Yemen

Canada’s $15 Billion Saudi Arms Deal: What History Tells Us

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is a “matter of principle” that Canada follows through with a $15 billion armaments deal with Saudi Arabia, a totalitarian state which funds international terrorism, stones women to death for the crime of being raped, and that leads the world in public beheadings. This decision has been sharply criticized by journalists, activists, and international organizations. In a public statement Amnesty International said that it has “good reason to fear that light armored vehicles supplied” to Saudi Arabia by Canada “are likely to be used in situations that would violate human rights” in both “neighboring countries” and for ‘suppressing demonstrations and unrest within Saudi Arabia.” Montreal students and a former Bloc Quebecois MP and law professor have filed a class action lawsuit to block the deal, citing that by selling weapons to countries with poor human rights records Canada is violating its own laws.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, in response to criticism about how these weapons will be used, replied that Canada has undertaken similar deals with Saudi Arabia, and that country “has not misused the equipment to violate human rights” according to the government’s “best, and regularly updated, information.” This is an outright lie.

In 2011 more than a hundred thousand protestors participated in an uprising against the undemocratic monarchy in Bahrain, calling for “political reforms, right of political participation, respect for human rights, stopping of systematic discrimination against Shias.” The regime responded by banning all demonstrations, caging villages in barbed wire, firing live ammunition at doctors that tried to help injured protestors in hospitals, torturing some protestors to death in police custody, and calling in the military of Saudi Arabia. 1, 000 Saudi troops crossed into Bahrain in armored vehicles not unlike those sold to Saudi Arabia by Canada throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. The Canadian government has neither confirmed nor denied that Canadian armored vehicles were used to suppress pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain.

In Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have been at war with the country’s Houthi rebels, the U.N. has accused Saudi Arabia of war crimes. The Saudi-led coalition’s war against the poorest Arab country has caused the deaths of more than 8, 000, displaced millions, and destroyed nearly all of the country’s schools, hospitals, and historical heritage. Hundreds of thousands of children are at risk of starvation due to the violence and the Saudi-led coalition’s naval blockade in a bid to starve the country into submission. Based on photos of Saudi ground forces in Yemen, the armored vehicles being used by the Saudi military bore a striking resemblance to those manufactured in Canada, while a retired Canadian general, speaking anonymously to the Globe and Mail, identified the armored vehicles as having been manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems, the same company manufacturing the armaments in the latest $15 billion deal.

An arms deal with Saudi Arabia raises serious questions about the role of Canada in the international community. Critics of the deal have said that if Canada follows through with selling arms to Saudi Arabia “we can kiss Canada’s human rights credibility goodbye.” But such criticism presupposes that Canada has a credible human rights record. “Canada,” writes BJ Siekierski, “hasn’t suddenly been transformed from Boy Scout to arms merchant.” The history of Canada, both domestically and internationally, isn’t a history of a country dedicated to the defense of democracy and human rights, it is a history of an imperialist state built on the theft of Aboriginal land that faithfully serves as a junior partner to U.S. imperialism’s war of exploitation and subjugation of the world.

Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, was an ally of the most racist section of the elite of that time. In the House of Commons he was in favor of a system of legalized racism, claiming Europeans and Chinese were different species, introducing “biological racism as a defining characteristic of Canadianness.” While starving thousands of Aboriginal people to death by withholding food, MacDonald argued that the disenfranchisement of the Chinese people was imperative to protect the “the Aryan character of the future of British America.” Liberal Prime Minister Mackenzie King wrote in his diary that after meeting Adolf Hitler he believed Hitler “might come to be thought of as one of the saviors of the world.” Trudeau, like his father before him, is an avowed supporter of apartheid regimes. The late Pierre Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s father, “sympathized with the [South African] apartheid regime not the black liberation movement or nascent Canadian solidarity groups,” while one of the first acts of the Justin Trudeau Liberals was to pass a Conservative motion to condemn all Canadians who exercise their democratic right to support the non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement as a form of resistance to Israeli apartheid.

Let us not forget the ongoing genocide of Aboriginal people in Canada. For more than a century Aboriginal children were taken away, sometimes at gunpoint and in handcuffs, to be shipped off to residential schools, where they were to learn how to “assimilate” and become “civilized” through a system for forced labour and re-education. The “Residential Schools were predicated on the notion that Indigenous children were less human than other children, so they were worked like animals in the slave labour many schools mandated.” Thousands of children died from malnourishment, disease, physical and sexual abuse, with many buried in unmarked graves near the site of the schools. To this day Aboriginal people are more likely to be born into poverty, are less likely to graduate from high school, and have a shorter life expectancy than non-Aboriginal people.

Internationally Canadian foreign policy has been reflective of the country’s imperialist system of exploitation. Canada was among the 14 imperialist states that invaded the Soviet Union in 1918 in an effort to bolster the forces of the anti-Bolshevik White Army and stop the Russian working class from establishing socialist government. More recently the Canadian military has been involved in Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Mali, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. In Somalia, where Canadian troops were participating in the U.N. mission, Canadian ‘peacekeepers’ tortured and murdered a 16-year-old boy. In a sociopathic ritual that has repeatedly been documented wherever Western forces are active, these Canadian ‘peacekeepers’ photographed themselves with boy’s bloodied corpse like he was a trophy kill. In Libya, a country that prior to the NATO-led intervention had the highest standard of living in Africa, the Canadian military supported al-Qaeda-linked Islamist terrorists that ransacked the country’s wealth, brutally murdering the country’s former leader Muammar al-Gaddafi by sodomizing him with a bayonet.

Nine years before Canada’s invasion of the Soviet Union trains “loaded not only with supplies, rifles, and ammunition, but also with machine guns and light artillery pieces” were dispatched to Cape Breton in preparation for the military occupation of the island, where miners and steelworkers were striking for improved working conditions and higher wages. Such violence and disdain for the working class has been repeated throughout Canadian history. During the “Hungry Thirties,” striking miners in Estevan, Saskatchewan were murdered in cold blood by the RCMP, while the unemployed were rounded up and sent to labour in slave-like conditions in relief camps.

The deal to sell armaments to Saudi Arabia must be opposed on all moral and political grounds, but to be able to effectively oppose such a deal, the deal must be put into the historical context of Canada’s role as a junior partner of U.S.-led imperialism.

Who is the US Killing with Drones?

As the news broke on March 7, 2016, that US drone strikes had killed 150 people in Somalia, the White House announced it will reveal, for the first time, the number of people killed by drones and manned airstrikes “outside areas of active hostilities” since 2009. The tallies will include civilian deaths. This is a critical first step toward much-needed transparency. But it will not go far enough.

The Obama administration has been lying for years about how many deaths result from its drone strikes and manned bombings. In 2011, John Brennan, the former counterterrorism adviser, now CIA director, falsely claimed that no civilians had been killed in drone strikes in nearly a year.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and other nongovernmental organizations that calculate drone deaths put the lie to Brennan’s claim. It is believed that of the estimated 5,000 people killed on Obama’s watch, approximately 1,000 were civilians. But the administration has never released complete casualty figures.

Plus, the numbers by themselves are not sufficient. Even if the White House makes good on its promise to publicize death tallies, it must also publish the Presidential Policy Guidance, which has provided the legal justification for the US targeted killing program.

In May 2013, responding to international criticism about his drone policy, Obama delivered a speech at the National Defense University. He proclaimed, “America does not take strikes when we have the ability to capture individual terrorists — our preference is always to detain, interrogate and prosecute them.” Then why has Obama added only one man to the Guantánamo roster?

As he gave his 2013 speech, the White House released a fact sheet that purported to contain preconditions for the use of lethal force “outside areas of active hostilities.” But the Presidential Policy Guidance, on which the fact sheet was based, remains classified.

Here is a quick summary of the fact sheet’s main points, including some direct quotations from it:

– There must be a “legal basis” for the use of lethal force. It does not define whether “legal basis” means complying with ratified treaties. They include the UN Charter, which prohibits the use of military force except in self-defense or when approved by the UN Security Council; the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit the targeting of civilians; and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees due process and the right to life.

– The target must pose a “continuing, imminent threat to US persons.” The fact sheet does not define “continuing” or “imminent.” But a US Department of Justice white paper leaked in 2013 says that a US citizen can be killed even when there is no “clear evidence that a specific attack on US persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.” Presumably the administration sets an even lower bar for non-citizens.

– There must be “near certainty that the terrorist target is present.” The fact sheet does not address “signature strikes” (known as crowd killings), which don’t target individuals but rather areas of suspicious activity.

– There must be “near certainty that noncombatants will not be injured or killed.” But the administration defines combatants as all men of military age in a strike zone “unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.”

– There must be “an assessment that capture is not feasible at the time of the operation.” It is unclear what feasibility means. It was feasible to capture Osama bin Laden, as none of the men at the compound were armed at the time the US military assassinated him.

– There must be “an assessment that relevant governmental authorities in the country where action is contemplated cannot or will not effectively address the threat to US persons,” which is left undefined.

– There must be “an assessment that no other reasonable alternatives exist to address the threat to US persons,” also left undefined.

Finally, the fact sheet would excuse those preconditions when the president takes action “in extraordinary circumstances,” which are “both lawful and necessary to protect the United States or its allies.” There is no definition of “extraordinary circumstances” or what would be “lawful.”

Releasing the Presidential Policy Guidance would clarify the gaps in the guidelines for the use of lethal force listed in the fact sheet.

In February 2016, the bipartisan Stimson Task Force on US Drone Policy gave the Obama administration an “F” in three areas the task force had flagged for improvement in its June 2014 report. The first area is focused on progress in releasing information on drone strikes. The second involves explaining the legal basis under US and international law for the drone program. The third is about developing more robust oversight and accountability mechanisms for targeted strikes outside of traditional battlefields.

Regarding the first area (about releasing information), Stimson concluded the administration has made almost no information public about the approximate number, location or death tolls of lethal drone attacks, which agency is responsible for what strikes, the organizational affiliation of people known to have been killed by strikes, and the number and identities of civilians who are known to have been killed.

Speaking about the second area of focus (about the legal basis for the drone program), Stimson mentioned that a few official government documents have been made public that relate to the US lethal drone program, primarily through court orders. One was a redacted memo from the Department of Justice about the legality of the 2011 targeted killing of US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki “without due process of law,” following a successful ACLU-New York Times Freedom of Information Act request. The only other released document was the Department of Defense’s Law of War Manual, with three short sections on the use of “remotely piloted aircraft” in war. The only qualifications it contained was that the weapons cannot be “inherently indiscriminate” or “calculated to cause superfluous injury.” But the Geneva Conventions prohibit the targeting of civilians in all instances.

Regarding the third area (about oversight and accountability), Stimson said the administration continues to oppose the release of any public information on the lethal drone program, which has obstructed mechanisms for greater oversight and accountability. “The lack of action reinforces the culture of secrecy surrounding the use of armed drones,” according to the report.

The Stimson report noted that the administration has “as a rule, been reluctant to publicly acknowledge the use of lethal force by unmanned aerial vehicles in foreign countries.” Stimson identified one “notable exception,” however. After the discovery that two Western civilians held by al-Qaeda were killed by a US drone strike in January 2015, the administration admitted the deaths, but provided few specific details.

Lethal drone strikes have been reported in Yemen, Pakistan, Libya, Afghanistan and Somalia, and against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Stimson also identified 12 countries believed to host US drone bases: Afghanistan, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Niger, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Former CIA director Michael Hayden mounted a full-throated defense of the US drone program in a February 2016 New York Times op-ed. He claimed, “The targeted killing program has been the most precise and effective application of firepower in the history of armed conflict,” annihilating the ranks of al-Qaeda. But his claims are impossible to verify without documentation.

Hayden has also said, “We kill people based on metadata.” But Ars Technica recently revealed that the National Security Agency’s (NSA) SKYNET program, which uses an algorithm to gather metadata in order to identify and target terrorist suspects in Pakistan, Somalia and Afghanistan, would result in 99,000 false positives.

The Obama administration has resisted transparency. We will see what it publicizes in the coming period. Regardless of the data the administration releases, we must demand full disclosure in order to attain real accountability.

Source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/who-is-the-us-killing-with-drones/5513522

Yemeni Forces Kill More Blackwater Mercenaries

The Yemeni army and popular forces killed several other Saudi-hired Blackwater militias in an attack on a military base in the province of Ta’iz.
A sum of 4 Blackwater mercenaries, including two British, an American and a South African paramilitary troops, were killed in an attack on their military base in Zobab region in Ta’iz province, the Arabic-language media outlets reported.

“The Yemeni attack killed former British navy commander George William Castle, former British special forces officer Mark Judd Hart, American national Eshaq Bikark and South African national Alfred Banoushka,” the Arabic-language Al-Masira news channel quoted an unnamed military source as saying on Wednesday.

The town of Zobab is located 40 kilometers to the North of Bab al-Mandeb and is of strategic importance.

Many more Blackwater mercenaries have been killed in the Yemeni attacks in recent weeks.

On December 9, 14 Blackwater mercenaries, including a British, a French, an Australian and six Colombians were killed in an attack on Al-Amri military base in Zobab region in Ta’iz province near the Bab al-Mandeb Strait.

After pulling out its troops from Yemen, the UAE recruited and sent Colombian forces to Yemen to replace its regular troops.

Yemeni Army Spokesman Sharaf Luqman has said that the Blackwater forces dispatched to Yemen comprise Al-Nusra, the ISIL and Al-Qaeda terrorists.

The UAE had previously sent mercenaries from Latin America, specially Colombia, to Yemen without prior coordination with Saudi Arabia.

The United Arab Emirates has quietly built an army of Latin American mercenaries to fight for Yemen’s deposed government in a proxy war.

In a program launched by Blackwater founder Erik Prince and now run by the Emirati military, the force of 450 Latin American troops – mostly made up of Colombian fighters, but also including Chileans, Panamanians and Salvadorans – adds a new and surprising element to the already chaotic mix of forces from foreign governments, armed tribes, terrorist networks and Yemeni militias that are currently embroiled in the Middle Eastern nation, Fox News reported.

It seems there are also going to be hundreds of other foreign mercenaries — Sudanese and Eritrean soldiers — brought into Yemen.

Source: http://blogfactory.co.uk/archives/21248

U.S. Air Force Hires Private Companies To Fly Drones In War Zones

U.S. Air Force officials has begun to hire private companies to fly drone aircraft operating over Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The unprecedented move is in response to demands from the Obama administration to dramatically expand the drone war just as the Pentagon faces a critical shortage of military pilots.

As a result, civilian pilots will directly participate in military operations for the first time since the drone wars began about a decade ago. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Air Force signed contracts with two private companies in 2015 to provide enough pilots to fly two “combat air patrols” or 24-hour surveillance flights that would involve as many as eight MQ-9 Reaper drones per day. The Air Force plans to eventually expand its fleet of privately piloted drones to 40 over the next four years.

Of the two companies, one, Aviation Unmanned,  is a small, veteran-owned outfit operating out of Dallas, Texas, which was awarded a contract on August 24. The second is General Atomics, a large San Diego, California-based military contractor that builds both the Reaper and Predator drones and has been paid at least $700 million over the last two years for a variety of drone support services. Their contract was awarded April 15.

This is not the first time that private contractors have played a role in the drone wars. Companies such as Booz AllenHamilton, General Dynamics and SAIC  have long held contracts to analyze surveillance data gathered by drones flying over war zones.

While Reaper drones are designed to be able to carry multiple Hellfire and Sidewinder missiles, the Pentagon insists that these privately operated Reapers will simply do reconnaissance and not carry weapons, nor will the pilots have clearance to fire missiles.

Nonetheless, these contracts mark a dramatic uptick in the direct involvement of private companies in military actions, which has drawn criticism even from within the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s office who say that such involvement may be a violation of international law. “Military services should be vigilant to avoid contracted intelligence activities where civilians may exert a significant amount of influence or control over targeting and weapons release decisions,” wrote Major Keric Clanahan, a legal advisor to the U.S. Special Forces, in a recent article in Air Force Law Review. “It is imperative that contractors not get too close to the tip of the spear.”

The decision to deploy private drone pilots stems from a longstanding crisis inside the U.S. military In early 2015, the Air Force operated 65 combat air patrols, or up to 260 drones patrolling war zones around the world, but was under pressure from the  Pentagon to expand the number of drones in the air to 360. But pilots, overwhelmed by the complexity of the work and the grueling schedule, began to vote with their feet and quit.

At an October conference of military contractors and government officials, General Robert Otto, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, summed up the problem. “Those crews have been stressed about to the limit,” Otto said. “Over time, pulling twelve hour shifts, six days a week, year after year, and the only light at the end of the tunnel is their Form DV-214, which their, you know, separation from service. And many of the pilots have decided to take that option.”

This summer, the Air Force was forced to reduce the number of combat air patrols from 65 to 60, in order to keep its remaining pilots from retiring at the end of their contracts. Nonetheless, the Air Force projects that it will be 400 pilots short of the roughly 1,200 it needs to keep the drone program running at current capacity.

Officials hope that the private contractors, along with additional support from Army drone pilots, will fill the gap in the short term. But over the long term, the problem of keeping a fleet of pilots in the service is expected to get substantially worse.

According to a separate Los Angeles Times article, the Air Force recently announced plans to radically expand its global drone operation, adding 65 new Reapers to its fleet, doubling the number of pilots, and building new drone operations centers at Air Force bases around the U.S. The plan is expected to cost roughly $3.5 billion, and the service will have to get Congressional approval before conducting the expansion. Even if lawmakers go along, training new pilots and building the new drone centers will take years. It will be a long time before the service’s current pilots see any relief, so the contractors may well be called upon again to fill an ever-widening gap.

Source: Corp Watch

Human Rights Activist To Be Crucified & Beheaded By US Ally

Source: The Free Thought Project

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – A young Saudi Arabian man arrested as a teenager, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, will be decapitated and then crucified, after his death penalty appeal was denied.

Ali was arrested for taking part in an anti-government protest in 2012, when he was only 17 years old. He was allegedly tortured and forced to sign a confession, and was sentenced to death in May 2014, according to anti-death penalty charity Reprieve.

The authoritarian Saudi regime in the midst of a bloody crackdown, in the wake of the Arab Spring, came down upon Ali with swift brutality. Ali objected to the use of his forced confession being used to sentence him at trial, but no investigation was ever undertaken into the matter.

According to a report by the International Business Times:

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr’s name is well-known eastern Saudi Arabia, the hotbed of the country’s Shia minority and the scene of a burgeoning protest movement.

Ali, 21, is the nephew of Shia cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, who was jailed and sentenced to death for his fiery speeches against Saudi Arabia’s ruling House of Saud dynasty, which has controlled the Arabian Peninsula since the 1930s. Sheikh al-Nimr was detained and then sentenced to death on terrorism charges as well as “waging war on God” for his speech during anti-government protests in Qatif, a city that saw massive street protests followed by a bloody crackdown by the Saudi authorities in the wake of the Arab Spring.

Ali’s charges ranged from explaining how to give first aid and encouraging protests with his BlackBerry, to targeting security patrols and being part of a terrorist organization, charges which he vehemently denies.

A sham “trial” was held, with Ali being given no attorney, to provide legitimate cover for the state persecution of political dissent. His case is meant to serve as a warning to anyone willing to speak out against the brutal and authoritarian House of Saud.

Saudi Arabia is ruled by a Sunni monarchy under a strict interpretation of Islam, Wahabbism, while those that live in al-Ahsa and al-Qatif districts in the country’s eastern province, which also contains the bulk of the kingdom’s oil, are predominantly Shia. The persecution of Shia in Saudi Arabia is rampant, as they are often portrayed as heretics or agents of Iran, the other major regional power.

The beheading and crucifixion of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr speaks to the implicit nature of the House of Saud. This brutal regime has beheaded more people than ISIS in the past 12 months, and yet this is the choice for a strategic geopolitical ally for the U.S. government. Perhaps Americans should be wary of any U.S. politician that supports such a tyrannical regime.

Pakistan and the Saudi Attack on Yemen

From In Defense of Marxism

The Pakistani masses have reacted very negatively to the prospects of becoming an accomplice in the Saudi Monarchy’s brutal aggression against Yemen. This response has shocked Pakistan’s ruling elite, the state’s bosses, the media and the intelligentsia. Even some in the media have dared to reveal the vicious character of the despotic Saudi regime and its atrocious treatment of more than 2.5 million Pakistani immigrant workers banished into slavery and drudgery by these tyrannical monarchs

The hesitation, lack of any confidence, and hypocrisy of the rulers is pathetic. An official Press report stated that, “Pakistan called upon the United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the international community to play a constructive role in finding a political solution to the crisis in Yemen. An official statement from the PM House (Prime Minister’s Office) had said the meeting concluded that Pakistan remains firmly committed to supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. It was also emphasised in the meeting that Pakistan is committed to playing a meaningful role in resolving the deteriorating situation in the Middle East.”

What a laughable, pathetic and spineless response! What is said about consulting the ‘parliament’ and informing the people is a reeking cynical farce. These rulers themselves are mere timid puppets. Usually they are only informed about military operations and crucial foreign policy decisions after the fact by the top bosses of the state and their imperialist masters. These are the real people calling the shots.

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Saudi War on Yemen: Rising Tensions in the Middle East and the Crisis of Imperialism

From In Defense of Marxism

Since early Thursday morning hundreds of fighter jets from Saudi Arabia and a wide coalition of Arab states have been bombing targets across Yemen, killing dozens, destroying all major runways and much of the key infrastructure of the country. Yet again Yemen, which is the poorest Arab country, has become a target for savage attacks by the Saudi regime.

Hundreds of civilians, many of whom children, have already been killed, but it is clear that this figure will dramatically rise as the targets of the attack are moving into the civilian populated areas in Sana’a and in the northern Houthi villages which are expected to be heavily bombed. This morning a refugee camp for internally displaced Yemenis was bombed, killing about 40 people and injuring 30.

Apart from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan were also sending aircraft, while Egypt and Jordan were preparing to take part in ground offensives if necessary. Oman is the only Gulf Arab state not participating. Apart from 100 fighter jets, Saudi Arabia has dedicated 150,000 soldiers to the campaign, amassing them on its long porous border with Yemen and threatening an even bloodier ground invasion.

The United States and Britain have said they would not participate directly in the campaign, but that they will provide “logistical” and “intelligence” support. Israel has also openly supported the campaign. However, the EU has been vacillating, and although it did condemn the Houthi advance, it also said that the Saudi bombings have “dramatically worsened the already fragile situation in the country and risk having serious regional consequences”.

The Saudi Ambassador to the US said on Sunday that “ [t]his is a war to protect the people of Yemen and its legitimate government from a group that is allied and supported by Iran and Hezbollah,” and later on he said: “we are doing this to protect Yemen.”

The level of hypocrisy is nauseating. The Saudi regime is killing thousands of people and destroying all the key infrastructure of this extremely poor country in order to… “protect it”!

The protection of Yemen and its people have nothing to do with this imperialist adventure which has one main goal: to protect the Saudi ruling class and its narrow, petty interests in the Middle East, which are directly opposed to the poor and exploited people of the region.

For years Saudi Arabia supported the former dictator of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was hated by his own people and finally overthrown during the Arab revolution. Then the Saudis, along with the rest of the dictators and despots of the Gulf states, manoeuvred to install into the presidency Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who was a vice-president for 17 years before the revolution.

However, after assuming power Hadi’s support quickly evaporated when the masses realised that corruption, nepotism and tribalism had remained in place, and that poverty and misery had become worse. Hadi also imposed harsh austerity measures on the population of which 60 percent already live in deep poverty. Thus, in order to rule, Hadi increasingly rested on different factions who dominated the different regions of Yemen. In particular he leaned on the tribal-Islamist Islah Party, while the Houthi tribal movement and the Zaydi people, who account for 40 percent of the population were marginalised as they had been for 60 years.

It was in this context, that the Houthis could gain strength and take over large parts of the north. Their slogans against US imperialism, against corruption and against poverty and austerity resonated with the many impoverished youth, mainly in the north where the majority are Shias. By the time the Houthis took Sana’a the “legitimate president” Hadi did not have any base left and he was swept aside with ease and without much resistance.

In the South Hadi is not in much of a better position. Here he managed to whip up the wrath of the secessionist movement and push a layer of people into the arms of Islamist groups through his open cooperation with US imperialism and by allowing them to run a drone programme in the country. In the end Hadi’s last refuge was in the southern city of Aden towards which the Houthis were advancing.

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Criminality in Support of Hegemony

From The Guardian

Last week Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States, announced that Saudi Arabia had commenced military operations against the Ansarullah fighters of the Houthi movement in Yemen. The Saudi intervention was not unexpected. Over the last few weeks there were signs that the US and the Saudis were preparing the ground for direct military intervention in Yemen in response to the Houthis seizing state power in January.

The appearance of a previously unknown ISIS element that was supposedly responsible for the massive bomb attack that killed over 130 people and the withdrawal of US personnel were the clear signals that direct intervention by the Saudis was imminent.

And last week with the fall of al-Anad military base, the base where the US military and CIA conducted its drone warfare in Yemen, to Ansarullah fighters and the capture of the port city of Aden where disposed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi had fled, it was almost certain that the US would give the green light for its client states to intervene.

The Saudi Ambassador cloaked the role of Saudi Arabia within the fictitious context of another grand coalition, this time led by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – the corrupt collection of authoritarian monarchies allied with the US and the other Western colonial powers.

Ambassador Al-Jubeir announced that before launching operations in Yemen all of its allies were consulted. The meaning of that statement is that the US was fully involved in the operation. Even though the Ambassador stressed that the US was not directly involved in the military component of the assault, CNN reported that an interagency US coordination team was in Saudi Arabia and that a US official confirmed that the US would be providing logistical and intelligence support for the operation.

And what was the justification for launching a military operation not sanction by the United Nations Security Council? According to the Saudis they have legitimate regional security concerns in Yemen. Their argument was that since they share a border with Yemen, the chaos that erupted over the last few months that culminated in what they characterise as a coup by the Houthi insurgency, forced them to intervene to establish order and defend by “all efforts” the legitimate government of President Hadi.

But this is becoming an old and tired justification for criminality in support of hegemony.

The intervention by the Saudis and the GCC continues the international lawlessness that the US precipitated with its War on Terror over the last decade and a half. Violations of the UN Charter and international law modelled by the powerful states of the West has now become normalised resulting in an overall diminution of international law and morality over the last 15 years.

The double standard and hypocrisy of US support for the Saudi intervention in Yemen and Western and US condemnations of Russia’s regional security concerns in response to the right-wing coup in Ukraine will not be missed by most people.

And so the conflagration in the Middle East continues.

US and Saudi geo-strategic interest in containing the influence of Iran has trumped international law and any concerns about the lives of the people of Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain. Militarism and war as first options has now become commonplace as instruments of statecraft in an international order in which power trumps morality and law is only applied to the powerless.

Saudis Bomb Russian Consulate in Yemen

From Global Research

During US-led NATO’s rape of Yugoslavia, China’s Belgrade embassy was willfully bombed.

Claiming by mistake didn’t wash. The Pentagon included China’s embassy on its target list.

Yemen is Obama’s war. Saudis and other regional states involved are US proxies.

Months of planning preceded air and naval strikes. Yemeni targets were carefully chosen – among them Russia’s Aden consulate. Maybe its Sanaa embassy is next.

Bombing its Aden consulate is part of Washington’s increasing confrontation with Moscow – a reckless agenda including vicious propaganda, US Ukraine policy, its growing Eastern European military footprint and saber rattling exercises close to Russia’s borders.

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Is Yemen Ripe for Revolution?

A question I have been contemplating much of the day is, “Is Yemen ripe for a revolution?” The crisis in Yemen has been in the news as the Saudi-led coalition has launched airstrikes in the country and imposed a naval blockade in support of the deposed Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The objective conditions of the crisis in Yemen and of Western imperialism’s frantic reaction remind me somewhat of the conditions of Czarist Russia before the 1917 revolution, an underdeveloped appendage of imperialism, and of a passage in Lenin’s pamphlet Left-Wing Communism:

“The fundamental law of revolution, which has been confirmed by all revolutions and especially by all three Russian revolutions in the twentieth century, is as follows: for a revolution to take place it is not enough for the exploited and oppressed masses to realize the impossibility of living in the old way, and demand changes; for a revolution to take place it is essential that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule in the old way. It is only when the “lower classes” do not want to live in the old way and the “upper classes” cannot carry on in the old way that the revolution can triumph. This truth can be expressed in other words: revolution is impossible without a nation-wide crisis (affecting both the exploited and the exploiters). It follows that, for a revolution to take place, it is essential, first, that a majority of the workers (or at least a majority of the class-conscious, thinking, and politically active workers) should fully realize that revolution is necessary, and that they should be prepared to die for it; second, that the ruling classes should be going through a governmental crisis, which draws even the most backward masses into politics (symptomatic of any genuine revolution is a rapid, tenfold and even hundredfold increase in the size of the working and oppressed masses—hitherto apathetic—who are capable of waging the political struggle), weakens the government, and makes it possible for the revolutionaries to rapidly overthrow it.”

Yemen earlier went through a revolution in 2011, when tens of thousands of working people demonstrated against unemployment, corruption, and a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the despised former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to remain in power for life. Saleh was widely seen as an instrument of Western imperialism, having been a faithful ally in the U.S.-led ‘War on Terror’, and in Yemen more than a thousand people have been killed, including American citizens, by U.S. drone strikes, causing public outrage. The state security services responded to the demonstrations with force, shooting dead dozens of protestors, sparking an armed conflict that overthrew the Saleh regime. The regime was replaced by Saleh’s Vice-President Abd-Rabbuh Manṣour Al-Hadi in a transition approved by the reactionary, undemocratic Gulf Cooperation Council.

The new regime continued many of the same policies as the previous, abolishing fuel subsidies to the already desperately impoverished population, reneging on previous promises of sharing political power, and remaining a faithful ally of Western imperialism, causing a new wave of unrest in the country. Hadi was forced to resign and feel the capital as rebels occupied the city and established a new government under the rebel commander Mohammed Ali al-Houthi.

The fall of Hadi was a major setback for Western imperialism; 3.8 million barrels of oil a day pass through the strait of Bab el-Mandeb, making it the fourth largest waterway in the world. Western imperialism threw itself at Yemen, with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, France, the U.K., etc.. either launching airstrikes in the country, killing dozens of people, or providing logistical support for the deposed Hadi regime.

Will Yemen prove to be the weakest link in the chain of imperialism…?