Egregious news has come from Yemen, already devastated by the civil war stoked by Riyadh. Information Minister Daifullah al-Shami of the Houthi-run government has said that the Royal Saudi Air Forces had been ordered to begin airdropping surgical masks infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus over Shiite areas. The Houthi official was commenting on reports that Saudi Arabia allegedly intends to donate medical equipment to Yemen, including masks. Minister Daifullah al-Shami said that these kinds of gestures from a country that has been systematically destroying Yemen for several years are not to be trusted, and are only cause for extreme concern.
According to Minister al-Shami, all of the medical equipment that the Saudis are supposedly going to supply could be infected with the coronavirus. The Yemeni Minister called on his fellow citizens not to accept masks from the Saudi soldiers occupying Yemen if they are handing them out on the streets. Minister al-Shami also stressed that there have been no coronavirus infection cases recorded anywhere on Yemeni territory to date, and that Saudi Arabia would be responsible for any emergence of the outbreak in Yemen.
It would not be surprising if Doctors Without Borders, a notorious organization, were to perhaps arrive in Yemen soon, after it has gotten enough practice provoking outrage in Syria. These purported professionals are now on holiday leave in the UK, where the British government is widely known to have even used biological weapons at home, the Skripal case being one example.
As we have seen, the Trump administration has recently been pinning high hopes on the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Yemen. The US Secretary of State paid an urgent visit to Riyadh to hold talks with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan. The English-language newspaper Arab News, which is the House of Saud’s mouthpiece, reported that the US Secretary of State expressed deep concern over the spread of the coronavirus in Saudi Arabia, and spoke of the need for global measures to combat the pandemic. The message being sent out is laughable: while America is playing the world’s policeman and the Secretary of State is “concerned” about how to help out America’s friends in Saudi Arabia, the US is leading with the largest number of COVID-19 infections and deaths, and the US shale industry is completely collapsing, as global economic recession is fast approaching, which will primarily hit the United States. The brothers Grimm couldn’t have put this fairy tale better. Analysts with a considerable insight into US-Saudi relations share a well-founded belief that the talks mainly focused on how America’s shale industry can be rescued, and Mike Pompeo’s job was not only to convince the Saudis, but to pretty much force them to dramatically reduce their oil production, which should lead to an increase in the price of crude.
It has been widely reported that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, who views the entire world as if it were one giant Saudi gas station, decided to impose his own rules on the game for everyone to play by, and ordered production to be increased to 13 million barrels a day. Markets responded and the price of oil fell sharply, dropping to 20-23 dollars per barrel. Saudi Arabia has hired more tankers to unload oil so that it can increase production capacity, but once they are full they leave the ports in the Persian Gulf without any destination. As analysts have explained, this would suggest that Riyadh has not been able to find a buyer for its barrels, which has transformed this “black gold” into worthless sludge. The United States is making do with its own barrels, and China, the world’s biggest buyer, has still not got its industry back up and running yet. In reality, Saudi Arabia’s actions only serve to destabilize the global market, since most oil producers are not happy with such a low price, especially the United States. And by increasing production, Saudi Arabia is keeping global prices within this low range, and is therefore only making the collapse of the world economy even greater.
Arab News has also diplomatically noted that when the situation in Yemen was discussed with Mike Pompeo, both sides agreed that stability and peace in the country should be achieved through a political solution. So why did the Saudis decide to interfere in their neighbor’s domestic affairs with a military intervention? The US Secretary of State has also said that the United States strongly condemns the Houthis’ attempted attacks on civilian targets in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, March 28. The heads of both country’s foreign offices agreed that the instability in Yemen is playing into the hands of Iran, and that Iran’s attempts to further destabilize the situation need to be countered.
It is common knowledge that demagoguery is a part of life in Washington and Riyadh, but it must be simply through the roof there. Could any other country get away with unleashing a war in Yemen that has claimed more than 100,000 lives the way the United States and Saudi Arabia have? Could anyone else bomb peaceful cities, towns and villages on an almost daily basis the way the Saudis have been doing? Who else would be able to get away with what the United States and their accomplices have done, imposing global sanctions against Yemen which are plunging Yemenis into even greater poverty? Could any other country supply the tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons the United States supplies to the Saudis, which they then test out on their Yemeni brothers?
Once Riyadh stops interfering in its neighbor’s affairs, Iran will not be able to destabilize the situation in the region. All of this is plain and simple, and only the American and Saudi demagogues still harp on that someone else is interfering in their lives.
The last argument Mike Pompeo resorted to during these talks is interesting, which some media outlets in different countries have written about, choosing their words carefully. He made it clear to his Saudi partners that the attacks on Saudi Aramco oil processing facilities which took place on September 14 last year and resulted in a sharp increase in the price of “black gold” will not be the last. Of course, this could be dismissed as fake news. However, the facts suggest that it is true. Mike Pompeo had not even left Riyadh yet when the Houthis launched their missiles at the Saudi capital. The Houthis, supported by the Pro-Houthi Yemeni army, also launched a massive attack on sensitive Saudi military sites near Yemen’s capital Sanaa. According to MehrNews, the Houthi rebels not only fired missiles, but also used unmanned aerial vehicles to carry out their attacks. Moreover, after firing at Saudi military sites, the Houthis and the Pro-Houthi Yemeni Armed Forces launched another large-scale offensive, attacking important strategic Saudi targets. Could it be a coincidence?
The Yemenis themselves say that this offensive was in response to the barbaric airstrike carried out by the Royal Saudi Air Force on the capital Sanaa, which has no anti-aircraft defense systems of its own. One of these bombs was targeted at horse stables at a Yemeni military academy, where purebred Arabian horses were kept. According to local media, 70 rare Arabian horses were killed and 30 were seriously wounded in the strike. The financial damage is estimated to be tens of millions of dollars. According to Yemeni rebels from Ansar Allah (unofficially referred to as the Houthi movement), the strike carried out by the Royal Saudi Air Force is yet another display of the Saudi authorities intention to destroy the Yemeni economy and culture.
Saudi Arabia is continuing to wage war in Yemen, even amid the declared global coronavirus pandemic. According to reports in the media, the Saudi Air Force and its coalition allies carry out between 50 and 60 airstrikes on Yemen every day. At the same time, the Saudi rulers are demagogically calling for a political solution.
And the West is also doing everything it can to strangle Yemeni military. The UN Security Council has approved a resolution prepared by Western countries to extend the sanctions against Yemen for one year. The news was reported around the world that 13 members of the Security Council voted in favor of authorizing the extension, while Russia and China abstained. The sanctions imposed include an asset freeze and a travel ban for blacklisted individuals. To clarify who exactly is blacklisted, only the leaders of Shiite Houthi rebels are affected by the sanctions.
Sadly, we must acknowledge that international law is not being upheld in the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia began its military invasion in Yemen under the illusion that it could secure victory within a fortnight, yet today, five years later, the Saudis are still making these miscalculations. These acts of aggression have brought the people of Yemen nothing but destruction and murder.
The Saudis leading the coalition of aggressors in Yemen should take some advice and focus on the reality in Yemen, including the resistance that the Yemeni people are putting up, as well as the disapproval among the international community. Riyadh also needs to understand that they cannot compensate for their political and military failures by throwing words around, smearing and blaming others.
March 26, 2020 marked the fifth year anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition’s war against Yemen. More than 100,000 people have been killed directly or indirectly as a result of this war – it has not achieved anything else. The words of Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize Winner Tawakkol Karman give an accurate description of the situation in this Arab country: “We need to activate international efforts to bring peace to Yemen.”
Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”