Tag Archives: Yemen

MBS feted in the US despite war atrocities in Yemen

The US tour of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a triumph of multi-million-dollar post-truth public relations

The current US tour of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, is a triumph of multi-million-dollar post-truth public relations.
The fact that MBS also happens to be destroying Yemen is just a minor glitch. Smooth PR is always able to secure the maxim that not all dictators, Arab or otherwise, are equal; after all “our” bastards can get away with everything.

Until they can’t — as in Saddam Hussein or Hosni Mubarak.

MBS’s PR orb sucks up everything, from a softball 60 Minutes interview to schmoozing with a galaxy of high-profile figures such as Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence, Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, close pal Jared Kushner, James Mattis, Barack Obama, John Kerry, David Petraeus, Condoleezza Rice, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Tim Cook, and the CEOs of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Amazon, Uber and the Walt Disney Company.

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Posted by on April 18, 2018 in Middle East


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In 2018 the barbarous wars in Iraq and Syria may finally be coming to an end

I spent most of the last year reporting two sieges, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, which finally ended with the decisive defeat of Isis. This was the most important event in the Middle East in 2017, though people are already beginning to forget how dangerous the Isis caliphate was at the height of its power and even in its decline. Not so long ago, its “emirs” ruled an area in western Iraq and eastern Syria which was the size of Great Britain and Isis-inspired or organised terrorists dominated the news every few months by carrying out atrocities from Manchester to Kabul and Berlin to the Sahara. Isis retains the capacity to slaughter civilians – witness events in Sinai and Afghanistan in the last few weeks – but no longer has its own powerful centrally organised state which was what made it such a threat.

The defeat of Isis is cheering in itself and its fall has other positive implications. It is a sign that the end may be coming to the cycle of wars that have torn apart Iraq since 2003, when the US and Britain overthrew Saddam Hussein, and Syria since 2011, when the uprising started against President Bashar al-Assad. So many conflicts were intertwined on the Iraqi and Syrian battlefields – Sunni against Shia, Arab against Kurd, Iran against Saudi Arabia, people against dictatorship, US against a variety of opponents – that the ending of these multiple crises was always going to be messy. But winners and losers are emerging who will shape the region for decades to come. Over-cautious warnings that Isis and al-Qaeda may rise again or transmute into a new equally lethal form underestimate the depth of the changes that have happened over the last few years. The Jihadis have lost regional support, popular Sunni sympathy, the element of surprise, the momentum of victory while their enemies are far stronger than they used to be. The resurrection of the Isis state would be virtually impossible.

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Posted by on December 31, 2017 in Middle East


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As Yemeni children starve, Britons must speak out: ‘Not in our name‘

It is perhaps the world’s most expensive home: a French mansion featuring marble statues and “a 57-acre landscape park” worth more than $300m, snapped up by the heir to the Saudi throne. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is on quite the shopping spree: a $500m yacht here, a $450m Leonardo da Vinci painting here. As this despot showers himself in decadent luxury, the children of Yemen are starving as Saudi bombs – many supplied courtesy of the British government – destroy the country.

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Posted by on December 20, 2017 in Middle East


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Yemen’s dangerous war

Yemen has been engulfed in civil, and regional, war since September 2014; in the West it is often called a hidden or forgotten war, being so far from the minds of the major powers and media. The war has led to a severe humanitarian crisis, with the biggest ever cholera epidemic (nearly a million suspected cases since March 2017 according to the Red Cross) and a famine that threatens 70% of Yemen’s 30 million people.

All this seems barely to touch our consciences. The heavy human toll — now higher than the 10,000 victims, half of them thought to be civilians, estimated by the UN in January 2017 — has failed to put enough pressure on the belligerents to halt the fighting, in a war driven by regional actors (1). The coalition led by Saudi Arabia, supported by often Salafist local militias, militants from Yemen’s Southern Movement and supporters of President Abdu Rabu Mansur Hadi (who is recognised by most foreign governments), is fighting an alliance of Houthi rebels and supporters of Hadi’s predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Since hostilities began (see Yemen timeline), neither side has respected international conventions, civilian life, infrastructure or historical heritage; and both sides have prevented journalists and humanitarian organisations from working in the country.

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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in Middle East



In a Devastated Country, One City Is Thriving

“Cholera? No, cholera isn’t the worst problem here,” says the hospital director. The fatal epidemic spreading across Yemen in the last eight months, which has infected around 800,000 people and claimed over 2,000 lives, “is only the third or fourth most common cause of death here in Marib,” says Dr. Mohammed al-Qubati. “Most deaths are caused by landmines.”

Marib’s desert valley, located 172 kilometers (107 miles) east of the capital Sanaa, served for months as the frontline of some of the civil war’s fiercest fighting. Starting in 2015, the attacking Houthi militants began laying tens of thousands of land mines on roads, in fields and in gardens. Today, the front line runs 35 to 100 kilometers outside the town. But the mines are still there, still killing soldiers and civilians alike. “We only have 120 beds,” says the doctor. “They’re always occupied. Go and see for yourself, second floor!”

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Posted by on November 23, 2017 in Middle East



I’m all for war crimes trials in The Hague – so long as we agree to prosecute every possible war criminal

I like the idea of war crimes trials. Make an example of the monsters, is what I say. “Collar the lot,” as Churchill demanded in a somewhat different context. And if Nuremberg was victors’ justice, I’d prefer the imperfect trials they did hold than the version we would have got if Hitler had won and Roland Freisler, State Secretary of the Reich Ministry of Justice, was still running the Nazi People’s Court.

Right now, it’s becoming quite the thing to demand war crimes indictments all over the place. In the past week, we’ve had TRIAL International demanding that the Swiss judicial authorities act against Rifaat al-Assad for massacres at Palmyra prison in 1980 and at Hama in 1982. Rifaat is the brother of the late Hafez and uncle of Bashar, against whom Amnesty and the UN Commission on Syria would also like to level war crimes charges (according to Carla del Ponte, at least). And now the UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution to collect evidence against Isis for “acts that may amount to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

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Posted by on September 29, 2017 in Middle East


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Yemen, a nation destroyed by bin Salman’s aggression

Mohammed bin Salman’s rise to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince may have a devastating impact on Yemen, as the war he masterminded drags on, analysts say.As deputy crown prince, bin Salman was responsible for leading Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, which has descended into total collapse as Yemenis suffer destruction of basic services, famine and a deadly outbreak of cholera.

Source: ANALYSIS: Yemen, a nation destroyed by bin Salman’s aggression | Middle East Eye

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Posted by on July 1, 2017 in Middle East


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Will Donald Trump Escalate the Devastating War—and Worsen the Resulting Food Shortage—in Yemen?

This week marks the beginning of year three of the Saudi-led military intervention in the civil war in Yemen, an intervention that has resulted in an epic tragedy of destruction and starvation. Tens of thousands of Yemenis marked the occasion by pouring into the streets of the capital, Sanna, to call for an end to the Saudi airstrikes that have been supported by the United States military. But instead of pushing to jump-start stalemated negotiations to end the conflict, the Trump administration seems anxious to get more deeply involved in the war by supporting an attack on the key port of Hodeidah and resuming halted weapons sales.

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Posted by on March 28, 2017 in Middle East



Facing Famine, 20 Million People Need Food, Not Bombs

By Amy Goodman and Denis MoynihanDemocracy NowThe world is facing the most serious humanitarian catastrophe since the end of World War II. Twenty million people are at risk of starving to death in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria and South Sudan.

Source: Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan: Facing Famine, 20 Million People Need Food, Not Bombs

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Posted by on March 21, 2017 in Africa, Middle East


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EXCLUSIVE: Pakistan sends combat troops to southern Saudi border 

The Pakistan army is sending a brigade of combat troops to shore up Saudi Arabia’s vulnerable southern border from reprisal attacks mounted by the Houthis in Yemen, according to senior security sources.

The brigade will be based in the south of the Kingdom, but will only be deployed inside its border, the sources told Middle East Eye. “It will not be used beyond Saudi borders,” one said.

It is the latest twist in a brutal and devastating two-year war, which has killed more than 10,000 people in Yemen, injured over 40,000 and brought the impoverished nation to the verge of famine.

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Posted by on March 19, 2017 in Asia, Middle East


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