The vote came on the heels of a landmark court decision in the United Kingdom resulting in an immediate suspension of new licenses for arms sales to Saudi Arabia and of the release of a damning UN report, earlier in the week, from the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Agnes Callamard, detailing the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi was a US resident and Washington Post journalist who was killed in October 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Callamard said that Saudi Arabia was responsible for Khashoggi’s murder and that there was sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation of senior Saudi officials, including the Saudi Crown Prince himself. It’s been a cascade of bad news for Muhammed bin Salman this week and a positive step forward for human rights and accountability.
Human Rights Watch has documented scores of abuses, including apparent war crimes, by the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen, and has repeatedly demanded justice for Khashoggi’s murder. Despite targeted US sanctions on 17 individuals, the Saudis have proceeded with almost total impunity – on both Khashoggi’s death and on the abuses in Yemen. And despite these apparent crimes, the Trump administration has continued to sell the Saudis billions of dollars in weapons.
But the tide is starting to turn in Congress now. In recent months, Congress has introduced a flurry of resolutions and bills in response to both Khashoggi’s murder and Saudi’s destructive campaign in Yemen, as well as to broader human rights concerns domestically – including the detention and torture of women’s rights activists, detained merely for their rights advocacy.
The White House has made clear that if the Senate resolution reaches the president’s desk, as it likely will, Trump will veto it. Congress should keep up the pressure to ensure a more principled approach towards Saudi Arabia.
U.N. mulling over how to back Yemen truce but the U.S. warns Iran: “Cut it out!”
The United States wants the United Nations Security Council to condemn Iran in a draft resolution being negotiated to back a ceasefire deal in Yemen’s Hodeidah region, but Russia has rejected the move, diplomats said on Wednesday.
UN warns that famine could overwhelm country in next three months, with 13 million people at risk of starvation.
Yemen could be facing the worst famine in 100 years if airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition are not halted, the UN has warned.
If war continues, famine could engulf the country in the next three months, with 12 to 13 million civilians at risk of starvation, according to Lise Grande, the agency’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen.
She told the BBC: “I think many of us felt as we went into the 21st century that it was unthinkable that we could see a famine like we saw in Ethiopia, that we saw in Bengal, that we saw in parts of the Soviet Union – that was just unacceptable.
“Many of us had the confidence that would never happen again and yet the reality is that in Yemen that is precisely what we are looking at.”
Yemen has been in the grip of a bloody civil war for three years after Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, seized much of the country, including the capital, Sana’a. The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the rebels since 2015 in support of the internationally recognised government.
Thousands of civilians have been caught in the middle, trapped by minefields and barrages of mortars and airstrikes. The resulting humanitarian catastrophe has seen at least 10,000 people killed and millions displaced.
Speaking on Sunday evening, Grande said: “There’s no question we should be ashamed, and we should, every day that we wake up, renew our commitment to do everything possible to help the people that are suffering and end the conflict.”
Her comments came after the UN and humanitarian workers condemned an airstrike in which the Saudi-led coalition targeted Yemen’s Shia rebels, killing at least 15 people near the port city of Hodeidah.
|AIWA! NO!|Above all else, we must welcome any positive news coming from Yemen. A potential humanitarian tragedy, greater than the one that the Yemenis have been experiencing for many years, must be avoided. The Yemenis have suffered enough since 2011, when the Muslim Brotherhood thought that it could highjack the popular uprising against the existing regime and use it to seize power.
The Brotherhood failed to take two things into consideration. The first was the fact that the regime of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was assassinated by the Houthis about a year ago, was not an easy morsel to swallow, and the second was that the Houthis and behind them Iran were waiting in the wings for the right opportunity to lay their claws on Sana’a. And that’s exactly what happened on September 21, 2014.
Today, the international community, led by the United States and Britain, is pressing for a near truce in Hodeidah. Then, we have the Houthis announcing that they will stop firing rockets and sending drones “towards Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”
Can we therefore say we have the right conditions for a political solution in Yemen?
Logic and recent experience say that halting the attack on the strategic port of Hodeidah cannot be compared to halting the missile attacks on Saudi Arabia. Let’s not even talk about comparing it to halting missile attacks on the UAE because it is doubtful that these missiles can reach that far in the first place.
What is certain is that there is a need for the Houthis to come to their senses. There is also a need to restructure the camp of the legitimate government so that it can be up to the importance of the event and able to deal with any political solution that may be submitted by the UN Secretary-General’s envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, who unfortunately does not seem to know much about Yemen or about the ambitions of the Houthis and of those who hide behind them.
Experience has shown that it is hopeless to bet on the Houthis coming to their senses. All one has to do to come to that conclusion is examine the speeches given by their leader, Abdelmalik al-Houthi, since the takeover of Sana’a. They contain nothing substantial and are just manoeuvres to buy time. The Houthis have nothing to offer Yemenis besides illusions, empty slogans and pompous rhetoric that cannot buy medicine, feed the hungry or build a school or a hospital. The frightening thing is that the Houthis are completely unconcerned with the precarious situation of the average Yemeni citizen.
For all practical purposes, however, there is no escaping from including the Houthis in any political process aimed at reaching some sort of solution at some stage. But the Houthis’ actions suggest they want to impose a formula that will eventually lead to the establishment of a state of their own with Sana’a as its capital.
How can we possibly allow the people of Sana’a and their centuries-old cultural heritage to fall to the mercy of marauding cave dwellers that know only how to chant “Death to America, Death to Israel, Damn the Jews, Victory for Islam”?
The UN envoy for Yemen will be making a major mistake if he continues to believe that a political solution can be found with the existing balance of power. By saying this, we’re not suggesting resuming fighting in Hodeidah; on the contrary, it is an attempt to avoid further fighting. At the end of the day, if the Houthis are allowed to stay in Hodeidah, it will be the shortest way to reach a political impasse.
To put it differently, if the negotiations scheduled to take place in Stockholm are limited to the Houthis and the “legitimate” government, there will be no positive results. It is imperative that the vicious circle in Yemen be broken. This can only be achieved by removing the Houthis from Hodeidah and by restructuring the “legitimacy” camp by expanding its base. It does not make sense not to include all the forces involved in confronting the Houthis in the “legitimacy” camp.
If these two conditions are not met, the Houthis will continue to exercise their favourite hobby: buying time in order to create new conditions on the ground. It was easy for them, for example, to assassinate Saleh because they really don’t care about the lives and future of Yemeni youth. For them, a young Yemeni is just a martyrdom project. He doesn’t need to go to school or university. All he needs is to learn how to chant hollow slogans and fight for the victory of Iran’s expansionist project in the region.
Is this what the UN envoy and the United States and Britain behind him really want to happen in Yemen?
Perhaps he really wants to find a balanced political solution that will revive hope in Yemen. Again, the point is not to eliminate the Houthis. In fact, no one can eliminate anyone in Yemen. What is more desirable than ever is finding a way to include the largest number of political forces in the north, south and centre in any national dialogue or negotiations for a political solution.
The only constant in Yemen is that there can be no return to the old formula — that of one Yemen controlled by Sana’a, or the centre as it was called. The old Yemen we’re familiar with is now gone. Perhaps the right formula for a new Yemen is that of a federation or confederation. But there is no hope of reaching such a formula if the vicious circle in not broken.
More than three million displaced in Yemen – joint UN agency report
|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|SAUDI ARABIA faces international condemnation and censure for the apparent murder of its citizen at a Turkish Consulate in Istanbul in October; and its ongoing war in Yemen.
The United Kingdom and the US are working towards a joint resolution, and consequently a joint communique ending four-year conflict that has claimed millions of lives and made even more millions of peopled internally displaced.
Yemeni families are on the brink of famine. On top of forced displacement, hunger now looms across Yemen, leaving the lives of millions of children, women, and men at risk. UNHCR is working hard to provide displaced families with vital support like food, shelter and healthcare in their time of greatest need. But we cannot do it without you.
This is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and it deserves critical attention. Your donation could help to provide displaced families with the essentials they need to survive: shelter, blankets, medical care and emergency assistance. UNHCR can make your gift reach the people most in need – fast. We are on the ground within 72 hours from an emergency helping families forced to flee. It is our job to protect and safeguard refugees’ rights and help rebuild their lives.
More than three million displaced in Yemen – joint UN agency report
A joint report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has found that the conflict in Yemen has resulted in the displacement of some 3,154,572 people, of which 2,205,102 remain displaced across the country and some 949,470 have attempted to return home.
“The crisis is forcing more and more people to leave their homes in search of safety,” Ita Schuette, UNHCR’s Deputy Representative in Yemen said in a news release on Friday, announcing the report.
The news release added that due to the escalating conflict and worsening humanitarian conditions, displacement across the country has seen an increase of about seven per cent since April, with 152,009 individuals fleeing from violence during this period.
The report, prepared by the Task Force on Population Movement, a technical working group led by the two agencies as part of the humanitarian response to the crisis in Yemen, also said that a significant number of those displaced are attempting to return home, a 24 per cent increase of some 184,491 individuals. However, it cautioned that movements remained fluid and correlated to moments of lulls or perceived improvements in the conflict.
“IDP returnees are considered to remain within the displacement cycle as long as they have not achieved a sustainable reintegration and their needs remain high, as is also the case for the non-displaced host community,” said Laurent De Boeck, IOM Chief of Mission to Yemen.