What really is happening in Yemen: 8 things you may not know yet

In the West, our corporate media often barely makes any mention of Yemen at all. And even when it does come by in the news, it’s usually vague, incomplete or downright false information.

The only times Yemen is in the spotlight is when the resistance of the Yemeni people, popular committees and revolutionary government can be downplayed or even villified. For example when the Missile Forces of the Yemeni republic launched a retaliatory strike towards the Saudi royal palace, the headquarters of the aggressor’s regime. Suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, the condemnations of what many dared call a senseless attack on Saudi Arabia was reported, often the first time corporate media sources had ever even mentioned Yemen in the entire course of the war that had been already going on for over two whole years by that point.

Yemen Resistance Watch is here to provide the international community with analysis and information that may otherwise be very difficult to come by. And the very start of being be able to understand the current conflict, is knowing the basic facts.

1) The war in Yemen is not a “civil war”

An often heard mistake, or lie, about the conflict in Yemen is that it is a purely “civil war”, a conflict of Yemenis against Yemenis for supreme power over the country. This is by itself entirely wrong.

Whereas there are indeed Yemenis, mainly supporters of the old order such as ousted presidents Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and Ali Abdullah Saleh, who have taken sides against the revolutionary government in Sana’a, the fighting in the country itself is overwhelmingly between Yemenis and Saudi coalition troops. The latter barely contain any Yemenis.

The revolutionary Yemeni forces, consisting mainly of Ansarullah (often called “Houthis”) supporters, popular militias and members of the Republican Guard, are in fact fighting an invasion army that is led by Saudi Arabia and its allies. The invading alliance contains many soldiers from the United Arab Emirates (notably in the south) and loads of mainly Sudanese mercenaries, as well as private contractors from the infamous Blackwater organisation. Other notably repressive regimes such as Bahrain and Egypt also contribute to the invasion.

2) The war in Yemen is not a “proxy war”

An often heard lie is that the Yemeni conflict is basically a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran . This is wholely untrue.

Despite repeated claims by the Saudis that Iran is behing the Yemeni missile programme and is supporting the revolutionary government with weapons, there has never been a shred of evidence provided to prove this claim.

Yemen has more than enough military capabilities to produce their own weapons, missiles and vehicles included. And let’s not forget that under the rule of former president Saleh, Yemen was consideredd a key US ally by the Pentagon, and received millions of dollars worth of American weapons to help in the “War on Terror”. It’s not hard to understand that the revolutionary armies have armed themselves with this US weaponry after seizing power in 2014.

Yemen has been under near-total blockade ever since March 2015, and not even once have Saudi coalition vessels spotted or intercepted any Iranian vessels trying to get to the Yemeni shore.

Iran is a moral supporter of the Yemeni Revolution and of Ansarullah, since both are anti-imperialist, anti-Wahhabi and pro-sovereignty in nature. But moral support does not mean military support, and it certainly isn’t a crime.

3) The war in Yemen is not a sectarian conflict between Shias and Sunnis

Yes, Ansarullah is a Shia organisation, at least by some standards of definition. But is is not  related to what we usually understand as Shiism. And it certainly isn’t sectarian in nature.

The Twelver, or Ja’afari, school of Shiism that is followed by the majority of people in Iran, Iraq and Azerbaijan, the religious school of the Ayatollahs, has barely any followers in Yemen.

What many Yemenis follow, and is the guiding religious nature of Ansarullah, is in fact Zaydi Islam, the oldest still existing school in all of Islam. It’s a religious branch of Islam that preceded the Sunni-Shia split, and is based on rationalist interpretation of the Qur’an.

But even more than that, Ansarullah’s support base is not limited to Zaydis alone. In fact, it has considerable support amongst Sunni tribes as well, as well as from secular Yemenis and religious minorities.

What unites the cause of the Yemeni revolutionary government is not their sect, but a general agreement that Yemen should be allowed to decide its own future, independent and sovereign, and without interference or domination from imperialist powers.

If you do want to make a link between Yemen and Iran, you can make the link that also in Iran, the Islamic Republic that is dominated by Shias holds considerable support with the Sunni, Christian and Jewish community of the country as well.

4) Saudi Arabia has always tried to exercise control over Yemen

Even long before the victorious September Revolution that brough Ansarullah to power in Yemen in 2014, Yemen has always been threatened by Saudi expansionism and imperialism.

Yemen has often been the most prosperous and most stable area in all of the Arab Peninsula throughout history. Its strategic position at the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the entrance to the Indian Ocean, as well as its proximity to East Africa, however, have always made it a very attractive target for imperialists, most notably the Saudis.

Yemen used to far bigger than what its contemporary borders suggest. What is now the “Saudi provinces” of Al-Baha, Asir, Jazan and Najran, used to be part of Yemen until the Saudis invaded in 1934, and with British support conquered basically all of northern Yemen.

A Zaydi Imamate ruled over Yemen for over a thousand years, from 897 to 1962. For all of this time, Yemen maintained what was in fact a democratic religious state, where the Imam was elected and ruled as both religious and secular leader. It was under Saudi influence that this system was corrupted in 1948 and degenerated into a hereditary monarchy for the last 14 years of its existence.

When in 1962, a military revolt against the monarchy broke out, the Saudis originally supported the royalists, but quickly withdrew their support after realising they could influence the upcoming regime even more.

And that is what Saudi Arabia has done from around 1970 all the way up until the Revolution in 2014: trying to make Yemen into a puppet state for their exploitation, influence the country religiously and politically, step up conversion attempts to steer Yemenis towards Wahhabism, and ensure that what once the most prosperous part of the Peninsula is now the poorest country in the entire Arab world.

What unites the cause of the Yemeni revolutionary government is not their sect, but a general agreement that Yemen should be allowed to decide its own future, independent and sovereign, and without interference or domination from imperialist powers.

5) The Saudi coalition uses Al-Qaeda as an ally

Much like in Syria, Al-Qaeda has evolved from “the enemy of the West” to a “useful ally” in the imperialist world’s war against sovereign Arab nations.

Al-Qaeda has been controlling several portions of territory in Yemen ever since the start of the Saudi invasion. All of the territory they control, borders Saudi-occupied land, and interestingly the Saudis have never taken interest in removing the terrorist organisation at all.

From time to time, the US carries out an often very messy assassination operation against this or that high-profile Al-Qaeda leader who overstepped his boundaries, but in general, nothing is being done to remove the takfiri terrorists from Yemen.

On the contrary, reports are in abundance about Al-Qaeda forces fighting alongside Saudi and UAE forces against Ansarullah and its allies.

6) Ansarullah actively eradicated ISIS and Al-Qaeda in its territory

The exact opposite of the Saudi policy, Ansarullah policy regarding Al-Qaeda and ISIS has been one of search and destroy: what used to be the impoverished north of Yemen, rife with Wahhabi terrorist infestation, has been cleared of the threat almost entirely.

Whereas Yemenis in the Saudi-occupied parts of Yemen are frequently plagued by terrorist bombings against which the Saudis have no response, the presence of Al-Qaeda in the liberated parts of Yemen is almost completely non-existant.

7) Saudi Arabia is using starvation and disease as a war strategy

In clear violation of international law, rules of war and human rights, Saudi Arabia is actively pursuing a policy of man-made famine and planned starvation and deliberately caused epidemic disease as a way to bring Yemen to its knees.

Over 12,000 people have died in Yemen, and that is only according to the lowest estimates, since March 2015. And many more are in acute danger.

Saudi Arabia has blockaded all ports in the country, has destroyed most of the country’s infrastructure and has deliberately targeted argicultural lands, livestock and food storage, as well as medical centers and hospitals. This has caused a mass hunger and a rapid spread of preventable diseases.

According to Un sources, over 200,000 people suffer from cholera. More than 10 million Yemenis are deprived of stable food sources, clean water and sanitation.  In 2017, the World Food Program stated that at the very least 17 million people in Yemen are in acute risk of famine and starvation. According to the NGO Save the Children, over 1000 children are dying every single week from easily preventable causes, a number that is likely to increase to a staggering number of 10,000 dead children each year.

8) The international community has barely done anything

Aside from a few scoldings or half-hearted appeals to the Saudis, the international community has done nothing to help Yemen or stop the Saudi aggression.

The UN and the international community have not pressured Saudi Arabia to reopen the Sana’a airport. They have rarely encouraged peace talks. And they have not urged the United States nor the United Kingdom to stop arming Saudi Arabia, even though it is known that these weapons are used to massacre Yemenis.

Even the total blockading of humanitarian aid to Yemen in December 2017 barely got a reaction from the West, and even then they were satisfied when Saudi Arabia only reopened the port of Aden for some token and horribly insufficient food and medicines. Even now, despite continuous promises, the Saudis keep blockading and bombing the Ansarullah-controlled port city of Hudaydah, even though the Saudis checks each and every ship that passes through the blockade to ensure they only carry food and medicine, and nothing else.

Make no mistake. The war in Yemen is nothing more or less than a mass murder and planned destruction of a nation. And the very least we can do to oppose it, is spreading the facts about what is going on.

This article was inspired by, and based on, the analysis by Geopolitics Alert that can be found in following link: http://geopoliticsalert.com/msm-war-in-yemen

About The Author

Historian specializing in Arab history, Islamic studies and geopolitical analysis. Active in the anti-imperialist movement in Belgium

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