Skip to main content

Home/ International Politics of the Middle East/ Group items tagged Yemen

Rss Feed Group items tagged

Ed Webb

The Wartime Transformation of AQAP in Yemen | ACLED - 1 views

  • Al Raymi’s death has marked a turning point in AQAP’s decade-long history. Al Raymi oversaw AQAP’s expansion in southern Yemen, where the group held the third biggest port city in the country, and its eventual retreat into the mountains of central Yemen. Within the Islamist camp, AQAP also faced fierce competition at the hands of the Islamic State in Yemen (ISY), which escalated into months of fighting between the two groups between July 2018 and February 2020. Batarfi’s appointment came at a moment when AQAP was suffering from fragmentation and low morale, two factors that negatively affected its operational and mobilization capabilities (Al Araby, 22 March 2020). Today, AQAP appears to be in a transitional phase, as it redirects its weakened military force towards fighting against the Houthis.
  • the report identifies three phases of AQAP’s wartime activity: AQAP’s expansion (2015-2016), its redeployment and infighting with ISY (2017-2019), and the current retrenchment in Al Bayda (2019-2020).
  • thrived on the political instability that followed the 2011 Yemeni uprising. Operating under the semi-political mantle of Ansar Al Sharia, AQAP took advantage of the fragmentation that tore apart the Yemeni army to take control of several towns in southern Yemen, where it declared small Islamic emirates between 2011 and 2012 (International Crisis Group, 2 February 2017). These included Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan governorate, which fell under AQAP’s control with little or no resistance from the security forces.
  • ...18 more annotations...
  • In 2015, the outbreak of the war gave yet another boost to AQAP’s fortunes in Yemen. Amidst the fragmentation of the Yemeni armed forces, the Hadi government and the Saudi-led coalition saw AQAP as an indispensable bulwark to prevent Houthi-Saleh forces from advancing into central and southern Yemen
  • At its apogee in 2015-2016, AQAP was reported to be active in 82 of Yemen’s 333 districts. Four years later, the number has decreased to 40
  • While the Hadi government and the Saudi-led coalition were preoccupied with the advance of Houthi-Saleh forces in central and southern Yemen, AQAP took advantage of the situation to capture Mukalla, the capital of Hadramawt governorate and Yemen’s fifth largest city. Upon entering Mukalla almost without a fight on 2 April 2015, the group staged a mass jailbreak which freed 150 fighters – including the current AQAP emir Batarfi – from the central prison, looted approximately 100 million USD from the local branch of the Central Bank, and seized military equipment (Radman, 17 April 2019). During its year-long occupation of the city, AQAP developed governance practices that turned its Islamic emirate into a proto-state.
  • Until April 2016, when an Emirati-led offensive drove AQAP out of Mukalla, the group collected an estimated two million USD every day in customs fees levied on goods and fuel entering the port.
  • Nowhere was AQAP’s participation in the conflict more pronounced than in the mountains of Al Bayda, where the group mounted a fierce resistance against the Houthis from as early as 2014. The Houthis moved into Al Bayda in the last quarter of 2014 under the pretext of fighting ISY, and within one year took control of the province. 
  • Though aligned with nearly a decade of counterterrorism operations conducted on Yemeni soil, the military-heavy approach endorsed by the Trump administration inflicted several losses to AQAP and ISY, while also exacting a heavy civilian toll. In January 2017, a botched Special Operations raid in Yakla area targeting AQAP emir Qasim Al Raymi killed instead several members of the Al Dhahab clan, including a pro-government tribesman whom the US mistakenly believed to be an AQAP operative (Al-Muslimi, 26 June 2019). It was estimated that at least 25 civilians, including women and children, have died in US ground raids launched between January and May 2017 (The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 9 February 2017; The Intercept, 28 May 2017).
  • tribes have long been wary of AQAP, fearing that the group’s presence in tribal territory would elicit counterterrorism operations and further disrupt tribal orders (Al-Dawsari, June 2018)
  • At the heart of AQAP’s success in 2015-2016 was its pragmatism. Contrary to the uncompromising sectarian narrative of ISY, AQAP has calibrated its message to local audiences, winning the support of local tribes who were largely concerned with protecting their homeland from the Houthis
  • a military campaign spearheaded by coalition-backed Yemeni troops was successful in curbing AQAP activity in Yemen’s southern provinces. Earlier research by ACLED has highlighted how AQAP’s retreat from Shabwah went hand in hand with the activation of local counterterrorism forces funded and trained by the UAE (see Yemen’s Fractured South: ACLED’s Three-Part Series). In addition to recapturing pockets of territory from AQAP, the Security Belt in Abyan and Aden and the Elite Forces in Shabwah and Hadramawt drained the organization’s recruiting pool, exposing its vulnerabilities and subordination to tribal politics.
  • The main beneficiaries of AQAP’s fragmentation were Salafist militias variously aligned with the Hadi government or the Southern Transitional Council (STC), as well as ISY which aggressively boasted about its ideological purity
  • The four factors plunging AQAP into a major crisis coincided with the evolution of the jihadi “cold war” with ISY into a hot war in July 2018 (Hamming, 7 November 2018)
  • Local and national factors likely ignited the armed confrontations between the two groups, rather than ideological disputes on a transnational scale
  • As of November 2020, no clashes between AQAP and ISY have been reported in the last nine months as AQAP started its shift from redeployment to retrenchment.
  • a Houthi offensive in the Qayfa tribal areas this year led to a significant defeat of both AQAP and ISY at the hands of Houthi forces
  • Instead of fighting ISY, AQAP has ramped up its anti-Houthi rhetoric, in an attempt to reclaim its role as the main enemy of the Houthis
  • AQAP has long taken advantage of tribal grievances towards the Houthis by positioning itself at the epicenter of Houthi opposition in Al Bayda, and therefore presenting itself as a potential partner for tribal resistance movements
  • Despite a recent uptick in activity between August and October 2020, which could indicate a slow consolidation of capabilities following the drone strike that killed both its Emir Al Raymi and senior jurist Al Ibbi in January, AQAP’s activity plummeted in November.
  • if AQAP manages to re-consolidate itself in Yemen, the threat it poses towards its ‘distant’ enemies, such as the United States, could increase as well. This is the driving force behind the US attempts to contain AQAP in Yemen
Ed Webb

Saudi Arabia and the UAE Could Spoil Oman's Smooth Transition by Fomenting Regional Ins... - 0 views

  • Oman remains vulnerable to both foreign and domestic sources of instability as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates seek to expand their regional influence. Potential causes of domestic unrest—including high unemployment, budget deficits, and dwindling oil reserves—lack clear-cut solutions. Sultan Haitham faces multiple challenges even without the threat of foreign meddling, yet Oman’s neighbors may view the death of Qaboos as a unique opportunity to advance their own expansionist agendas.
  • Oman resisted Saudi Arabia’s attempts to use the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as a tool to serve the Saudis’ foreign-policy agenda, most visibly when Oman’s minister of state for foreign affairs publicly rejected King Abdullah’s plan to deepen the GCC into a Gulf Union in 2013, and was the only GCC state to not participate in the Saudi-led military incursion against Yemen that began in 2015.
  • Sultan Haitham comes to power at a time when the Trump administration has repeatedly signaled its support for Saudi Arabia and antipathy toward Iran. The belated naming of low-ranking U.S. officials to attend the official ceremony honoring Sultan Qaboos was widely interpreted as a slight against the Omanis; the U.K., in contrast, sent both Prince Charles and Prime Minister Boris Johnson to pay their respects.
  • ...12 more annotations...
  • Saudi leaders likely hope that Sultan Haitham will be more amenable to a Saudi-led Gulf, and without U.S. support, Oman may feel pressure to acquiesce or face potential repercussions. Omani officials have privately expressed concerns that Oman could be the next target of a Saudi- and Emirati-led blockade
  • Despite precipitating the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis in Yemen, Saudi Arabia has used its military presence there to declare its intention to build a pipeline through the Mahra region and construct an oil port on the Yemeni coast. Saudi Arabia currently ships oil through the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el-Mandeb strait, whereas the proposed pipeline would allow direct access to the Indian Ocean.
  • Mahra has close links to the adjacent Dhofar region of Oman, which has long viewed the province as an informal buffer from the instability in other parts of Yemen. Sultan Qaboos offered aid as well as dual citizenship to residents of Mahra as a means of eliminating the potential for another conflict resembling the Dhofar War of 1963-1976, which drew cross-border support from the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen operating from Mahra into Dhofar
  • Inhabitants of Mahra have expressed frustration with the presence of both the Saudis and Emiratis, given that these kingdoms’ alleged foes—the Houthis as well as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula—are not present in Mahra
  • The UAE has taken control of the Yemeni island of Socotra, building a military base in a unique ecosystem nominally protected by UNESCO. The UAE is also building bases in Eritrea and Somaliland as part of a plan to develop a “string of ports” that will allow it to project power and escape possible pressure from Iran in the Persian Gulf.
  • Other Emirati ambitions include the Musandam Peninsula, an Omani enclave that forms the narrowest point in the Strait of Hormuz. The inhabitants of the peninsula have close ties to the UAE, as Musandam connects geographically to the emirates of Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah, rather than Oman. Oman’s control of the strategic chokepoint reflects the sultanate’s history as an empire whose territory once stretched from southern Pakistan to Zanzibar. 
  • The border between Oman and the UAE was only formally demarcated in 2008, but Omanis see a circle of potential threats arising from Emirati activity in or possible designs on Musandam, Mahra, and Socotra.
  • the UAE may feel that Oman’s new sultan may be more receptive to alignment with Emirati objectives than his predecessor
  • Oman has failed to significantly diversify its economy
  • As in many oil-dependent economies, unemployment is high, especially among young people
  • During the popular uprising of 2011, which brought thousands of Omanis to the street for the first time, the government used its nest egg to pay for a massive expansion of the government payroll.
  • there are no available resources to try to finance a transition away from oil, and the low price of oil has further impeded the government’s efforts to meet its obligations
Ed Webb

Leaking Ghost Tankers: Pollution in the Port of Aden - Peace Organization PAX - 0 views

  • Decaying oil tankers at the coasts of Yemen pose serious risks to the environment and the people depending on it, reminding us starkly how conflicts can bring serious pollution risks. New open source research by PAX reveals multiple oil spills from rusty ships that have been polluting the coastal areas around the Port of Aden. If no action is taken by the authorities to remove these ships, it is only a matter of time before a new disaster will unfold.
  • Current international attention is mainly focused on finding a solution for the decaying oil tanker FSO SAFER loaded with 1.1 million barrels of oil. The tanker is at risk of sinking or exploding, which would create a regional environmental catastrophe. Yet over the course of the last years, smaller incidents around oil tankers in Yemen’s ports, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden have been mounting as well. Ranging from direct attacks on oil tankers to abandoned ships sinking and fires at port refineries, the conflict continues to create serious local pollution problems.
  • The war itself already poses serious environmental challenges that impact both Yemen’s population and its precious ecosystems. This ranges from structural leaking oil incidents documented by the Yemen environmentalist group Holmakhdar and the Sanaa Center, to broader environmental problems, and conflict-linked cutting and dying of millions of date palms, demonstrated by the open-source investigative group Bellingcat. The current weak state of governance and oversight around the many environmental challenges Yemen is facing continues to result in ongoing incidents that worsen the state of environment and affect the people depending on it.  Not only does this currently already lead to mounting environmental health risks and degraded ecosystems, these impacts will also worsen climate resilience for the conflict-affected country due to more extreme weather events, water shortages and rising temperatures
  • ...8 more annotations...
  • According to the experts, over 40 tons of oil was leaked from the leaking tanker, though this has not been confirmed by the local authorities
  • PAX has observed leaks from two ships, including a large spill on July 5,2022 from the PEARL OF ATHENA that continued for 18 days until July 23. Oil slicks have washed ashore, polluting the coastal environment, and could pose a long-term risk to the marine environment in and around the bay of Aden, which could pose particular threats to the livelihoods of fishing communities. Hydrocarbons from crude oil and refined products contain toxic heavy metals such as lead, zinc, cadmium and mercury that can accumulate around coastal soils and sediments, be ingested by marine organisms such as fish, affect marine birds and mammals and impact marine ecosystems.
  • Large spills such as this one are also likely to hold up the arrival of ships that need to offload humanitarian goods in the container terminal. This is because ships are not able to go into the port until such slicks are removed to prevent further dispersal of the oil by the movement of incoming ships.  
  • The ongoing war in Yemen continues to stress local authorities’ capacities to address both the issues with dilapidated oil tankers and set up a proper environmental monitoring and enforcement mechanism for ships arriving in the Port of Aden
  • A damage assessment conducted by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in 2021 found that at over 20 million USD was needed for reparations at the container terminal alone. The report, also stated that:  “Health, safety, and environmental awareness in the Port is currently unacceptable. The Port contains large areas of conflict-damaged debris, damaged and unusable equipment, and equipment and materials being stored for future use.”  
  • The arrival of ballast water on ships trading to ports in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (..) has the potential to do more harm to the marine environment than a major oil pollution incident. (..) Dumping of hazardous materials at sea in waters close to the Gulf of Aden has the potential to carry serious pollution hazards into the region.”   
  • the international community has failed to pick up the bill to effectively prevent a major environmental disaster with the FSO SAFER, despite the UN starting a public campaign to raise $20 million dollar to prevent a serious disaster posed by the tanker. Meanwhile, western countries continue to allow for billions in weapons sales to the countries bombing Yemen.  
  • The remaining tankers in the Port of Aden continue to pose a risk of sinking, which would likely lead to further environmental pollution with effects on coastal areas. This would particularly impact fishing communities and surrounding ecosystems
Ed Webb

Yemen and Iran: What's really going on? - 2 views

  • it may be true that members of Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guard are "embedded" in Yemen. Or it may not. Until the Saudis produce the evidence they claim to possess, we only have their word for it.
  • Iranian involvement in Yemen also has to be judged alongside the involvement of other players. In that regard, Saudi Arabia's meddling in Yemen, over a long period, has been – and still is – far more persistent and pervasive than that of any other country, including Iran. The recent ICG report also points out that the beleaguered Yemeni president (or perhaps ex-president now) Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his allies are more dependent on Riyadh than the Houthis are on Tehran.
  • in terms of fighting on the ground, Iran is not the Houthis' most important ally; former president Ali Abdullah Saleh is
  • ...5 more annotations...
  • The Saudis have tacitly acknowledged this in their targeting of airstrikes, since many have been directed against Saleh's forces and included attacks on Sanhan, Saleh's home district
  • In the current hothouse atmosphere, however, questioning whether Iran's actual involvement in Yemen justifies the hype is liable to be viewed as heresy or a sign of support for Iran
  • the unquestioning way they are lapped up and regurgitated is very reminiscent of the propaganda surrounding Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the 2003 war.
  • Although it's possible that Iran is supplying the Houthis with weapons, there is a lack of solid evidence to support such claims and other factors suggest they should be treated with caution.
  • One possible interpretation of Iran's behaviour is that while it is certainly stirring things in Yemen it is doing so on the cheap, perhaps as a diversionary tactic. In the words of former US ambassador Barbara Bodine: "I think the Iranian interest in this is that the Saudis, as we know, are very much involved in trying to unseat Assad, who is extraordinarily important to Iran, and Iran coming in [to Yemen] and providing support to fellow Shia is a way of distracting the Saudis – and in that sense the Iranians have been terribly successful because we have reports of 150,000 Saudi troops on the border, large numbers of aircraft and ships and everything being pulled into Yemen.  "Everything that's being pulled into Yemen [by the Saudis, etc] is not being focused on Syria or, for that matter, ISIL. So, as an Iranian gambit to pull the Saudis away from what they consider more important, it was a very good gambit."
  •  
    Very sound analysis, as usual, from Brian.
Ed Webb

A Middle East Monarchy Hired American Ex-Soldiers To Kill Its Political Enemies. This C... - 0 views

  • “There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen,” he told BuzzFeed News. “I was running it. We did it. It was sanctioned by the UAE within the coalition.”
  • The revelations that a Middle East monarchy hired Americans to carry out assassinations comes at a moment when the world is focused on the alleged murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia, an autocratic regime that has close ties to both the US and the UAE
  • The UAE, with vast wealth but only about 1 million citizens, relies on migrant workers from all over the world to do everything from cleaning its toilets to teaching its university students. Its military is no different, paying lavish sums to eager US defense companies and former generals. The US Department of Defense has approved at least $27 billion in arms sales and defense services to the UAE since 2009.
  • ...26 more annotations...
  • Spear Operations Group’s private assassination mission marks the confluence of three developments transforming the way war is conducted worldwide:Modern counterterrorism combat has shifted away from traditional military objectives — such as destroying airfields, gun emplacements, or barracks — to killing specific individuals, largely reshaping war into organized assassinations.War has become increasingly privatized, with many nations outsourcing most military support services to private contractors, leaving frontline combat as virtually the only function that the US and many other militaries have not contracted out to for-profit ventures.The long US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have relied heavily on elite special forces, producing tens of thousands of highly trained American commandos who can demand high private-sector salaries for defense contracting or outright mercenary work.
  • militarized contract killing, carried out by skilled American fighters
  • “There were guys that were basically doing what you said.” He was astonished, he said, by what he learned: “What vetting procedures are there to make sure the guy you just smoked is really a bad guy?” The mercenaries, he said, were “almost like a murder squad.”
  • US law makes it illegal to “conspire to kill, kidnap, maim” someone in another country. Companies that provide military services to foreign nations are supposed to be regulated by the State Department, which says it has never granted any company the authority to supply combat troops or mercenaries to another country
  • with some exceptions, it is perfectly legal to serve in foreign militaries, whether one is motivated by idealism or money. With no legal consequences, Americans have served in the Israel Defense Forces, the French Foreign Legion, and even a militia fighting ISIS in Syria. Spear Operations Group, according to three sources, arranged for the UAE to give military rank to the Americans involved in the mission, which might provide them legal cover.
  • The commandos’ plans went awry, and the intelligence proved flawed. And their strike was far from surgical: The explosive they attached to the door was designed to kill not one person but everyone in the office
  • Private mercenaries operate outside the US military’s chain of command, so if they make mistakes or commit war crimes, there is no clear system for holding them accountable
  • Golan insists that he killed only terrorists identified by the government of the UAE, an ally of the US. But who is a terrorist and who is a politician? What is a new form of warfare and what is just old-fashioned murder for hire? Who has the right to choose who lives and who dies — not only in the wars of a secretive monarchy like the UAE, but also those of a democracy such as the US?
  • Golan said that during his company’s months-long engagement in Yemen, his team was responsible for a number of the war’s high-profile assassinations, though he declined to specify which ones. He argued that the US needs an assassination program similar to the model he deployed. “I just want there to be a debate,” he said. “Maybe I’m a monster. Maybe I should be in jail. Maybe I’m a bad guy. But I’m right.”
  • the country embeds foreigners in its military and gave the rank of major general to an American lieutenant colonel, Stephen Toumajan, placing him in command of a branch of its armed forces.
  • The US draws the line at combat; it does not hire mercenaries to carry out attacks or engage directly in warfare. But that line can get blurry. Private firms provide heavily armed security details to protect diplomats in war zones or intelligence officers in the field. Such contractors can engage in firefights, as they did in Benghazi, Libya, when two contractors died in 2012 defending a CIA post. But, officially, the mission was protection, not warfare
  • The people Spear did target, he and Gilmore said, were legitimate because they were selected by the government of the UAE, an ally of the United States that was engaged in a military action supported by the US. Gilmore said that he and Golan told the UAE they would never act against US interests. And Golan claimed that, based on his military experience, he could tell if a target was a terrorist after just a week or two of surveillance.
  • A little-known consequence of the war on terror, and in particular the 17 combined years of US warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, is that the number of special operations forces has more than doubled since 9/11, from 33,000 to 70,000. That’s a vast pool of crack soldiers selected, trained, and combat-tested by the most elite units of the US military, such as the Navy SEALs and Army Rangers. Some special operations reservists are known to engage in for-profit soldiering, said a high-level SEAL officer who asked not to be named. “I know a number of them who do this sort of thing,” he said. If the soldiers are not on active duty, he added, they are not obligated to report what they’re doing.
  • Gilmore said some were members of Al-Islah, some were clerics, and some were out-and-out terrorists — but he conceded he couldn’t be sure.BuzzFeed News has obtained one of the target cards. On it is a man’s name, photograph, telephone number, and other information. At the top right is the insignia of the UAE Presidential Guard.
  • During the Cold War, the CIA played a role in plots to assassinate foreign leaders, such as Patrice Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, and Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam. Later in the Vietnam War, the US launched the Phoenix program, in which the CIA often teamed up with US military units to “neutralize” — or, critics say, assassinate — Viet Cong leaders. Even so, targeted killings were not a central pillar of US military strategy in Vietnam. And after Congress exposed CIA activities in the 1970s, the US banned assassinations of foreign leaders.
  • Under President George W. Bush, the CIA and the military used drones to kill terrorists, and the CIA developed covert assassination capabilities. President Barack Obama halted the agency’s secret assassination program but drastically ramped up the use of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Soon the CIA and the military were using the aircraft — piloted remotely using video monitors — to kill people whose names the US didn’t even know, through “signature strikes” based solely on a target’s associations and activities. President Donald Trump has further loosened the rules for drone strikes.
  • Only a uniformed officer can push the button that fires the drone’s missile and kills the target
  • Elisabeth Kendall, an expert on Yemen at the University of Oxford, points out that unlike al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups, which try to seize power through violence, Al-Islah participates in the political process. But, she said, the US rationale for drone strikes has legitimized other countries’ pursuit of their own assassinations: “The whole very watery, vague notion of a war on terror has left the door wide open to any regime saying, ‘This is all a war on terror.’ ”
  • Golan said he models his assassination business on Israel’s targeted killing program, which has been underway since the country was founded, and which, despite some high-profile errors and embarrassments, he claims is done properly. He argues there are some terrorist enemies so dangerous and implacable — and so difficult to arrest — that assassination is the best solution.
  • Golan and Gilmore had another condition: They wanted to be incorporated into the UAE Armed Forces. And they wanted their weapons — and their target list — to come from uniformed military officers. That was “for juridical reasons,” Golan said. “Because if the shit hits the fan,” he explained, the UAE uniform and dog tags would mark “the difference between a mercenary and a military man.”
  • Gilmore acknowledged that some of the targets may have been people who merely fell out of favor with the ruling family. Referring to the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, Gilmore said, “There is the possibility that the target would be someone who MBZ doesn’t like. We’d try to make sure that didn’t happen.”
  • Even though it failed to kill Mayo, the mercenaries’ bomb attack seems to have ushered in a new phase in the UAE’s war against Al-Islah. “It was the exclamation point that set the tone that Al-Islah was now going to be targeted,”
  • As 2016 progressed, those watching the deteriorating situation in Yemen began to notice that members of Al-Islah, and other clerics in Aden, were dropping dead at an alarming pace. “It does appear to be a targeted campaign,” said Gregory Johnsen of the Arabia Foundation, who in 2016 served on a UN panel investigating the Yemen war. “There have been 25 to 30 assassinations,” he said, though a few appear to be the work of ISIS.
  • One new member of the team, hired in early 2016, was the veteran of SEAL Team 6, Daniel Corbett, according to three sources and confirmed by photos. Corbett was a superb soldier, say those who know him, and had served multiple combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was still in the reserves, so the US military could deploy him at any moment; he collected a government salary; and he was supposed to report for monthly drills. And yet he was in Yemen on a private contract to work for a foreign military. It is unclear if he himself was involved in missions to assassinate anyone.
  • In a mysterious development, Corbett is currently in jail in Serbia, where he is being investigated for illegal handgun possession. The American veteran has been held there since February 2018.
  • “some variety of the future of warfare.”
Ed Webb

Opinion | Why Are American Troops in the Yemen War? - The New York Times - 2 views

  • In the latest expansion of America’s secret wars, about a dozen Army commandos have been on Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen since late last year, according to an exclusive report by The Times. The commandos are helping to locate and destroy missiles and launch sites used by indigenous Houthi rebels in Yemen to attack Saudi cities.This involvement puts the lie to Pentagon statements that American military aid to the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen is limited to aircraft refueling, logistics and intelligence, and is not related to combat.When senators at a hearing in March demanded to know whether American troops were at risk of entering hostilities with the Houthis, Gen. Joseph Votel, head of the Central Command, assured them, “We’re not parties to this conflict.”
  • In at least 14 countries, American troops are fighting extremist groups that are professed enemies of the United States or are connected, sometimes quite tenuously, to such militants. The Houthis pose no such threat to the United States. But they are backed by Iran, so the commandos’ deployment increases the risk that the United States could come into direct conflict with that country, a target of increasing ire from the administration, the Saudis and Israelis.
  • Congress never specifically approved military involvement in the Saudi-Houthi civil war
  • ...4 more annotations...
  • checks and balances have eroded since Sept. 11, 2001, as ordinary Americans became indifferent to the country’s endless wars against terrorists and Congress largely abdicated its constitutional role to share responsibility with the president for sending troops into battle
  • While the war is effectively stalemated, Saudi Arabia’s rising new leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, seems committed to a military victory despite the horrors caused by the fighting. He has been emboldened by Mr. Trump, who has been willing to sell the kingdom almost any new military hardware it wants
  • Saudi Arabia is less secure now than when it began its air campaign three years ago
  • the United Nations is planning to put forward a new proposal to restart peace negotiations. Congress could improve the chance of success by cutting off military aid to Saudi Arabia and voting to bar the use of American troops against the Houthis in Yemen
Ed Webb

Divisions restrict Southern Transitional Council, UAE ambitions in Yemen - 0 views

  • Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council emerging as a dominant force in the south has shifted the country’s political dynamics. The faction faces opposition not just from President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government but within the southern movement itself. The STC emerged in May 2017 and declared independence later that year, operating with its military wing the Security Belt and UAE-backed elite forces in southern governorates like Hadramawt and Shabwa. It has formed a parliament and cabinet with formal government positions and presented itself as a legitimate state actor.
  • Following unification between the north and south in 1990, many people in the south, where most of the country’s natural resources are located, felt the unification left them economically and politically disadvantaged, leading to the emergence of the Southern Movement and various other secessionist pushes in 2007.
  • The STC shares the UAE’s hatred of the Islamist al-Islah party in Yemen. The UAE has used the Security Belt to occupy the south
  • ...9 more annotations...
  • the Security Belt is entirely funded and trained by the UAE
  • “Mahra is the biggest challenge for the STC because of the role played by Oman. Local tribes don’t want conflict, so they maintain limited representation within the local STC group, while still retaining ties to Oman,”
  • On Sept. 3, the sheikh of Mahra, Ali Saleh al-Huraizi, who opposes Saudi and Emirati influence, announced the formation of the Southern National Salvation Council in Mahra
  • while the UAE-backed factions have maintained a degree of cohesion, other southern movements threaten their agenda with diverging aims
  • There are currently dozens of southern movements operating outside the STC’s command. Yet due to the extensive UAE support for the STC and its secessionist militias, it is still the dominant southern faction.
  • divisions across Yemen's southern governorates could give rise to further demands for independence. “Oil-rich Hadramawt, which has a land area of more than 193,000 square kilometers, would seek autonomy,”
  • Mahra in the far east and Yemen's second largest province will join Hadramawt and seek autonomy
  • the UAE, which is eyeing seaports and islands and seeking to achieve a victory through separation amid the Saudi-led coalition's failure to beat the Houthis
  • UAE-backed factions are clearly seeking to impose their will by force. Reports in 2017 emerged of a Security Belt-run prison network run by UAE-backed southern militias and accused of torture and other human rights violations. These factions, such as the Shabwa, had carried out arbitrary arrests and intimidation campaigns, causing tension with local factions. Emirati airstrikes on government forces in Aden following their recapture of the city after the STC’s Aug. 10 coup attempt show they are seeking to maintain control there.
Ed Webb

OHCHR | UN Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen releases their ... - 0 views

  • After six unremitting years of armed conflict, all parties continue to show no regard for international law or the lives, dignity, and rights of people in Yemen, according to the third report of the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen
  • “the international community has a responsibility to put an end to this pandemic of impunity, and should not turn a blind eye to the gross violations that have been committed in Yemen. After years of documenting the terrible toll of this war, no one can say ‘we did not know what was happening in Yemen’. Accountability is key to ensure that justice is served to the people of Yemen and to humanity.”
  • concern about the continued transfer of arms by third States to the parties of the conflict
  • ...5 more annotations...
  • violations have been committed by the Government of Yemen, the Houthis, the Southern Transitional Council, as well as members of the Coalition, which is led by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
  • indiscriminate attacks have been carried out by both the Coalition and the Houthis, inflicting harm on civilians and civilian objects
  • violations include arbitrary deprivation of life, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, gender-based violence, including sexual violence, torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, the recruitment and use in hostilities of children, the denial of fair trial rights, violations of fundamental freedoms, and economic, social and cultural rights
  • a consistent pattern of harm to civilians that not only occurs in the context of hostilities, but also away from the front lines
  • constitute war crimes under customary international law
Ed Webb

Covid-19 kills scores of health workers in war-torn Yemen | Yemen | The Guardian - 0 views

  • At least 97 Yemeni healthcare workers have died from Covid-19 as the disease ravages the war-torn country, according to a report that gives an insight into the true scale of Yemen’s poorly documented outbreak.Yemen, already suffering from a five-year war that has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, has proved uniquely vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic, according to data published by the medical charity MedGlobal on Thursday.
  • Yemen’s official total number of cases is 1,610, with 446 deaths, so the high number of healthcare worker casualties outlined by the report suggests the true caseload and mortality figure is far higher. For comparison, in badly hit Italy, where 245,0362 people have caught the virus, 35,073 people have died, including about 100 doctors. Yemen currently has a 27% mortality rate from the disease – more than five times the global average.
  • In a country where half of all medical facilities are out of action, and aid funding shortfalls are exacerbating the existing malnutrition and cholera crises, the loss of just one medical professional has a devastating exponential effect. About 18% of the country’s 333 districts already have no doctors.
  • ...3 more annotations...
  • “We have lost our best colleagues, people who can’t be replaced easily,” she said. “Coronavirus is also killing the morale of medical staff.”
  • The loss of five gynaecologists and midwives will also have a disastrous impact in a country where one in every 260 women die during pregnancy or childbirth.
  • the number of Yemenis facing high levels of acute food insecurity is forecast to increase from 2 million to 3.2 million over the next six months – about 40% of the population
Ed Webb

From SEALs to All-Out War: Why Rushing Into Yemen Is a Dangerous Idea | Foreign Policy - 0 views

  • As is often the case with Trump’s comments on policy, they quickly become the focus of media attention, rather than what the administration is actually doing — or what the facts are on the ground.
  • two separate but overlapping conflicts
  • a counterterrorism fight waged by Yemeni government, with U.S. support, against AQAP, al Qaeda’s most virulent franchise
  • ...13 more annotations...
  • The second, and more damaging conflict, is a civil war between the government of Yemen and the Houthi minority, which was expected to last a matter of weeks, and maybe months, but is now well into its third year. It began when Houthi militia fighters descended on the capital Sanaa in late 2014 and soon evicted the government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a close partner of the United States.
  • if new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wants to make an early diplomatic contribution, then there is a confounding but vital mission with his name on it: de-escalating a Yemen civil war that is damaging U.S. interests and should have stopped a long time ago
  • The civil war escalated dramatically in March 2015, with the intervention of a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which understandably felt threatened by the turmoil on its border and by ties between the Houthis and Riyadh’s arch-rival Iran. The United States, which had long been urging Saudi Arabia to take greater responsibility for security challenges in its region, offered a range of support, including with intelligence, weapons sales, aerial refueling for Saudi planes, and various measures to help secure the Saudi border
  • According to the United Nations, 16,200 people have been killed in Yemen since the intervention, including 10,000 civilians. The humanitarian situation in what was already one of the world’s poorest countries, is now, after Syria, the most dire on the planet, with one in five Yemenis severely food insecure
  • The war has preoccupied key partners with an enemy that does not directly threaten the United States. Indiscriminate air strikes, conducted with American weapons and in the context of American assistance, have killed scores of non-combatants (such incidents eventually compelled the Obama administration to review and adjust our assistance to the coalition). And while Iran and the Houthis have historically maintained an arms-length relationship, the long conflict has brought them closer and led to the introduction of more advanced weapons, such as missiles capable of striking deep into Saudi territory or of threatening the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, a critical channel for maritime traffic.
  • Saudi officials and their Emirati coalition partners have been signaling for months that they are eager to end the conflict, which they did not expect to last nearly this long
  • after years of U.N.-led negotiations that sought to sell a relatively one-sided peace to the Houthis (despite what was, at best, a stalemate on the ground), the Obama administration developed and bequeathed to its successors a more balanced roadmap to which all key parties (the Saudis, the Houthis, and the Yemeni government — as well as the United States, U.N., and U.K.) grudgingly agreed
  • the Houthis are infamously difficult to work with. When Secretary of State John Kerry met for several hours with their representatives in Oman last November, he was forced to endure a lengthy airing of historical grievances before embarking on the topic at hand. They also have a long history of violating dozens of agreements, which every Saudi diplomat can recount, chapter and verse. Negotiating peace will also inevitably involve straining relationships with our key partners, who will need to be pushed in the right direction
  • Hadi, who all relevant players acknowledge cannot govern a reconciled Yemeni state, has consistently scuttled deals that would require him leave office. His Saudi patrons have proven either unwilling, or unable, to compel better behavior and are themselves too are quick to revert to unreasonable demands — a tendency that would be reinforced if the Trump administration signals it unconditionally has Riyadh’s back
  • the Emiratis, who maintain a heavy troop presence in southern Yemen but have, wisely, been more focused on AQAP (the first war) than the Houthis (second), have for many months been threatening to attack the Houthi-held port of Hudeidah, a provocative step that would almost certain set back any peacemaking efforts indefinitely
  • an expanded presence of U.S. forces — while Yemeni and Saudi governments are still at war with the Houthis — could bring U.S. troops into close quarters with Iran and its proxies, with all of the escalatory potential that entails
  • While the Houthis fired on a U.S. ship late last year, they have not repeated that mistake since the Obama administration retaliated by destroying radars located along the coast. If President Trump chooses to put U.S. forces into the middle of a civil war, it should explain a purpose and objective more concretely than simply “pushing back” on Iran. Moreover, it must do so with its eyes open to the risks those forces would be assuming and the reality that a limited special forces mission is unlikely to turn the tide on the ground
  • the longer the conflict with the Houthis continues, the more AQAP will continue to benefit from our, and our partners’, divided focus, as it strengthens its hold on ungoverned territory
Ed Webb

PRESS RELEASE: While overall violence has declined in 2018, conflict is spreading | Acl... - 0 views

  • Despite a decrease in total fatalities this year, the majority of countries experienced more conflict, expanding the scope of political violence across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)’s 2018 data show that both the number of new locations experiencing violence and the number of armed actors engaging in violence have risen since 2017. ACLED data also confirm that conflict hotspots like Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria still have the highest rates of organized violence and highest death tolls, with a combined total of nearly 100,000 reported fatalities this year.
  • While political violence decreased overall in volume, it also expanded. In 2018, more locations saw violence, more conflict actors emerged, more actors targeted civilians than before, and more countries saw disorder increase than decrease within their borders
  • Despite the growing prevalence of non-state actors, state actors remain the most violent actors worldwide: State actors in Yemen, Syria, and Afghanistan were active in the highest number of conflict events in 2018
  • ...5 more annotations...
  • Conventional warfare dominates: The most violent countries in the ACLED dataset in 2018 are those with large conventional conflicts: Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Together, these four countries make up nearly 70% of all organized violence events recorded by ACLED in 2018
  • The war in Afghanistan is the most lethal conflict in the world: Afghanistan was by far the deadliest country covered by ACLED in 2018, with nearly as many fatalities as Syria and Yemen combined, and 30% of all fatalities reported by ACLED during the year at more than 41,000*
  • Syria and Yemen remain flashpoints: The conflicts in these two countries had the highest number of organized political violence events in 2018 and were also the most dangerous places for civilians. Syria alone made up nearly 40% of the total number of violence events recorded for 2018, while this was the deadliest year for Yemen since ACLED began monitoring the war in 2016, with over 28,100 fatalities
  • Syria is the deadliest place for civilians: In 2018, nearly as many civilians were killed in Syria (over 7,100) as were in Nigeria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and the Philippines combined (over 7,600 total)
  • The Philippines is a war zone in disguise: Over 1,000 civilians were killed in the Philippines in 2018 – more than in Iraq, Somalia, or the DRC – highlighting the lethality of Duterte’s state terror campaign dubbed the ‘War on Drugs’
Ed Webb

The Myth of Stability: Infighting and Repression in Houthi-Controlled Territories | ACLED - 0 views

  • Six years after the coup that ousted President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi and his government, the Houthi movement, otherwise known as Ansarallah, has strengthened its grip on northern Yemen. It currently rules over approximately 70% of the country’s population, and in 2020 mounted new military offensives in Al Jawf, Marib and Hodeidah
  • A pervasive security apparatus, built on the ashes of Ali Abdullah Saleh-era intelligence bodies (UN Panel of Experts, 27 January 2020: 9), has focused on protecting the Houthi regime and monitoring the movements of suspected enemies, including humanitarian organizations.
  • From the failed uprising incited by former president and erstwhile Houthi ally Ali Abdullah Saleh to sporadic tribal rebellions and infighting within Houthi ranks, localized resistance to Houthi rule has turned violent in several provinces.
  • ...11 more annotations...
  • This report draws on ACLED data to examine patterns of infighting and repression in Houthi-controlled Yemen from 2015 to the present. It shows that behind the purported projection of unity in the face of the ‘aggression,’ local struggles within the Houthi movement, and between the movement and the tribes, are widespread across the territories under Houthi control. This geographic diffusion, however, has not translated into a unitary front against the Houthis; it rather reflects localized resistance to Houthi domination and encroachment in tribal areas which has stood little chance against the Houthis’ machine of repression
  • Alongside the regular army, special military units and armed militias operate under the command of high-ranking Houthi officials, loyal tribal shaykhs, and other prominent figures capable of rallying support locally. While expected to show ideological commitment to the Houthi cause, local commanders also enjoy relative autonomy, operating as a network of militias that are involved in the extraction of levies and the recruitment of fighters in support of the war effort
  • Rival factions are reported to exist among senior Houthi officials competing over access to positions of power and control of rents. While these are rarely — if ever — acknowledged in public, concerns over balancing their relative influence on decision-making are said to determine the allocation of regime posts and resources
  • In 2020, more than 40 distinct battles between opposing Houthi forces were recorded in 11 governorates, compared to the 15 battles distributed across six governorates in 2018 and the 31 battles across seven governorates in 2019
  • a multitude of locally situated struggles among elements of the Houthi regime over land property, checkpoint control, and taxation
  • Since 2015, tribes have spearheaded the military campaign against the Houthis in several battlefronts across Yemen, although intermittent or inadequate support from the armed forces of the Yemeni government and the Saudi-led coalition has been a frequent cause of frustration. Over the past year, the Murad tribe mounted a fierce resistance against the Houthi offensive in Marib amidst a spectacular failure of the army to coordinate and lead the fighting (Nagi, 29 September 2020). Likewise, tribal fighters and shaykhs have been enlisted to join brigades associated with the government and the coalition, such as the powerful Second Giants Brigade deployed on the western front and dominated by the Al Subayha tribe (Al Masdar, 3 January 2021). Beyond mere fighting, tribal mediation has also succeeded in achieving several prison swaps between the government and the Houthis, often outperforming UN-brokered mediation efforts (Al Masdar, 9 December 2019; Al Dawsari, 10 November 2020).
  • violence targeting unarmed tribespeople and communal groups has substantially increased over the past two years, a reflection of growing Houthi repression.
  • the enforcement of norms deemed as illegitimate by the tribes, as well as the forceful arrest of tribespeople, has led locals to take up arms against the Houthis in several northern governorates
  • the destruction of a house represents a physical and symbolic humiliation, which can deprive a tribal shaykh of power and respect among his community and beyond. In February 2014, the Houthis blew up the house of the Al Ahmar family in Amran, a warning sign for other tribal shaykhs planning to oppose the Houthi advance in Hashid territory (Al-Dawsari, 17 February 2020). This event was not the last one, and the use of these tactics has in fact intensified throughout the war: data collected by ACLED reveal that the Houthis blew up, burnt, or shelled houses belonging to tribal, community, and party leaders in at least 51 districts across 17 governorates
  • The Houthis have responded to mounting tribal opposition with severe repression, resulting in higher levels of violence targeting civilians and breeding further anxiety among the tribes. 
  • While spared by the fragmentation and insurgencies that characterize much of southern Yemen (for more, see ACLED’s analysis series mapping little-known armed groups in Yemen, as well as our recent report on the wartime transformation of AQAP), infighting and repression constitute two major sources of instability in Houthi-controlled territories, and a potential challenge to the survival of the Houthi regime in the coming years.
Ed Webb

Saudi-led coalition air attacks in Yemen down 80 percent: UN | Yemen News | Al Jazeera - 0 views

  • The United Nations Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths has told the UN Security Council that the number of air attacks by the Saudi-led coalition battling the Houthi rebels has dropped by nearly 80 percent in the last two weeks.
  • "In recent weeks, there have been entire 48-hour periods without air strikes for the first time since the conflict began," Griffiths said on Friday. "We call this de-escalation, a reduction in the tempo of the war, and perhaps a move towards an overall ceasefire in Yemen."
  • De-escalation of hostilities is a major aspect of informal talks that have been going on between Saudi Arabia and Houthi officials since September for a possible ceasefire in Yemen.
  • ...1 more annotation...
  • skirmishes between the warring parties in the port city of Hodeidah, where the two sides agreed on a ceasefire last year, have been reduced by 80 percent after the deployment of UN monitors in recent weeks
Ed Webb

Huge Sudanese losses in Yemen highlight fighters' role in the conflict | Middle East Eye - 1 views

  • While Saudi and Emirati troops backing the government of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi have been most prominent in the fight against the rebel Houthi movement, another country's fighters can be seen more readily on the frontline: those from Sudan.
  • Yemeni fighters say the Sudanese they fight alongside are some of the toughest troops in the Saudi-led coalition battling the Houthis.
  • Houthis themselves claimed last weekend that Saudi and Emirati forces are willing to push the Sudanese to the frontline while remaining in relative safety themselves.
  • ...8 more annotations...
  • Some 4,000 Sudanese have been killed in Yemen since 2015, Sariea said, adding that the pro-Hadi coalition has shown little appetite to see the return of captured fighters in prisoner-swap deals.
  • Sudanese have been deployed in key areas and along hot front lines, such as Taiz, Hajjah and Hodeidah.
  • The Sudanese fighters have been drawn principally from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a tribal paramilitary group aligned with Sudan's government and previously known as the Janjaweed.
  • Majed Ghurbani, a 43-year-old Yemeni fighter on the western coast, told MEE that since he began fighting with pro-Hadi forces in 2015, he "has not seen any Saudi or Emirati fighter on the frontline". "The Sudanese are brave fighters, and they have more experience in fighting than Saudis, Emiratis or Yemenis," he said.
  • Now Sudan is ruled a military-civilian administration, raising questions about the Sudanese forces' continued presence in Yemen.
  • the spokesperson of the Sudanese armed forces, Brigadier General Amer Mohammed al-Hasan, dismissed Sariea's statement as "psychological warfare". "That was a kind of psychological warfare and exaggeration against the truth," Hasan told Al Jazeera TV, declining to give any figures for casualties or detainees.
  • For the Houthis and many supporters of Hadi, the Sudanese are fighting in Yemen as mercenaries, rather than because they want to prop up the Yemeni government. "The Sudanese fighting under the leadership of the coalition implement the agenda of the UAE and not Hadi, because they are mercenaries fighting for the sake of money," Khaldoon, a pro-Hadi military leader in Taiz, told MEE.
  • "There are around 30,000 Sudanese fighters in Yemen, and Sudan sees them as a resource to bring foreign currency into the country, so it is normal that Sudan does not talk about its loss in Yemen,"
Erin Gold

Yemen's North Hit by Bloodiest Fighting in Years - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • emeni Army fought back a major offensive by rebels in the northern city of Sadah early Sunday morning, killing dozens of insurgents,
  • The battle appears to have been the boldest rebel attack yet in five weeks of renewed fighting in Yemen’s remote and mountainous Sadah Province,
  • Houthi rebels have been clashing intermittently with Yemen’s government for five years
  • ...8 more annotations...
  • latest round of fighting, which erupted last month after a yearlong cease-fire, has been the bloodiest so far.
  • eports of the death toll varied, with some news agencies saying more than 140 rebels had been killed. There was no word on whether any Yemeni soldiers died
  • The Sadah conflict has displaced tens of thousands of people, international monitors say, leaving many refugees stranded without adequate food or water.
  • The Yemeni government says the rebels are preventing civilians from leaving the conflict zone, and has accused them of using civilians as human shields.
  • Despite their geographical isolation, the rebels have acquired an increasingly sophisticated arsenal, largely by capturing or buying government weapons.
  • Yemeni government has accused the rebels of receiving unofficial support from Iran, but the Houthis deny it.
  • he Houthis are Zaidis, an offshoot of Shiite Islam that is fairly common in Yemen, and the government has used radical Sunni militants as proxy forces against them.
  • government has accused the Houthis of trying to restore the traditional Zaidi-led imamate that largely ruled Yemen until 1962. The Houthis deny it, saying they merely want more autonomy in Sadah and restitution for war damages.
Ed Webb

Iran issues tacit warning to Saudi Arabia over attacks on rebels - Times Online - 1 views

  • Iran warned Saudi Arabia yesterday not to become further entangled in supporting the Yemen Government’s drive to put down Shia Muslim rebels.
  • “Those who pour oil on the fire must know that they will not be spared from the smoke that billows,” said Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian Foreign Minister, in a clear warning to Saudi Arabia
  • The Shia rebels have accused Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemen President, of allowing the puritanical Saudi brand of Sunni Islam, known as Wahhabism, to gain increasing strength in predominantly Sunni Yemen — even though the President is a Shia
  • ...2 more annotations...
  • Prince Khaled bin Sultan, the Saudi assistant defence minister, said the rebels must “withdraw dozens of kilometres” into Yemen before the Saudi assault would end. A rebel spokesman said Saudi forces were trying to set up a buffer zone, and shelling deep into Yemen to drive the Huthi back.
  • Amid the growing tensions, the US has sought to shore up the Yemen military by signing an agreement this week to cooperate on military training and intelligence.
Ed Webb

U.S. Refuses to Help Wounded Survivor of Drone Bombing - 0 views

  • Al Manthari has paid the price for America’s shoot-first-ask-no-questions-later system of remote warfare. The irreparable damage to his body left Al Manthari unable to walk or work, robbing him of dignity and causing his daughters — ages 8 and 14 at the time of the strike — to drop out of school to help care for him. The psychological impact of the strike has been profound, leaving Al Manthari traumatized and in need of treatment. And the financial impact has been ruinous.
  • While the U.S. has millions of dollars in funds earmarked for civilian victims of U.S. attacks, the military ignored pleas on Al Manthari’s behalf, leaving the 56-year-old to rely on a GoFundMe campaign earlier this year to save his life
  • “It is appalling that innocent people, civilians who have no connection to armed groups, are left to fend for themselves,” said Aisha Dennis, project manager on extrajudicial executions at Reprieve. “It is heartening that ordinary people, particularly Americans, have stepped in to support Mr. Al Manthari where their government has failed. But it is not — it must not be — their job to do this. It is the duty of the people dropping the bombs, in this case the U.S. government, to face the wreckage they are causing to families and communities and address it with humanity.”
  • ...11 more annotations...
  • Basim Razzo, who survived a 2015 airstrike in Iraq that killed his wife, daughter, and two other family members and destroyed two homes he valued at $500,000, was offered a “condolence payment” of $15,000, which an Army attorney said was the capped limit. Razzo rejected it as “an insult.” But after Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto was killed by a U.S. drone strike that same year while being held hostage by Al Qaeda, the U.S. paid his family $1.3 million as a “donation in the memory” of their son.
  • Between 2003 and 2006, the Defense Department paid out more than $30 million in solatia and condolence payments to “Iraqi and Afghan civilians who are killed, injured, or incur property damage as a result of U.S. or coalition forces’ actions during combat,” according to the Government Accountability Office. But in more recent years, the sums paid out have plummeted. From 2015 to 2019, for example, the U.S. paid just $2 million to civilians in Afghanistan.
  • Since at least World War I, the U.S. military has been paying compensation for harm to civilians. During the Vietnam War, solatia payments, as they are called, were a means for the military to make reparations for civilian injuries or deaths without having to admit guilt. In 1968, for example, the going rate for adult lives was $33. Children merited half that.
  • In March, Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., asked Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to open a new investigation into the airstrike that disabled Al Manthari, as well as 11 other U.S. attacks in Yemen. The Pentagon did not respond to repeated requests for comment on what actions, if any, Austin has taken in response to the request. In a letter to Murphy and Warren shared with The Intercept, Colin H. Kahl, the Pentagon’s top policy official, did not even address the issue of new investigations.
  • The total cost exceeded $21,000. The average per capita income in Yemen is around $2,200.
  • The U.S. has conducted more than 91,000 airstrikes across seven major conflict zones and killed as many as 48,308 civilians, according to a 2021 analysis by Airwars, a U.K.-based airstrike monitoring group. But only a tiny fraction have received any type of reparations. In 2020, Congress began providing the Defense Department $3 million each year to pay for deaths, injuries, or damages resulting from U.S. or allied military actions, but in the time since, the U.S. has not announced a single ex gratia payment, leaving victims like Al Manthari to fend for themselves.
  • “Payments would be a drop in the bucket for the U.S. military, but there is clearly no system to help people. It’s even unclear that allocated funding, like the USAID Marla Fund, is currently being used for that purpose.”
  • “If we, as a U.S. legal action charity, cannot get a substantive response from CENTCOM, what hope do civilians harmed by U.S. drone strikes living in Somalia, Syria, or Afghanistan have to access accountability?”
  • “When I spoke with a CENTCOM lawyer, he was very clear that they did not want the public to have the perception that there is an official process. They also shy away from using the word ‘claims’ because, I think, they are concerned that it suggests some sort of a legal application.”
  • Asked if the fact that the U.S. military has taken no further action against a man previously deemed too dangerous to live was a tacit admission that Al Manthari is — as two independent investigations found — innocent of any terrorist ties, a U.S. military spokesperson demurred. “I’ll follow up with policy,” he said on June 6. “I’ll get back to you.” He never did.
  • “Far too many cases have been erroneously dismissed despite painstaking research from human rights groups and journalists. And even when the U.S. government confirms it caused civilian casualties, it has rarely made ex gratia payments or other amends. … The result is that civil society groups and journalists have had to fill this gap, from conducting rigorous investigations the government should be doing, to setting up crowdfunding campaigns to support victims. That’s just not how accountability is supposed to work.”
Ed Webb

Senate Democrats hold up arms sales for Saudi war in Yemen - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of t... - 2 views

  • Congress was notified Aug. 19 of the Obama administration's intent to provide Riyadh with thousands of precision-guided munitions. The sale is linked to the administration's effort to placate Gulf countries' concerns about the Iranian nuclear deal, but it has hit a snag with Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who want to see the Saudi-led campaign reeled in.
  • “I fear that our failure to strongly advocate diplomacy in Yemen over the past two years, coupled with our failure to urge restraint in the face of the crisis last spring, may put the viability of this critical [US-Saudi] partnership at risk,” said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. “The Leahy Law prohibits US security assistance — and many forms of defense cooperation — with forces that have engaged in gross violations of human rights. If reports are accurate, the Saudi indiscriminate targeting in the air campaign and an overly broad naval blockade could well constitute such violations.”
  • While the sale is almost certain to go through eventually, they hope to use it as leverage to win concessions on kick-starting political negotiations with the Houthis and lifting the blockade
  • ...2 more annotations...
  • Critics of the sale in particular point out that Riyadh has been able to derive extra legitimacy from the US support for its campaign. “We are very careful in picking targets. We have very precise weapons,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told CBS News after an airstrike killed more than 130 people at a wedding reception. “We work with our allies, including the United States, on these targets.”
  • Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. “It's not all bad that the Saudis decided that they wanted to act immediately in Yemen. I don't think we need to be 'mother may I' in terms of folks acting in their own security interests in the region. But I am struck by the level of their response compared to what I view as an extremely tepid response to Sunni extremism. It's not just Iranian influence in the region that should trouble us.”
Ed Webb

Arab countries' foreign policy ambitions could start hurting their economies - Business... - 1 views

  • There is a certain irony in the Arab Gulf states’ rising power across the Middle East and North Africa. International prestige, the ability to intervene militarily in regional conflict, and holding the same leverage as international financial institutions in aid and investment are what these states have long coveted. But now that they have the power – both economic and military – Gulf states like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are faced with the dilemma of demonstrating their dominance without destroying the neighbourhood.
  • Gulf states’ foreign policies are increasingly at odds with their economic interests
  • The economies of the Gulf states have changed dramatically since the beginning of the second oil boom, between 2003 and 2014. Joined together in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) trade bloc, they are more integrated into the regional and wider international economy in trade and investment flows
  • ...4 more annotations...
  • The GCC’s outward investments in equity markets, especially towards Europe and the US, means it is also more integrated globally. And it has large amounts of foreign direct investment in infrastructure, agriculture and real estate across the MENA region.
  • The strength of their economic influence in the region lies in huge flows of capital – often a mixture of remittances, foreign aid, and foreign direct investment under the auspices of state-related bodies. This has enabled the Gulf states to usurp international institutions in shaping economic reform across the MENA region, especially in Egypt and other oil importers.
  • Politically, however, the GCC is engaged in numerous interventions across the region that have caused significant disorder and pose a threat to their mutual economic prosperity. The Gulf states were successful in crushing the Arab Spring within their own countries and cementing their development agenda. By contrast, their interventions in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Egypt have stoked the chaos there, putting the stability of the region at risk.
  • In each of these interventions, there is an incumbent economic cost to the GCC states. The war in Yemen is probably the best example of a mounting military expenditure that will only be dwarfed by the cost of re-building Yemen, which surely the UAE and Saudi Arabia will have to help foot. The Gulf States would therefore be wise to start dovetailing their foreign policies with their economic interests by fostering stability instead of conflict.
Ed Webb

Could hydroponics save Yemen from starving? | Green Prophet - 0 views

  • The number of food insecure people in Yemen has risen by 3 million in seven months, with an estimated 17.1 million people now struggling to feed themselves
  • More than two-thirds of Yemen’s population of 27.4 million people now lack access to food and consume an inadequate diet. Another Syria-style crisis may be on our way, and climate change and lack of water is making it worse.
  • “We are witnessing some of the highest numbers of malnutrition amongst children in Yemen in recent times. Children who are severely and acutely malnourished are 11 times more at risk of death as compared to their healthy peers, if not treated on time. Even if they survive, these children risk not fulfilling their developmental potentials, posing a serious threat to an entire generation in Yemen and keeping the country mired in the vicious cycle of poverty and under development,”
  • ...2 more annotations...
  • 80 percent of Yemenis are in now in debt, and more than half of all households have had to buy food on credit.
  • Up to 1.5 million households engaged in agriculture now lack access to critical agricultural inputs (including seeds, fertiliser, fuel for irrigation) and are in urgent need of emergency agricultural support. Of these, 860 000 households engaged in livestock production lack access to animal feed (fodder, concentrate, mineral blocks) and many livestock-dependent households have been forced to sell their herds to cater for other household needs
1 - 20 of 265 Next › Last »
Showing 20 items per page