Saturday, September 05, 2015

If it is Saturday, it must be ... Yemen!

The older I get, the more it seems like growing up when I did and where I did was quite a blessing.  Consider the simple, daily habit of reading the newspaper.  A habit that goes back as far as I can remember.  The news about places that I didn't even know existed, and about politicians who seemed immensely larger than life, fascinated me to no end.

So well developed was this habit that once, as an adult, when I visited with a family in the expansive tree, I was shocked that they did not subscribe to a newspaper.  There I was, up in the morning and no paper to read.  That was a torture from Torquemada's playbook ;)

The Hindu was international in its news coverage.  Its left-of-center sympathies resonated well with my own political preference of those days.  It was through that paper that I even knew that there was a country called Yemen--those were the days of a war between North Yemen and South Yemen, which was yet another war between the commie sympathizers and the others.  Recall all those proxy wars during the Cold War years?

With all the refugee crisis related to Syria, the world seems to be overlooking Yemen.  The violence there is not one between the old Cold War enemies, but is also a proxy war of a different kind.  It is a Shia-Sunni war.  Iran (Shia)-allied Houthi movement versus the rest backed by Saudi Arabia (Sunni, and that too a strict, fundamentalist version) and,, of course, the United States.  Makes you wonder why the US is always pals with the "frenemy" Saudis, right?

A few weeks ago, Amnesty released a report on the "collateral damage" that civilians have become in this unholy war.
Amnesty International has documented hundreds of cases of civilians, many of them children and women, killed or injured while asleep in their homes or going about their daily activities – fetching water, buying food, visiting relatives. Scores were struck in the very places where they had sought refuge after having been displaced from their homes by the conflict. ...
Entire neighbourhoods have virtually emptied as residents fled their homes in fear of attacks or because strikes on civilian infrastructure left the areas without water, electricity and other essential services. In some neighbourhoods, as residents fled the conflict other civilians displaced by the fighting elsewhere moved in for lack of better options. Many have been unable to relocate to safer areas due to lack of resources. With frequently shifting frontlines, residents have struggled to keep out of harm’s way, often finding themselves in the line of fire where they thought they would be safe.
The sick and wounded have faced restrictions in accessing medical care due to the shortages and high prices of fuel and medicines and to difficulties in securing safe passage through checkpoints manned by the different armed groups. The parties to the conflict have hindered the delivery of humanitarian aid to areas controlled by their opponents, causing a sharp deterioration in the humanitarian situation.
I bet that since then the damage has worsened.  Makes me wonder, as always, why humans engage in wars and why we continue to develop more and more ways to kill each other.  This world needs a lot more pacifists to counter the warmongers all over, especially here in the United States--the US sells those killing devices all over the world and seems intent on feeding the global war monster.

The BBC reports that all the chaos in Yemen has provided ISIS--yes, those maniacs--with a golden opportunity!
Human Rights Watch cites reports that on 23 August, IS dressed a number of Houthi prisoners in orange jumpsuits, placed them in a boat which was then towed out into the harbour.
Reportedly watched by local residents of Aden, the boat carrying the prisoners was then blown up, killing those on board, the report says.
As if all that wasn't enough for you to yank your hair out:
For now, it seems that the jihadists of AQAP and IS have largely put aside their differences to fight their common enemy, the Shia Houthi rebels.
Ironically, they are being aided by air strikes from the very countries - Saudi Arabia and the UAE - who normally oppose them.
Wait a second.  The US is allied with the Saudis in the Yemen conflict.  But, the Saudis are working with the Islamic State because they want to defeat the Iran-backed Shia Houthi.  So, in a way, the US is on the same side of the barbaric Islamic State?

When I reach such conclusions based on what I have read, I wonder if the newspaper reading habit from when I was a kid has not helped me.  I could have been oblivious to the happenings all around, gone ahead with a career in engineering, enjoyed a remarkably affluent life, and not worried about a damn thing.

Nah.  as Bob Dylan said, "it ain't me, babe."

(ps: my oldest post on Yemen dates back to January 2010!)


Anne in Salem said...

I have to drive in two hours. I hope my head stops spinning.

Sriram Khé said...

Get yourself some neck braces because the situation ain't getting resolved any time soon ;)

Ramesh said...

What is a friend's enemy's friend's enemy's enemy's friend to you. Well, that is the Middle East.

There's also Ali Abdullah Saleh - a nut case who is prepared to doom his country to remain in power (having been in power for some 30 years doesn't seem to be enough for him).

What a tragedy.

Sriram Khé said...

Yes ...
The more things unfold, and with the Hungarian prime minister saying that he was blocking the refugees because they are Muslims and that Europe is for Christians, the more I remain convinced that empires strike back--in this case, the Ottoman Empire. I blogged about this two years ago, almost to the very day!

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