Around the clock, every single day, Saudi cruise missiles and bombs are being lobbed at Yemen. Schools, hospitals, mosques, and homes are being destroyed. At the same time that this massive bombing continues, soldiers from the United Arab Emirates and Sudan have invaded the country. Over 7,000 people are dead, as fighting continues. The war has been going on without pause since January of 2015, but the US media is almost completely silent about it.
The war should be of interest to US audiences — especially because the US government is actively involved, directly taking sides in the conflict. The Saudi cruise missiles and the weapons used by the Sudanese and Emirati troops are supplied by the United States. Pentagon generals are in Saudi Arabia, advising the king and his military. US military satellites are directing the Saudis where to strike.
Shouldn’t US audiences be informed about a war that their government is actively participating in? Yet days and weeks go by without US media even making the slightest mention of Yemen or the massive war taking place there.
The reason western media is ignoring the war in Yemen is because the US position is indefensible. The United States is essentially aligned with the repressive monarchies of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in their rampage of terrorism, intended to crush the Yemeni people and their aspirations for democracy.
A Democratic Coalition Opposing Dictatorship
The war did not exactly begin in 2015. The roots of the conflict go back to the “Arab Spring” of 2011, also called the Islamic Awakening. The streets of Yemen were filled in a mass uprising for democracy against the Saudi-backed dictatorship. Yemeni sunnis, shias, and secular forces stood arm in arm demanding control of their country. The Ansarullah forces, also called “Houthis,” have military experience and tight discipline. They won the respect of many people during the street battles of 2011.
After the 2011 uprising, Yemen had one of the most hopeful moments in its history. People’s assemblies sprung up, and broad democratic debate took place. However, the hopeful moment was abruptly terminated with a sham election. As the only candidate on the ballot, Mansour Hadi, a Saudi agent, was declared the president.
The deeply religious Zaidi shias in the Ansarullah organization; the socialists and communists of the southern independence movement; and the Arab Spring party of secular urban youth all refused to accept this. Some sunni religious factions and various tribal forces also refused to surrender.
In response to the sham election, the Ansarullah organization formed a people’s committee to pick up guns and continue the revolution. In the northern regions of Yemen they carved out liberated territories in the countryside, built alliances and made compromises — and gradually prepared to seize power. The former dictator Saleh, a rival of Mansour Hadi, was able to reach an agreement with them.
In January of 2015, the Ansarullah forces marched into the capital city of Sanaa and seized power. The People’s Committee became the new government and called for a constituent assembly. The people’s assemblies formed in the 2011 uprising were restored. Community militias were built to defend the revolution.
The onslaught of Saudi bombs came in response to the victory of the revolution. The Saudi royal family, the Israeli regime, and the United Arab Emirates seek to restore Mansour Hadi to his throne as Yemen’s puppet dictator. And still another force has joined this thieves’ pact against the People’s Committee. The ISIS forces, who consider Ansarullah to be “shia apostates,” have set up shop in Yemen as well, seeking to bury the revolution with bombs, kidnappings, and beheadings.
It should be obvious why US media is ignoring this war. The United States has lined up with ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Israel, and a collection of autocratic monarchies against a People’s Committee seeking to write a democratic constitution.
One issue that is often forgotten when discussing Yemen is natural resources. Yemen has vast untapped oil resources. However, this oil remains in the ground, as Yemen remains under the dominion of Saudi Arabia. One of the promises of the People’s Revolutionary Coalition is to begin extracting and refining Yemen’s oil resources under public control. Yemen is currently one of the poorest countries in the entire world, but this could rapidly change if Yemen began exporting oil. Yemen could become like Iran or Venezuela, where public control of natural resources has laid the foundation for an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist government and a vibrant independent economy.
The Yemeni Patriots Are Not “Iranian Proxies”
The allegation leveled by opponents of Yemen’s unfolding revolution is that the Ansarullah organization’s members are “Iranian proxies.” This allegation is fallacious for several reasons.
First, Ansarullah’s members are not religiously identical to the Islamic Republic. The shia Muslims in Iran are “Twelvers” who acknowledge twelve imams as successors to the Prophet Mohammed. The Ansarullah organization are Zaidis, from an entirely different religious tradition. Though they are technically shias, their religious practices are much closer to sunni Islam than what is practiced in Iran.
Second, Iran has not been proven to have given any material assistance to Ansarullah. United Nations officials have confirmed that the allegations of Iranian funding or arming of Ansarullah are merely speculation. No evidence has materialized.
In May of 2015, the Iranian Red Crescent Society sent a cargo ship full of medical supplies to Yemen. This writer, along with two other western journalists and activists, was onboard. Even this peaceful, humanitarian ship was prevented from reaching Yemen by the Saudi military. The port of Hodeidah was bombed eight times in a single day to prevent the ship from arriving. The humanitarian rescue ship unloaded in Djibouti.
Third, if Ansarullah and its allies are merely Iranian agents with no support among the Yemeni people, why have they scored so many victories? The People’s Revolutionary Committee has withstood months and months of onslaught and attack. The United States, United Arab Emirates, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Israeli regime, Al-Qaeda and ISIS have all lined up against them. Troops from the United Arab Emirates and Sudan have invaded the country. The Saudi monarchy has the fourth-largest military in the entire world. Yet, the Ansarullah organization continues to win real victories. The coalition of patriotic Yemenis is lined up against almost the entire world, but it has not been defeated.
The revolutionary coalition maintains control of the capital of Sanaa. Despite their enemies having far more sophisticated weaponry, the people’s coalition has sunk Saudi naval vessels. The people’s coalition has launched homemade rockets across the Saudi border in retaliation for the onslaught. The heavily armed US-trained troops from the United Arab Emirates have been defeated on the battlefield numerous times. How would these things be possible if the Yemeni patriots were merely “Iranian proxies?” Why have Yemen’s revolutionaries been able to withstand a massive foreign assault for so many months, if not for the support of the population?
The Defense Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hossein Dehghan, recently responded to these allegations. When Ashton Carter stated in an interview with Atlantic Monthly that the war in Yemen was the result of “Iranian influence,” Dehqan replied with anger: “US Secretary of Defense [Ashton Carter] had better go over his past record in this position of authority and reconsider his bully-like and aggressive stances and talk more sensibly and circumspectly henceforth.”
Iranian Major General Hassan Firouzabadi echoed him, saying, “We are certain that the US secretary of defense’s remarks are based on wrong information and the absence of correct perception of the regional issues.”
The Global Axis of Resistance
Are we really expected to believe that the only reason the Yemeni people will not accept a foreign imposed dictator is because of “Iranian influence?” Did Yemenis form people’s assemblies, take up guns, and brave months of horrendous onslaught merely because they received orders from Tehran? Can anyone truly accept this as a logical analysis of the war?
This shallow explanation, often presented in the rare instances the US media describes the conflict, is reminiscent of US propaganda during the Cold War. Let’s not forget that US media declared even Martin Luther King, Jr. to be a Soviet agent, implying that Blacks were happy living under Jim Crow, and that the civil rights movement was merely the work of “outside agitators” and “communist influence.”
The Cold War between Marxist-Leninists and western capitalism has long been over. However, the world is rapidly re-polarizing. The battle of the 21st century is a war between western neoliberal capitalism and those who reject it.
Russian nationalists, Chinese communists, Islamic revolutionaries, Bolivarians, Baathists, and many other diverse forces have lined up to repel the empire of poverty that calls itself the “world market.” In Syria, these forces have joined arms to defeat the menace of Takfirism. A global axis of resistance is emerging.
The international financial dictatorship headquartered jointly in Wall Street, London, and Tel-Aviv has displeased the world. It has never delivered the utopia of abundance promised in the writings of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman. Even within the wealthiest centers of western capitalism, the neoliberal model has led to economic devastation, as is apparent to anyone who visits the city of Detroit. The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization will ruin the middle class of the United States just as willingly as they impoverish the Third World. The Bretton Woods cartels have no loyalties, even to their countries of origin.
Especially in the most recent decades, Western civilization has replaced God with the worship of money and material wealth. Its economic drive for poverty and shallow, valueless culture is spawning greater manifestations of insanity every day. Barely two weeks go by in the United States without a mass shooting. Is this an “ideal” for nations across the planet to aspire to?
A new block of solid resistance to western liberalism is emerging. In Yemen, those who demand independence, democracy, and control of their own natural resources are fighting and continue to raise their heads against some of the most well armed powers in the world. All moral and progressive human beings should be wishing them success.
Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.