Mellanöstern och Nordafrika Tidningen
Published On: Fri, Nov 6th, 2015

Bombs, Cyclones and Locusts


The devastation continuing in Yemen has taken on biblical proportions. In the book of Genesis there is the fire and brimstone from heaven sent down on Sodom and Gomorrah (just like the made-in-the-USA bombs dropped daily by the Saudi-led coalition), and the great flood that destroyed all but the two-by-two animals and Noah’s family safely tucked away in the ark (like the recent cyclone that dropped 10 years of rain in two days). There are now warnings of a locust swarm (like the plague of locusts that Moses brought about in Pharaoh’s Egypt). If you are living in Yemen right now, you are probably wondering what more can go wrong.

So much has already gone wrong. The Saudis started an air campaign that has accomplished massive damage in seven months but not removed the Houthis and Salih from Sana’a and much of the north. I do not know how many billions of dollars in weapons have been involved in this ill-thought-out war, but it would probably be enough to build a new hospital in every major city in Yemen. Since it appears that over 60 hospitals and health clinics in Yemen have already been destroyed or damaged and medical supplies are in very short supply, imagine what a difference it would be if the oil-wealth of their northern neighbor actually helped the Yemeni people instead of killing and maiming them. The Houthis and former President Salih, a Faustian bargain if there ever was one, are just as much to blame for attempting to take over the country and wreaking havoc where they went. It is wrong to see the destruction of Yemen’s cultural heritage, including mosques, no matter who is doing the shooting. It is wrong to block desperately needed humanitarian aid to the millions (yes millions) who are running out of food, gasoline and medicine. It is wrong to bring an entire country to an economic standstill. I can think of nothing right in the entire year that has passed since the Houthis rambled into Sana’a and the Saudis inflicted their anti-Shi’a proxy war on the Yemeni people.

Rather than a plague on Yemen, there should be a plague on those who have brought so much suffering and destruction. It is wrong that any one should die, whether they are Houthi, Salih’s former army, a Saudi or Emirati or mercenary soldier, a civilian, a man, a woman, a child, or a baby. What are they dying for? If you love your country, you do not destroy it and pretend you are doing Yemen a favor. It is wrong, and damned wrong, for Muslims to call each other infidels and damage the faith from within. It is wrong to start a war that can not possibly be won by anyone. While the planners of this war sit in luxurious villas, the Yemeni people are seeing their humble houses destroyed day after day. While the arms manufacturers tinkle their champagne glasses as they count the profits with every bomb dropped and every new plane purchased, the sounds of ambulance sirens fill the air in Taiz and Aden. All of this is wrong.

Everything about this war is wrong. The Saudis are wrong to callously destroy a neighbor in violation of every ethical norm in state-to-state relations. The Houthis and Salih are wrong to force all of Yemen under their made-in-Iran banner of rhetorical hatred. Al-Qaida and its metamorphosis into Ansar Shariah are wrong to force an intolerant and external form of Islam on Yemenis by force. Americans, British, French and all other arms manufacturing centers are wrong to aid a physical blockade of Yemen’s ports, to provide intelligence for the bombing, and to sell the parties waging the war whatever weapons they desire.

It is also wrong to watch the devastation and do nothing. And that is what the world is doing. It has happened before, far too often, and it will happen again. But Yemen deserves better.

About the Author

- Anthropologist and historian with 40 years of experience researching and working in Yemen. Varisco is currently the President of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies, Senior Fellow at the Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg of Bonn University, and an expert advisor to MENA Tidningen.

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