next portion of food and water will come from.

    Saudi led forces have targeted farms, food facilities, water infrastructure, marketplaces, and even the port of Hudaidah, where most of the humanitarian aid was entering the country. Further crimes include of the Saud is the bombing of a funeral procession in October 2016 that resulted in 150 causalities.

    However Trump clinched an enormous $110bn deal during his trip to the kingdom in May, which will be used to bomb and murder more people in Yemen. The Saud family promised Trump that their military would undergo rigorous US training to reduce civilian casualties, signing a $750m training program.

    The treacherous royal family went further still and agreed that US advisers would sit in their air operations control centre.

    It is a damning indictment on the Saudi Kingdom that it has inflicted terrible pain on the Muslims of Yemen and then boasts to the Muslim world that they are the ‘Custodians of the Two Holy Mosques’. The Saud regime are only Custodians to America. Treachery is in their bloodstream and programmed in their DNA, from the days when Ibn Saud was handed Makkah and Medinah by British colonial forces. Just like the Saud family obeyed Britain in the past, they now obey in servitude the USA.

    There is only one solution to Yemen and that is to challenge the colonial agenda of the West in that land via the reestablishment of the Khilafah Rashidah.

    Since the destruction of the Khilafah, the entire Arab world has been plagued with rulers that are the most evil and deceitful in Islamic history. These rulers support the bombing of Muslim countries like Yemen and pay no heed to the spread of diseases like Cholera, that cause terrible suffering to the people. Only when the rulers of the Arab world are removed and the Ummah has a just leader that applies the Ruling of Allah, will all people gain protection from the malicious design of brutal vultures.

    http://www.hizb.org.uk/news-comment/...us-saudi-made/





    Saudi-led coalition responsible for ‘worst cholera outbreak in the world’ in Yemen




    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20...orld-in-yemen/

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    UN Report: Saudi Coalition Massacred Hundreds of Children in Yemen


    A leaked draft of the United Nations report recommends that the Saudi-led coalition be placed on the U.N.'s list of countries that kill and maim children, but its exclusion from last year's list shows the power of wealthy Gulf States to blackmail the U.N., says Codepink's Medea Benjamin

    Medea Benjamin is co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK and the human rights organization Global Exchange. She has been organizing against U.S. military interventions, promoting the rights of Palestinians and calling for no war on Iran. Her latest work includes an effort to stop CIA drone attacks, and she is the author of a new book, "Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection"

    TRANSCRIPT:

    Sharmini Peries: It's The Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. Just this week another air raid in Yemen killed 35 civilians in the city of Sanaa. A draft United Nations report seen by Foreign Policy Magazine is calling for Saudi led coalition to be placed on the U.N. list of child killers. The confidential report apparently blames the Saudi led coalition for three quarters of attacks on schools and hospitals in Yemen, and killing more than 680 children. The United States and the UK are the main suppliers of weapons to Saudi Arabia and have supported the Saudi regime's war in Yemen both politically and militarily since the Saudi led aerial bombardment began in the March of 2015. The Saudi led coalition has been documented to have bombed schools, hospitals, shipping ports, marketplaces, weddings, and funerals. The war has pushed millions of Yemenese to the brink of starvation and created the worst cholera outbreak in the world. Joining us today to discuss the current situation in Yemen and the leaked draft report is Medea Benjamin. She is the co-founder of the peace group Code Pink. Her latest book is Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection. Welcome Media.

    Medea Benjamin: Thank you Sharmini.

    Sharmini Peries: Medea, give us more details of what is in this report that caused the U.N. body who is usually very cautious to put Saudi led coalition on the U.S. child killer list?

    Medea Benjamin: Well these are reports that come out every single year called children in armed conflict produced by the U.N. And there was a report that was done last year that had Saudi Arabia on the list for precisely the same thing. Its bombing campaign in Yemen that has destroyed so many schools and hospitals and has led to the killing and maiming of so many children. Last year when it came up there was a big brouhaha because the Saudis threatened to pull out money, millions and millions of dollars form much needed aid programs that the U.N. runs and blackmailed Ban Ki-moon. Ban Ki-moon, he caved to the disgrace of the United Nations. He even openly said, "I hate to do this but I can't afford to lose the money for programs that support children around the world." So here we are a year later. The Saudis were supposed to have cleaned up their act and stopped killing so many children so they wouldn't be on the report this year, but they haven't done so. And so here we are again in exactly the same situation where the U.N., according to its own rules, is supposed to come out with this report and put Saudi Arabia on a rogue list of nations that kills and maims children. And once again the new Secretary General is going to be faced with the decision of whether to release this report or not.

    Sharmini Peries: Speaking of secretary generals, Medea, António Guterres, the current U.N. Secretary General earlier this year suppressed a U.N. report that concluded that the state of Israel was guilty of the crime of apartheid. Do you have any faith that Guterres will do the right thing according to the U.N. charter, protect children according to children's convention and the rights of children, or bring any force to bear on the guilty parties here?

    Medea Benjamin: I don't know what the Secretary General will end up doing because he's put in a lose-lose situation. If he puts out the report he risks losing a lot of money, not just from the Saudis but also from other Gulf states, and this year as opposed to last year, the U.S. is part of the pressure campaign to not release the report as it stands now. On the other hand if he doesn't release it and include the Saudis in the list of rogue states then he is really jeopardizing the reputation of the United Nations. So I'm not sure which road he will take but either one of them is a bad road. And it shows the power of the Saudi and Gulf states in terms of they are wealthy and wealthy states have a way to blackmail the U.N. Why else would Saudi Arabia be allowed to be on the Women's Commission of the United Nations? Why else would Saudi Arabia be allowed to be on the Human Rights Council of the United Nations? Unfortunately it's all about the money that they can use as a stick.

    Sharmini Peries:
    Okay. And Medea in January this year the U.N. released a report stating that a child dies in Yemen from preventable causes every 10 minutes. Even if only half of those deaths are a result of the war, that still places the potential number of dead children in the tens if not hundreds of thousands. Why do you think that only deaths that are direct result of armaments are being counted in this war?

    Medea Benjamin: I think that's absolutely the key issue to talk about Sharmini because first of all the count of children who have died as a result of the bombing is way under counted because journalists from the outside are not allowed in. The Saudis control who even gets on the U.N. flights. You cannot get into Yemen if you are an independent reporter that really wants to verify what's happening on the ground.

    But more important is what you bring up because the deaths from direct bombing are a small fraction of the number of children who are dying in Yemen because of the Saudi bombing campaign. When the Saudis bomb dozens and dozens of healthcare facilities the children have nowhere to go to get even a basic rehydration. When the Saudis are bombing the sewer system, the water system, there is not clean water to drink, and so they're getting sick from the dysentery. When the Saudis have so destroyed all of the basic infrastructure in the country and reduced people's ability to make a living to even feed their children there are, as you said, a child dying every 10 minutes. And so if you put those together, yes, the number of children who are dying as a direct result of the Saudi intervention in Yemen would be in the hundreds of thousands.

    Sharmini Peries: Medea, I want to play a clip from a video released by Human Rights Watch in March of 2016 that many people probably haven't seen yet. So let's watch.

    Speaker 3: [foreign language 00:07:43]

    Woman: I'm standing here in the remains of Mustafa markets. This is one of 12 marketplaces that we've seen bombed by the Saudi-led coalition since the beginning of this one year war.

    Sharmini Peries: That was nearly one and a half years ago and things have gotten much worse. Why do you think the establishment, Medea, and corporate media coverage of this war has been so poor?

    Medea Benjamin: Well one of the reasons is that Saudi Arabia is a close ally to the western countries, that the U.S., the UK, Canada, France, Germany, all of these wonderful democracies have been selling massive amounts of weapons to Saudi Arabia, enriching their domestic industries, and they want to keep that gravy train going. And so this war is really in the interest of these large corporations.

    And the other is, as I said earlier, that the Saudis control who is getting into the country. I know personally, I've been trying to get into Yemen for months now and it is so difficult. The U.N. has flights but those flights are vetted by the Saudis. So I would say those two things together mean that there is almost no coverage in the mainstream media about the most devastating war that is going on right now, and no talk about the U.S. complicity in this war.

    Sharmini Peries: Right. And Medea the Middle East Eye is reporting that based on emails it has seen that the Saudi crown prince wants out of this war in Yemen. How seriously should we be taking this revelation, and what's stopping him from actually just doing that right now if that's ...

    Medea Benjamin: Well what's stopping him from doing it is he doesn't want to leave without "winning." And I think now they are trying to create a conflict within the conflict, getting the very strange bedfellows that the Houthis and [inaudible 00:10:00] the last president, that coalition is now fighting among itself. And I'm sure there's a lot of Saudi bloody hands within that as well. So the prince wants to end the conflict but he wants to end the conflict with a win. And that is going to be very difficult. So I think that what the international community has to do is put pressure on all of the parties involved in the conflict to come to a political solution. You know that there is no winning in these kinds of situations, there is just a depletion of the people and the fighters. And I think also economically the Saudi ruling classes understanding how with the low price of oil and the tremendously high cost of this war in Yemen, as well as the cost that the Saudis are paying for Saudi intervention in other countries that they are trying to look at a way to cut down on that flow of financial resources. So this would be a time for the U.S. if we had a functioning state department and a government that wanted to settle conflicts, it would be a time to step in and really put the pressure on to come to a political solution.

    Sharmini Peries: Right. And what can they do? How can they go about doing a political solution at this time?

    Medea Benjamin: Well it's not that complicated. It's a power-sharing agreement that has to be reached between the government of Hadi and the Houthis. And this is something that should have been done from the very beginning. This war shouldn't have gone on for the last two years. And it's the only way that the war is going to end. I think the U.N. should be stepping in to do this but there really has to be, and perhaps there is right now, a willingness on the part of the Saudis to find a way out.

    Sharmini Peries: All right Medea, I thank you so much for joining us today. I know it's a busy weekend for you out there in California and I appreciate your time. Thank you.

    Medea Benjamin: Thanks for having me on, bye bye.

    Sharmini Peries: And thank you for joining us here on The Real News Network.

    http://therealnews.com/t2/story:1984...ldren-in-Yemen



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    British arms company ‘profiteering’ from death of children in Yemen

    September 19, 2017

    British arms manufacturers are accused of “profiteering from the deaths of innocent children” in a new report by War Child UK.

    The London-based charity revealed that “UK arms companies are reaping double the revenues previously estimated from arms sales to Saudi Arabia”. Figures published in the report show that since the war in Yemen began in 2015, major UK arms companies have earned over $6 billion.

    The findings in the report, which questions the moral and legal basis of UK arms sale to the Gulf Kingdom accused of committing war crimes in Yemen, will bring added pressure for the UK Defence Minister Michael Fallon who has continuously defended arms exports to Britain’s Middle Eastern ally.

    Britain has been a staunch supporter of the Yemen campaign. The conflict has raged since 2014, when Houthi militias and their allies overran much of the country, including the capital Sana’a.

    A coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched a massive air campaign a year later aimed at reversing Houthi gains and returning President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to power.

    The war has killed at least 10,000 people, destroyed Yemen’s economy, caused a cholera epidemic and forced millions from their homes amid a looming famine. A UN report blamed the Saudi coalition for 51 per cent of Yemen’s child casualties and placed Riyadh on a blacklist that names and shames groups that “engage in the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence against children, the killing and maiming of children, attacks on schools and/or hospitals and attacks or threats of attacks against protected personnel, and the abduction of children.”



    Rob Williams, the CEO of War Child UK, said:

    [It is] morally repugnant that the UK government is allowing companies to make killer profits from the deaths of innocent children.

    “Thousands of children have died and millions more are at risk,” he added.

    “The British Government is shamefully complicit in their suffering and justifies it with promises of economic prosperity, which this report embarrassingly discredits.”

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20...dren-in-yemen/


 

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