Saudi airstrike targeting Sanaa Province. Khaled Abdullah/Reuters
Yemen has been under relentless airstrike attacks by Saudi Arabia since March 26. Over 7,000 people having been killed in Yemen since the start of the vicious war on the poorest Arab country. The military aggression is supposedly meant to undermine the Ansarullah movement and bring fugitive former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, back to power.
To add to the toll on the Yemenis, Al-Qaeda terrorists have also stepped up their acts of violence in Yemen amid Saudi Arabia’s military campaign.
Despite the devastating number of civilian deaths and casualties, Yemen has never been a staple of the western media. It did pop up on the news back in the early days of the so-called Arab Spring when Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down in February 2012 as president after thirty-three years as head of state.
In January this year Yemen came back to world news when the Houthis, a Yemeni Zaidi group, seized control of the government. In response to what Saudi Arabia took as a direct threat for no apparent reason, a Saudi-led, US-backed coalition started bombing the country in March to allegedly neutralize the rise of Ansarullah.
According to the Yemeni Civil Coalition, which monitors the crimes committed during the Saudi aggression against Yemen, nearly 7,500 people have lost their lives and over 16,000 others wounded in the Saudi raids since late March. The UN has, however, put the death toll at 5,700, including 830 women and children. The Saudi strikes have also destroyed the impoverished country’s facilities and infrastructure and most of its historical sites.
Amidst the confusion and missing institutions, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State (IS) affiliate in the region took advantage and strengthened their foothold in this corner of the Middle East.
At the humanitarian level, an all-out catastrophe has plunged on the people of Yemen wherever they reside in the war torn country. While control and checking of ships trying to bring basic supplies of food, medicines and fuel continue, ships landing are far fewer than needed, and are queuing in the Red Sea or waiting in Djibouti.
Aden port, the main one in the country, is only partially accessible due to ongoing fighting preventing its use, while Hodeida could only function at a fraction of its capacity due to shortages of fuel and electricity as well as insecurity which prevented staff from going to work and meant that all unloading had to be done manually. Sanaa and Saada for that matter are in utter destruction and deprivation.
Both cities including the province of Taaz, suffer from insecurity, occasional attacks on trucks as well as shortages of fuel.
Given the critical lack of journalists and diplomats, the hundreds of aid workers active in the country are a crucial source of updates from the field. UN agencies and charities like the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) maintain a significant presence.
It is tragic that, even before the current crisis began, 61% of Yemenis needed humanitarian aid according to UN reports. That went on for around a decade with hardly any coverage in the media, so no wonder now when the situation is in dire need of facts reporting and live and up-to-date journalism, one hears nothing about it on the western mainstream media.
With the Yemeni conflict concealed by the constant ISIS propaganda, it is still surprising that the nature of the Arab intervention in the country has failed to raise enough eyebrows even within the Arab communities. The very fact that the double standard Saudi monarchy is pushing tyrannical regimes like that of Egypt and Sudan into the gruesome attack of one of world’s worst-off countries should surely have grabbed the full attention of western media to pay a much closer look to Yemen, but it didn’t.
Or rather they just choose to look the other way. They choose to explode the internet and the media with full-coverage of the Paris attacks for example while turning a blind eye to the malicious Saudi attack inflicted upon the people of Yemen for almost ten months now.
Meanwhile, the US State Department has recently approved the sale of bombs worth nearly USD 1.3bn to Saudi Arabia amid the Riyadh regime’s intensive air strikes in Yemen. The sale includes about 22,000 smart and general purpose bombs, which will definitely not be seen falling on the heads of ISIS terrorists in the region, but rather sadly will take more lives of innocent Yemeni children.