Sana’a (GPA) – There are hundreds of examples of how the aggression against Yemen has revealed the ugly face of the world’s imperialist system today. Human rights, human lives, morality, and principles are merely cards world powers pull out in a game as needed and put away when their interests require it.
March 2015 to today feels like a long journey not only for me, but for many people fighting to stop this horrible aggression and unjustified war crimes against the Yemeni people. If I was asked to describe our work from the beginning of the war until today with one or two words, I would say it is a disappointment or maybe an awakening to the world’s hypocrisy.
The Saudi-led aggression started in March 2015 with no respect for any law or human rights. From its beginning, the Saudi coalition’s targets were mostly civilians and civilians infrastructure.
As Yemeni diaspora with families and friends there, we are not watching what happens there through the eyes of the international media — which is owned by the same people who orchestrated this aggression. Instead, we decided to expose the enemy to the whole world and reveal their crimes, their targeting of civilians, and expose their lies.
However, we discovered something that isn’t actually new but still difficult to comprehend. Politicians, journalists, human rights activists — they actually don’t care. When a new crime occurs — like when Saudi warplanes attack a bus of school children, hospitals, weddings, markets, funeral halls, and so on — hundreds of people could be murdered in one single incident. It doesn’t matter how horrible is the crime, how many children died, and how many articles we are going to write about it.
In many cases, the coalition admits to committing the crime. Still, there is no reaction — no shame or feeling of guilt –when we approach people who potentially have influence or decision-maker positions. They don’t do anything simply because either they know about it, aren’t interested to know, don’t care, or in many cases, actually benefit from the aggression themselves.
The world contributes to the destruction of Yemen
It seems like the whole world was just waiting for the poorest country in the Middle East (as they like to describe it) to shatter and disappear from the world map so they can show minimal sadness and shed some tears. That’s all.
When the war started without any legality, the Saudi-led coalition and their international backers were repeating to the media that it will be just a few weeks before they restore their legitimate puppet again as a president of the Yemeni people. But their dreams were shattered by the strength, steadfastness, and dignity of the Yemeni people.
More than five years passed, and today it is easier to speak about Saudi Arabia’s disappearing and collapse, but not Yemen’s.
The world’s hypocrisy in dealing with the situation in Yemen is not something that happened only after the Saudi-led aggression, but for the sake of the time frame here, I will say started from April 14, 2015 when the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2216. 2216 aimed to support the political transition, express concern for the humanitarian situation, support peace in the whole region, and encourage the unity and sovereignty of Yemen.
The aggression by the Saudi-led coalition and the blockade against Yemen started three weeks before this resolution — three weeks!
According to former UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Mr. Jamal Benomar, in his last statement to the Security Council said, “When this campaign by the Saudi-led coalition started, one thing that was significant but went unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would institute power-sharing with all sides, including the Houthis.”
This statement, which was critically important, passed without notice from the UN the and Security Council. After that, the results of the Saud-led aggression against Yemen turned out to be an action against UN resolutions 2216 and 2014 as well as against the United Nations charter as well.
Here’s where we stand today:
1. Yemen is far from any peaceful political transition.
2. The sovereignty of the country was violated by the aggression.
3. The humanitarian situation has worsened after the aggression.
4. The unity of the country is shattered: The southern separatist movement calls for splitting the country, as have other groups supported by countries of the aggression.
5. The peace and security of the whole region is worsening.
6. Yemen’s democracy is being violated. The coalition aims to re-install a president with an expired term and no support among the Yemeni people whatsoever.
World leaders condemn Russia and Syria while feeding Saudi Arabia with unlimited weapons and supporting a deadly blockade
Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed directly because of this military intervention of the Saudi-led coalition. Hundreds of thousands more have been killed due to the blockade imposed against Yemen by the coalition forces since March 2015. According to a report by the United Nations Special Reporter on human rights and international sanctions, Mr. Idriss Al-Jazairy, the blockade was the main cause of the humanitarian catastrophe.
It has restricted and disrupted the import and export of food, fuel, and medical supplies as well as the humanitarian aid
The blockade involves a variety of regulatory, mostly arbitrary, restrictions enforced by the coalition forces – including an unreasonable delay and/or denial of entry to vessels to the Yemeni ports.
These reports and hundreds of other reports of war crimes committed by the Saudi led coalition — including the last two reports issued by the group of experts committee which had a mandate to investigate war crimes committed in Yemen — all indicate without a doubt that this coalition led by the Saudis and backed by the United States, Israel, the UK, France, and others is worsening the situation in Yemen, committing war crimes, and causing the worst man-made catastrophe in modern time.
And it would only take one action to fix it. One resolution is needed urgently which is to lift the blockade and stop all military actions by the coalition’s troops immediately.
But instead, world powers like the United States, France, and UK condemn countries like Russia and Syria while arming Saudi Arabia and their partners to the teeth to massacre civilians. Here are a few actions they’ve carried out until today:
– An official visit in May 2015 by French President François Hollande meeting with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the guest of honor at the Gulf Cooperation Council summit. They discussed partnerships and weapons deals before the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received the Legion of Honor, the highest honor in France.
– France, which according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) was Saudi Arabia’s third-largest weapons supplier between 2013 and 2017.
– A French defense minister official told Reuters that France had agreed on a new arms export strategy with Saudi Arabia. The same president, for the sake of defending humanity and civilians in Syria, stands in front of the general assembly of the UN threating the Syrian government and the international supporters of this government for serious consequences because of their bad behavior against civilians.
– UK Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in London. As a result, the UK, which has provided a steady supply of arms to the kingdom, signed a huge arms deal with Riyadh. The same government which stands firmly against the Russian intervention in Ukraine was asking the world to support the sanctions and all political measurements to prevent Russia from violating human rights there.
– United States’ president in his own meeting with bin Salman in Washington, President Trump, boasted about $12.5 billion in finalized sales of American weapons to Saudi Arabia. In May 2017, he chose Saudi Arabia for his first foreign trip as president and signed a record $350-billion arms deal.
Germany, Canada, Spain, Brazil, etc. all benefit from this war by selling weapons or receiving a share of the oil money to keep silent about these crimes against the Yemeni people. An obvious example of hypocrisy is how these countries and most of the world’s countries reacted to what they described as the violation of the Syrian regime against the civilians there and also the intervention of Russia in Ukraine of what was described as interfering in another sovereign nation.
We listen to the same leaders who shake hands with the criminals of Saudi and Emirates. We watch them provide tools for their crimes against the Yemeni people, shamelessly delivering speeches to justify their military actions and economic sanctions against the Bad Guys in Syria or Russia to defend civilians and human rights.
In many other cases, they must think, “Who wants to be an enemy of the Saudis and their international sponsors, mainly Israel, America, and the rest of the gang even if the price is to undermine the human rights and values of us all?”
5 Examples of systemic corruption and political hypocrisy
I will now explain different examples to show how corruption and political hypocrisy is rooted deeply in the structure of all political entities around the world.
1. Ignoring the decaying oil tanker that could destroy 939 trillion square meters
Lately, we had the environmental issue take center stage. I believed that we could finally gain the attention of the environmental movement to explain what is going on in Yemen which is that the Saudi-led coalition with their ignorant hostility is about to cause one of the worst environmental catastrophes in the world.
SAFAR- FSO, the Yemeni decaying tanker, contains 1.1 million barrels of oil has become a floating bomb that could explode any time.
The Saudi-led coalition, which has imposed a blockade on Yemen since 2015, refuses to allow another tanker, ARMA 1, to deliver 3 thousand tons of diesel urgently needed for running the engines of the decaying tanker SAFAR. The engines haven’t been running which stops the processes of injecting inert gases into the oil tank’s steam. Without the inert gases, this leads to a huge amount of pressurized explosive gases of an estimated 1.1 million barrels of oil.
Essentially, this would turn SAFAR into a bomb that could explode any time, spilling a massive amount of oil covering the whole Red Sea and could reach other seas. International reports warn that if the SAFER oil leaks, it would cover an area of 939 trillion square meters.
In other words, the effects of this environmental disaster will extend beyond the Red Sea to nearby seas, according to the Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council issued warnings in mid-April, saying that the ship “turned into a huge bomb that can explode because of its contents and lack of maintenance.”
The Safar Company also displaced its responsibility for its tanker and shifted blame to the coalition for responsibility for the repercussions. For the Saudi-led coalition’s part, this environmental disaster seems intentional. Coalition warships have even opened fire on a boat carrying technical engineers on their way to the decaying oil tanker SAFAR for maintenance.
This information is not secret. Details are published in several international news outlets and have reached many environmental politicians and activists. But we in Insan Organization also wrote a letter concerning the subject and send it to some environmental politicians and activists. Silence was the only answered we got.
2. Neglecting the root causes of the humanitarian disaster
Last week the Swedish parliament hosted a seminar to discuss Yemen organized by a parliament member from the leftist party of Sweden (Anders Osterberg). I was happy reading the headline in the news, but really shocked when I read in the article that the discussion was about a group of journalists and a group of Bahai arrested in Sana’a.
This aggression kills hundreds of thousands of people. Prisoners were targeted by Saudi-led coalition warplanes after they were visited by the Red Cross and other international organizations. The Emirates and Saudi troops in the south of Yemen have organized over a dozen secret prisons. They have committed torture and sexual assaults documented by reports from the UN, international organizations, and local Yemeni organizations.
Despite all this, the main subject that members of the Swedish parliament urged to discuss was these 12 journalists who actually already released and six members of the Bahai faith who are arrested in 2012 for crimes and sentenced by a judge in the court according to Yemeni law.
3. Failing to prosecute the Saudi coalition for using internationally banned cluster bombs
Marietje Schaake in her speech on the situation in Yemen in July 2015 in the European parliament mentioned reports of the Saudi-led coalition using cluster bombs. She said there should be an investigation and consequences if it is confirmed.
After it was confirmed and the Saudis admitted to using cluster munitions themselves, Schaake didn’t fight for serious consequences but instead changed her tone to put more blame on the invisible hands of Iran.
4. Denying the entire blockade against Yemen
In the European parliament in 2018, former Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubier delivered a speech full of lies. One of such lies claimed that there was no blockade on the Sana’a airport but merely searching procedures that correspond with UN resolutions.
Our organization didn’t miss the opportunity to expose Mr. al-Jubier’s lies. We wrote a letter explaining the situation in Yemen and reiterating that there is a total ban on all commercial flights imposed by the coalition forces against Sana’a International Airport.
We visited the European parliament and in addition to that, we delivered an invitation from the Yemeni parliament to 40 members of the EU parliament to visit Sana’a. If there is no blockade as claimed by a Saudi high-rank official inside of the EU Parliament, we would like you to invite you to come to Yemen. Two of these members who were invited tried to come but of course, they couldn’t and we didn’t hear back! They also don’t answer our emails.
5. Refusing to hold the criminals accountable
For the last example, I want to mention our attempt as Insan Organization with many other organizations and activists to urge the United Nations Human Rights Council to establish an international investigation committee to investigate all the claims of human rights violations in the war in Yemen.
The investigation would include the illegality of the blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition on the commercial goods, medicine, and fuel on Yemen, and hold those who commit these crimes accountable.
The Yemeni government in Sana’a, even knowing that the main players of the United Nations are the enemy of the Yemeni people standing with the aggressors and providing them with the mains of their aggression, still agreed and asked for such committee. The Saudi-led coalition countries and their international backers, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and France worked tirelessly year after another to stop any attempt of establishing such a committee. The European countries played the same dirty game of presenting a draft resolution of establishing the international committee and later withdrawing the resolution before voting.
There are hundreds of examples of how this aggression against Yemen revealed the ugly face of the world’s imperialistic system today. Human rights, human lives, morality and principles are merely cards of a game they pull them out when they need and put them a side when their interests require that.
Abdulsalam Al-Dhahebi is a Swedish citizen from Yemen. He is a human rights activist in Sheba Rights for Democracy and Human Rights. (www.shebarights.org) He is following the Yemeni situation and working on promoting the idea of establishing an international commission of inquiry in Yemen.