Newsletter 4

All the big towns in western-Yemen are in a state of calamity:

Television channels in the Gulf countries have been reporting continuous deployments of their air squadrons since March 26th, aiming at targets in Yemen, the way CNN had presented precision attacks on Iraq during the Gulf War. The media and the general Gulf public are carried away by the “blitzkrieg” of the “storm of determinedness” and give way to a feeling of victory. War reports on Syria show primarily the suffering population while sympathy with the Yemeni people, for weeks exposed to incessant air raids, has not been envisaged.

More than 1.500 launched missiles have in the meantime been registered, in no way hitting only military targets such as weapon arsenals or barracks. Schools, hospitals, public buildings, the three major airports, roads, bridges and the already weak infrastructure were hit. Almost one thousand human beings were killed and thousands wounded. All relief supplies were cut off concurrently.

All the big towns in western-Yemen are in a state of calamity: no medical care in the absence of medicines, acute shortage of food because dearly needed   imports do not reach the harbours and cargo cannot be unloaded. Still available food and gasoline must be paid at black market prices, electricity is often reduced to two hours per day and butane gas for cooking has almost disappeared, water is becoming alarmingly short. Daily life has become unbearable for the inhabitants, the heavy nightly bombarding renders sleep impossible. Cellars or rescue installations are generally unknown – with the exception of tunnel constructions ex-president Saleh had provided underground in Sana´a and Aden, but only for his personal protection, It is a perfect absurdity that qat keeps being supplied while so many children do not get food.

The situation is worst in Aden, still fiercely fought over by the Houthis allied with Saleh-loyal troops and the militia and government troops. Besides rockets released from the air the city is exposed to gunfire from the sea. Hand-to hand combat is raging in the streets in central parts of the city. Further battles are reported form Brega in the West of Aden where a huge refinery is located. Both the air strikes and the attacks of primarily Egyptian war ships are mostly directed at civilian targets. About two thirds of the population have left the city and take refuge in villages. There is reason to believe that the entire city of Aden the focus of the conflict is planned to be completely destroyed.

Similar destruction activities have recently also been reported from Taizz where the government palace is in ruins – allegedly because it housed a weapon depot. Eye witnesses confirm that the entire infrastructure was destroyed by rocket fire. As far as ascertainable the belligerent parties were members of the Republican Guard and the government-loyal 35th Brigade.

Excluding the 2012 deposed president Saleh, the chief actor responsible for the failure of the political transition and the present disaster, must be a precondition for whatever cease fire talks and peace negotiations, to be started soonest possible. A new government with Saleh still in office would be a continuation of the Houthi regime he masterminded since 21st September, 2014: hierarchical military structures, a dictatorship, massive repression of civil liberty, including freedom of opinion and the press, arbitrary arrests, house arrest or prison with no access to courts and flagrant disregard of legal provisions, brutal persecution of political opponents with military power, without any consideration of the population whatsoever.

President Abdrubbah Mansour Hadi, exiled in Saudi Arabia and obviously under massive pressure from his hosts, has asked for the bombarding to be continued, but declined a ground invasion. This is probably to be understood to indicate that Saudi Arabia did not succeed “buying” mercenaries for a ground invasion. With Egypt and Pakistan having refused to participate, a mission recently undertaken by defence minister Mohamed bin Salman to the sub-Saharan countries of Chad, Mauretania and Senegal to recruit mercenary contingents, had not been strikingly promising.

Hadi rejected a proposal tabled by Iran to discontinue war activities, submitted to the UN Security Council as a four-point programme: immediate cease fire and stop of all military activities of foreign powers, humanitarian aid, recommencement of a broad national dialogue and the setting up of a government in which all political powers participate.

The new vice-president and new/old prime minister Khaled Bahah, appointed by Hadi, in a public address emphasized keeping distance to the attitude of the Saudi Arabian host and postulated a more conciliatory approach than Hadi, as well as proposals for a return to negotiations. He did not insist on Riyadh as venue for such negotiations and, in a press conference, addressed all those involved in the conflict: his exile government would concentrate on organising humanitarian aid. He appealed to the army, mostly controlled by ex-president Saleh, to subordinate themselves to the legitimate government and requested the Houthis to stop marching to and into Aden.

Appeals to end the conflict and stop air raids have in the meantime been received worldwide: UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon has requested all parties, i.e. also the Houthi coalition headed by Saudi Arabia, to agree to a cease fire and a truce:” It is time to provide for life saving corridors and open a gateway to peace”. Russia´s initiative submitted to the Security Council for a cease fire to permit humanitarian actions came to nought because France and Great Britain rejected the petition. Furthermore, President Obama and the Chinese President Xi Jingping have appealed to king Salman bin Abdelaziz to stop bombarding Yemen.

Jamal Benomar resigned after having accompanied the negotiations between political parties in Yemen as UN delegate for four years, explaining this step by referring to the permanent sabotage of his endeavours on the part of ex-president Saleh and the always retarded and much too weak reaction of the Security Council to his alerting reports. Jamal Benomar had substantially lost credibility since the siege of the Houthis in Sana´a and is now also rejected by the Gulf countries. He is accused of not having vehemently renounced the government´s arrest and repudiated the Houthis´ military aggression. He will, in all probability, be replaced by the Mauretanian UN diplomat Ismael Ould Shaikh Ahmed who had already been active in Yemen from 2008 to 2012.

Moutamar (the General Peoplé´s Congress – Saleh´s party) starts showing dissolution tendencies though, after the southern fraction detached themselves, and other drifting Moutamar members have founded new parties. About 20 leading members are reported to have left the country with their families and followers, mostly to Gulf destinations. Among them is Sultan Barakani, secretary general of Moutamar, and, most recently, also Naji al Shayef, former chief sheikh of the Bakil tribe and a close confident of Saleh, who ridicules the idea of departing himself – as suggested in al Jazeera and alArabia – with the statement: ”The person witnessing my leaving the country, has as yet to be born”.

Saudi Arabia has pledged itself to offer the UN 274 million dollars for humanitarian actions in Yemen, this in response to an appeal for help by the United Nations, asking for precisely this sum (corresponding to 253 million euros) to permit supplying the more than 7.5 million Yemenis affected by the conflict with the immediately necessary. In the light of the damage caused this sum would appear to represent a drop in the bucket.

Posted in Newsletter