There was something grotesque and repugnant about US President Donald Trump conducting the ritual pardoning of a plump turkey for the annual American Thanksgiving holiday this weekend. In the same week, a British charity reported 85,000 children under the age of five have died from malnutrition in the war in Yemen.
The juxtaposition of images is nauseating and shockingly offensive to any sense of human morality. Trump is off to his luxury mansion in Florida this weekend to stuff his face with fine food, while children in Yemen are dying from starvation as a direct result of his country’s war policies in supporting Saudi aggression.
Britain’s Save The Children estimates that millions more Yemeni children are on the brink of starvation as a result of the war in the Arabian peninsula country. These innocent casualties of conflict are in addition to the estimated tens of thousands of children who have been killed or maimed by air strikes carried out on Yemen over the past nearly four years by Saudi warplanes.
Let’s be absolutely clear. This horrendous death toll is a direct result of Washington’s military support for the Saudi and other Arab coalition forces that have been attacking Yemen without relent since March 2015. Britain and France have also been key military suppliers and are therefore equally complicit.
The Western-backed blockade of Yemen’s sea, air and land routes has created a hellish situation for a whole population – some 28 million – cut off from basic humanitarian supplies of food, water and medicines. It is difficult to not see how the war on Yemen is a monumental war crime involving a deliberate policy of genocide. A genocide in which Washington, London and Paris are fully inculpated.
The Western corporate news media bear a heavy responsibility too. For the most part of the war in Yemen, the media have given scant coverage, nor have they delved into the complicity of their governments. Western media refer to Yemen as the “forgotten war”. It’s only “forgotten” because these media have shamefully ignored it.
Recently, the three Western powers have begun pushing for a ceasefire and peace talks between a Saudi-backed Yemeni faction and the Houthi rebels who took over the country in late 2014.
But the proper response is for the war to end immediately from the Western powers halting their military support to the Saudis. There was never any justification for the war. It was launched by the Western-backed Saudi coalition in an attempt to reinstall an exiled puppet leader, Mansour Hadi, who fled the country in early 2015. He was kicked out by a Houthi-led popular uprising because he refused to hand over power in a negotiated transition. The US and Saudis tried to keep Mansour Hadi in power in contravention of the negotiated deal arising from the Arab Spring revolt in the country that started in 2011.
Western governments and media have sought to justify the conflict by describing it as a “proxy war” between Saudi Arabia and Iran. There is very little evidence, if at all, of Iran being involved in Yemen on the side of the Houthi rebels. More accurately, the war has simply been one of blatant aggression by Saudi Arabia against its southern neighbor with the support of the US, Britain and France. The objective being to overthrow the popular Houthi revolution and to reinstall the puppet president Mansour Hadi.
A cynical view of belated Western calls for a ceasefire is that such a development would lend the Saudi regime some badly needed public relations credit in the aftermath of the brutal murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This week President Trump effectively pardoned the Saudi regime from any sanctions over that killing, and said that it would be business-as-usual of selling huge arms deals to the oil-rich kingdom.
A public outcry in the US and Europe is demanding that Washington take punitive action against the Saudi rulers, both over the Khashoggi affair and the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. The Trump administration’s push for a ceasefire in Yemen seems to be its way of placating the public outcry. US Secretary of State James Mattis said this week that to “end the war in Yemen then we have to deal with Saudi [Arabia]”. Mattis is using the Yemeni conflict as a way to justify Washington maintaining normal relations with the Saudi regime.
However, Mattis is setting up a false framework for peace in Yemen. A peaceful solution does not really require negotiations with the Saudis or their exiled puppet. Ending the war should be achieved by the US-backed aggression on Yemen being halted, and for foreign interference in the country’s internal affairs to cease forthwith.
Yemen and its skeletal children are an indelible stain on Washington, London and Paris. Their pious pretenses of human rights and rule of law are shown for what they are – bankrupt. So too for the Western news media.
Recall the Western hysteria and histrionics over Syria, when the Syrian army and allied Russian forces were liberating towns and cities from the control of terror groups. Western governments and media were condemning Russia for “crimes against humanity” – while Russian and Syrian forces were routing terror groups covertly backed by Washington and its NATO allies. Fortunately, Syria is returning to peaceful normality, thanks to Russia’s principled intervention.
Yet the truly horrific scale of suffering in Yemen has been largely ignored by Western governments and media. Of course, that’s because they are complicit in the crimes against the country, the poorest and most vulnerable in the Middle East region.
The rank hypocrisy of Western accusations against Russia for alleged violations in Syria’s war is staggering in the face of Western complicity in the appalling aggression and genocide in Yemen.
The next time an American, British or French politician begins to pontificate about alleged Russian criminality or malfeasance, the appropriate response is to silently hold up a photograph of a Yemeni child.