Countries like Yemen, Chad and South Sudan have been devastated by famine and starvation in recent years, with millions of people suffering despite a global surplus of food. But the problem is not a lack of resources - they are starving due to the effects of unending Western imperialism.
by Eric Draitser
Part 2 - Yemen: the U.S. and Saudi Arabia’s slow genocide
Yemen, which is by all measures the poorest country in the Arab world, is facing near total economic and social collapse as it continues to be crushed under the weight of a Saudi-led war backed by the United States.
Earlier this year, the United Nations released staggering new figures indicating that that at least 17 million Yemenis are facing food insecurity, with nearly 7 million considered to be in a state of emergency and more than 10 million in crisis. The UN report notes that Yemen saw a 21-percent increase in hunger levels from June 2016 to March 2017, indicating a severe crisis of historic proportions.
As Mark Kaye, the spokesperson for Save the Children in Yemen explained:
“The numbers affected are absolutely extraordinary…these numbers highlight that we’re at the point of no return. This crisis is happening because food and supplies can’t get into the country. Yemen was completely dependent on imports of food, medicine and fuel prior to this crisis. You have one party delaying and significantly preventing food from getting into the country, and another on the ground who are detaining aid workers or preventing aid and food from getting to areas they don’t want it to go to.”
While only making oblique reference to the parties involved, it’s clear that Kaye is referring to Saudi Arabia as the party preventing food from entering the country. Saudi Arabia, the instigator and primary belligerent in this war, has imposed a blockade on Yemen, effectively cutting it off from the outside world, and from critical supplies of food, medicine and other essential goods and services.
Indeed, as investigative journalist Gareth Porter wrote in Truthout:
“The Saudi coalition has pursued a war strategy of maximizing pressure on the Houthi resistance by destroying agricultural, health and transportation infrastructure and by choking off access to food and fuel for most of Yemen’s population. The United States has enabled the Saudis to pursue that strategy by refueling the Saudi-led coalition planes bombing Yemen and selling the bombs. Equally important, however, the US has provided the political-diplomatic cover that the Saudis need to carry out this ruthless endeavor without massive international blowback.”
Consider for a moment the cruelty of the strategy employed by the Saudis and their U.S. allies in Yemen. Not only did Riyadh launch an aggressive war against a neighbor – a crime against peace, according to the Nuremberg Principles and international law – but they’ve done so while posturing as the humanitarian saviors of the country. As Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir cynically explained, “We have been the largest donor of humanitarian assistance in the world, by far, to Yemen.”
It is Saudi-coalition vessels and aircraft that patrol the seas around Yemen, thereby directly creating the famine there. As UNICEF reported in late 2016, “Nearly 2.2 million children in Yemen are acutely malnourished and require urgent care. At least 462,000 children suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), a drastic increase of almost 200 per cent since 2014. An additional 1.7 million children suffer from Moderate Acute Malnutrition.”
Additionally, outbreaks of cholera and other preventable diseases are directly attributable to the actions of the Saudis and their U.S. backers. Indeed, it must be remembered that none of Saudi Arabia’s crimes against Yemen could take place without the direct backing of Washington. In fact, while Obama at least paid lip service to humanitarian concerns vis-à-vis Riyadh’s atrocities in Yemen, the Trump administration has not batted an eye and has seemingly given the green light to the Saudis to do their worst by arming them to the teeth and looking the other way in regards to their genocidal policy.
And why? Because Washington wants to use Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen as a proxy conflict with Iran. Trump, like Obama before him, cares not a whit for the lives of Yemeni children. He cares about access to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which separates Africa from the Arabian Peninsula, and which is one of the most critical waterways in the world for commercial shipping. The strait is also crucial to the geopolitical and strategic interests of both the U.S. and China. As if it needed to be stated, Trump is interested in “making deals,” not saving lives.
Yemen is starving because the House of Saud wants to thump its chest at Tehran. Children stare into the camera lens, their emaciated bodies a testament to the callous disregard the empire has for its victims – collateral damage, as it is often called.