Sanaa


yemenwar

A new post on MENA Tidningen…

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With reports of Saudi coalition troops massing on the border to invade Yemen, the situation in Yemen gets even more dangerous. Will the beautiful Old City of Sanaa become the next Aleppo?


Saudi Arabia has announced
that their Decisive Storm bombing campaign is over and they have accomplished their apparent goal of destroying any military capacity of Yemen. There is an old proverb in Arabic that states “ba’d kharab Basra” (after the destruction of Basra) and it is quite apt as a follow up to this news. The weapons destroyed can be replaced, and no doubt at some future date will be, but the lives lost and the mortal wounds to Yemen’s pride can never be restored even by a so-called “Restoration of Hope.” The Saudi offer to pay millions to rebuild Yemen pales in terms of what I assume must be measured by at least a billion or more in terms of the bombs dropped and resupplied. If instead of attacking Yemen from the air, the same amount of money had been given to build health clinics and schools, what a different outcome there would be. Instead, the stench of war is not about to be overcome by any monetary perfuming from abroad.

The damage inflicted by this ill-conceived war campaign is obvious. Forget the nonsense about an Iranian threat, which there never was. The Huthis never controlled anything; it was Salih’s former military supporters who were behind the takeover of Sanaa and the push to Aden. Try to remember the real threat inside Yemen, the one that energized the U.S. drone campaign: al-Qaida, known as Ansar Sharia, has more power and more sympathy now that at any other time. The south is basically in their control. There is little chance that they would welcome Hadi back. So the result of this bombing is a totally destabilized Yemen, a security nightmare, a humanitarian crisis that is not likely to be alleviated soon. (more…)

Since the start of the Saudi-led Decisive Storm campaign in Yemen, I have published two commentaries on the blog of the Center for Middle East Studies at Lund University and three interviews on The Real News. While the situation is changing daily, seemingly for the worse each day, I note these commentaries here:

Lund Blog:
Proxy Morons: The Demolition of Yemen (http://www.menatidningen.se/english/proxy-morons-the-demolition-of-yemen) March 27

Sliding Towards a Virtual Genocide in Yemen (http://www.menatidningen.se/english/sliding-towards-a-virtual-genocide-in-yemen) April 13

The Real News:
Proxy Morons: The Demolition of Yemen (3/1)
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=13565 April 4

Proxy Morons: The Demolition of Yemen (3/2)
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=13636 April 12

Proxy Morons: The Demolition of Yemen (3/3)
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=13639 April 13


The Sana’a Suq (market) at night. Photo: Rod Waddington/Flickr Creative Commons

The ancient treasure of Sana’a in Yemen: One of the world’s most beautiful cities is being bombed
Luke Malpass, The Sydney Morning Herald, April 1, 2015

Inhabited continuously for more than 2500 years, and connected to the civilisations of the Bible and Koran, the old city of Sana’a in Yemen is an architectural and cultural jewel.

It is also under attack, with the possibility the UNESCO World Heritage site could suffer the same fate as Syria’s Aleppo, where fierce fighting has devastated its population and cultural treasures.

Australian photographer Rod Waddington, who visited Yemen in 2013, fears a tragedy: “It would be major; it’s like what ISIS is doing in Northern Iraq, destroying all of the sights.”

Following are a selection of images from Mr Waddington and UNESCO portraying a country he describes as one of the most photogenic in the world.


A girl in Sana’a. Photo: Rod Waddington/Flickr Creative Commons

Click here for more images of Sanaa

All eyes at the moment are glued to the news about the aerial attacks by a coalition of Saudi, GCC and Jordanian planes (with more to come it seems) on Huthi and military targets in Yemen. This is not a scenario I want to see; this is not a commentary I want to write. Yemen is imploding, the victim of long standing foreign involvement, local rivalries fueled by the insecurity with the removal of Ali Abdullah Salih and, in large part, the insatiable drive of Salih and his supporters to regain power. The Arab Spring removal of Salih was relatively peaceful, at least in terms of a military standoff and an explosion that could easily have ended Salih’s life but for the grace of the Saudis to put him back together. Guns abound in Yemen, as everyone knows, but the kind of hate-fueled warfare that has engulfed Iraq and Syria had not erupted. There was a national dialogue that most, but not all, groups participated in. There was a glimmer of hope.

This morning that glimmer seemed much dimmer, following on the rapid turn of events since the Huthi takeover of Sanaa and the recent escape of President Hadi to Aden. Yemen’s fragmented military is no match for the Saudi coalition arsenal directed by American intelligence. A bunch of gabilis in pick-up trucks may look tough on first glance, but they might as well be riding chariots. Reports suggest Saudi Arabia has assembled a force of some 150,000 at their border, with fears that a local RISK game will break out after the bombing has nullified the capacity of the Huthis to resist any advance. (more…)

by Samaa Al Hamdani, Fikra Forum, February 20

[For this article in Arabic, click here.)

Last September, a rebel militia known as the Houthis successfully captured large portions of Yemen’s north and its capital, Sana. A few months later, in January 2015, President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and his government resigned following clashes with the Houthis. By February 10, diplomatic missions in Sana’a had evacuated the country to protest the “illegitimate Houthi takeover.” Overnight, the Houthis became Yemen’s new rulers, but very little was known about them.

The enigmatic Houthi movement transformed from a Zaydi revivalist group in the early 1990s, to a rebel movement in the mid-1990s, to an enemy warring against the Yemeni state in the early 2000s. Following the revolution in 2011, the Houthis secured 33 seats in the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), because they had significant local influence and were considered victims of the former regime. The Houthis were granted a specialized committee in the NDC solidifying them as an influential political player. However, as soon as the dialogue concluded, the Houthis lost faith in the internationally backed political transition. Since then, the Houthis – led by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi – have employed Machiavellian tactics to gain influence in Yemen, taking advantage of the dismal performance of Hadi’s National Unity Government to seize territory and power.

In September 2014 Hadi lifted fuel subsidies, which angered much of the Yemeni population and provided an opening for the Houthis. Cleverly, the Houthis sided with the people against the government; thereafter, within six days, they seized the capital. Months later, on February 11, they mobilized mass protests to overshadow any activities by the opposition. It is likely that a Houthi-led protest will take place on March 18, the anniversary of the “Friday of Dignity,” during which 56 protestors were killed in 2011. By hijacking public rallies, the Houthis aim to silence the opposition and, in this specific case, avoid criticism by the Gulf Cooperation Council and the United Nations Security Council.
(more…)

Al-Jazeera has been covering the Huthi conflict in Yemen. Here is one of their recent broadcasts.

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