Bags of bones as bodies, desperate gasps for breath and an eerie silence. This is how journalists describe children in the very few hospitals in Yemen.
In what many have mistaken for a civil war, during the past three years Yemen has become a battleground for Saudi Arabia and Iran’s proxy war, witnessing one of the worst humanitarian crimes in modern times.
It is estimated that 14 million of Yemen’s citizens face starvation, which could be one of the worst of its kind in 100 years, according to the United Nations. The country has also seen one of the worst modern outbreaks of cholera.
And at least 10,000 civilians have died due to ongoing foreign airstrikes (although the actual number is likely to be much higher.) What makes the Yemen situation all the more devastating is that it is completely man made.
Unlike other famines, Yemen’s is not due to crop failure or a deadly virus — the food in stores is readily available — but because of an economic war raged by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, affecting citizens in catastrophic proportions. Proportions high enough to force more than half of an entire country to the verge of famine.
And while the United States is not directly involved, it is implicit as it funds both the UAE and Saudi Arabia as they tear down Yemen’s economy, kill its people and starve its children. The U.S. also provides billions of dollars in weapons to Saudi Arabia, and American designs and serial numbers have been found on bomb fragments in Yemen.
Although the war broke out only three years ago, signs of its beginnings have been festering for decades. When Saudi Arabia forced its version of Salafi Islam in Houthi populated areas in Northern Yemen, it attempted to suppress those communities and become the center influence in the region. This was a common policy long adopted by Saudi Arabia as a means of controlling Yemen and keeping the country weak and divided, therefore, removing them as a threat.
This caused an increase in violent resistance by the Yemeni Houthis backed by Iran’s Shiite Leaders. The war officially broke when Mohammed Bin Salman was named Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates coalitions have attacked Yemen’s economy in devastating manners. According to the New York Times, both countries have placed partial blockages allowing food prices to increase and printed many bank notes causing the Yemeni currency of the Riyal to plummet. Moreover, both denied government workers their salaries in Houthi-controlled areas, where 80 percent of Yemeni citizens reside. This has caused all Yemenis in the northern border without income almost overnight.
And it was with extreme irony when the world powers met more than a month ago for the U.N. General Assembly, each sharing zealous and righteous goals for a “better world.” Four of the five members on the U.N. Security Council are involved in war crimes: China with its concentration camps of the Uighur Muslims and its protecting of Myanmar for its war crimes, Russia and its humanitarian crimes in Syria and Britain, and the U.S. for funding and aiding Saudi Arabia’s war crimes in Yemen.
While the world was furious because of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder a month ago, a similar outrage is not reciprocated in the Yemen case. However, perhaps the murder was a calling point for our attention to shift to Yemen. A notice to foreign leaders to publicly denounce Saudi Arabia’s actions and introduce punishments in an international criminal court of law. Or perhaps, it is to see how far our leaders will tolerate injustice and their ability to remain quiet.
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