On Wednesday September 21, 2016, Saudi-led airstrikes struck Yemen’s port city of Al Hudaydah. According to medical sources speaking to CNN, at least 30 civilians were killed and at least 14 homes were destroyed, with over 90 damaged.
Al Hudaydah, also spelled ‘Hodeida’ (الحديدة), is under the control of Houthi rebels and has therefore been the target of repeated bombing by the Saudi-led coalition. Indeed, Al Arabiya reports that “a meeting of the leaders of Houthi militias inside the presidential palace” was taking place. The United Nations has condemned the air strikes.
The conflict in Yemen is often called ‘The Forgotten War‘ and the actors taking part in it are not always well-understood by international observers. In 2015, the BBC wrote an article entitled ‘Yemen crisis: Who is fighting whom?’ in which they explained that:
The main fight is between forces loyal to the beleaguered President, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, and those allied to Zaidi Shia rebels known as Houthis, who forced Mr Hadi to flee the capital Sanaa in February.
Yemen’s security forces have split loyalties, with some units backing Mr Hadi, and others the Houthis and Mr Hadi’s predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has remained politically influential. Mr Hadi is also supported in the predominantly Sunni south of the country by militia known as Popular Resistance Committees and local tribesmen.
Both President Hadi and the Houthis are opposed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has staged numerous deadly attacks from its strongholds in the south and south-east.
Amnesty International also has a report explaining the conflict, going back as far as 1990 to give context. It mentions how all parties in this conflict have committed “violations of human rights and international humanitarian law”. Recently, welearned that at least 10,000 people have been killed since 2015, with approximately 60% killed by the Saudi-led coalition.
Claiming that they were targeting a hostile naval base, the coalition first bombed the city’s port in August 2015, blockading the port, besieging the city, and preventing relief funds and humanitarian aid from reaching those in need.
Hisham Al-Omeisy Retweeted عشوائيات قلم Jahaf
Al Hudaydah is one of Yemen’s largest cities, with a population of over 400,000 people; it is also the capital of the Al Hudaydah Governorate, which in itself has over 2,620,000 people.
When asked by CNN about reports of civilian casualties in Al Hudaydah, the coalition’s spokesperson, Ahmed Asseri, gave a vague response:
As with any allegations we receive, the information will be reviewed and once it is found [to be] supporting the allegation based on credible evidence, we will then move to a next step of investigation.
Meanwhile, Yemenis have taken to social media to express their frustration at the international community’s failure to respond to the crisis.
On Facebook, Hossam Hamidaddin, a 27-year-old Yemeni, wrote the following ode to Al Hudaydah:
Al Hudaydah, that city of people known for simplicity, kindness, and merriness… We spent the most beautiful days of our lives there. A city of heavenly lighthearted people. Their hearts and smiles shone like the moonlight. But the moon will no longer reflect its light on Hudaydah… Darkness. Only darkness will be found in Hudaydah after tonight, darkness and cries of despair.
From the black skies fell not the stars, but their missiles. The missiles of the Barbarian criminals who pursue nothing but to rape all that is beautiful. Their missiles raped our beautiful Red Bride. They ripped her virginity and seared her dress with blood. Blood. Our beloved city is swimming in a pool of blood and shrieks of pain…
My people cry and their tears fall not from their eyes, but rather from their hearts… Their hearts that are no longer pounding for they lie under the debris and rubble of the city.
Like countless other Yemenis, Hamiddadin cannot travel back to Yemen since the airport was closed on August 10, thanks to the Saudi-led coalition’s intensified airstrikes on Sanaa. Indeed, as Public Radio International reported:
With the closing of Yemeni airspace, there have been few commercial flights in and out of the Sanaa airport. The only aircraft in the skies over the capital are war planes.
A screenshot of Yemeni airspace from FlightRadar24 on September 23 shows how empty it is (warplanes do not appear on the radar):
Yemeni activist Hisham Al-Omeisy asked:
The area’s history dates back nearly 1,400 years, making it one of the oldest in Yemen. Zabid, a town near the coast in Al Hudaydah Governorate, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993 and on the List of World Heritage in Danger since 2000. It is known for its Great Mosque, built in 628 AD by Abu Musa Ashaari, one of the followers of Muhammad.
Yemen plans U.N. complaint over Iran weapons transfers: minister
Yemen plans to complain to the U.N. Security Council over what it says are Iran’s weapon transfers to Houthi allies fighting the internationally recognized Yemeni government, the foreign minister said on Saturday.
In an interview with Reuters, Abdel-Malek al-Mekhlafi also said he hoped a 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire would take effect “early next week.”
Yemen and Saudi Arabia – which intervened in the country in March 2015 to prevent the Houthis and forces loyal to the former president from taking over – blame Shi’ite Iran for supplying weapons to the Houthis.
Tehran views the Houthis, who hail from a Shi’ite sect, as the legitimate authority in Yemen but denies accusations it supplies them with weapons.
The Iranian mission at the U.N. did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest accusation.
“There are new weapons coming from Iran,” Mekhlafi said in New York where he was attending the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders.
“It is impossible to hide that weapons-smuggling is still taking place from Iran. Some of these weapons have been found on the Saudi-Yemeni border and they are Iranian weapons,” he said.
Mekhlafi said his government was in the process of filing a complaint to the Security Council, with evidence including documents and pictures.
U.N.-sponsored talks to try to end 18 months of fighting that has killed at least 10,000 people collapsed last month.
The foreign minister said President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi had met with U.S. and U.N. officials this week and had agreed in principle to a 72-hour ceasefire.
“He (Hadi) asked that the ceasefire be taken advantage of by lifting the unjust siege of Taiz and for food to enter simultaneously,” Mekhlafi said, referring to a city in the country’s highlands. The government was waiting for the U.N. envoy to speak with the Houthi side to secure those guarantees, he added.
NEW CENTRAL BANK
Asked about international criticism over the civilian casualties caused by the Saudi-led coalition, Mekhlafi said the issue was politicized and exaggerated.
“We do not say that there are no victims in this war. This is a war, it’s not a war of angels, it’s a war of people. There are many victims and there are mistakes and this is normal,” he said, adding that less attention was given to attacks against civilians by the Houthi side.
The United Nations said last month that 3,799 civilians have been killed in the conflict, with air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition responsible for 60 percent of deaths.
Saudi Arabia has said it is committed to international humanitarian law.
Mekhlafi defended the Yemeni president’s move to appoint a new central bank governor and move the bank’s headquarters to Aden, where Hadi’s government is based.
“This was a necessary step … Even our allies, and the international institutions, have reached the conclusion that it was the necessary last step to save the Yemeni economy,” he said.
He said the central bank in Houthi-controlled Sanaa was down to its last $700 million in foreign reserves and there was no longer any local currency liquidity. The bank also had not paid the interest on external debt since May, or public sector salaries for the last two months.
The government in Aden has accused the Houthis of squandering some $4 billion on the war effort from central bank reserves. The Houthis said the funds were used to finance imports of food and medicine.
Mekhlafi said the government had made clear to the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and American and British officials that the new central bank would pay public sector salaries for everyone, including those in areas under Houthi control. He said the bank’s new administration was in the process of agreeing with a Russian company to print additional Yemeni notes.
(This story has been refiled to make clear Iranian mission at the U.N.)
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)
The US Senate backed a $1.15 billion sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia
- US will sell battle tanks, armored recovery vehicles, other equipment
- Legislation to stop the sale was voted against 71-27 on Wednesday
- Those who backed the sale cited the US’ duty to support its ally in order to keep Iran in check, maintain stability, and curb Isis and al-Qaeda
- Others cited concerns over Saudi Arabia’s role in Yemen’s civil war
- Saudi Arabia is leading the military intervention against Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen to reinstate the internationally recognized president
- The civil war in Yemen has killed more than 10,000 people – nearly 4,000 of whom are civilians. Another 3 million have been displaced
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3805100/US-Senate-supports-1-15billion-sale-military-equipment-Saudi-Arabia-day-Middle-Eastern-kingdom-s-airstrikes-Yemen-killed-32-civilians.html#ixzz4LF3hCeNe
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The US Senate backed a $1.15 billion sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, the same day Saudi-led airstrikes killed at least 32 civilians in Yemen.
Politicans who voted in favor of the sale argued the US should support its ally in order to combat Isis and other extremist groups in the region.
Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy led the dissent, citing concerns over Saudi Arabia’s role in Yemen’s civil war, which has caused a humanitarian catastrophe since it began in 2015.
On Friday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Cecile Pouilly expressed her concerns over airstrikes on hospitals, markets and places of worship as the civilian death toll continues to rise.
On Wednesday, the Saudi-led coalition bombed houses in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah (pictured) in Yemen, killing at least 32 civilians
On the same day, the US Senate gave the green light to a $1.15 billion sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia (pictured, buildings destroyed in Hodeida, Yemen)
Saudi Arabia is leading the military intervention against the Iran-backed Houthis, to reinstate the internationally recognized Yemeni president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Instability in the country has also fed into the rise of groups like al-Qaeda and Isis.
Houthis have accused the United States of arming and supporting the Saudis, and this $1.15billion sale will include more than 130 Abrams battle tanks, 20 armored recovery vehicles and other equipment to Saudi Arabia.
The civil war in Yemen has killed more than 10,000 people – nearly 4,000 of whom are civilians. Another 3 million have been displaced.
Pouilly expressed ‘deep concern’ over airstrikes against civilian facilities including hospitals, markets, and places of worship, which have increased in August.
On Wednesday, the Saudi-led coalition bombed houses in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah in Yemen, killing at least 32 civilians.
The same day, a 71-27 vote in Senate blocked legislation that would have stopped the sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia.
‘Blocking this sale of tanks will be interpreted by our Gulf partners, not just Saudi Arabia, as another sign that the United States of America is abandoning our commitment to the region and is an unreliable security partner,’ said Republican senator John McCain of Arizona.
John McCain (left) supported the sale, arguing the US should support its ally. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Cecile Pouilly (right) expressed her ‘deep concern’ over attacks against civilians
Rand Paul and Chris Murphy led a bipartisan effort to block the deal, raising concerns including Saudi Arabia’s role in Yemen and worries that it might fuel an ongoing regional arms race.
Paul, Murphy and other opponents of the arms deal were sharply critical of the Saudi government, citing Yemen, the kingdom’s human rights record and its international support for a conservative form of Islam.
‘If you’re serious about stopping the flow of extremist recruiting across this globe, then you have to be serious that the … brand of Islam that is spread by Saudi Arabia all over the world, is part of the problem,’ Murphy said.
The criticism came days before President Barack Obama vetoed a bill on Friday that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is leading the military intervention against the Iran-backed Houthis, to reinstate the internationally recognized Yemeni president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi
The civil war in Yemen has killed more than 10,000 people – nearly 4,000 of whom are civilians. Another 3 million have been displaced. Pictured, a Houthi supporter visiting a cemetary in Sanaa
Congressional leaders say there is a strong chance that they will override the veto, which requires a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.
The war has killed over 10,000 people and displaced more than 3 million.
But backers of the deal said Saudi Arabia is an important U.S. ally in a war-torn region, deserving of U.S. support.
‘This motion comes at a singularly unfortunate time and would serve to convince Saudi Arabia and all other observers that the United States does not live up to its commitments,’ Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3805100/US-Senate-supports-1-15billion-sale-military-equipment-Saudi-Arabia-day-Middle-Eastern-kingdom-s-airstrikes-Yemen-killed-32-civilians.html#ixzz4LF2JZccO
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