Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Saudi Arabia has engaged in a number of questionable practices that have Yemenis fearing the Kingdom may be intentionally trying to spread the virus.
by Ahmed Abdulkareem
Part 2 - Weaponizing COVID-19
Moreover, authorities in the Sana’a Health Ministry accused Saudi Arabia of trying to spread the coronavirus intentionally. On Monday, Saudi warplanes dropped boxes containing face masks in the al-Ahli district in Hodeida province and Bani Sa’ad and al-Taweilah in the al-Mahwit governorate as well as Nugom in Sana’a. The number of masks was insignificant and dropped into densely populated areas causing a predictably frenzied panic among desperate citizens who all stormed the locations to retrieve what protection they could.
Authorities accuse the Saudi government of intentionally causing panic among Yemenis in order to encourage them to break social distancing guidelines and expedite the spread of COVID-19. If Saudi officials genuinely wanted to provide aid to Yemeni civilians, they say, they could do so through official UN channels. Some residents told MintPress that they also fear the masks could be contaminated with the coronavirus, and Yemeni officials have warned residents to be cautious of free equipment offered by the Saudi Coalition.
The Ministry of Health said Saudi Arabia is also trying to spread COVID-19 by deporting Yemenis from Saudi Arabia in large numbers, a practice they say began last month when the pandemic was already well underway.
In addition, the Saudi-led coalition allowed four passenger aircraft to land in Yemen last week with a total of 1,000 passengers on board; this at a time when most countries have suspended inbound flights in an effort to contain the pandemic. The coalition has near complete control of Yemen’s airspace.
Ansar Allah said that the Saudi-led coalition — which has imposed an all-out blockade on the country — will be responsible for a possible spread of the coronavirus to Yemen. Houthi leader Mohammed al-Houthi said on Twitter that “those who have been killing the Yemenis with their weapons would not hesitate to take their lives through less costly means.” Many Yemenis believe that the Saudi-led coalition would not hesitate to intentionally spread coronavirus in Yemen, especially after their bloody five-year-old military campaign has achieved so little.
The United States, for its part, is not making the dire situation facing Yemenis any easier. The country, a primary backer of Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen, is decreasing aid to relief workers, according to Yemeni officials and political parties leaders who spoke to MintPress. Human rights activists say that if humanitarian and medical assistance does not reach Yemen soon, and in large quantities, the spread of COVID-19 in the country will be swift and deadly.
U.S. President Donald Trump recently slashed aid to Yemen, halting some $70 million used to fund healthcare programs in the country despite calls from NGOs, humanitarian groups, and even members of Congress, to delay the decision while the country prepares to battle the coronavirus outbreak.