Bombs, Starvation, And Cholera

The citizens of Yemen now face a new threat, as though life there was not already harsh enough. Over 300,000 Yemeni already suffer from cholera (40% of whom are under the age of 15,) and the estimates show that up to 500,000 could face immediate starvation as a result, or many more if conditions deteriorate further.

Resources from food programs had to be shifted in order to provide the necessary vaccine doses to combat the problem and contain the spread of the disease. A record nearly one million doses was put aside for the people of Yemen, but, as has just been announced, critical shortcomings in infrastructure and security have put the project in jeopardy. The Saudi coalition, actively supported by the US and UK, has not only targeted and bombed a large number of hospitals, but has closed off nearly all of Yemen’s seaports and airports making delivery of critical medicine and food practically impossible. Power shortages have crippled water treatment plants and hospitals which only exacerbates the problem. Lack of refrigeration also puts certain medicines out of reach. Problems with the central bank have prevented healthcare workers from being paid, and they now depend upon humanitarian organizations for help, as well.

“Yemen is facing critical stoppages of hospitals and a lack of doctors and nurses. The health system has essentially collapsed, with an estimated 55 percent of facilities closed due to damage, destruction or lack of funds. Some 30,000 health care workers have not been paid in nearly a year and no funding has been provided to keep basic infrastructure such as hospitals, water pumping and sanitation stations operating.” -U.N. chief of aid, Stephen O’Brien

The initial shipment of 500,000 vaccine doses which is already in Djibouti would probably be re-routed to Africa instead of going to the war-torn country, according to WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier. The vaccine is an oral form and is intended as a preventative measure as it would do no good once the disease strikes. The vaccine only immunizes about 65% of those who take it as well, so the problem is likely to keep growing before it is eventually controlled.

“The speed of the spread of the disease is unprecedented,” Doctor Nevio Zagaria, the World Health Organization’s representative in Yemen said.

The situation is further complicated because deciding who gets the limited supply of essentials is likely to cause tensions between the warring parties.

The UN sought $2.1 billion to provide food to the millions people facing famine in Yemen but has received only a third of that amount. Up to eight million people are at risk of starvation. An appeal for $250 million in funding for cholera relief has only raised $47 million. Compared to the hundreds of billions which Saudi-Arabia has spent on weapons (from the US, the UK, Canada, and others,) it seems like a drop in the bucket. Saud has, ironically, pledged $3 billion to alleviate hunger in Yemen, but nobody expects much of it to go to the people of Yemen. The money will probably be spent on rebuilding infrastructure after the conclusion of hostilities and will certainly be given to British and American companies, instead.

The people know this somehow, and it leads to the mistrust which only amplifies the problem of disease. Many people in need of aid would simply refuse it claiming that the western powers who were there to help actually wanted to kill them all and their children, so they routinely refuse vaccines and medical attention. Trust, or lack of it, has become an issue which further increases the misery of those so affected. There is a great mistrust of the schizophrenic west who bomb them by day and seek to offer their help by night. Using illegal munitions like cluster-bombs and white phosphorus (as against the Palestinians) does not help the situation either.

The question raised is that with millions of Yemeni susceptible to cholera, will one million doses actually be enough? Originally, 3.4 million doses were requested, but due to simultaneous outbreaks in other countries such as Somalia, Malawi, Mozambique, and South Sudan, the stresses placed on supply, production, and transport infrastructure are overwhelming. Continued war, of course, leads to all these miseries and is the greatest continuous threat, and with continued weapons sales to the middle-east, the end of their suffering is nowhere in sight.

Let’s not forget that when there is no food, the only way for some of the older children to avoid starvation is to join the rebel forces. This is portrayed in the media as a recruitment of child-soldiers. The oppressed rebels are always to blame when dealing with regimes and empire.

Adding to all these horrible facts and adding to the prolonged misery of the people caught as prisoners in the war zone is that journalists have been barred from entering the country. This also serves a purpose, though; it means that all the atrocities committed against Yemeni civilians by western powers will go unnoticed. There will be nobody to report on the illegal weapons and munitions, nobody to recruit outside sympathy and financial assistance to those suffering, nobody to speak for the voiceless masses, and nobody to tell the story of an atrocious situation in horrific conditions under the oppressive impulse of invading forces.

American forces supply jets, bombs, illegal and inhuman munitions, training, and even refueling planes. British forces supply much of the same. Even Israel supplies pilots. Canada has provided transport trucks. Many other countries such as Qatar have contributed and are helping Saudi Arabia restore the deposed and oppressive government to power despite the will of the people. As the Americans said with Egypt’s Mubarak, “He might be a dictator, but he’s OUR dictator.”

So why does the west support this war? Why are we selling our weapons to these forces? Why are we involved in this ‘legitimate’ civil war (unlike the mercenary war in Syria,) if such a term can be used? Why are we involved, once again, in regime change halfway across the world? Why have we formed this coalition of the usual suspects? In a word: Iran. Iran (read: Hezbollah) backs the Huthi rebels. It is simply another proxy war, another reason to vilify our enemies, and once again, the people paying for it, living in misery, suffering through disease, starvation, death, and destruction, are innocent and helpless civilians.

Help shine a light any way you can. Use social media to do the job that the press either will not or cannot do, lobby your governments, donate to relief funds, crowdfund the purchase of BAE or Raytheon, do whatever it takes, do whatever you can. Us little guys should stick together against the forces of tyranny; we are their only defense and their very last hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, In Yemen…

There are many images which have been foisted upon the west through its media sources. We all remember the picture of the Syrian boy who washed up on a beach in Turkey.

yemenAylan-migrant-child-dead-beach-turkey

There is also “Aleppo boy” who was rescued from the rubble after an airstrike. (What was the girl’s story? She was not as photogenic as Omran Daqneesh, and so was ignored by the media. An interesting article about how the White Helmets used the boy for propaganda against Assad can be found here.) Two equally important articles showing the White Helmets for who they REALLY are HERE and HERE.

yemen57b9b710c3618899768b461f

These are, of course, just two of the horrible images of war in Syria. But releasing these images had a purpose, that of demonizing Assad.

There is another war going on. It is a  war few people speak of. There is far less coverage of it in the news, but the effects this war has on its population are just as devastating. It is the war in Yemen.

On one side are the Huthis, an armed group whose members belong to a branch of Shi’a Islam known as Zayidism. The Huthis are allied with supporters of Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. On the other side are anti-Huthi forces that are allied with the current President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Saudi Arabian-led coalition.

Members of the coalition include the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan and Sudan. The USA and UK have been providing key intelligence and logistical support to the coalition.

The USA, UK, France, Spain, Canada and Turkey transferred nearly US$5.9 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia between 2015 and 2016, including drones, bombs, torpedoes, rockets and missiles, which risk being used to facilitate serious violations in Yemen.

Strangely enough, though the Amnesty International article I have quoted above is quite thorough, it fails to mention that many of the pilots flying Saudi-owned American jets, which seem to be indiscriminately bombing hospitals, schools, and markets, are from Israel.

So there we have it, all the countries currently fighting (or helping to fight) Assad in Syria (illegally) are now ganging up on a relatively small band of un-sophisticated fighters known as the Huthis, in Yemen.

There is, however, one notable exception absent from this coalition: the western media. In Syria, the media generates sympathy for civilians in order to discredit Assad; in Yemen, on the other hand, the coalition supports the government. Surely, if the truth about the situation there were to leak out, it would show the ‘allies’ for what they truly are. It would point the finger of atrocities straight at the west. It would show that WE are to blame (since the Huthis have no air-force.)

American cluster bombs and white phosphorous munitions, both illegal weapons of war, and both used by Israel against Palestinians, are now being used in Yemen by another US ally, Saudi Arabia. The effects of these weapons can be seen in the images at the end of this article.

So while massive resources go into scripting the overthrow of Assad in Syria and setting all sorts of traps for him (Ghouta, Khan Sheikoun, barrel bombs – because he has helicopters, etc…) the people of Yemen are forgotten and their images are forever put away, never to be shown for what they are.

(Follow-up to this article here.)

*** WARNING — The following contains VERY GRAPHIC CONTENT ***

Continue reading “Meanwhile, In Yemen…”

The Real Victim of the US Elections…

…is democracy.

The trust which people seem to have had in the media has all but evaporated. Despite all their differences, both Liberals and Conservatives agree that the news (if we can still call it that) is anything but impartial. Even journalists (like Ted Koppel) are saying that the news media has acted inappropriately. This speaks to the problem of media consolidation, of mergers & acquisitions, and to the problems we’ve all been warned of when too few people control too many sources of information:  It becomes very easy to sway the apathetic populace.

Newspapers, and journalism in general, were the first to go. Newspapers have been closing down… no, dropping like flies is a better phrase. I think it started on 9/11/2001 when the FBI claimed that nineteen Saudi men were responsible for something they had nothing to do with, and when one man in particular, who was never officially implicated, was blamed by everyone but the FBI. Then came the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By this time, the media was so far gone into the unchecked ‘facts’ that they could no longer go back. They were complicit in their collusion and war-mongering and race-baiting with government and could, therefore, not retrace their position for fear of loss of their reputation. They hedged their positions with news stories exposing minor government lies at the expense of the whoppers.

The declining trend in the newspaper industry has been attributed to the rise of the internet, but I’m not so sure. That might be backwards. Maybe, because the news media stopped doing its job, people turned to the internet. When journalists are told what to write, they stop looking for stories. When that happens, people notice and begin to lose trust in the system. News turns into propaganda. This always precedes the rise of authoritarianism. This time, despite being better disguised, the people started to see through the veil. This eroded trust in the media, trust in long-standing institutions, and trust in the government (which aligned itself very closely with the propaganda machine.) It also raised the question, “If everything is fine with democracy in the USA, why does the media feel the need to lie to us?”

The financial crisis of 2007/2008 was the next step in the collusion between the elected and the falsely and self-proclaimed defenders of democracy, the press. Obviously the headlines were wrong. Nobody, thanks to the subsequent rise of political correctness, said anything for fear of reprisals. The Patriot Act was named thusly, not because it was a particularly patriotic piece of legislation, rather, because patriots would be targeted. This was the opening salvo in the war between populism and globalism. It now became illegal to take a position contrary to the establishment view.

Politicians should not ask why we do not trust them, they have always lied. The advent of the internet and of cell-phone technology makes this easier to prove. The press, however, has always been trusted; and now that we know it did not merit such trust, we are starting to walk-back our position towards them. It turns out that there has been very little truth in the media, even going back as far as Cronkite. Maybe it started with Kennedy, maybe it has been going on for far longer than that.

The ‘Official Story’, no matter what it references, must always be verified lest democracy be lost in the trade. When the news stops doing its job, we must rely on other sources, namely, each other. Rumour has had to replace journalism, the people have nothing else with which to do the job.

Do you feel vulnerable? You need look no further than the current election reporting to know that something isn’t right. Edward R. Murrow is doing cartwheels.