Archive | Yemen

At Least 9 killed, 50 injured in Shelling Aleppo Civilian Area

NOVANEWS

Syrians walk through the rubble following reported rocket attacks by rebel fighters on the Christian neighbourhood of Suleimaniyah in northern Aleppo

Syrians walk through the rubble following reported rocket attacks by rebel fighters on the Christian neighbourhood of Suleimaniyah in northern Aleppo Zio-Wahhabi RAT’S shelled a government-held neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo early Saturday, killing at least nine people and wounding dozens, Syrian state television and an activist group reported.

Hours after the shelling, helicopter gunships struck rebels position in neighborhood of Maadi.

State TV said the shelling on the predominantly Christian and Armenian neighborhood of Suleimaniyeh in Aleppo early Saturday killed nine people, wounded another 50 and damaged several buildings.

Zio-Wahhabi have shelled residential areas in government-held parts of the contested city in the past, killing hundreds of people.

State TV said the rebels shelled the neighborhood with a so-called Hell Cannon, a crude, locally made weapon that fires gas cylinders filled with explosives. The projectiles cause widespread damage and cannot be precisely targeted. State TV showed a building with its top three stories collapsed.

Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and its former commercial hub, became a key front in the war after rebels launched an offensive there in July 2012.

Pierre Krahenbuhl, head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, was meanwhile set to meet with Syrian and U.N. officials in Damascus about the humanitarian situation in Yarmouk camp, agency spokesman Chris Gunness said.

Gunness said in a statement that there are deepening concerns over the safety of some 18,000 Palestinian and Syrian civilians, including 3,500 children, who remain in the camp.

Gunness later wrote on his Twitter account that UNRWA treated 31 Yarmouk evacuees, including two pregnant women who fled to the nearby neighborhood of Tadamon. He added that the youngest displaced person from the camp is six weeks old.

Zio-Wahhabi ISIS terrorist’s fighters overran much of Yarmouk last week. Residents say there is barely enough food and water, and hospitals have long run out of drugs and supplies.

The Syrian government has said it will launch a military operation in Yarmouk to evict militants

Posted in Saudi Arabia, Yemen0 Comments

Britons Readying and Kashmiri Protesters Blast Zio-Wahhabi War on Yemen

NOVANEWS

British protesters are scheduled to amass outside the building of Saudi Arabian embassy in London in condemnation of the Saudi-led military aggression against Yemen.
British protesters are scheduled to amass outside the building of Zio-Wahhabi embassy in London in condemnation of the I$raHell, Zio-Wahhabi-led military aggression against Yemen.
British protesters are scheduled to amass outside the building of Zio-Wahhabi embassy in London in condemnation of the Zio-Wahhabi-led military aggression against Yemen.

“(We are) getting ready to say hands off Yemen at the Zio-Wahhabi embassy” John Rees with the ‘Stop The War Coalition’ in London said in an announcement posted on his official Facebook page on Saturday.

But in Kishmir series of massive protest rallies are held across Indian-administered Kashmir to condemn the deadly Zio-Wahhabi military aggression against the Yemeni people.

A large number of protesters took part in a rally in Srinagar, the largest city of the disputed Himalayan valley, following Friday prayers, and demanded an end to the Zio-Wahhabi airstrikes on the impoverished Arab country.

Chanting anti-US and anti-I$raHeli slogans, the protesters accused the Zio-Wahhabi monarchy of pursuing an imperial agenda by attacking a sovereign nation and fueling sectarian strife among the Muslim world

Posted in Saudi Arabia, UK, Yemen0 Comments

The Collapse of the Obama Doctrine: Yemen War as an Opportunity?

NOVANEWS
by RAMZY BAROUD

To suggest that the United States policies in Yemen was a ‘failure’ is an understatement. It implies that the US had at least attempted to succeed. But ‘succeed’ at what? The US drone war had no other objective aside from celebrating the elimination of whomever the US hit list designates as terrorist.

But now that a civil and a regional wars have broken out, the degree of US influence in Yemen has been exposed as limited, their war on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in the larger context of political, tribal and regional rivalry, as insignificant.

The failure, if we are to utilize the term, is of course, not just American, but involve most of US allies, who have ignored Yemen’s protracted misery – poverty, corruption, violence and the lack of any political horizon, until the country finally imploded. When the Houthis took over Sanaa last September, a foolish act by any account, only then did the situation in Yemen became urgent enough for intervention.

For a long time, the US seemed invulnerable to what even Yemen analysts admit is a intricate subject to understand, let alone attempt to explain in a straightforward manner. The US drones buzzed overhea dindependent from all of this. They ‘took out’ whomever they suspected was al-Qaeda affiliate. President Barack Obama was even revealed to have approved of a ‘secret kill list’, and agreed to consider counting casualties in such a way that “essentially designates all military-aged males in a strike zone as military combatants.”

In fact, a timeline of events that have befallen poverty-stricken Yemen shows a strange phenomenon, where US involvement in that country operates parallel to but separate from all other horrific events, violence, suffering and politicking. Sure, US shadowy war had augmented the suffering, demoralized the nation and undermined whatever political process underway, especially after the Yemeni version of the Arab Spring early 2011. However, the US paid little heed to Yemen’s fragile alliances and the fact that the country was on a fast track towards civil war, worse a regional war, direct or by proxy.

That responsibility of mending broken Yemen was left to the United Nations. But with regional rivalry between Iran and Gulf countries at its peak, UN envoys had little margin for meaningful negotiations. Despite repeated assurances that the ‘national dialogue’ was on its way to repair Yemen’s body politic, it all failed.

But the US continued with its war unabated, arming whomever it deemed an ally, exploiting regional differences, and promoting the power of al-Qaeda in ways that far exceeded their presence on the ground. It saw Yemen as a convenient ‘war on terror’, enough to give Obama the tough persona that American voters love about their presidents, without the high risk of military quagmires like the ones that his predecessor, George W. Bush, created in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was hardly that simple. Even a ‘clean’ drone war activated from faraway places is rarely enough to guarantee results.

Set aside the moral responsibility of torturing an already wounded nation, the US seemed to lack understanding of how its actions frustrate and contribute to regional conflicts. Its exasperation of Iraq’s sectarian fault lines following the 2003 invasion, leading to a massive civil war few years later, was a lesson unlearnt. That ‘divide and conquer’ backfired badly. Empowered and brutal US-supported Shia government that took revenge on Sunni tribes and communities across Iraq following the war, met their match with the rise of a brutal so-called ‘Islamic State’ in more recent years, turning Iraq, and of course, Syria, into a savage battleground.

Gone are the days in which US policies alone dictated the course of history in the Middle East. The Iraq war was catastrophic at so many levels, lead amongst which is relegating direct military intervention as a way to achieve strategic and political ends.

The Obama doctrine was an attempt at combining use of US military influence (while scaling down on direct military intervention), on the one hand, and regional and international allies on the other, to sustain US ascendency in the region as much as possible.

What seemed like a relative success in Libya with the ousting of Muammar al-Qaddafi was too difficult to duplicate in Syria. The stakes there were simply too high. Regional rivals like Iran, and international rivals like Russia were too resistant to any open attempt at overthrowing the al-Assad regime. And with the rise of IS, al-Assad had suddenly be re-casted into a different role, becoming a buffer, although still designated as an enemy. John Kerry’s statement about willingness to engage Assad signaled a massive turnabout in US policies there.

Now, with a preliminary nuclear deal agreed upon by Iran and US and its allies, chances are the US, although will carry on with its saber-rattling (as Iran will surely do as well) there is little chance that Obama will enact any major shift in his regional policies. To the contrary, his administration is likely to retreat, further hide behind its allies to achieve whatever muddled objectives it may have at the chaotic moment.

For Iran, and to a lesser degree, the US, Yemen is maybe a suitable ground for a token war. In Why it may suit Iran to let the Saudis win in Yemen“, Daniel Levy and Julien Barness-Decey argue that the current rivalry in Yemen has at its heart the nuclear talks between Iran and the West. Iran never ‘won’ Yemen to lose it anyway, and supporting the Houthis can only push Iran’s Arab enemies into a protracted conflict from which there is no easy escape.

Yet while indirect military involvement is consistent with the Obama war doctrine, the US could still stand to lose. Sure, Obama can counter his Republican critics – stalwart supporters of Israel, thus strongly opposing to any Iran deal – by military engaging Iran from a distance in a useless Yemen war. That said, if the US allies fail to achieve a quick victory, which unlikely anyway, the US would have one of two options: to disown its allies (who are already infuriated by the US double speak on Iran) or to get pulled into an unwinnable war that cannot be lost.

A loss for the Houthis would certainly bloody Iran’s nose, but not much more than that. It is the Arabs and their regional allies that risk a major loss due to their direct involvement. And since defeat ‘is not an option’ the Yemen quagmire is likely to prove more lengthy and lethal. In the first two weeks of war, over 500 Yemenis have been reportedly killed. This is just the beginning.

Of course, there is a way out. Iran and its Arab rivals must understand that political scenarios where once cancels out the other is impossible to achieve. Syria has been a paramount, although tragic example.

They must also keep in mind that the US, which is playing both parties against one another, is only interested in the region for economic and strategic reasons. Regardless of the hyped sectarian divides, Shia, Sunnis, and numerous other groups, crisscrossed, overlapped and co-existed in the Middle East for centuries. No war, no matter how destructive, and no alliance, no matter how large, can possibly change that historical inevitability.

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Enough War: Living Beneath Bombs, Yemenis Refuse to be Collateral Damage

NOVANEWS

As Saudi-led military assault breeds death and fear, impacted people send message of humanity to world

The online campaign #KefayaWar (“enough war” in Arabic) has received an outpouring of support, from Yemen to Mexico to Scotland. (Photo courtesy of Our Yemen)

Nearly two weeks into a Saudi Arabia-led military assault on Yemen, that has rained down bombs on civilian neighborhoods and infrastructure while locking out food and medical aid, people within the country and across the global diaspora are turning to social media—and to the streets—to send a message to the world: Enough War.

The online campaign Kefaya War (“enough war” in Arabic) calls for people across the globe to “end ALL fighting in Yemen & stand with The People, who refuse to be collateral damage in a battle for Power.” Since the bombings began March 26, the hashtag has received an outpouring of messages, from Scotland to Mexico to Yemen to the United States.

Rooj Alwazir, activist and co-founder of Support Yemen Media, told Common Dreams over email that she and several friends launched #KefayaWar to “share with the world what is happening in Yemen” and amplify the humanity of the actual people who are impacted. To do so, she said, requires people to consider Yemenis as more than mere victims.

“It’s important to recognize their fight for dignity, justice and freedom,” Alwazir explained. “People in Yemen are not just poor helpless human beings, but they are people with stories who in their own different ways have been working towards social political change in their own communities. They are Yemen’s future and right now they need all the solidarity and support they can get.”

Meanwhile, people in Yemen and around the world are staging public protests to demand an immediate cessation of the bombings. According to the World Health Organization, Yemen’s conflict has killed at least 643 people and wounded 2,226 since March 19, with 334,000 internally displaced and 8.4 million estimated to be in immediate need of health care services. The United Nations Children’s Fund estimated Monday that the dead includeat least 74 children.

Pakistan has seen large civil society protests pressing the government to refuse involvement in the ever-expanding military coalition, which is led by Saudi Arabia and now includes the United States, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, and Morocco. Demonstrations have also been reported in Lebanon.

Thousands marched in a ‘Hands Off Yemen’ protest in London last week, where another protest is planned for Saturday. Other actions have taken place in U.S. cities and towns, including New York; Dearborn, Michigan; and Washington, D.C.

Sukaina, who asked to be identified by her first name, organized a protest last week in front of the White House as part of an informal group of Yemenis living in the United States. She told Common Dreams that the demonstration’s message was “strictly humanitarian,” calling for an end to the war and for people to “come to a dialogue, to come together, to speak, to stop killing people.”

Sukaina said that she has been corresponding with family members currently based in Yemen’s capital, including her 13-year-old niece, and “they are scared and frightened. Food supplies are running really low in supermarkets, gas lines are extremely long, and the electricity goes on and off like it always does, but it is a lot worse now.”

Protest at the White House April 5. (Photo courtesy of Rami Elamine)Protest at the White House April 5. (Photo courtesy of Rami Elamine)

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly blocked humanitarian organizations from delivering critical aid to a nation already devastated by poverty and years of covert U.S. drone war. The Red Cross warned this week that a “catastrophic” situation is gripping the southern city of Aden, heavily targeted by shelling from war planes. The aid group Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders said in a press statement that “life has stopped” in Aden, where medical centers are overwhelmed with the wounded and dead and medical supplies and drugs are running dangerously low.

Shipments of deadly weapons, however, don’t face the same roadblocks. A top U.S. diplomat announced Tuesday that the country is expediting arms to Saudi Arabia, in addition to providing a boost in intelligence support.

“The situation in Yemen is getting worse and worse everyday,” said Alwazir of Support Yemen Media. “They are blocking the harbors and blocking all money transfers, which is impacting those stranded abroad who were forced to travel to Egypt, India and Amman for healthcare. Food will soon run out. The bombs have hit civilian refugee camps, food factories, a dairy factory, water and communication infrastructure. Yemenis are living under constant fear that they may be next.”

The military intervention has been denounced as a cynical power move, led by a close U.S. ally, and in step with the so-called U.S. War on Terror.

“How do you wage war on impoverished nation?” Alwazir continued. “How is that a solution? Why is Yemen even their problem? The Saudis and their allies, which includes GCC countries and the U.S., are bombing Yemen’s already very poor infrastructure because they feel threatened by a group of Yemenis who have historically been marginalized and are now slowly taking over the country. And as problematic as that may be, why is that their problem?”

“Make no mistake about it, this new war in the Middle East was approved and is being orchestrated by the U.S. Saudi Arabia does not make a move like this without the approval and backing of the U.S.,” Lebanese-American writer and activist Rami Elamine toldCommon Dreams.

“So now every country, contiguously, from Afghanistan up to Turkey and down to Yemen and right through to Libya is engaged in some type of warfare,” Elamine continued. “Think about that, America, because it’s your tax dollars that initiated and are driving this endless ‘War on Terror’ in which literally hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died and thousands more will.”

Meanwhile, Yemenis around the world must contend with an uncertain future.

“How will this end?” asked Alwazir. “I want someone to just tell me how this all ends because this is like a big nightmare that I can’t wake up from, and I am terrified.”

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Autocrats United Against Yemen

NOVANEWS

The Yemen war is a variation on an old theme, where despotic regimes in the Middle East call on the United States to do their dirty work.

(Photo: IRIN Photos / Flickr)

The latest war in the Middle East is now well underway in Yemen, where airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition have killed hundreds and plunged the Arab world’s poorest country into a deepening humanitarian crisis.

The target of the strikes are Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Zaydi Shiite resistance fighters that seized the capital Sanaa last January and have made inroads in southern Yemen since. Other members of the 10-country coalition include Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan, and most of the Gulf Cooperation Council of Sunni monarchies.

Washington has confirmed that it’s providing logistical support on the ground.

It’s a variation on an old theme, where autocratic and despotic regimes in the Middle East call on the United States to do their dirty work. The result for the United States helping these regimes to stay in power has been the prevalence of anti-Americanism among Arabs and Muslims.

Nonetheless, in addition to providing intelligence to the Saudis for their bombings in Yemen, the U.S. also just removed its partial weapons freeze on Egypt’s military regime — a signal of approval of Cairo’s leadership in the anti-Houthi fight.

A Proxy War?

The members of the coalition allege that the Houthis are proxies for Tehran. By roping in Washington, the Saudis (like the Israelis) may be trying to forestall the U.S. rapprochement with Iran after the recent breakthrough in nuclear talks and tacit cooperation between the two countries against the Islamic State in Iraq.

Media reports have largely echoed the charge that the Houthis are Iranian proxies. Yet this misleading cliché serves no other interest than to demonize Iran.

Though it’s likely that Tehran is helping the Houthis in some capacity, scholars on Yemen have been unable to gather much credible evidence of Iran’s military involvement. Even Katherine Zimmerman, a policy wonk at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, toldForeign Policy there was “nothing that’s seen as hard evidence” to indicate Iranian involvement.

More likely, the driving forces of the rebellion are local, as a Chatham House report by Peter Salisbury recently indicated, concluding that the influence of external forces is exaggerated. “The Houthi are not Iranian proxies in the sense that Hezbollah is an Iranian proxy,” adds British foreign secretary Philip Hammond. Even if Iran is supplying help, Tehran “can’t actually control what the Houthis do.”

Of course, the U.S. is over 7,000 miles away, yet it flies drones, runs special ops, and facilitates Saudi bombing raids in Yemen. Can it really treat alleged Iranian involvement from next door with much disdain?

A Local Conflict

Despite some of their more strident rhetoric, the Houthis appear much more moderate in their aims — namely, representation and resources for their Zaydi Shiite constituency — than they’re credited with by the West. They’re also staunch opponents of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the al-Qaeda franchise most feared by Western intelligence agencies, and of the Islamic State, which has allegedly established a foothold in Yemen.

But outside these Sunni extremist forces, the conflict in Yemen isn’t so much about sectarian affiliation as it is access to resources.

Home to 25 million people, Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world despite the recent discovery of oil there. Resources have historically been scarce and wealth is concentrated among the few in power.

In the late 1960s, Yemen went through two simultaneous revolutions — one in the north and one in the south. A new Yemen Arab Republic was declared in the north along the Saudi border and enjoyed good relations with the Saudis. In the south, a new Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen was declared. A socialist country, it enjoyed the patronage of the Soviet Union and favorable relations with Tehran.

In 1990, the two countries merged into a unified country under the leadership of Ali Abdullah Saleh as a president. Yes, that’s the same Saleh who became a cooperative client of the United States.

Saleh became increasingly corrupt and autocratic, concentrating power in the hands of his family before he was finally deposed in 2012. In the meantime, AQAP thrived in Yemen, opening the door to later inroads by ISIS. Both AQAP and ISIS are sworn enemies of the Shiite Houthis. Recently, suicide bombers allegedly linked to ISIS killed and wounded hundreds of Shiite worshipers.

The Houthis backed the uprising that overthrew Saleh from the presidency in 2012. But in the current Houthi revolt, Saleh — a secular Zaydi Shiite who retains some supporters in the Yemeni army — has supported them in the hope of re-installing himself or his son to power. He’s calling for new elections, since the pact that ousted him and installed his

vice president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, as the country’s leader was only intended to be transitional.

Playing with Fire

With the Houthis continuing to make gains around the southern port city of Aden despite the airstrikes, the Saudis’ bombing alone will not likely not be enough to tip the battle. More ominous is the prospect of a ground intervention, particularly as Sunni Arab countries contemplate forming an “Arab NATO” alliance to enforce the region’s status quo.

However, the Houthis and their allies are battle-hardened and know the terrain — this is their mountainous country, after all. The war could then degrade into guerilla warfare with no end in sight. With their chief rival for power tied up, al-Qaeda and ISIS will thrive further. Even now, AQAP is exploiting the chaos.

The Egyptian-Saudi armada to topple the Houthis and their allies could result in Iran deepening its own suspected involvement in the war. The involvement of so many countries in the region in the war in Yemen could result in a wider war with completely unpredictable outcomes, even outside the country’s borders.

The Saudis and the Egyptians are particularly vulnerable to internal and external serious rebellions. The Saudis military may not stay loyal to the regime if the war with Yemen drags on. The restive Shia population in eastern Saudi Arabia may rebel. The majority Shia in Bahrain could rise up again against the Bahraini government, as well as against the Saudi military forces stationed there. The Egyptians are at war from within already and the new war will just inflame it further.

The silver lining is the emerging U.S. rapprochement with Iran, which could tilt control of the narrative away from Israel and the Sunni countries and form the basis for a mediated settlement — but only if the recent nuclear agreement survives an assault from Netanyahu and congressional hardliners.

Posted in Yemen0 Comments

Autocrats United Against Yemen

NOVANEWS
Playing With Fire in the Gulf

by ADIL E. SHAMOO

The latest war in the Middle East is now well underway in Yemen, where airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition have killed hundreds and plunged the Arab world’s poorest country into a deepening humanitarian crisis.

The target of the strikes are Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Zaydi Shiite resistance fighters that seized the capital Sanaa last January and have made inroads in southern Yemen since. Other members of the 10-country coalition include Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan, and most of the Gulf Cooperation Council of Sunni monarchies.

Washington has confirmed that it’s providing logistical support on the ground.

It’s a variation on an old theme, where autocratic and despotic regimes in the Middle East call on the United States to do their dirty work. The result for the United States helping these regimes to stay in power has been the prevalence of anti-Americanism among Arabs and Muslims.

Nonetheless, in addition to providing intelligence to the Saudis for their bombings in Yemen, the U.S. also just removed its partial weapons freeze on Egypt’s military regime — a signal of approval of Cairo’s leadership in the anti-Houthi fight.

A Proxy War?

The members of the coalition allege that the Houthis are proxies for Tehran. By roping in Washington, the Saudis (like the Israelis) may be trying to forestall the U.S. rapprochement with Iran after the recent breakthrough in nuclear talks and tacit cooperation between the two countries against the Islamic State in Iraq.

Media reports have largely echoed the charge that the Houthis are Iranian proxies. Yet this misleading cliché serves no other interest than to demonize Iran.

Though it’s likely that Tehran is helping the Houthis in some capacity, scholars on Yemen have been unable to gather much credible evidence of Iran’s military involvement. Even Katherine Zimmerman, a policy wonk at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, told Foreign Policy there was “nothing that’s seen as hard evidence” to indicate Iranian involvement.

More likely, the driving forces of the rebellion are local, as a Chatham House report by Peter Salisbury recently indicated, concluding that the influence of external forces is exaggerated. “The Houthi are not Iranian proxies in the sense that Hezbollah is an Iranian proxy,” adds British foreign secretary Philip Hammond. Even if Iran is supplying help, Tehran “can’t actually control what the Houthis do.”

Of course, the U.S. is over 7,000 miles away, yet it flies drones, runs special ops, and facilitates Saudi bombing raids in Yemen. Can it really treat alleged Iranian involvement from next door with much disdain?

A Local Conflict

Despite some of their more strident rhetoric, the Houthis appear much more moderate in their aims — namely, representation and resources for their Zaydi Shiite constituency — than they’re credited with by the West. They’re also staunch opponents of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the al-Qaeda franchise most feared by Western intelligence agencies, and of the Islamic State, which has allegedly established a foothold in Yemen.

But outside these Sunni extremist forces, the conflict in Yemen isn’t so much about sectarian affiliation as it is access to resources

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Home to 25 million people, Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world despite the recent discovery of oil there. Resources have historically been scarce and wealth is concentrated among the few in power.

In the late 1960s, Yemen went through two simultaneous revolutions — one in the north and one in the south. A new Yemen Arab Republic was declared in the north along the Saudi border and enjoyed good relations with the Saudis. In the south, a new Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen was declared. A socialist country, it enjoyed the patronage of the Soviet Union and favorable relations with Tehran.

In 1990, the two countries merged into a unified country under the leadership of Ali Abdullah Saleh as a president. Yes, that’s the same Saleh who became a cooperative client of the United States.

Saleh became increasingly corrupt and autocratic, concentrating power in the hands of his family before he was finally deposed in 2012. In the meantime, AQAP thrived in Yemen, opening the door to later inroads by ISIS. Both AQAP and ISIS are sworn enemies of the Shiite Houthis. Recently, suicide bombers allegedly linked to ISIS killed and wounded hundreds of Shiite worshipers.

The Houthis backed the uprising that overthrew Saleh from the presidency in 2012. But in the current Houthi revolt, Saleh — a secular Zaydi Shiite who retains some supporters in the Yemeni army — has supported them in the hope of re-installing himself or his son to power. He’s calling for new elections, since the pact that ousted him and installed his

vice president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, as the country’s leader was only intended to be transitional.

Playing with Fire

With the Houthis continuing to make gains around the southern port city of Aden despite the airstrikes, the Saudis’ bombing alone will not likely not be enough to tip the battle. More ominous is the prospect of a ground intervention, particularly as Sunni Arab countries contemplate forming an “Arab NATO” alliance to enforce the region’s status quo.

However, the Houthis and their allies are battle-hardened and know the terrain — this is their mountainous country, after all. The war could then degrade into guerilla warfare with no end in sight. With their chief rival for power tied up, al-Qaeda and ISIS will thrive further. Even now, AQAP is exploiting the chaos.

The Egyptian-Saudi armada to topple the Houthis and their allies could result in Iran deepening its own suspected involvement in the war. The involvement of so many countries in the region in the war in Yemen could result in a wider war with completely unpredictable outcomes, even outside the country’s borders.

The Saudis and the Egyptians are particularly vulnerable to internal and external serious rebellions. The Saudis military may not stay loyal to the regime if the war with Yemen drags on. The restive Shia population in eastern Saudi Arabia may rebel. The majority Shia in Bahrain could rise up again against the Bahraini government, as well as against the Saudi military forces stationed there. The Egyptians are at war from within already and the new war will just inflame it further.

The silver lining is the emerging U.S. rapprochement with Iran, which could tilt control of the narrative away from Israel and the Sunni countries and form the basis for a mediated settlement — but only if the recent nuclear agreement survives an assault from Netanyahu and congressional hardliners.

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Blaming Iran for Shi’ite Unrest Throughout the Middle East

Empire or Empathy?


by GARY LEUPP

A few minutes exposure to U.S. cable news gives the viewer the impression that Iran is relentlessly carving out an empire in the Middle East. This is approximately as absurd as the proposition that Vladimir Putin is striving to recreate the empire of the tsars. Talking heads who never think to mention Israel’s wars of aggression since its inception (much less its nukes), or the pattern of NATO expansion (= U.S. imperial expansion) since the end of the Cold War, bristle with indignation at any reported shipment of Iranian arms to some Shiites (or anyone, really) somewhere, or any Russian effort to thwart the expansion of a hostile military alliance along their borders.

The fact is, Iran has not invaded another country since the 1730s, when Nader Shah waged war on both the Ottoman and Mughal empires and established an ephemeral empire stretching from the Caucasus to the Indus Valley. In modern times Iran has been the victim of repeated attacks and encroachments on its sovereignty—by Britain, tsarist Russia, the Ottoman Empire, the Soviet Union just after the Second World War, and Iraq (with U.S. blessing and support) from September 1980 to August 1988. But it has not directly attacked any of its neighbors.

In 1953 the U.S. itself engineered a coup in Iran against a democratically elected prime minister (to prevent his plans to nationalize the oil industry). It imposed on the Iranian people the brutal, tyrannical rule of the Shah up to 1979. In the latter year, in the most genuinely mass-based revolution in Islamic history, the Shah was overthrown. Ever since then the U.S. has held Iran in the cross hairs, applying economic sanctions, freezing its U.S. bank-holdings, even providing Iraq in the eighties with military aid and satellite intelligence as Saddam Hussein waged an aggressive war against his neighbor. All to punish the Iranian people for having the audacity to (at least try to) shuffle off the shackles of imperialist hegemony.

Recently, as the USA Today headline put it: “Arab League agrees on military force to combat Iran.” But why is it necessary for that league (of 22 U.S.-backed states) to combat this peaceful country? Because as Nabil Elaraby, the Egyptian who serves as its secretary-general, put it during a recent news conference, Iran has intervened “in many nations.”

But how has it intervened? By supporting with funds and weaponry south Lebanese forces fighting Israeli aggression and occupation? Why should the Arab League find anything wrong with that? Should the Arab League oppose Hizbollah, perhaps the most powerful political party in Lebanon, its support largely earned by forcing the Israeli occupiers out in 2000?

Has Iran intervened in Syria by supporting the internationally recognized Syrian government, as it fights an armed opposition dominated by al-Nusra al-Qaeda forces and the hideous Islamic State? If so, has it intervened more than the U.S.—which is barking orders to Bashar Assad to step down, supplying arms to the opposition (many now in the hands of ISIL), and openly boasting of its plans to create a mercenary force for Syrian regime change in Jordan?

The U.S. not so long ago threatened missile attacks on Syria, on the dubious pretext that the regime had used chemical weapons against its people and thus deserved such punishment as could only be properly inflicted by the “exceptional” nation and global policeman. Obama was at the verge of pulling the trigger when deft Russian diplomacy checked his hand. Has Iran ever behaved so irresponsibly as has the U.S.—in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen—herever it sets its feet?

Has Iran intervened in Iraq—that proud nation with a glorious past utterly destroyed and humiliated by the sadistic U.S. invasion and occupation, now facing the Islamic State nightmare that was obviously generated by the stupid smashing of the Baathist secular state—by assisting its regime (placed in power by the U.S., not Tehran) from the advancing ISIL crazies? And if it has, doesn’t the U.S. secretly welcome that intervention, because the troops it trained itself proved to be impotent in the face of the child-beheaders?

Has Iran intervened in Bahrain, a country where, during the Arab Spring of 2011, there were huge peaceful demonstrations crushed by Saudi troops? The opposition was rooted among Shiites, who constitute 65% of the island nation’s people, ruled by a Sunni monarch whose regime oppresses their faith. But there seems to be little evidence of Iranian involvement. It was hardly necessary. The discontent was and is born out of local circumstances.

Has Iran intervened in Yemen, a country whose modern history has been shaped by British, Saudi, and Soviet rivalries, and which has a complex ethnic-religious make-up that includes a huge Shiite minority population (maybe 35%) somewhat sympathetic to Shiite-ruled Iran? A country forced by the U.S. since late 2001 to cooperate with its “War on Terror” rejected (according to one poll) by 99% of the Yemeni population?

There may be some substance to the allegation that Tehran is materially supporting the Houthis. In 2013 the Iranian vessel Jihan 1 was seized off the Yemeni coast and the 9 crewmen on board arrested for smuggling. The cargo included Katyusha rockets, heat-seeking surface to air missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, explosives, ammunition and Iranian-made night vision goggles. But eight of the nine arrested were soon released, there were reports that the ship was bound for Somalia, and Iran denied any responsibility.

Of course, if Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are materially aiding the Houthi movement it shouldn’t surprise anybody. How many armed opposition movements has the United States supported, from the “Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front” defeated ignominiously in at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, to the Kurdish Democratic Party peshmerga in Iraq in the 1970s, to the Contras in Nicaragua and Mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s, to the “National Transitional Council” in Libya in 2011 and today’s (small, disintegrating) “Free Syrian Army”?

Last September when Houthi forces took Sana’a (virtually without a fight, and with apparent widespread support), the Iranian regime and press were enthusiastic. They might have noted that a Houthi-dominated government would be a return to the status quo that existed between 1918 and 1962, when northern Yemen was governed by Shiite imams. They owed nothing to distant Iran and indeed from the 50s were beholden to Egypt for support.

But now Saudi Arabia—which in its fanatical intolerance of Shiite “heresy,” and in its fear of its own Shiite minority (maybe 25%) has even indicated its willingness to cooperate with Israel to topple the Tehran regime—wants to depict events in the neighboring nation as the result of a conspiracy by the Iranians in league with their fellow heretics.

The Saudi-led “coalition” that has amassed to fight the Houthis is a coalition of Sunnis who want to curb growing Shiite power in the region. That is the basic issue here. Iran is by far the largest Shiite-dominated state in the world, and while its foreign policy is not actually driven by a pan-Shiite strategy, it is depicted by Shia’s intransigent foes as the headquarters of Shiite advances everywhere in the world.

In fact the type of Shiism embraced by the Houthis (one of three forms of Shiism currently practiced in Yemen) differs substantially from the form prevalent in Iran. Most Yemeni Shiites are Zaidis; most Iranian Shiites are “Twelvers.” They have different ideas about the origins of religious authority, the roles of historical figures, and the concept of “occultation” (ghaybah) of the Mahdi. (This latter is a messianic figure descended from the Prophet who will eventually return to establish peace and justice in the world.)

The religious differences between them are as significant as those between Lutherans and Baptists, both of whom are Protestants (as opposed to Roman Catholics) but whom have not always been allies historically. To suggest that all Shiites from Afghanistan to Yemen are in cahoots to establish a new Persian Empire is just stupid.

Surely there is a serious fear factor here. Perhaps 25% of Saudi Arabia’s 16 million people are Shiite believers. They are concentrated in the oil rich east, in a swathe of territory facing the Shiite-majority island nation of Bahrain. Like those in Bahrain, they embrace the Twelver version of Shiism that prevails in Iran. (Zaidi and Ismaili Shiism flourish along the Yemeni border.) The Wahhabis governing Saudi Arabia have historically oppressed these minorities, even destroying their holy sites. Leading clerics in the theocratic state repeatedly denounce them publicly as apostates from Islam.

Last Thursday I read a headline: “Imam of the grand mosque in Mecca calls for all-out war against Shiites.”  According to the report, a Saudi Sunni cleric named Abdul Rahman al-Sudais has stated in a video clip, “Our war with Iran, say that out loud, is a war between Sunnis and Shiites. Our war with Iran…is truly sectarian. If it was not sectarian, we will make it sectarian… The Jews and cross [Christians], I swear by Allah that they will have their days…The prophet said that Rome will be conquered …Our disagreement with Rafidha [“rejectors,” a disparaging term for Shiites] will not be removed, nor our suicide to fight them… as long as they are on the face of the earth….”

That’s pretty unambiguous, I’d say.

This problem, you will say, has nothing to do with the U.S. And it shouldn’t. But it does! I keep hearing on CNN and MSNBC “Iran is believed to be supporting” the Houthi rebels in Yemen. “Is believed”? What does that mean? The same folks say “it is believed” Iran has a nuclear weapons program, although the entire U.S. intelligence community has repeatedly said they don’t think that’s true. “It is believed” should be translated, “We want you to believe.” It’s that simple.

By WHOM is it believed that Iran is supporting the Houthis? you want to ask. I cited above some inconclusive evidence. But here you have the voice of true conviction, the echo of a State Department talking point. How many would believe it if it weren’t repeated again and again, without substantiation?

In a leaked cable dated Dec. 9, 2009, U.S. ambassador to Yemen Stephen Seche reported matter-of-factly: “Contrary to ROYG [Republic of Yemen Government] claims that Iran is arming the Houthis, most analysts report that the Houthis obtain their weapons from the Yemeni black market and even from the ROYG itself.” Who profits from contending otherwise?

I suggest that those who see things in religious terms (like the Saudi leaders), and fear the prospect of religious pluralism within the Islamic world, and the reasonable empowerment of Shiites along the Arabian Peninsula littoral, benefit from a propaganda campaign that tars all Shiites with the brush of Iranian associations. Again, it is like the Cold War-era smearing of all kinds of people and movements with the charge that they had to be receiving Soviet or Chinese support. And those in this country who want to attack Iran, and always seeking justifications for such an attack, jumps at any Sunni accusation of Iranian (Shiite) “aggression” to build the case for U.S. moves against the Islamic Republic.

Of course the Shiites of Iran feel indignant at the oppression of their coreligionists in many countries in the Middle East. But are their responses a bid for empire, or statements and gestures of empathy? It’s not like the capitalists in Tehran and Masshad are profiting mightily from Iran’s support for allies in Syria, Lebanon or anywhere else.

The agreement announced April 2, between the 5+1 powers and Iran, is a significant step back from the U.S. road to war with Iran encouraged by the curiously paired Israelis and Saudis. It’s a signal that the neocons who have dominated U.S. foreign policy well into the Obama era, in alliance with buttheaded politicians rooted in the Christian-Zionist right, are becoming less able to vilify at will, spouting disinformation unchallenged to reach the goal they hardly endeavor to conceal: the total destruction of the status quo in the Muslim world, and its abject surrender to the U.S. Empire.

Still, with the odious Netanyahu spurring them on, they try. And this, strangely enough, means drawing on sensationalist Saudi charges of Iranian ties with regional Shiite communities. The sneering Zionist makes common cause with Salafists presiding over an anti-Semitic culture, versus a country that constitutionally insures its religious minorities representation in parliament.

Iran must be depicted as hell-bent on expansion, although there is little evidence for this. And even if the U.S. is backing off from the nuclear hysteria, conspicuously breaking with its Chicken Little fear-mongering ally on that point, it is still collaborating in the vilification of Iran as a fearsome empire-builder.

The well-educated youth of Iran tweet one another, sharing laughs about U.S. perceptions of their country and the manifest ignorance about their region prevailing in the west. They know their ayatollahs aren’t responsible for the Baathists in Syria, Hizbollah in Lebanon, the Bahraini activists or Yemen’s Houthi militants.

But they know the Manichaeans in Washington, whose brains are wired to think “Good vs. Evil,” are happy to take their cue from their Saudi Sunni friends who want to smash the Shiite presence whenever it gets uppity. They in turn guide the U.S. press, who will continue to tell its audience “it is believed” Iran is the root of all evil in the Middle East. And they’ll never betray the slightest knowledge of, or insight about, a significant historical conflict between religious communities in the Middle East.

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Yemen Timeline: From January 2011 To March 2015

NOVANEWS

The Crisis in Yemen Banner

  • January 27, 2011Protesters in Sanaa call for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign after three decades in power. Yemen’s revolution kicks off.
  • Sept. 12, 2011: Saleh signs a document giving Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi special power to negotiate a transition of power with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Joint Meeting Parties, Yemen’s political opposition parties.
  • December 2011: Saleh announces that he handed power over to his designated vice president, Hadi, under the terms of the GCC-brokered transition of power initiative.
  • January 2012: Saleh and several of his close allies and family members are given full immunity by parliament.
  • Feb. 21, 2012: Hadi is elected president of Yemen in a one-man election. His term is set for two years, during which he will oversee Yemen’s institutional and political transition in keeping with the National Dialogue Conference resolutions.
  • January 2014: Members of the NDC reach a tentative agreement in the capital Sanaa. The terms of a draft constitution are finally ironed out so that Yemen can finalize its transition of power.
  • September 2014: The Houthis reach Sanaa following a blazing campaign against Islah in the highlands. Abdel Malik al-Houthi calls on Hadi to commit to the implementation of all NDC resolutions, per the January 2014 agreement. A deal is signed in Sanaa and a new coalition government is formed.
  • January 2015:  Following months of political wrangling and rising tensions Hadi announces his resignation. His entire cabinet resigns. Hadi and several ministers are immediately put under house of arrest by the Houthis as Jamal Benomar, UN Special Envoy to Yemen, attempts to return all parties to the negotiating table.
  • February 2015: Hadi flees Sanaa for Aden, where he announces Aden as the new capital of Yemen, essentially splitting Yemen in two. Sanaa becomes a diplomatic ghost town as all foreign embassies withdraw their diplomats from the city.
  • March 2015: The U.S. announces the evacuation of its troops from Al Anad airbase near Aden.
  • March 25, 2015: Saudi Arabia unilaterally launched an attack on Yemen with the backing of eight Arab countries — Kuwait, Bahrain, Morocco, Qatar, Egypt, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan — and the support of the United States and European Union. Within days Pakistan joins the coalition, but as of Tuesday, continues to refuse to commit militarily.

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The Najdi bedouins’ aggression in Yemen

NOVANEWS
Image result for Najdi bedouins’ PHOTO
By Zafar Bangash 

Has the Bani Saud made one mistake too many by attacking Yemen? If the conflict drags on, it is likely to bring down the Najdi Bedouins’ sand castles.

It is easy to start a war but difficult to determine its direction, outcome or how to end it. Ask any general and he would confirm that the best prepared plans are made redundant as soon as the first shots are fired. The “Saudi” regime has just made a strategic blunder by attacking dirt-poor Yemen. In fact, the war is launched against the Houthi militia that has made impressive gains in recent weeks and months in the war-torn country. And true to form, the bedouins from Najd, calling themselves “Saudis,” have mobilized a so-called “coalition of the willing” that includes such great warriors as the Kuwaitis, Qataris, Bahrainis, and Emiratis. The Yemenis must be trembling in their sandals. In their quest to act as regional cop, the “Saudis” have also obtained the services of such basket cases as Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Pakistan.

The “Saudi” war on Yemen is both illegal and immoral. It is naked aggression against another country launched on false pretence. The “Saudi” regime has never fired a single shot against the Zionist occupiers of Palestine, for instance, but it has always been quick to attack Muslims. The “Saudi” regime is hiding behind the excuse that the “legitimate government” in Yemen asked for help. The Najdi bedouins do not have legitimacy in the Arabian Peninsula so how can they claim to be supporting a “legitimate government” elsewhere? The supposed head of that so-called legitimate government — Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi — had already fled the country before the “Saudis” launched their air strikes killing scores of innocent civilians. These constitute war crimes and the “Saudi” rulers could be hauled before a court of law for their criminal conduct.

Beyond legality lie other unpleasant truths. The “Saudi” army is made up of amateurs. They have seldom if ever participated in any real battle. The regime has traditionally relied on creating sectarian fitnah — its principal mode of operation — and hiring mercenaries from other countries. The sectarian fitnah may not work in Yemen as successfully as it has in some other places because there are many Sunni groups fighting against the illegitimate regime of Hadi, in addition to the Houthis, the main revolutionary force in Yemen, who just happen to be Zaydi Shi‘is. How would the “Saudis” justify their sectarian charge against Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former president, who is “Sunni”? He was forced to resign in February 2012 under pressure from then King Abdullah of “Saudi” Arabia. Besides, the Houthis are now seen by most Yemenis as champions of the country’s independence, defending it against foreign aggression.

There appear to be two factors at work in the Najdi bedouins’ decision to attack Yemen. First, they are in panic mode given their failures on multiple fronts — Syria, Iraq, etc., where they have unleashed the takfiri beheaders and liver-eaters. While these monsters have caused immense suffering and even occupied some territory, they have failed in their primary objective of overthrowing the government in either. Second, the younger members of the ruling dynasty — Muhammad bin Nayef and Muhammad bin Salman — want to prove their macho credentials. The former was appointed Deputy Crown Prince after the death of King Abdullah in January. He was already the country’s interior minister, essentially Mr. Security for the Kingdom, and has earned notoriety for his brutal ways. The latter was appointed defence minister by his father when he became king following Abdullah’s death. Perhaps the two young “royals” have become intoxicated by the shiny American-made weapons their forces possess. What they have failed to realize is that it is not the gun but the man behind the gun that matters. The “Saudis” may be notorious for cruelty but they have no valour.

Many examples of the folly of relying on weapons are available. The US conduct of war in different locales offers sobering lessons. Who would have thought that despite their sophisticated weaponry, the Americans would suffer such an ignominious defeat in Afghanistan? The Hindu Kush mountains have once again proved to be the graveyard of empires. For nearly 40 years, the Afghans have known nothing but war and parts of the country are so poor that the Stone Age would feel like modernity. Yet, these so-called primitive people have not only endured more than a decade of American military aggression — the self-proclaimed superpower — but also 40 of its allies. Each and every one of America’s allies has slunk out of the country not daring to look back. The Americans, too, are about to slink out. Nor have the Americans given any better account in Iraq, or indeed in Vietnam five decades ago. While we may deride the Americans’ lack of valour, the “Saudis” lag far behind.

Beyond their fighting skills, or lack thereof, there are other factors that are equally revealing. The “Saudis” have made no secret that they attacked Yemen to protect “Arab” interests. Their mask of Islamicity is off by their own words and deeds. Committed Muslims have never had any illusions about the true nature of this regime whose entire record is one of treachery and betrayal of Islam. Those Muslims in their innocence or ignorance who fell for the Najdi bedouins’ propaganda that the ruler of the Kingdom is “Khadim al-Haramayn” (caretaker of the Two Holy Masjids) and serving the cause of Islam should now disabuse their minds of this myth because they are Khadim al-Mufsidayn (America and Israel).

Their Islamic credentials were always suspect. Further, few in the Muslim world adhere to the narrow literalist interpretations of Wahhabism. The regime has used its huge wealth to buy loyalty — according to one estimate, nearly $100 billion have been spent since 1975 to rope in individuals, groups and organizations to its side. While they may not have become Wahhabis, such people are coerced into silence about Saudi misdemeanours. Who would like to see their bakhshish stopped when life for most in the Muslim world is so difficult?

While the Najdi clowns cannot defeat the Houthis by bombardment from the air, should they make the mistake of sending in their ground troops, they would probably seal their fate. The Houthis would make minced meat of “Saudi” soldiers or any other mercenary forces from equally repressive Arabian regimes, be they Egyptian or Jordanian. Perhaps, revolutionary Muslims should pray that the Najdi bedouins make the mistake of blundering into launching a ground invasion of Yemen. That would perhaps hasten the end of this decrepit regime that has been the bane of Muslims for decades. The bedouins from Najd may have dug their own grave.

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Zio-Wahhabi Airstrike In Yemen Kills Family of Nine

NOVANEWS

Zio-Wahhabi Airstrike In Yemen Kills Family of Nine – Including Six Children

Image result for SAUDI ZIONIST LOGO

Nine people were killed in Sahar district in Sa’ada province in a raid of the Zio-Wahhabi-led aggression airstrikes on Yemen, a military source said.

A family of nine — consisting of two men, one woman, and six children — were killed by Zio-Wahhabi led airstrikes on Friday night according to the Yemen news agency SABA.

Five others were injured in the Zio-Wahhabi bombing campaign which transpired in Okash, a village near the Yemeni capital city of Sanaa.

Zio-Wahhabi , along with other CIA puppet Arab regimes nations, launched military action in Yemen on March 25th to combat Houthis rebels.

45-year-old Jamal al-Labani was also killed in war-torn Yemen last week by a mortar strike. Al-Labani, who resided in Hayward, California, was in Yemen to retrieve his pregnant wife and 2-year-daughter and bring them back to the United States. The gas station owner is believed to be the first US citizen to be killed in the fighting.

Along with effectively blockading Yemen, the offensive has also heightened the carnage of the country’s on-going civil war.

Zio-Wahhabi led air-attacks have been responsible for hundreds of deaths since the campaign began less than two weeks ago.

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