16.02.2016 Author: Viktor Mikhin

Yemen: Who Is To Blame For The Tragedy

4345345345Advisor to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Akbar Velayati, met Russian colleagues in Moscow, during which the parties agreed on the need to end the bombing in Yemen. “We expressed our opinion on the events unfolding in Yemen. We stated that the Saudis have sunk into a slump and ultimately, the people of Yemen must come out on top. The aim of the actions of the people of Yemen is an early end to the Saudis’ defective blind bombardments which now plague Yemen,” said Ali Akbar Velayati in a press conference recently held in Moscow.

In connection with this, we must remember that an armed conflict continues to rage in Yemen, where on one side, there are the Huthis rebels of the Shiite movement, Ansar Allah and the part of the army loyal to ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh. On the other, are the troops of the ousted President, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who are being supported on the ground and from the air by the Arab coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia. In the south of Yemen, there are militants of the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Islamic state terrorist groups. There are also clashes with government forces by militants of the “Southern Movement” that have been pushing for the independence of the southern Yemeni provinces since 2007.

Only supporters of the Shiite movement, Ansar Allah (Huthis), are fighting in Yemen with the terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, said the Russian ambassador to Yemen, Vladimir Dedushkin, who is well-versed in the complicated situation. “Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have recently strengthened their position as never before in Yemen. The entire eastern part of Yemen, nearly 70% of the country, is largely controlled by extremists. Currently, Al Qaeda’s sole opponent is Ansar Allah, who is simultaneously stemming the onslaught of the coalition, and the army of President Hadi,” he said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

Experts, one and all, clearly recognize that Saudi Arabia’s active involvement in the conflict has caused the situation in Yemen to escalate to the limit, where, in fact, a real war has been raging for a nearly a year. The coalition led by Riyadh has been conducting permanent air strikes on areas of Yemen that are under the control of the Huthis since March 26 of last year. In addition, the number of ground troops, dispatched to support the former president, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, according to some estimates, comprises more than 10 thousand people.

Despite the high level of technical equipment held by its armed forces, the Arabian coalition has not yet achieved the desired result. The reason for that, according to Western experts, is a lack of professionalism of military personnel, including the commanding officers, the low level of development of modern Western weapons and the lack of proper coordination. The lack of personnel makes Saudi Arabia attract mercenaries, who in many cases refuse to risk their lives and conduct active operations. The mass purchasing of mercenaries is being undertaken around the world by Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, and the UAE. On the territory of the Yemen, soldiers can be seen from Colombia, Sudan, Morocco. Recently, the world media reported the death of 200 Sudanese soldiers.

According to official data, this useless war has killed about 5,900 Yemeni civilians, leaving more than 27,800 injured (NGOs say about 30,000 killed Yemenis). Approximately 2,500,000 people have become refugees, with almost 8,000,000 Yemenis in need of drinking water. Hunger and thirst have affected almost 300,000 children; 1,800,000 children have been forced to leave school. One of the main reasons for such a horrific UN humanitarian catastrophe is the multi-day air strikes of the Arabian coalition.  All condemn the bombing of civilian targets, including schools and hospitals, but that does not stop anyone. The coalition uses cluster bombs (which Riyadh itself was forced to admit), while the UN Secretary General warned that the use of such weapons will be considered a war crime.

The UN Group of Experts concluded that many of the Arab coalition airstrikes were systematically carried out on civilian targets in Yemen, which can be considered crimes against humanity, reports Reuters with reference to the annual report of the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee. The committee recommended that the UN Security Council members consider the possibility of a commission to study the facts of violation of international law.

The UN Group of Experts examined 119 sorties of the coalition, “referring to a breach of international humanitarian law” and concluded that “many attacks have included numerous air strikes on many civilian objects.” According to UN experts, all parties to the conflict in Yemen, violated international humanitarian law. In some cases, the violations committed by the coalition were carried out “in a widespread and systematic manner” and, thus, can be considered crimes against humanity.

The United States, which is actively providing assistance to the coalition led by Saudi Arabia during the operation in Yemen, is also responsible for violations of the rules of war by the coalition forces, according to the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW). “In March, the coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched a military campaign against the Huthis in Yemen. The US assisted the intelligence services, and also provided logistical support and personnel to Saudi air strike planning and coordination center, which makes the US forces responsible for violations of the rules of war by the coalition forces”, the report says.

So, the way the war is being waged in Yemen is bringing about enormous suffering and shows that the warring parties do not recognize and do not even respect the protected status of hospitals or medical institutions, said “Doctors Without Borders” in a statement. This international organization has asked the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission on Violations of Humanitarian Law (IHFFC) to conduct an independent investigation into the shelling of the hospital Shiar in Yemen, which occurred on January 10, said a representative of the organisation, Rachel Ayora. At the moment, the organization is still waiting for an official response from the US government on the investigation.

The case received so much publicity that the Saudi Arabia coalition countries had to create a special commission, which will investigate cases of civilian casualties in the air strikes carried out by the coalition in Yemen, as well as develop new mechanisms for determining military purposes, to avoid future such casualties, Reuters reported. “The Coalition regrets accidental civilian casualties in Yemen … and intends to set up a commission to incorporate all of these cases and the development of new mechanisms for determining the air strike aims,” said agency reports citing the Al Arabiya television channel on February 4, 2016. In connection with the war in Yemen, I would like to cite the opinion of M. Endika, former US special envoy to the Middle East, who notes that in the war in Yemen the “Arabian coalition” is exhausting its military forces and weapons. And this is at a time when the international community wants “these forces to be effective in the fight against Isis”.

It’s high time that Washington reconsidered their approach to politics in the Middle East and, in particular, to their support of Riyadh in its undeclared war against innocent Yemenis. The US State of Connecticut Senator, Chris Murphy, urged the US to stop the military aid to Saudi Arabia and its support of the air raids on Yemen. Chris Murphy is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said that he has so far not received a proper explanation regarding Washington’s support of the conflict, which has caused the death of thousands of people. In his view, the States are experiencing the devastating effects of their support for the Arab kingdom, especially the damage and havoc wrought there that has scattered extremism throughout Yemen. In addition, he also stressed that Saudi Arabia is irresponsibly sowing the humanitarian crisis by carrying out bombing Yemen.

The difficult situation in Yemen is of great concern to Moscow, which has repeatedly and insistently called for negotiations. “According to experts, as a result of the strike by the Saudi coalition, the damage caused to Yemen has put the country back at least ten years, and the restoration of damaged infrastructure will take many years and huge amounts of money. It is obvious that the country does not have such means”, stated comments made by the Department of Information and Press of the Russian Foreign Ministry on the situation in Yemen. “We consider it necessary to reiterate our urgent appeal to all parties to cease hostilities immediately and to solve all the problems at the negotiating table.” Apparently, it is only in these conditions that it is possible to stop the fighting in the country, heal the war wounds, and begin to build a peaceful life.

Victor Mikhin, corresponding member of the Academy of Natural Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.