Lebanese protesters hold up pictures of children affected by the war in Yemen, during a demonstration outside the Saudi embassy in the capital Beirut on 2 December, 2018 (AFP)

Four Years On, Yemen has Become the Vietnam of Our Generation

Today marks the start of the fifth year of the Anglo-American bombing campaign against Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world.

Since then, the war has been as devastating as it has been futile. While it was supposed to defeat the rebel Houthi movement, today most of the major population centres remain under Houthi control, with the “coalition” assembled by the Saudi unable to retake either the capital, Sanaa, or the country’s most important strategic asset, the port city of Hodeidah.

Instead, it quickly plunged Yemen into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, a position it retains today, as critical health, sewage and transport infrastructure was destroyed, triggering the world’s worst outbreak of cholera since records began in 1949, with over one million infected.

And the country now stands on the brink of the world’s worst famine in 100 years, as a gratuitous and arbitrary naval blockade and the apparently wilful targeting of food supplies takes its toll.

Tenacity and resilience

Western support continues, regardless. Last June, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that the number at “imminent risk of famine” in Yemen had reached 14 million, over half the population.

That same month, the US and UK worked together to torpedo a Swedish resolution at the UN Security Council calling for a ceasefire.

That veto ensured that the Saudis could continue their attack on Hodeidah, launched days earlier. Aid agencies had long predicted that such an attack would be calamitous.

History reveals that it is precisely when imperious aggressors are facing defeat that they are at their most desperate and dangerous

Back in March 2017, Oxfam chief executive Mark Goldring had warned that attacking Hodeidah port, where an estimated 70 percent of Yemen’s food comes into, would spark widespread famine. “If it is attacked, this will be a deliberate act that will disrupt vital supplies – the Saudi-led coalition will not only breach International Humanitarian Law, they will be complicit in near certain famine.”

Yet the tenacity and resilience of the Houthis had, as ever, been underestimated. According to intelligence analysts, the Jamestown Foundation, the initial bombing raids on the city were supposed to be “the first step towards an amphibious invasion of the port that would be supported by allied Yemeni troops once they had moved toward the port from their positions to the south.”

Yemeni mourners sit by coffins at a mosque during a funeral in the Houthi-rebel-held capital Sanaa on 14 March for civilians killed in strikes in the northern Hajjah province (AFP)
Yemeni mourners sit by coffins at a mosque during a funeral in the Houthi-rebel-held capital Sanaa on 14 March for civilians killed in strikes in the northern Hajjah province (AFP)

They never got anywhere close. Two months later, they had not even been able to capture the airport outside the city, let alone the city or the port itself.

No military advances

The ferocity of Yemeni resistance was astonishing. At least one Emirati naval vessel was hit, prompting others to back away from the shore, whilst a hit on a Saudi oil tanker on 25 July led the Saudis to temporarily halt oil shipments through the Red Sea altogether.

A war already costing the Saudis an estimated $200m per day was now threatening to prevent them exporting their oil. British special services were quickly dispatched to help prevent this doomsday scenario.

Unable to make military advances, the western-backed coalition, as ever, simply embarked on a killing spree. Some 258 airstrikes were launched in June alone, a third of them against non-military residential areas.

On 2 August, 55 people were killed in air strikes on a hospital and fish market, and a week later 43 children were killed when their school bus was targeted with a US Raytheon missile delivered by the Saudi air force, one of an estimated 50 air strikes on civilian vehicles that year.

By September it was reported that strikes on non-military targets had reached 48 percent of the total.

British complicity

On 29 August, almost three months into the offensive, it was reported yet again that anti-Houthi forces were “on the verge” of taking Hodeidah airport. This was becoming embarrassing.

The fiasco of the attack on Hodeidah encapsulated the horror and futility of the war as a whole, characterised by a combination of military humiliation and infant corpses, torn apart by US and British missiles.

Even the establishment charity Save the Children began referring to the aggression against Yemen as a “war on children”, whilst former UK Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell told parliament that “Britain is complicit in creating a famine”.

The Hodeidah offensive eventually ground to a halt while the attackers regrouped. By the end of October, they were ready to have another go, with 30,000 troops in position south of the city. This attack, too, got nowhere.

War not over

This was the context in which the Stockholm agreement on 13 December was signed: finally, a ceasefire agreement and a halt to the attack on Hodeidah.

For the aggressors, there was little alternative. To have continued the offensive could well have resulted in a defeat so ignominious as to free not only Yemen, but maybe even Saudi Arabia itself, from the grip of the al-Saud family.

Despite the combined resources of the ten countries of the coalition, the financial muscle of the GCC, hundreds of billions worth of the most advanced weaponry money can buy, and the intelligence, diplomatic and military support of the western world, the aggression was not able to defeat a rebel movement in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Yemen has become the Vietnam of our generation.

Yet it is not over. History reveals that it is precisely when imperious aggressors are facing defeat that they are at their most desperate and dangerous.

Make no mistake, this fifth year will see the final defeat of the aggressors. The only question is how many more starving and charred infants the Saudis, Emiratis, Americans and British are willing to throw into the fire on the way.

By Dan Glazebrook

Source: Middle East Eye

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  1. So what is this war against Yemen all about? Because Yemen needs to make money selling oil also and fair trade with the rest of this world to survive like anybody else and any other country? Saudi Arabia does not get along well with any of it’s neighbors. They have been paying individuals in control of Military’s to attack their neighbors for them for years. Over what? So they can eliminate competition to sell more oil? Or they just hate their neighboring Arab cousins so much that want to curse them All and pay others to do it for them? The rest of the countries in this world have access to far more oil and sell far more than they do anyway. The United States alone has more than 25 times the amount of oil in it than the entire Mideast region has all together. We do not even need oil for energy and never did, there are many much better sources. Hydrogen for one works much better in a combustible engine like the ones we have & is much safer. It appears that the ruling Saudi men have become so brutal that they are attacking future generations of competitors in Yemen while they are still children and have done nothing wrong to them, and those who never would. This is truly un-sane. Targeting children and future generations is the most cowardly act possible of any military ever. Those who have been stupid enough to do these kinds of atrocities against innocent children are learning the hard way for a long time to come. Why it is not a just thing to kill innocent children for anybody, as any payments are only a fleeting temporary gain. While surviving this way is not ever worth it. Atrocities against children stay with an individual forever in our forever lives, the more that are harmed the worst it gets, and the harder it is to rebuild from & suffer through. Our Eternal Mothers and Fathers do not let these acts go unpunished… There should be an immediate protection covering and Humanitarian relief establishment for these children and what is left of their mothers by the United Nations, and any country that claims to have any kind justice in them. There is not a better job that the United Nations Counsel & troops ever have to do than to help protect children who are being attacked, targeted and bombed by anyone. No matter how much money they have or can type up, or who they are.

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