Monthly Archives: May 2015

News Update 28 May 2015

A boy walks as he collects toys from the rubble of a house destroyed by a recent air strike in Yemen's northwestern city of Saada May 27, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

A boy walks as he collects toys from the rubble of a house destroyed by a recent air strike in Yemen’s northwestern city of Saada May 27, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

Highlights:
Yemen faces catastrophe without vital supplies: Red Cross
Reuters — 27 May 2015
Yemen faces a humanitarian catastrophe unless the Saudi-led coalition allows it to import and distribute vital food, fuel and medicines, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday. Saudi-led forces began air strikes on Houthi forces in Yemen two months ago. They are enforcing inspections on ships entering Yemeni ports, saying they want to stop arms reaching Iran-backed Houthis. Commercial fuel tankers must have access to ports and the distribution system for fuel must function, Cedric Schweizer, outgoing head of the ICRC’s delegation in Yemen, told Reuters. Fuel is vital to run hospital generators and water pumping stations in the country of 26 million. Only 5-10 percent of usual imports has entered Yemen over the past two months of the conflict, which has killed more than 2,000 people, he said. Food prices have soared.

Why Saudi Arabia’s Yemen war is not producing victory
Al-Monitor — 22 May 2015
As the war in Yemen escalates after a short humanitarian truce, the stakes are getting higher for Saudi Arabia’s princes, the region and Washington. The United Nations-hosted talks in Geneva next week are unlikely to get much traction. The Saudis gave Washington three hours’ notice of the first airstrikes. The king’s son immediately became the face of the war, appearing endlessly in the Saudi media directing operations and trying to find allies to join the campaign. The Salmans also immediately sought experienced combat-tested ground forces from Pakistan to take the war into Yemen. The Pakistanis came away from meetings in Riyadh convinced the king and his son had “panicked” and jumped into the war without a viable strategy for achieving victory; the Pakistanis refused to join the war effort and leaked their worries to the press. The young prince was portrayed as “untested” and unprepared for the job. All this from a Pakistani leader, Nawaz Sharif, who spent years in exile in the kingdom and knows the royals better than any other outsider. There are similar mutterings around the Gulf states now that the Saudi leadership is impulsive and rash.

Yemen under siege: Taiz residents slaughtered by tank shells, mortars and Saudi air strikes
International Business Times — 26 May 2015
In Ta’iz, as in Sana’a, there is a stifling lack of fuel products, power outages, and the danger of Saudi-led coalition air strikes in support of president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Yet Ta’iz has the added peril of an internal armed conflict being waged between the Houthi militias and forces loyal to former President Saleh on one side, and the so called “Popular Resistance,” made up of militias close to the al-Islah Party and forces loyal to president Hadi. The people of Ta’iz are struggling to cope as the entire surrounding area is coming under fire, from the scenic outlying villages nestled beneath the mountains to the city’s beautiful intimate alleys. The mountains that have always calmly embraced the city have become the source of sudden blasts that remind people that they are not as safe as they might think. The streets of the city and villages are now bustling with rockets, shells and bullet rounds instead of people. Continue reading

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News Update 22 May 2015

Highlights:
Diary
London Review of Books — 15 May 2015
At the end of February, President Hadi escaped house arrest and fled to Aden, where he retracted his resignation and declared the Houthis’ administration illegitimate. Then the real war began. The Houthis started moving south and east and Aden came under siege. Hadi fled the country and resurfaced in Riyadh; the Saudis started their bombing campaign. According to UN figures, between the end of March and the beginning of May, 646 Yemeni civilians have been killed and more than 1300 injured in the airstrikes. ‘The Houthis lost a historic opportunity when they moved beyond Sanaa,’ one of the few tribesmen who still meets regularly with Abdul-Malik told me. ‘People were hungry for stability and reform. Had he stayed in Sanaa and actually fixed the system they would have become popular everywhere.’ But as it is Yemen is being held hostage by opposing forces: on the one hand, a militia determined to fulfil the divine victories promised by a dead leader; on the other a hubristic Saudi kingdom, with US backing, intent on destroying another country in its quixotic sectarian war against Iran.

Has Saudi Arabia already won its Yemen war?
Washington Post — 15 May 2015
Why then did Saudi Arabia intervene when it could have helped facilitate and influence the outcome of the negotiations, especially at a time when the Houthis faced strong domestic opposition? Because it wanted a war. It did not want a negotiated settlement where the Houthis remained part of the regime; for that would have robbed them of an opportunity to become a real military player regionally. Saudi Arabia has always been a financial powerhouse, but, despite enormous military spending, even the Houthis defeated them in the previous decade.

King Salman needs total victory in Yemen
Al-Monitor — 8 May 2015
An ill-defined war, hastily announced and from the day of its inception shrouded in ambiguous motives, is bound to become a prolonged military engagement. The Saudis risk becoming entrenched indefinitely in an adventure that neither helps battered Yemeni citizens nor scores undisputed victory for a leadership that is navigating a difficult terrain. The only way out of this awkward and dangerous situation is for the proposed five-day suspension of military action to become permanent, giving way to negotiation and compromise. This would allow Saudi Arabia to claim a different kind of victory rather than the one the Saudi leadership hopes for and ensure that the Saudis save face. But it is doubtful that the Yemenis will ever forget the devastation caused by the airstrikes of their neighbor, who has interfered enough in their internal wars. Continue reading

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