America—Up to Its Eyeballs in Mass Murder and Starvation in Yemen

Revolution Newspaper, | November 14, 2016

While the presidential election campaign was going on, America was up to its eyeballs in the mass murder of thousands of people, and the starvation of millions more. These war crimes were never mentioned, and many may never have heard about the country being devastated: Yemen.

yemen 600pxYemen is located at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula and is one of the world’s most impoverished countries. Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia has been flying warplanes supplied by the U.S., guided by U.S. intelligence, refueled by U.S. tanker planes, and dropping U.S.-made bombs on Yemen. These bombs have destroyed homes, factories, funeral parlors, schools, and markets, and killed thousands of ordinary people.

This savage campaign is aimed at crushing a rebellion among the Houthis that threatens Saudi (and potentially U.S.) control of Yemen. This is a movement based among members of the Zaidi branch of Shia Islam, who make up over a third  of Yemen’s 25 million people. The Houthis are fighting under the reactionary Islamist banner of Ansar Allah (Partisans of God) and have been accused of massacres and indiscriminate killings themselves. They’re politically supported by and have some ties to the reactionary Islamic Republic of Iran.

Markets, Homes, Funeral Parlors—Now a Prison

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Rubble after a funeral hall was destroyed by a Saudi-led airstrike in Sana'a, Yemen, October 13. (Photo: AP)
The latest Saudi massacre happened on October 30, when Saudi warplanes bombed a jail full of prisoners in the Houthi-controlled city of Al Hudaydah. At the time, the prison held 84 inmates; it was reduced to rubble by a direct hit which collapsed the roof. Sixty people were killed. They were mainly prisoners.

The U.S.-backed Saudis are waging a barbaric war against a whole section of Yemen’s population numbering in the millions. The United Nations reports that over 4,000 civilians have been killed and over 7,000 more wounded since the Saudi campaign began, mostly by the Saudis.

After the prison bombing, for the first time in the 19-month war, the U.S. called on Saudi Arabia to stop attacking civilian targets. Yet Saudi Arabia remains a key U.S. ally, military aid and support continue to flow, and the U.S. continues to uphold Saudi Arabia’s “right to self-defense,” their excuse for attacking Yemen in the first place.

War by Starvation and Disease... A Country “on the Verge of Collapse”

The Saudis are also waging war by a blockade that’s prevented food and needed supplies from getting to Yemen’s people.

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The infrastructure of life in and around Saada, Yemen (above) has been devastated from U.S.-backed airstrikes by Saudi Arabia: 178 bridges, 13 power stations, 17,193 houses, 173 schools, 118 markets and 696 farms have been destroyed or damaged according to AP. (Photo: AP)

Now 80 percent of the population—more than 21 million people—urgently need humanitarian aid. Some 1.5 million children are acutely malnourished. The World Health Organization has reported that deadly cholera is spreading. The UN warns that Yemen is on the verge of collapse.

The Destruction of Saada

Saada, an old town of some 50,000 in northern Yemen, is the birthplace of the Houthi movement. A report by the Associated Press (New York Times, November 4, 2016) paints a vivid picture of the devastation the U.S.-Saudi air assault has brought: “All along the main street, buildings are crumpled beyond recognition, roofs punched in and pancaked. Historic mud-brick houses in its walled old city are pounded to dust.”

The infrastructure of life in and around Saada has been shattered: 178 bridges, 13 power stations, 17,193 houses, 173 schools, 118 markets, and 696 farms have been destroyed or damaged. One local organization documented the killing of 2,262 civilians, including 397 children, in the area from March 2015 to March 2016.

The Legal Center for Rights and Developments, associated with the Houthis, reports it has documented the killing of 2,262 civilians (March 2015 to March 2016), including 397 children, in and nearby Saada alone.

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A Yemeni girl who suffers from chronic malnutrition, is fed by her mother at a hospital in Saada province, Yemen. Saada, the main stronghold of Yemen’s Houthi rebels, has been one of the most densely bombed cities in the country during the 19-month air campaign by Saudi Arabia and its allies, all backed by the United States. (Photo: AP)
Fear is a constant. “The more crowded a place is, the more we are afraid of bombings,” a 15-year-old girl said. Her family, like 4 of 10 Saada residents, had fled the town.

Why Is the U.S. Backing the Saudi Slaughter?

Why is the United States backing and enabling Saudi war crimes in Yemen?

Because the U.S. is a capitalist-imperialist power. It economy, wealth, and international influence are based on a global empire of sweatshop exploitation, resource plunder, and brutal oppression—enforced by the world’s biggest military. The Middle East region is a key part of this. It contains the world’s largest concentration of oil and natural gas. Important trade routes pass through the region. The U.S. has a number of military bases there.

Now the region is being torn by wars, upheavals, and deep suffering and anger. The U.S. is desperately working to protect key allies, like Saudi Arabia, while it fends off regional and global rivals, and the spread of anti-U.S. Islamic jihadism.

Saudi Arabia has been shaken by the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal, and then the 2014-2015 Houthi uprising. Both could strengthen their archrival Iran’s position in the region. So the U.S. has stepped up the arming of Saudi Arabia and backed its murderous war, even as the U.S. may have differences with some Saudi moves.

System’s Crimes Will Continue—No Matter Who Is “Commander in Chief”

Saudi Arabia’s American-backed and -enabled crimes against Yemen have taken place under Obama, a Democrat. As his Secretary of State in 2011, Hillary Clinton personally oversaw the sale of $29.4 billion in U.S. weapons to the Saudi kingdom, including some 84 advanced F-15SA fighters, which are now in all likelihood being used to attack Yemen. An International Business Times investigation found that U.S. arms exports to Saudi Arabia increased 97 percent when Clinton ran the State Department.

Now, Donald Trump has been elected. Trump is a dangerous, outright fascist and war criminal in waiting.

Here’s the reality: no matter who is “commander in chief,” America backs barbaric, fundamentalist despotisms like the Saudi kingdom. And it backs and has carried out horrific crimes that have shed oceans of blood—in Yemen and around the world.

STOP Wars of Empire, Armies of Occupation, and Crimes Against Humanity!

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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.