A commentary by MCHR Board Member Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
MCHR Board Member at Large
March 26 represented the third anniversary of a massive bombing and ground campaign in the Middle Eastern state of Yemen, the most underdeveloped country in the region.
Official counts indicate that well over 10,000 people have died from aerial strikes carried out by the Saudi Arabian and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) alliance. Fighter jets utilized in the war are manufactured and supplied by the United States and Britain.
In a general sense the power struggle centers around the control of Yemen which has pitted the Shiite-oriented Ansurallah, commonly known as Houthis, against the Sunni-led forces headed by former military Field Marshal and exiled-President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is supported by both Saudi Arabia and Washington as the “legitimate government” of the country.
The Ansurallah are politically backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran which views the role of Saudi Arabia and the GCC as a potential threat to Tehran. In late March the Houthi forces launched missiles which struck areas near the airport in the neighboring Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh.
Another major political figure, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, was assassinated in early December 2017 after he abandoned a tactical coalition with Malik al-Houthi, the leader of the Ansurallah movement, which controls the capital of Sanaa and other areas of the North and Central provinces of Yemen.
The Saudi-GCC bombings have targeted neighborhoods, national infrastructure, hospitals, schools and internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. These systematic high-altitude airstrikes and strafing that utilize heavy ordnance is directly linked to the largest outbreak of cholera in the world.
Assessments from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) suggests that another round of cholera cases are imminent. More than one million children were infected by the water-born disease during 2017 stemming from contamination by waste due to the deliberate destruction of sanitation systems by U.S. warplanes which rely on Pentagon coordination and refueling technology.
Efforts by Vermont Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to pass a resolution ending the Trump administration’s assistance to the Saudi-GCC Coalition failed to garner the necessary votes during late March. President Donald Trump says that the supplying of fighter jets, intelligence assistance and other support does not constitute direct involvement in the war. The administration therefore takes the position that their support for the Saudi-led war does not violate the War Powers Act of 1973.
There has been limited information made available to the general public in the U.S. about the war. Peace and antiwar activists must focus more attention on this genocidal campaign by pressuring the Senate and Congress to end the Pentagon’s arming of Saudi Arabia and to work vigorously towards reaching a political settlement.