Monday, May 4, 2015

Saudi bombing campaign helps to produce a humanitarian disaster in Yemen

After almost a month of bombing missions led by Saudi Arabia, which, mimicking US euphemisms, was called "Operation Decisive Storm," the Saudis announced they would end the bombing several weeks ago.
A new mission was announced "Operation Renewal of Hope" which was to focus on the political process. Operation Decisive Storm was to end at midnight on Tuesday April 21: Brigadier-General Ahmed al-Asiri, the coalition's spokesperson, said on Tuesday that the coalition had achieved its military goals in Yemen and a new operation, called "Renewal of Hope", would aim to protect civilians and combat "terrorism".
The new operation started at midnight on Tuesday local time (22:00 GMT).
Within a couple of hours bombing of Yemen began anew. The bombing has continued ever since, no doubt with the aim of protecting civilians and focusing on the political process.
The manner in which these raids protect civilians is illustrated by this report from a night attack Friday:Warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition struck a residential district of the Yemeni capital Sanaa overnight, killing eight to 10 civilians, residents said on Friday.Saba, the state news agency, of the Houthi rebels put the number killed in the Sawan district of Sanaa at 20 with more than 50 wounded. While many residents oppose the Houthi occupation, the Saudi bombings are unlikely to make many friends.
As a way of further showing their concern for protecting civilians the Saudis bombed the runway at the Sanaa airport several days ago to prevent an Iranian cargo plane from landing after it refused to obey orders from the coalition not to land. The Saudi-led coalition has established its own no-fly zone. The damage to the runway has prevented aid planes from landing. The Iranians claim that the plane was carrying aid. Even if it had weapons surely the plane could have been allowed to land and an attack made wherever the weapons were taken or there could have been an attack on those transporting them. The Saudi action made the humanitarian disaster even worse.
The UN World Food Programme(WFP) urged all those involved in the conflict to allow aid agencies and the commercial sector to bring fuel and food into the country. Violence has blocked shipments of food, fuel, and medical supplies. All airports are closed to civilian traffic and some such as the one at Sanaa have come under direct attack. Naval shipments are being delayed as well. Secretary General Bank K-moon called for an immediate ceasefire to allow for aid to be delivered. More than 1,200 have been killed so far in the conflict with 300,000 more fleeing their homes to avoid the violence.
Russia has pushed for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the UN Security Council but it was not supported in the Council even though all countries agree the bombings and clashes have created a humanitarian disaster and many aid groups claim they will have to leave Yemen in a few days because they have no supplies to run their operations. The US apparently will only support a resolution that "insists the Saudis are totally blameless for the humanitarian crisis, and that it is the Yemeni Shiite Houthis who are at fault." The point should be to stop the fighting not apportion blame. This is not just a Sunni Shiite conflict either, the Shia rebels could never have gone as far as they have without the support of former president Saleh, to whom many in the Yemeni armed forces are loyal. Given recent developments that include more bombings in Yemen I would suggest that the two operations "Decisive Storm" and "Renewal of Hope" be combined into "Operation Decisive Hopelessness."