Saudi Arabia GCC and Egypt Declare War on Yemen
Last week Saudi Arabia began a brutal bombing campaign in Yemen with the backing of it's GCC allies, the US and Israel. The conflict in Yemen has been little understood. Yemen is the country that receives little attention overshadowed by all America's other wars. The US has used the worlds ignorance of the country to portray it's past actions in the context of the war on terror claiming falsely to be fighting Al-Qaeda. In fact Yemen is probably best known as the home of admitted former FBI informant and probable CIA asset Anwar al-Awlaki the figurehead of an Al-Qaeda branch which launched a series of failed but media grabbing terror attacks involving underwear bombs and printer cartridges. Al-Awlaki ended up being assassinated with his 16 year old son in a drone strike to provide a precedent for the assassination of American citizens who write things the CIA don't like. I feel safer already. In reality however as recent events make obvious the situation in Yemen was far more complex and in reality was a popular revolution aiming to regain control from the countries corrupt Saudi and US backed rulers. Thus I will be writing a brief sketch of the history of Yemen.
A United Yemen only emerged in 1990 a product of the end of the cold war prior to that there were two Yemens in the south there was the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen. In the North there was the Yemeni Arab Republic. The two countries had very different histories. North Yemen was ruled for nearly ten Centuries by the Zaydis feudal monarchs practicing a unique form of Shiite Islam. Claims that the current conflict are part of the simplistic Sunni Vs the Shiite Crescent peddled by the Saudis and Neocons are false. The Saudi's were in fact aligned to the zaydi monarchs. In 1962 a revolution emerged aiming to overthrow the monarchy and improve north Yemen's backward economy. North Yemen became the scene of a brutal civil war that became a proxy war as the British and Saudi's provided aid to royalist forces resisting the new Republican Government while Nasser in Egypt supplied troops to help the Republican Government. Nasser was one of the great leaders of the non-aligned movement A strident voice against imperialism, Israel, and the Corrupt Saudi Monarchs. The British hated him for humiliating them during the Suez Crisis they sent a private army made up of former special forces to organize attacks against Egyptian troops. Nasser would loose 10,000 troops. North Yemen was prevented by the war from making needed reforms and the area remained backward, Saudi's continued to support the feudal classes against the central government while bringing the government itself ever more under it's influence. In 1978 Ali Abdulla Saleh became president of Northern Yemen and would eventually lead all of Yemen after reunification in 1990 until 2011 when he was finally deposed.
The South of Yemen was a British Colony. A naval Empire the British saw the geostrategic importance of Yemen. Incidentally it is the British who in the early 19th century gave legitimacy to the obscure Chieftans who would become the gulf monarchs of today's GCC. The Persian gulf was considered an exclusive British area of influence. They encouraged the local rulers to assert de facto independence from the Ottoman empire. The British let loose the scourge of the Wahhabism over 200 Years ago. The ways of Empires never change it would seem. South Yemen was so important that they took direct control ruling through colonial administrators. They imported Somali's and Indian's to act as buffer while the native Yemeni's occupied the lowest part of the social hierarchy in their own country. The British deported many Indians they considered troublemakers a strategy that backfired when South Yemen eventually became a hotbed of radical ideas. The British built the port of Aden which was then as important as Hong Kong is today. South Yemen had a revolution in 1967 bringing the Yemeni Socialist Party to power and achieving independence from Britain. However this party was made up of a broad coalition including liberals, nationalists, Baathists and Communists. Initially the communist's formed the backbone of the new government and South Yemen was one of the most radical governments in the region. However because of the contradictions and rivalries between the various members 3 violent internal revolts took place with fighting between the various factions and many assassinations of the leaders. The Radical wing of the Arab Socialist party was largely wiped out and the liberal wing gained control.
South Yemen was the weaker of the two parties at the time of reunification. However they still had some influence and apparently some principles because in 1991 they used their influence in Yemen's government to have Yemen oppose the first gulf war. Apparently only Cuba also dared to do this at the time. To get revenge on Yemen Saudi Arabia expelled a million Yemenis that had been working in their country. This had a catastrophic effect on Yemen's already poor and underdeveloped economy. Saleh began to show even greater subservience to Saudi Arabia and the US. In 1994 disgusted with their lack of influence over the new government south Yemen attempted to secede from Yemen. However Saleh successfully crushed this attempt and used it as an excuse to purge the members of the Arab socialist party from the government. Saleh's regime grew richer and richer while the people grew poorer and poorer. In 2004 the Houthi rebellion broke out in the north demanding economic development as well as demanding Yemen end it's role as an ally in the US war on terror that often targeted innocent Yemenis. What an absurdity this "war" must have seemed to them since as all informed observers know Al Qaeda is a product of Saudi Arabia intelligence in cooperation with it's GCC allies and of Course British, French, US and Israeli intelligence. The Yemenis well know that the US and the Saudi's are funding the groups the US claims it is fighting.
The Houthi's rose up against their corrupt and cruel government in 2004. They got their name from their leader Hussein Badreddin Al-Houthi who was killed in the first year of the revolt. The rebels were of the exact same Zaydi religious sect as the Saudi supported president. Their rebellion signaled that Saleh had lost the support of the native north. Meanwhile separatist tensions still simmered in the south. To survive Saleh called in help from the US and the Saudi's. The US began sending weapons and opened a drone campaign on the country that made Saleh even more unpopular. They told the world they were fighting Al-Qaeda when in reality they were fighting the Houthi. Unfortunately for Saleh Sectors of his own military had turned against him they funneled a steady supply of the American Supplied weapons directly to the Houthi rebels. The Houthi also proved to be tough fighters. The war was going so badly for Saleh that the Saudi's were actually forced to invade in 2009 and 2010 in a campaign they labeled operation scorched earth. However their Invasion failed to put an end to the Houthi rebellion.
In 2011 Saleh was Finally forced from power as part of the wave of "Arab Spring" revolutions that toppled the Tunisian, and Egyptian Governments while in Libya they provided the cover for violent covert war that destroyed the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and murdered Muammar Gaddafi turning the country over to NATO's Al Qaeda foot soldiers. It was as an insult to the worlds intelligence that they could still claim after Libya and during Syria to be fighting Al Qaeda while so openly funding them in both those wars. Saleh played the Al Qaeda card as well trying to wait out his people's anger. However as we have seen Yemen's problems went back far longer then 2011 the Houthis were in open rebellion and the public grew poorer and more impatient with each passing year, while America had wreaked random destruction with cruise missiles and drones blowing up villages and weddings, and kidnapping and torturing people.
Saleh was Finally forced from power. Unfortunately the US and Saudi Arabia picked his successor Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Al-Hadi. As Part of taking power he was supposed to adhere to the terms of a National Dialogue that had taken place during which the whole country had negotiated a consensus on what the future direction of the country would be. Secure in the backing of his US and Saudi patrons He stalled on implementing the agreed reforms. The Houthi rebellion intensified and in September of last year they captured Yemen's capital Sana. Al-Hadi was forced into a power sharing agreement with the Houthis. Instead he began plotting the Saudi intervention. Even his own party became disgusted with him and he was ejected from leadership by the Yemenite General People's Congress on November 8, 2014. On January 20, 2015 he was detained by the Houthi and they seized the presidential palace and other government buildings. Once they seized the government buildings they uncovered all sorts of information on Saleh's secret dealings with Israel, the CIA, and Saudi Arabia including the fact that he was trying to get the Saudi's to attack. On February 6th he was forced to resign and the Houthi's announced they had discovered Saudi Arabia planned to attack on February 26th. Al-Hadi managed to escape and went to Aden where he reversed his resignation and declared Aden the new Capital. However the Houthis knowing war was on the way rushed to capture important airbases and managed to seize Aden by March 25th. Al-Hadi was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia where he lobbied for a war to reinstall him. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Quwait all declared war. In Addition the US and Israel have agreed to provide intelligence and other aid to the war effort. The Houthis have sought the aid of Iran, China and Russia. They have been inadvertently aided by the US when they where able to seize the massive stockpiles of weapons the US had been supplying al-Hadi to wage war on his own people. The Saudis have begun bombing the country destroying airbases, and missile storage facilities killing hundreds of civilians in the process. According to a March 31 2015 Unicef report 62 children have been killed while schools and hospitals have been damaged in the fighting.
For the US Yemen is vital spot on the geostrategic chessboard. According to Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya the US is most interested in the Gulf of Aden, the Socotra Islands, and above all Bab al Mandeb a strategic chokepoint for international maritime trade and energy connecting connecting the Persian gulf via the India Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea via the Red Sea. Israel meanwhile wants to maintain access to the Indian Ocean for it's fleet of Nuclear Submarines it uses to menace the region with the threat of Nuclear War. Saudi Arabia wants to at least maintain control of South Yemen and is attempting to revive the separatist movement there.
Thus the People of Yemen have no sooner thrown off their corrupt foreign dominated government then they have become a target of a coalition of corrupt monarchs, along with the US and Israel. They have been bombed and no doubt are about to be invaded by an army of saudi backed terrorists of the kind currently wreaking havoc in Libya, Iraq, and Syria. On March 20th Suicide Bombers (Doubtless at the bidding of Saudi Intelligence) struck two mosques killing 300 people. However the Houthis have already proven tough and resilient fighters. They have been fighting for over a decade. Hopefully they will be able to successfully resist this effort to reinstall a puppet regime. With luck they may be able to inflict a defeat on the Saudi's that will threaten to topple the Saudi's own fragile and backwards regime. The same goes for their allies like Bahrain where people have been battling to install a democracy for many decades. Our hopes are with the brave people of Yemen as they battle on behalf of independence and economic reform. By attacking Yemen the Saudis have exposed to the world the true nature of the war there. The world must unite in calling for an end to this war against the people of Yemen. Yemen has become a new center in the resistance to the empire.
I owe a special thanks to Alexandra Valiente who runs the Syria 360 and Libya 360 news sites. She dug up an old and obscure article on the History of Yemen that I relied on heavily for this article.( See my June 2014 article "Alternative Media Spotlight 2" which also discusses Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya for more information on her excellent sites) You should check out her sites
And Heres the Article that gives a great short history of Yemen up to 2009 I provided a simplified version
And this Article by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya does a brilliant job of laying out the geopolitical situation as well as the recent history of the conflict which I also heavily relied on.
And Finally Eric Draitser exposes the Hypocrisy of the different reactions to the war in Ukraine and to the war in Yemen.
for an Interesting discussion of British involvement in Yemen among other topics watch Adam Curtis's "Mayfair Set" documentary mini series.