The New York Times writes that Rebels in Yemen fired a ballistic missile on Tuesday at Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, for a second time in two months, though Saudi officials said that it had been intercepted and that there were no casualties. The attack could not have come at a worse time, as international calls for an end to Saudi Arabia’s long-standing blockade of Yemeni ports saw some sign of potentially easing in recent weeks.
The international coalition supporting Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen had were met with widespread calls for an end to the blockade of the country’s ports in recent weeks. NPR reported that the deteriorating conditions amounted to a “man made crisis… If this blockade continues, then the humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate, and unfortunately, we would be unable to save these people in need.” The New York Times recounted that President Trump had urged Saudi Arabia to end its blockade of humanitarian aid arriving in Yemen.
Over the last month, aid was reported to have begun to “trickle” into the starved, cholera-ravaged country. NPR reported that this represented a brief “glimmer” of hope that the blockade would ease to the point that substantive aid could reach Yemen’s debilitated civilian population.
However, these hopes were dashed when Reuters reported that the blockade saw no sign of easing, despite Washington’s warning to Saudi Arabia that the “humanitarian situation in Yemen could affect U.S. assistance to allies in the Saudi-led coalition, including the U.S. refueling of coalition jets and some intelligence sharing.”
CNBC reports that Saudi Arabia directly blamed Iran for the latest missile shot down on its way to Riyadh. If future aid shipments to the country are prevented, it would not be the first time that a rocket attack blamed on Iran would resulted in prevention of aid reaching Yemen’s ports.
Last month, in response to an earlier rocket attack, the New York Times reported that Saudi Arabia declared it would “temporarily” close Yemen’s land, sea and air ports of entry in response to the missile firing, in order to “tighten inspections and stop any weapons shipments.”
Disobedient Media previously reported on Yemen’s skyrocketing death toll from starvation and cholera. As far back as January, RT reported that an estimated 370,000 children were suffering from hunger in Yemen. The country has faced severe food shortages for years, spanning both the Trump and Obama administrations.
Cholera deaths in Yemen have also rapidly outstripped the death toll seen in Haiti’s 2010 epidemic, with The Guardian writing: “The cholera epidemic in Yemen has become the largest and fastest-spreading outbreak of the disease in modern history, with a million cases expected by the end of the year and at least 600,000 children likely to be affected.”
The protracted horror in Yemen has long been characterized as the result of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Slate described the situation in October: “Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of backing the Houthis, and the war in Yemen is often cast as a proxy battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia.” However, the reality of this depiction is complicated by revelations published by Wikileaks in the Yemen Files.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 25, 2016
As Disobedient Media previously noted, Wikileaks’ Yemen Files indicate that the US participated in “arming, training and funding” Yemeni forces in the years leading up to the war.” Wikileaks‘ publication of the Yemen files also showed that: “…Among other things, procurement of many different weapon types: aircraft, vessels, vehicles, proposals for maritime border security control and Yemeni procurement of US biometric systems.” In essence, the documents depict the US funding both sides of the conflict, and in doing so, profiting very literally from the staggering death toll that resulted.
Presidents Trump and Obama both signed $100 billion dollar weapons deals with Saudi Arabia, the principle obstacle preventing aid’s entry to the starving nation’s ports. Despite their abysmal human rights record, the US has largely supported Saudi Arabia’s efforts in Yemen due to its use as the nexus of a proxy-war with Iran. The BBC reported that “The stability of Yemen is a priority for the US and its Gulf Arab allies because of its strategic position next to Saudi Arabia, a top oil exporter, and shipping lanes in the Gulf of Aden.”
Political figures from both sides of the aisle have expressed growing concern regarding the situation in Yemen, though for thousands, their misgivings are years too late. The Guardian wrote that Theresa May had called for an immediate end to Saudi Arabia’s blockade, while Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said the current British-Saudi relationship was “damaging to the people of Saudi Arabia, Britain and the wider Middle East.”
In the US, press reports recounted that GOP Sen. Todd Young held up the confirmation of the State Department’s nominee for legal advisor, Jennifer Newstead, until the Trump administration takes steps to force its Saudi ally to ease the blockade and allow more humanitarian aid into Yemen. NPR recounted that Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy also called on the Senate to follow the House of Representatives, which passed a resolution on Monday that says the U.S. military is not authorized to assist Saudi Arabia in Yemen.
The effect of the latest rocket attacks based in Yemen for the future of the country’s ability to receive desperately needed aid remains uncertain at this time. Disobedient Media will continue to provide coverage of this important issue that has been ignored by legacy press for far too long.