crisis in yemen
October 15, 2018

The small Gulf nation of Yemen is on the brink of the "worst famine in 100 years," the United Nations warned in a BBC report Monday, and it could reach that grim milestone within three months if the conflict does not cease.

"I think many of us felt as we went into the 21st century that it was unthinkable that we could see a famine like we saw in Ethiopia, that we saw in Bengal, that we saw in parts of the Soviet Union — that was just unacceptable," said Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Yemen.

"Many of us had the confidence that would never happen again and yet the reality is that in Yemen that is precisely what we are looking at," she continued. "We predict that we are looking at 12 to 13 million innocent civilians who are at risk of dying from the lack of food."

The U.S.-supported, Saudi-led coalition intervening in Yemen's civil war has implemented a blockade — cast as an effort to keep weapons away from Houthi rebel fighters — with deadly results. Yemen imports 90 percent of its food, so limited port access for civilian concerns has combined with currency collapse to produce starvation conditions. The country is already wracked by cholera, and more than 100 Yemeni children die daily from starvation and preventable diseases.

Watch the BBC report on starvation in Yemen below; be warned, the images are disturbing. Bonnie Kristian

September 2, 2018

The U.S.-enabled, Saudi-led coalition intervening in Yemen's civil war on Saturday admitted its August airstrike on a school bus was unjustified.

The bombing, which used an American-made weapon, killed 51 people, 40 of them children. Facing international outrage, the coalition promised to investigate itself. Saudi state media reported Houthi rebel fighters were thought to be among the bus passengers, arguing the vehicle was therefore a "legitimate" military target. Nevertheless, investigators concluded the timing of the attack led to a "mistake."

"There was a clear delay in preparing the fighter jet at the appropriate time and place, thus losing [the opportunity] to target this bus as a military target in an open area in order to avoid such collateral damage," said Mansour Ahmed al-Mansour, a legal adviser for the investigation. "The team believes that the coalition forces should immediately review the application of their rules of engagement to ensure compliance."

The coalition said the victims' families would be compensated and those responsible for the error would be held accountable.

Human rights organizations and a broad array of observers have credibly accused the U.S.-supported coalition of war crimes for its callous exacerbation of the rampant suffering of the Yemeni civilian population, which in addition to airstrike casualties is suffering a cholera epidemic and sits on the brink of famine. Bonnie Kristian

August 28, 2018

A United Nations report complied by British, Australian, and Tunisian human rights experts states that there are "reasonable grounds to believe that the governments of Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia are responsible for human rights violations" in Yemen.

In 2015, after Houthi rebels pushed the Yemeni government from power, Saudi Arabia, supported by several Persian Gulf and Western countries, announced it would lead a coalition to fight the Iranian-backed rebels. Since then, thousands of people have been killed, more are suffering from starvation, and there is a shortage of medication and clean water. Yemen was already the poorest country in the region, and at least 22 million people have been affected by the civil war.

The report, released Tuesday, said the violations include rape, torture, the use of child soldiers, arbitrary detention, and "deprivation of the right of life," and accuses the Houthis of having committed many of the same abuses. Saudi airstrikes have hit schools, hospitals, and buses, raising "serious questions about the targeting process applied by the coalition," the report said. "Despite the severity of the situation, we continue to witness a total disregard of the suffering of the people of Yemen," British human rights lawyer Charles Garraway told The Associated Press. "This crisis has reached its peak, with no apparent sight of light at the end of the tunnel. It is indeed a forgotten crisis." Catherine Garcia

August 18, 2018

The weapon used in the Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a school bus in Yemen earlier this month that killed 51 people, 40 of them children, and wounded 79 more was manufactured in the United States, CNN reported Friday night.

The bomb in question was reportedly a 500-pound laser-guided MK 82 bomb produced by Lockheed Martin, an American defense contractor. It was identified from numbers on the shrapnel.

The Saudi coalition, which has been credibly accused of war crimes in Yemen, is supported and enabled by the United States. The coalition promised to investigate itself for this attack.

A coalition representative declined to comment on the airstrike while the self-investigation is underway, and a Pentagon representative would not confirm the bomb's origin, instead providing CNN a generic condemnation of civilian casualties. Bonnie Kristian

August 11, 2018

The U.S.-enabled Saudi coalition intervening in Yemen's civil war on Friday promised to investigate the airstrike it launched Thursday that hit a school bus full of children. At least 43 people were killed, including 29 children, and dozens more were injured in the attack.

"The leadership of the coalition has ordered the immediate opening of an investigation to assess the events, clarify their circumstances, and announce the results as soon as possible," said a coalition official.

This is not the first time the coalition has investigated itself. In a similar probe last year — surprise, surprise — the Saudi-led group cleared itself of wrongdoing. By contrast, human rights organizations and a broad array of observers have credibly accused the U.S.-supported coalition of war crimes for its callous exacerbation of the rampant suffering of the Yemeni civilian population.

Parents of the children on the bus are still searching through the rubble in hopes of finding their family alive. "Is this Yousif? Is this Yousif? Oh my God!" screamed one father at the scene of the attack. "What is the fault of these small children?"

Read more on the U.S. role in Yemen's crisis here at The Week. Bonnie Kristian

August 6, 2018

The U.S. is participating in two wars in Yemen: supporting and aiding a Saudi-led effort to defeat the Iran-backed Houthi Shiite rebels and an older push to eliminate al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the terrorist organization's most dangerous surviving branch. The latter mission seems to take precedence, because the U.S. has frequently looked the other way as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and their Yemeni allies secretly pay al Qaeda militants to leave occupied areas, declare victory, and recruit AQAP militants to fight alongside their common enemy, the Houthis, The Associated Press reports.

"These compromises and alliances have allowed al Qaida militants to survive to fight another day," and "key participants in the pacts said the U.S. was aware of the arrangements and held off on any drone strikes," AP reports, citing interviews in Yemen with two dozen security officers, militia commanders, tribal mediators, and AQAP members. The U.S. has given billions of dollars in weapons, aircraft refueling, and military intelligence to the Saudi anti-Houthi coalition, but "there is no evidence that American money went to AQAP militants," AP says.

A Pentagon spokesman told AP that the U.S. has "conducted more than 140 strikes to remove key AQAP leaders and disrupt its ability to use ungoverned spaces to recruit, train, and plan operations against the U.S. and our partners across the region" since early 2017. Meanwhile, AQAP says it's using the Saudi and UAE money, equipment, and conferred legitimacy to recruit new members, AP reports.

"Elements of the U.S. military are clearly aware that much of what the U.S. is doing in Yemen is aiding AQAP and there is much angst about that," says Michael Horton at the Jamestown Foundation, a U.S. terrorism analysis group. "However, supporting the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against what the U.S. views as Iranian expansionism takes priority over battling AQAP." Read more about the complicated Yemen entanglement at AP. Peter Weber

July 30, 2018

An airstrike by the U.S.-enabled Saudi coalition intervening in Yemen's civil war hit crucial water supply facilities in the port city of Hodeida, the United Nations reported Sunday.

Loss of significant water infrastructure in a city of 600,000 would be catastrophic under any circumstances, but like much of Yemen, Hodeida is also suffering a cholera epidemic. Cholera is a waterborne illness that has infected more than 1 million Yemenis. Destruction of the plant that sanitizes and supplies the majority of the city's water will dangerously accelerate the disease's spread.

"Damage to sanitation, water, and health facilities jeopardizes everything that we are trying to do," said U.N. humanitarian coordinator Lise Grande. "We could be one airstrike away from an unstoppable [cholera] epidemic."

The United Nations has urged the American-supported Saudi coalition to cease its assault on Hodeida, through which 70 percent of Yemen's food supplies arrive. Yemen is on the brink of famine, so completely shuttering the blockaded port could lead to mass civilian starvation. Already millions of Yemenis are at risk of starving to death, and more than 100 Yemeni children die daily from starvation and preventable diseases. Bonnie Kristian

June 26, 2018

A group of 33 former national security officials and 60 advocacy groups sent letters to President Trump's administration urging for an extension of Yemen's temporary protected status, The Hill reported Tuesday.

Amid Yemen's ongoing civil war, which the United Nations says has caused the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, protected status for Yemenis in the U.S. is set to expire. Protected status allows people to temporarily live and work in the U.S. while their home countries are affected by violence or natural disasters. Trump has ended TPS for citizens of Nepal, Haiti, El Salvador, Sudan, and Nicaragua, and has until July 5 to decide whether to end it for Yemen as well.

National security experts like the former ambassador to the U.N., former deputy secretary of state, and former ambassadors to Yemen said that the Trump administration's foreign policy efforts would be damaged if the estimated 1,200 Yemenis in the U.S. were forced to return. The experts argued that increasing instability and humanitarian needs in Yemen could "bolster the propaganda efforts" of al Qaeda and the Islamic State, which would undermine U.S. objectives in the region.

"It would be beyond heartless and cruel" to end TPS for Yemenis, the advocacy groups wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, pointing out that "our own government has defined [Yemen] as one of the most dangerous and dire places on the planet." The U.N. estimates that the civil war has killed about 6,385 civilians, and the organization has expressed fear that conditions could soon worsen for millions more.

Read more about the letters at The Hill, and more about Yemen here at The Week. Summer Meza

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