March 26, 2015

U.S.-Saudi War Against Yemen

Rallies took place in cities across Yemen on January 7, 2023 against U.S.-Saudi aggression under the banner that "seige is war."

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain began bombing Yemen on March 26, 2015, after receiving U.S. authorization. An uprising had been taking place in the country, the poorest in the region, led by the Houthi rebel group. In late January 2015 the U.S.- and Saudi-supported Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi had been forced to resign due to the uprising and mass protests against his policies. The resistance forces of the Yemeni people, known as the Ansarullah movement, established a Supreme Revolutionary Committee to assume the presidency. Mansour Hadi retreated to Aden a month later and withdrew his resignation.

The U.S.-Saudi operation began with the deployment of 100 fighter jets, while 150,000 soldiers stood by to invade. Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, in a televised speech, described the Saudi-led operation as a "despicable aggression."

"What do they expect us to do, surrender, announce our defeat and act like cowards? Absolutely not. This is not how the honourable Yemeni people think. We will fight back. All 24 million Yemenis will stand united and face that despicable aggression," al-Houthi said. He added, "If any army tries to invade our country, we will prove that Yemen will be a grave for those who invade us."

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada released a statement March 27 from Rob Nicholson, then Minister of Foreign Affairs. It stated that "Canada supports the military action by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Cooperation Council partners and others to defend Saudi Arabia's border and to protect Yemen's recognized government at the request of the Yemeni president."

The Canadian government put the blame on the Houthis and their supporters in Yemen: "We strongly urge the Houthis to immediately halt their provocative military actions, and we urge all parties to return to negotiations.

"Canada continues to stand by the Yemeni people during this difficult and uncertain time," said Rob Nicholson.

Canada's Support for Saudi Arabia's Crimes in Yemen

Protests in Yemen, January 7, 2023.

Canada is fully complicit with the crimes committed by Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

Since the war began, Canada has shipped billions of dollars of arms to Saudi Arabia. A May 2022 report from Global Affairs Canada informs that Canada exported more than $1.7 billion worth of weaponry to Saudi Arabia in 2021, an increase from $1.3 billion in 2020, the Middle East Eye reports. It goes on to inform that "The report marks the 10th year in which Saudi Arabia has been Canada's second-largest purchaser of military equipment." Whatever humanitarian aid Canada provides to Yemen is a pittance relative to both these amounts and what the Yemeni people actually need due to the war being waged against them.

After a diplomatic spat with Saudi Arabia, Canada implemented a moratorium on arms sales to Saudi Arabia. However, "The moratorium on weapon sales to the kingdom concluded in April 2020 [...] The move followed a review by the Canadian government of weapons sales to the kingdom, which concluded there was 'no substantial risk' such transfers of military goods were 'used to commit or facilitate violations of international human rights law, international humanitarian law, or gender-based violence."

A 2021 report by Amnesty International Canada and Project Ploughshares stated, "There is persuasive evidence that weapons exported from Canada to KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia], including LAVs [light-armoured vehicles] and sniper rifles, have been diverted for use in the war in Yemen." Canadians and Quebeckers have long denounced Canada's arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) describes the current situation in Yemen as "one of the world's largest humanitarian crises. It informs:

"A staggering 21.6 million people require some form of humanitarian assistance in 2023, as 80 per cent of the country's population struggles to access food, safe drinking water and adequate health services. Multiple emergencies have pummeled the country: violent conflict, an economic blockade, currency collapse, natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic." The UNPF also notes the greater impact that all these problems have on women.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commission on Refugees informs, "Nearly 6 million Yemenis have been displaced from their homes since the beginning of the crisis, including 4.3 million internally displaced people inside Yemen."

The UN Development Program, in 2021, estimated the number of deaths due to the war by the end of that year would reach 377,000. Nearly 60 per cent were caused by indirect impacts such as lack of safe water, hunger and disease, with the remaining 150,000 deaths actually caused directly by fighting in the war it said.

The conditions leading to these hundreds of thousands of deaths are dire. News reports inform that the war on Yemen claims the lives of 80 newborns every day. Some 39 per cent of babies are premature, a significant increase compared to the period before the start of the war. The use of prohibited weapons was cited as one of the reasons for this trend.

Yemen's medical centres are in need of some 2,000 incubators. A blockade imposed on Yemen by Saudi Arabia has worsened the short supply of medical materials required by the Yemeni people. Malaria cases have doubled, from 513,000 in 2015 to 1,100,000 in 2019. During that period malaria and dengue fever claimed the lives of more than 260,000 Yemenis.

In September 2022, Yemen's al-Masirah television network reported the Ministry of Public Health and Population had confirmed the Saudi-led blockade had raised acute malnutrition cases to more than 632,000 children under the age of five and 1.5 million pregnant and lactating women. "The siege and intense bombardment with prohibited weapons caused a high rate of congenital abnormalities and miscarriages, with an average of 350,000 miscarriages and 12,000 malformations," it said. According to the ministry, the siege led to an eight per cent increase in premature births compared to the situation before the war.

The blockade has also increased the number of cancer patients by 50 per cent. The figure showed 46,204 cases registered during the year 2021.

Most of those killed by the war's indirect effects were "young children who are especially vulnerable to under- and malnutrition."

The ministry also said the Saudi-led war had destroyed 162 health facilities completely or 375 partially and put them out of work.

For all of its posturing as a defender of human rights and women's rights, Canada has remained silent about the crimes being committed against the Yemeni people. Moreover, Canada, along with others, bears responsibility for the terrible crimes committed against the Yemeni people in this war, through the billions of dollars in arms it has provided to Saudi Arabia. This is the actual content of the Canadian government's March 2015 commitment to "stand by the Yemeni people during this difficult and uncertain time."

Despite Canada's complicity, conditions for the end of the U.S.-Saudi war in Yemen are being created at this time. It is reported that significant progress was achieved in direct talks between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis in January. Meanwhile, an agreement was reached by Iran and Saudi Arabia in Beijing on March 10 to reestablish diplomatic ties, during talks facilitated by China. The Houthi rebels are said to receive support from Iran, thus this agreement would also contribute to negotiations to end the war.

(TML Archives, news agencies)

January 7, 2023 rally in Yemen against the blockade.

This article was published in
Volume 53 Number 2 - March 2023

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