We never hear about Yemen. Endless amounts of ink and pixels have been spent on the conflict in Syria. “Innocents are dying!” is the constant refrain. Well, innocents are dying in Yemen too, and we never hear about it. I’m not saying that information on Yemen is censored in our newspapers. It’s censored by the combatants, but that’s not tremendously different from what goes on in Syria, and is not what I’m getting at.
We do know that Yemen is a disaster, but our government and media doesn’t do anything more than issue the facts. There are no government ultimatums or red lines. There is no daily “above the fold” update. When the UN or some other NGO issues a new report full of outrages, it is dutifully published on page 27 or the online equivalent. No time is invested in Yemen either, in the halls of government or on the opinion pages. That’s an outrage.
Today’s video explains why that is and starts my small effort to raise awareness about Yemen.
Video Transcript after the jump…
Hey There, So what do you know about Yemen? If you follow the news diligently, you might have heard that the United Nations thinks that the world’s worst Humanitarian Crisis is going on there. But you’d have to be following the news really closely to know that. We almost never hear about Yemen. Over the next week or so I hope to explain why that is, and what’s actually going on there.
The first thing to know about Yemen is that it’s in a very very important neighborhood, on one of the world’s most important shipping routes. If something is going between China and Europe, the chances are pretty good it goes by Yeman. The country also borders some of the world’s poorest and richest countries, which is a problem. Yemenis have been suffering from, and profiting from Somalia’s chaos for decades. However, Yemen’s principal misfortune for the past century or so, has been its ever more powerful neighbor to the North, Saudi Arabia. It’s a tremendously complicated story, that I’ll get into more in the next couple videos, but let’s start with what’s going on right now.
Since 2015, Yemen has been subjected to a brutal siege. In the words of journalist and academic Ginny Hill, who has written a fantastic book on the topic, Saudi Arabia’s Operation Renewal of Hope began on April 22nd 2015 and “progressively destroyed the country’s civilian infrastructure, including main roads, ports, and airports.” The Saudi airstrikes have taken out multiple hospitals as well. The death toll from the bombing alone is estimated to now stand around 12,000 people. But that’s probably a very low estimate. We just don’t know what’s going on. Foreign journalists have a terrible time getting in, and internet use in Yemen was already low before the bombing started. So we don’t get much information from citizen journalism either.
You will hear “well we don’t really know, maybe it’s made up” but they are hiding what is happening from the world. It would be easy for independent investigators to get in, along with food, health workers and others. But instead the perpetrators are hiding their brutal assault from the world, willfully.
Even worse than the bombing, the destruction of this desperately poor country has led to a hunger and health crisis. Unicef estimates that a child dies every 10 minutes from preventable causes. And now there’s a cholera epidemic that has infected half a million, and killed 2,000. As of April, 17 of Yemen’s 27 million people are reckoned to be food insecure, and 10 million are seen as in food crisis.
Yemen is a horror show. But we never hear about it. To be clear. I don’t want to imply that Saudi’s opponents in this fight are great guys, they’re not. But Saleh and the Houthis don’t have a presence in the air or on the sea. It’s a tremendously one-sided conflict in terms of firepower.
Compare how little we hear about this to Syria, and the siege of Aleppo specifically. In the US we’ve been treated to five years worth of outrage at the way that Syria’s Assad treated his own people. Our government and our media wouldn’t shut up about it.
Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin, that freaks you out just a little bit?
Assad dropped barrel bombs on his own people! Well, Saudi Arabia is dropping precision guided US manufactured missiles on hospitals. In a foreign country. Assad at least has some legitimacy with some sections of his own country. The Saudis are destroying Yemen as an outside power. It’s not really a civil war. The “Internationally Recognized” President had lost pretty conclusively before the Saudis started the meat grinder. It took six months of Saudi bombing to get President Hadi back into Yemen. The appropriate comparison actually isn’t what Assad did to his own country, it’s what Saddam Hussein did to Kuwait in 1992, which kicked off the whole horror show that is the modern Middle East. Saudi Arabia is doing a disgusting thing.
And we don’t hear about the horrors of this war because the United States and the United Kingdom are in complete support of it. We’re not just selling the Saudis the weapons to do this. We are also providing logistics, re-fueling and intelligence support. The United States is directly complicit in the destruction of Yemen. The US ambassador to Yemen is now based in Saudi Arabia. In the last months of his administration, after a year and a half of murderous war in Yemen, Obama made some half-assed efforts to slow arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Trump quickly moved to reverse those efforts once he was in office.
..encircled tens of thousands of civilians in your ever tightening noose. It is your noose. Three member states of the UN contributing to a noose around civilians.
In Samantha Power’s impassioned speech at the UN she was talking to the Russians primarily. Well in Yemen, we’re the Russians. And that’s why we never hear about it in the United States. If you want to know why we’re supporting Saudi Arabia in this frankly evil endeavor I suggest you pick up my essay, Everybody’s Lying About Islam, It will give you the framework you need to understand what’s really going on with US foreign policy, the Middle East, Terrorism, and a whole lot more. And come back for part two of this series, where I’ll explain why Yemen’s disaster is not entirely our fault. Thanks for watching, please subscribe, and you can buy my essay at the link here.