Mellanöstern och Nordafrika Tidningen
Published On: Sun, Jul 26th, 2015

Murder in Mocha

The news story that has been running the past day is yet another announced ceasefire in the relentless Saudi-led bombing of Yemen. Apparently Ramadan was not appropriate for humanitarian aid to go to fellow Muslims, and the chances of this 5-day ceasefire actually ceasing fire are minimal. But welcome as any potential break in the devastating air war over Yemen can be, the announcement follows a murderous attack in Mocha on the Yemeni coast


If you had a cup of coffee this morning, think about the Red Sea port of Mocha, from which coffee first was exported worldwide. Nowadays Mocha is a minor port and of virtually no military significance. Yet on Friday a terrifying bombing mission resulted in the destruction of a housing complex of engineer workers with at least 120 people literally blown to unrecognizable pieces and even more wounded without local health services.

Mocha is not a haven for the Huthis. This attack, like so many others, is simply a blanket slaughter that no longer has any military rationale, if it ever had. Yemen’s military capacity has been destroyed, but the bombing campaign spins on destroying virtually anything in its path, including mosques, schools and historic buildings. Each day the number of civilian casualties grows while the world ignores the genocidal intent of the war. I use the term “genocidal” not in its literal sense of attempting to kill all 26 million Yemenis but in the metaphorical sense of callously destroying human life as though it has no value at all. Using the latest and deadliest missiles and bombs in their billion-dollar arsenal, the Saudi-led and Saudi-bred proxy war is no different than Hitler’s Blitzkrieg. Thus far the death toll has been limited, as wars go, but the sectarian strife engendered by this unwarranted destruction is turning Yemen into a prolonged civil war fueled by external forces.

The Saudis have used their wealth to buy a coalition and to buy off much of the press, including the vaunted “free press” of Europe and the United States. Where are the journalists writing about this daily murder of Yemeni civilians? A bomb blows to bits men, women and children as they slept, many burned alive by the ensuing fire. Is this not newsworthy? A kingdom with virtually unlimited wealth and run by a family intent on maintaining their power is systematically destroying the only democracy on the Arabian peninsula. And the United States, which prides itself on supporting democracies, kowtows to the oil barons and actively supports a war that clearly has no security relevance. Indeed, this war has given al-Qaida and its allies virtual control of the south, once a socialist state and now a wasteland seething with religious extremists. The Huthis are no angels, but the damage they are able to do is nowhere near the killing power of the Saudi planes.

So who gets killed in this campaign? Not the terrorists that the U.S. drones were hunting, but innocent Yemenis asleep in their homes. The bombing in Mocha was murder, cold-blooded and hateful, against the Yemeni people. Mocha is not Tehran, nor is it Sa’da, but that makes no difference to the bombs dropped. It is bad enough that Saudi money can buy so many weapons and bombs, but then the sellers and their governments simply look the other way as though the lame excuse of Iranian support for a loose rabble incapable of governing justifies daily murder. Beyond murder, this is also the epitome of cowardice. Yemen’s ordinary people have no way to defend themselves from this air war. The Saudi pilots can return home to drive their Bentleys, but for the dead in Mocha there were not enough hearses and ambulances to take away the dead and wounded.

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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