The update this week has to include something about the royal family in Saudi Arabia, because that has been so much in the news. They have managed to stop an independent UN investigation, although significant groups such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have said that there is evidence of war crimes. There are also reports of other planned human rights abuses within the kingdom – the death by crucifixion of a peaceful demonstrator, the flogging of a British man aged 74 for brewing wine, and the British government pulling out of a deal to modernise the Saudi penal system – the government saying that those two news items have nothing in common. Hmmm.
There have also been reports of Saudi selling off overseas assets to fund the war, Saudi princes’ protests against the King Salman and his favoured son, the reckless defence minister. There have been reports of King Salman developing a dementing illness, and Saudi princes leaving the kingdom – taking their money with them – so much that KSA is attempting to stop their wealth flight. Not good news for the Saudi monarchy.
I found two articles today that are directly related to this, well worth a read – partly because they coincide with my own views on the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia and the trap the Yemen war is posing for them. One is “The campaign to undermine Saudi Arabia and the US dollar” by Jeff Berwick, and “Saudi Palace intrigues” by Stig Stenslie. The links are at the bottom of this article.
There are further reported additions to the Saudi-Israeli alliance. As well as the meetings between Saudi and Israeli officials at the beginning of the war, and the visit earlier in the year of Prince Waleed to Jerusalem where when he was reported as saying nice things about Israel, and the Israeli weapons found in the Saudi embassy, there is now a story about an air corridor from Djibouti to Riyadh now used by Israel, reported as providing weapons to Saudi Arabia to help their war effort. More amazingly, this week the Saudi foreign minister directly appealed to Israel to join the war, saying it was the only way of winning it. Funny that, seeing that Israel has yet to win the war in Gaza after 67 years, and despite using some very nasty tactics against Palestinians. All Palestinians have to do to win is to breathe, and the same is true of Yemenis.
So now, interesting posts about Yemen this week.
The government of Yemen (all 8 ministers) has been attacked, first we were told by Houthi missiles, and then it seems that it was suicide bomb attacks by Daesh. This has put the plans of a return of government to Aden on hold, and also the airport has been closed – there were a few foreign flights coming in, but they have now ceased. I saw a video of Al Qaeda operatives passing through a security post in Aden without challenge. I saw a celebration of 14th October, the liberation day for South Yemen, noting that in 1967 the British were finally thrown out and South Yemen became an independent country (PDRY). There seemed to be a lot of South Yemen flags and not many Yemeni flags, and I think the message was that the South wants independence from the united Republic of Yemen. Meanwhile, Hadi was in UAE agreeing that they can take over port management in Aden. Just east of Aden in Abyan, reports say that Al Qaeda has taken control. Al Qaeda have always been very active in Abyan, and they are taking advantage of the war to increase their scope and control.
BAB AL MANDAB.
This crucial point at the bottom of the Red Sea has been reported as falling to the coalition forces, and Saleh/Houthi forces driven out. The attack was aided by warships in the Straights of Bab al Mandab, which included Saudi boats and according to one report, one Israeli warship (not confirmed). It was also reported that Houthi/Saleh forces attacked two Saudi warships in the area.
This city, which MSF described at one of the two worst places in Yemen at the moment, has been suffering a ferocious ground war , plus coalition air assaults, plus a cruel blockade and local siege, which has not been reported. This week I note that there are more reports in the mainstream media, which may mean that the coalition forces have their eye on the city as their next stop.
An attack on a wedding party, killing at least 13 and injuring many more, on the 8th of October. This followed another wedding attack at the end of September, when it was reported that 130 died.
This city and surrounding area has been the site of ferocious warfare for some time, with both sides claiming to be gaining ground. Propaganda is certainly the name of the game. But it seems as if during the last few days the coalition have definitely gained the upper hand. Locals claim gas was used and have sent me photographs of victims, not confirmed in any mainstream media. Marib has a large percentage of the oil reserves in Yemen, and it was said this week that income generated from oil sales was no longer going to the Houthi government. Iwas surprised at this statement because I believed that oil was not being exported, due to the Saudi blockade.
On the border of Saudi Arabia, it has been announced that the coalition is planning to attackit next.
Still subject to air assaults, including one electricity plant destroyed, but nonetheless there was a report of one ship carrying humanitarian aid docking there, the first since the coalition destroyed all the cranes for unloading the ship. There have also been reports of the roads between Hodeida and Taiz being destroyed by coalition bombs, making distribution of aid very difficult. The Saudi-led coalition has stated that they are aiming to take over this port from Houthi control. It seems to me that they can’t properly control Aden after 3 months there, so they are over extending if they are planning to enter Taiz, Jawf, Hodeida, and take control of Marib.
Still being heavily bombed; every day since the start of the war, this is now over 200 days. I saw one report this week of the current situation there – it is dire. The air assaults have destroyed everything – homes, schools, hospitals, petrol stations, mosques, ancient antiquities, bridges, markets, displaced peoples’ camps, roads, lorries delivering food. The whole area was declared a military zone in March, which means that everything is as far as the coalition is concerned, is a legitimate target. This is the Houthi homeland and now they have lost everything and have nothing to lose, which makes them very dangerous – for Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. It was reported this week that an F16 Saudi jet was shot down in Saada province. And an further sad story – the Jews of Yemen – only a handful left – have been told to convert or leave. They have lived in peace in Saada for centuries.
Sanaa, the capital, has a mixed Zaidi and Sunni population, which has not been significant historically, but it is now. The Houthis are in charge of the government based in Sanaa, which is being squeezed by financial restrictions imposed on Yemen by the Saudi-led blockade, which prevents exports and has caused most work activity to cease. It has been bombed fairly regularly throughout the war, and this increases when there is a military gain by the Houthi militias against the Saudi-led coalition. For example a scud missile fired at an army base in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday resulted in extensive air assaults in the early hours of Thursday morning. It is suffering from the blockade like most other parts of west Yemen, made worse by the recent bombing of the road between Sanaa and the port of Hodeida, and has not had electricity supplies to homes for several months. Ex-President made a speech on Lebanese television which went down well with his supporters and it was reported that fireworks were let off in Sanaa to celebrate.
To keep up to date with daily news of Yemen, please visit facebook page Yemen News Today at www.facebook.com/yemennewstodayenglish/ Postings come from all perspectives, including issues not related to the war. I also post personal photos and videos sent to me direct from Yemen.