Mellanöstern och Nordafrika Tidningen
Published On: Fri, Jan 1st, 2016

No Happy New Year for Yemen

It is now ten months since a Saudi-led coalition began a daily bombardment of Yemen, its poor neighbor to the south. Literally thousands of air raids have been conducted, thousands of civilians have been killed, tens of thousands wounded and it seems as though any building standing, no matter how old, is a target.


The Yemen Post reports that over 73,000 homes have been destroyed, most with civilians inside. A recent blast destroyed a Coca Cola plant near the capital. Hardly a factory in Yemen has been spared, nor have hospitals, schools (over 143 destroyed by the bombing), historic sites and even mosques. The Saudis are not the only ones causing death and destruction but they clearly have done the most damage and caused the most civilian deaths. Despite what would seem as impossible odds, with the U.S. and Britain backstopping the Saudis (and thus backstabbing the Yemeni people), the war drags on.

There is no happy new year for Yemen, certainly not in Sanaa and Taiz. While a million people poured into downtown New York to watch the dropping of the ball on Times Square, I doubt more than a very few knew how much the United States has dropped the ball in assisting the peace process in the Middle East. In major cities around the world fireworks flared in rainbow colors to celebrate a new year. Joy to the world, but only to certain parts of the world. Within a couple of hours of 2016, the skies of Sanaa were lit up with massive bombing raids on the airport and civilian areas. Meanwhile in Taiz, due to intransigence on all sides, the last surviving hospital has been attacked; medical supplies are virtually all gone. The new year in Yemen drags the horror and atrocities of the last year.

The war crimes in Yemen mount up everyday on all sides. The result is what can only be characterized as the intentional destruction of Yemen from without and within. What started out as a proxy war, the Saudi insistence on branding the Huthis as a Hizbullah on their border, ignited fault lines within Yemen. The Saudis seem to have forgotten that Hizbullah was created to defend Lebanon from Israel. The result is a mad scenario where lined up against the Huthis are the Saudi coalition, including mercenary troops from as afar away as Columbia, former army unites loyal to General Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar, Islah (the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen), Ansar Shariah (al-Qaida), the southern Hirak movement, ISIS and a number of other disgruntled groups. But this is hardly a coherant group, since both Ansar Shariah and ISIS despise the Saudis and have killed several pro-government leaders. Meanwhile an entire generation of youth has exchanged school books (many schools are closed, some are bombed) for kalashnikovs.

Yemen is imploding, breaking into pieces that will be very hard to put back together again. Everything about this war is false. The Huthis certainly never posed a viable threat to Saudi Arabia; the real culprit was former president Ali Abdullah Salih who was left in Yemen by the GCC. The deadly bombing demonstrates a total lack of consideration for civilian lives and property. By claiming that the entire town of Sa’da was a military site and then destroying virtually everything in it, the Saudis have committed a heinous war crime. Yet their oil-eyed Western allies say nothing. The notion that Western powers care about human rights is itself false. There are no human rights at present in Yemen, just a trail of human wrongs. Without the provision of billions of dollars of military weapons and missiles this war would have ended a long time ago. Indeed it would never have started.

I will not argue that this is genocide, because killing off some 26 million people would be impossible. But it certainly is ethnocide, a total disregard for Yemen’s historical and cultural heritage. In this travesty the Saudi campaign is aided by Ansar Shariah and ISIS, which are both destroying Islamic shrines in the south. Perhaps the best term for the madness that has hit Yemen like a tsunami is Yemenocide. What a sad way to end 2015, a year that has brought nothing but misery to the once proud nation of Yemen.

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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