It is a perverse irony that as video war games move into 3-D reality on our computer screens, the real war games that are playing with people’s lives around the world become one-dimensional, presented in black and white packaging without proper context.
So it is that the recent atrocity committed with extreme malice against Yemeni civilians in their capital Sana’a with bombs dropped by Saudi war-planes had to vie for attention in the Western media alongside the deaths of similar numbers of Haitians struck at random by Hurricane Matthew.
The vital context missing from the reports on the Sana’a massacre – which said that at least 140 people were killed and over 500 hundred injured by four bombs dropped minutes apart – was any explanation, not of who was responsible, but of why they would do something so unbelievably barbaric.
There was never any question of who was responsible for the attack, because video of the burning building following the first strike recorded the next bomb-drop as well as the roar of the war-plane that dropped it. (There have been a number of dreadful car-bomb attacks on mosques in Sana’a before, so this might otherwise have been a possibility)
In the hours after the strike, the Saudis first refused to acknowledge responsibility – a preposterous claim which only confirmed not just their responsibility but their malicious intent – on which more shortly. Their guilt and that of their partners was further emphasized by a short-lived threat from the US to suspend arms shipments to Saudi Arabia.
And on this threat we must suspend disbelief!
The US is not just some sleeping partner in the Saudi coalition, or in the ongoing war to reinstall the illegitimate Saudi-supported exile ‘government’ of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Indeed, given the overwhelming US military presence in Yemen’s region, including the centre for East African operations in Djibouti, we might conclude that this is really just another US coalition – operating under the Saudi ‘flag of convenience’. Not only are the Saudi planes supplied and presumably maintained by the US, but all the missiles and bombs – cluster bombs and bunker busters and who knows what else – have been supplied by the US, and even re-supplied during the course of the war on Yemen. In addition to that is the ‘assistance with targeting’ provided by US and UK personnel both on the ground in the Saudi peninsula and through multiple surveillance platforms.
This interdependency between the US and the Saudis can hardly be concealed, yet its true nature cannot be admitted. Even more taboo is the evident close cooperation between the Saudis and Israel, who have recently found shared interests in Syria and a common enemy in Iran.
Given these links it was impossible to believe the US would really ‘review its cooperation’ with the ‘Saudi Coalition’ – or should have been. But no matter – within days of the review the US found a reason to renew arms supplies to fight the Houthis when missiles were fired at the USS Mason in the Red Sea from Yemen. Or this is what they said.
Some astute observations were made by the ‘Off-Guardian’, suggesting not only that Houthi forces were extremely unlikely to have been responsible for the missile attack, but that the US ‘response’ – launching cruise missiles at ‘Houthi Radar installations’- was actually the intended action for which the ‘Houthi missile attack’ was the necessary pretext. As they also observed, the atrocity just committed against Yemenis in Sana’a was a rare opportunity to turn international sympathy in their direction, and they would have been unlikely to squander it with a useless provocation against a US navy vessel.
At about the same time as this direct entry into the Yemen conflict by the US, the results of an internal Saudi enquiry into the funeral bombing were released, finding that the strike was ‘not authorised’ and ‘based on false information from a Yemeni army source’. It is hard to get your head around the double-think and mendacity of these claims, and it was clearly beyond the mental capacity of some mainstream Western media reporters.
This was despite these media having themselves revealed the true motive behind the Saudi’s murderous attack. In its first report on the bombing, Australia’s SBS news showed the footage mentioned above of the airstrike with its giveaway sound track, but also and rather unusually speculated on a possible motive for the attack, showing a list of names of a dozen military chiefs and government members killed in the airstrike. The funeral was for a respected tribal leader and so the attendance of these important figures in the Ansarullah government was to be expected.
The problem for SBS was that the Saudis’ ‘false information’ was exactly what SBS had shown to be true only a few days earlier – that top figures in the Houthi military leadership were present at the funeral as claimed by their source, and the strike – a perfect opportunity to ‘decapitate’ the new Yemeni government – was quite clearly not ‘un-authorised’.
But SBS baulked at this chance to finally start reporting news instead of just passing on US/NATO propaganda about the ‘Iranian-backed Houthi rebels’ fighting a ‘civil war’ against the ‘internationally-recognised’ Mansour Hadi government.
Perhaps it had no choice, after passing on a carefully woven but completely false narrative about Yemen for the last five years. No regular listener to SBS, or any other Western media station could have much idea that of all the countries upset by the contrived ‘Arab Spring’, Yemen’s ‘revolution’ remained the most genuine and the most promising for her people. And as such was as threatening as Syria to the agenda and interests of the US-UK-Saudi coalition that has been trying to destroy it.
Most of those hapless followers of the Western MSM would have no idea that Yemen has a functioning government based in the capital Sana’a and supported by the vast majority of Yemenis, and that the ‘internationally recognized’ government is not actually recognized by Yemenis because they had no part in electing it.
Yemen has a functioning government based in the capital Sana’a and supported by the vast majority of Yemenis.
Just before the Saudi-led bombing campaign began in March 2015, talks on a ‘power-sharing agreement’ between the Houthis, former President Saleh’s faction and the now-exiled leaders finally collapsed, with the resignation of the UN mediator Jamal Benomar. Hadi – who was never elected but merely appointed following the ousting of Saleh – was long past his mandate, but his Saudi backers refused to concede to the Houthis.
There have been periodic breaks in the bombing campaign, with UN-mediated talks on a ‘peace agreement’, but which never go anywhere. As with other asymmetric conflicts in the region – notably in Palestine and Syria – the ‘peace’ sought by the aggressors is one where the victims are asked to put down their weapons and concede defeat, submitting to the ‘international community’s’ choice of leadership and political alignment.
The most recent talks to solve Yemen’s political crisis, which finally involved representatives from Ansarullah and Ali Abdullah Saleh’s group, took place in Kuwait in August – and failed. Following this failure, Yemeni leaders decided to declare a formal alliance and government. Close observers of the Western MSM would have seen video of the rally which followed this declaration, and may have been impressed by its size – an estimated million-plus Yemenis came out to celebrate, despite the risk of a Saudi attack. And warning of something worse to come, an airstrike nearby after the leaders’ speeches sent people running from the rally and demonstrated the Saudis’ anger at the Yemenis’ defiance.
There have been daily developments following the ‘internationally’ sponsored atrocity of last week’s Sana’a ‘decapitation’, but one failed to make the news from SBS Australia – an update on the death toll. Thanks to the absence of proper hospital facilities in the dire conditions caused by the ‘internationally’ assisted blockade of Yemen, many of those seriously injured have now died.
Yesterday, the under secretary of the Public Health Ministry in Yemen told journalist and Middle East commentator, Marwa Osman, the death toll had risen to 458 and hundreds more injured. In an interview with RT, Osman went on to describe, 213 bodies were reported as charred, burned beyond recognition, 67 bodies were completely dismembered and 187 bodies torn apart by shrapnel. The brutality of this attack is evident from the horrific photos that appeared on social media very quickly after the event, as Yemenis were reeling from the scale of the massacre.
Presumably there will be some people in Riyadh, Washington and London, who will be saying ‘the price was worth it’ – even though it cost them nothing. That price was paid by Yemenis, who may have little money but for whom life and independence is priceless.