Millions Face Starvation in Yemen Due to Saudi Arabia’s Blockade

Two years ago, German intelligence warned the world of the unique risks Saudi Arabia posed to the region. I covered it at the time in the post, German Intelligence Warns – Saudi Arabia to Play “Destabilizing Role” in the Middle East. Here’s an excerpt:

Saudi Arabia is at risk of becoming a major destabilizing influence in the Arab world, German intelligence has warned. 

Internal power struggles and the desire to emerge as the leading Arab power threaten to make the key Western ally a source of instability, according to the BND intelligence service. 

“The current cautious diplomatic stance of senior members of the Saudi royal family will be replaced by an impulsive intervention policy,” a BND memo widely distributed to the German press reads. 

Saudi Arabia has previously been accused of supplying arms and funding to jihadist groups fighting in Syria, including Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

At the core of this intelligence warning was none other than crown prince Mohamed bin Salman, or MBS. I’ve been warning about the specific dangers presented by his brazen and sociopathic personality for years, and the recent purge finally threw it all into the spotlight for everyone to see.

MBS has already wreaked havoc on portions of the region with his reckless and failed polices with respect to both Yemen and Qatar. Today’s post will focus on the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Yemen, courtesy of the Saudi crown prince.

The New York Times reported last week:

Saudi Arabia’s three-day-old blockade of entry points to Yemen threatens to plunge that war-ravaged country into a famine that could starve millions of people, the top relief official of the United Nations said Wednesday.

The Yemen crisis has worsened since the Saudis imposed the blockade on Monday after a missile was fired deep into their territory by the Iran-backed Houthi rebel group, which has been warring with a Saudi-led military coalition for nearly three years.

Despite Saudi Arabia’s assurances that the measure was temporary while it reviews inspection procedures, virtually all humanitarian deliveries to Yemen have been halted, including at least three United Nations airplanes full of emergency supplies. 

Mr. Lowcock said the Saudis must immediately allow the entry of food and medicine at all seaports, permit the immediate resumption of air services to the cities of Sana and Aden, and provide an “assurance of no further disruption to these services.”

Without such steps, he said, Yemen will suffer “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims.”

The World Food Program, the anti-hunger agency of the United Nations, which has been feeding seven million people a month in Yemen, is now unable to do so, Mr. Lowcock said. “What we need is a winding down of the blockade to save the lives of those people.”

The country is struggling with an acute hunger crisis that has affected at least 17 million people, more than a third of them considered close to famine. Yemen also suffering a cholera scourge that has sickened nearly one million.

“Humanitarian supply lines to Yemen must remain open,” said Robert Mardini, the Red Cross’s regional director for the Near and Middle East. “Food, medicine and other essential supplies are critical for the survival of 27 million Yemenis already weakened by a conflict now in its third year.”

Since then, the Saudis have opened the port of Aden and a crossing at Wadea, but this is woefully inadequate.

As Al Jazeera notes:

On Friday, the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian aid, OCHA, said the coalition was still blocking desperately needed UN aid deliveries to Yemen, despite the reopening of Aden and Wadea.

“Humanitarian movements into Yemen remain blocked,” said OCHA spokesman Russell Geekie.

“The reopening of the port in Aden is not enough. We need to see the blockade of all the ports lifted, especially Hodeida, for both humanitarian and for commercial imports.”

UN aid chief Mark Lowcock told the Security Council this week that unless the blockade is lifted, Yemen will face “the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims”.

Stylianides echoed Lowcock’s concerns.

Yemen “is suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than two-thirds of its population in need of humanitarian assistance”, he said in a statement.

“The EU shares the concerns expressed by… Lowcock and calls for full and unrestrained access to be restored immediately, to avoid Yemen suffering the largest famine in decades,” Stylianides said.

What we’re looking at here is potentially the worst famine in decades, and it’s important for decent U.S. citizens from across the political spectrum to admit our government’s hands are soaked in blood.

As The Intercept reported:

Saudi Arabia relies heavily on the U.S. military for intelligence sharing, refueling flights for coalition warplanes, and the transfer of American-made cluster bombs, rockets, and other munitions used against targets in Yemen.

Congress, however, has never authorized U.S. support for the war, which has caused 10,000 civilian deaths and has spiraled in recent months into one of the worst humanitarian crises of the century. For two years, Saudi Arabia and its allies have imposed a sea and air blockade around Yemen. Now, more than 7 million Yemenis face starvation and thousands, mostly children, are dying from cholera. Coalition warplanes have repeatedly struck crowded markets, hospitals, power plants, and other civilian targets.

Several members of Congress indicated an interest in the issue, noting that the Obama and Trump administrations’ reliance on the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force to justify U.S. involvement in the conflict is absurd. That authorization, after all, was designed to fight the terrorist groups responsible for the September 11 attacks, not to intervene in Yemen’s civil war.

For 16 years, the executive branch has pointed to the AUMF as legal justification for its involvement in conflicts across the Middle East and Africa, a strategy that is legally questionable. But the use of the AUMF in the Yemeni context is especially bizarre given that the AUMF’s target is Al Qaeda, and the group AQAP — Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula –is fighting alongside the U.S.-Saudi coalition against the Houthi rebels.

One bipartisan legislative attempt to force a vote on authorization for the war, H.Con.Res.81, faced a major setback last week after appearing to gain political momentum. On November 1, lawmakers stripped the bill of its privileged status, meaning the bill no longer maintains a fast-track to a floor vote. The legislation was designed to invoke the War Powers Act of 1973 to terminate U.S. involvement in the Yemen War.

Because the bill is no longer privileged, it will head back to the the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which is led by Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., a lawmaker who has expressed deep support for the Saudi-led military campaign. Few expect the legislation to move forward now that it is back in Royce’s domain. In April, the representative read a statement of support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen and entered into the congressional record an opinion column written by a Saudi general.

The move to crush H.Con.Res.81 was apparently negotiated by Democratic and Republican leadership. As part of a compromise, there will be some congressional debate over the war, though no on-the-record vote for authorization. As The Intercept previously reported, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the Democratic whip, was among the Democratic leaders opposed to invoking the War Powers Act to bring U.S. involvement in the war to an end.

Still, sponsors of the legislation are hoping to force a debate and an on-the-record vote over the war.

“Our national security interests in Yemen are unclear, yet we are giving money and military assistance to Saudi Arabia so they can continue to wage war in Yemen,” said Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., one of 43 co-sponsors. “This military action was never authorized by Congress and the American people deserve an open debate by their elected officials.”

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., also a co-sponsor of the resolution, expressed frustration that House Speaker Paul Ryan has refused to allow a vote on the war and disappointment that the compromise solution negotiated by congressional leadership will not include a binding vote.

This is part of my frustration about the fact Congress does not meet its constitutional responsibility when sending young men and women to die for this country, and we have a constitutional duty that we must debate war,” Jones said. “The vote to go to war in Yemen, we can’t even get a vote on this resolution. To me this is the way Congress does not work. We don’t work because we do not uphold the constitution.”

Meanwhile, many of the cretins in Congress can’t be bothered to answer questions about Yemen.

Unconstitutional war that could create the worst famine in decades? Meh, I’m too busy trying to figure out how to provide tax breaks to oligarchs.

After all, who cares, there’s just too much money to be made from war.

From The Washington Post:

BERLIN — As U.N. and international humanitarian agencies raise the alarm over the Saudi blockade of aid deliveries to Yemen, European and American officials have remained mostly silent. The few remarks coming out of Western capitals in recent weeks have hardly been messages of support for the Yemenis in the midst of a catastrophic humanitarian crisis — in fact, quite the opposite.

Two weeks ago, Britain’s then-Defense Minister Michael Fallon offered a blunt assessment of the government’s view on the controversy. “I have to repeat, sadly, to this committee that obviously other criticism of Saudi Arabia in this Parliament is not helpful,” Fallon told the parliamentary defense committee, to which he defended the planned sale of several fighter jets to Saudi Arabia. (Fallon has since resigned over sexual harassment allegations.)

In response to a missile attack from Yemeni territory targeting Saudi Arabia — which triggered the most recent escalation of the crisis — President Trump similarly ignored the plight of civilians in the war-torn country and instead went on to praise U.S. weapons sold to Saudi Arabia.

Both the United States and Britain have been making more money with arms sales to Saudi Arabia in recent years than ever before. Human rights critics fear that Saudi Arabia has not only bought their weapons but their acceptance for its policies.

Of course Saudi Arabia’s attractiveness to Western countries is not just about arms sales. On Thursday, Downing Street said it would provide Saudi energy giant Aramco with credit guarantees of $2 billion to facilitate trade between the two countries. Britain and the United States are both trying to persuade Aramco to hold its much anticipated IPO (valued at hundreds of billions of dollars) on the London and New York stock exchanges, with President Trump tweeting that such move would be “Important to the United States!”

In the United States, the Obama administration similarly suspended the sale of precision guided munitions to Riyadh last year. However, the Trump administration is believed to be working on the resumption of such sales. A separate major U.S. arms export deal to the kingdom was struck in May, and Trump has voiced increasingly strong support for the Saudi leadership ever since. Similarly, Germany is still exporting military equipment to the kingdom, although it now appears to be refraining from direct arms deliveries.

If that’s not MAGA, then I don’t know what is.

If E.U. politicians were determined to implement an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, parliamentarians would have to persuade the governments of all member states to agree to such a ban. With more than a dozen nations profiting from arms and military equipment exports to the kingdom, the chances of such an embargo being implemented anytime soon are virtually nonexistent

Attempts by nongovernmental organizations to force governments into committing to an embargo enforced by courts have so far also been blocked. Campaigners suffered a major defeat this summer, when London’s high court ruled that Britain was not complicit in alleged war crimes in Yemen by allowing the Saudi military to use its arms.

The court refused to say how it came to its conclusion, however, and barred the public from accessing the key evidence.

It always makes sense when you follow the money.

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In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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18 thoughts on “Millions Face Starvation in Yemen Due to Saudi Arabia’s Blockade”

  1. While I do not doubt that access to food is an urgent issue in a war torn country, the photo in your article shows a typhus patient. Starvation patients have swollen bellies with emaciated appendages. Typhus makes the skeleton with skin stretched over it appearance, similar to WWII concentration camp prisoners.

    • That’s not my picture, it’s Al Jazeera’s picture, as can be clearly seen from the picture itself. But yeah, let’s comment about a picture when Yemen is facing the worst famine, on earth, in decades.

    • With all due disrespect, Red. You don’t look like you’ve been missing any meals.

      You might want to ease up on the prime rib sandwiches and milk shakes, and then take a very long hike.

    • Genaro, Thank you for the concern over my personal health, it is nice to see you have no rebuttal other than a personal attack. Ad hominem is a logical fallacy.

    • There are many hundreds of other photos which point to starvation, whether or not this one in particular points to typhus (indistinguishable from starvation.)

    • Not trying to be argumentative, rather informative.

      Starvation and Typhus ARE Distinguishable.

      Starvation leaves a bloated torso at death and a bloated abdomen with atrophied appendages.

      (hope I’m not breaking a major rule here – it has a good picture)

      See a corpse of a death by starvation

      Typhus(Typhoid Fever) draws all skin back to the skeletal frame. Most concentration camp pictures are people suffering from Typhus.

      The confusion arises because hunger, pestilence, and disease are “running buddies.”

      People who are in the midst of it all can usually tell the differences. I would think reporters from the area would know the difference. That they would use a picture for one type of death and attribute it to a different manner of death leads me to wonder if it is just propaganda.

    • “RedHatty” you aren’t trying to be informative at all, you are intentionally attempting to deflect attention away from the point of the article, to a picture. It’s obvious what you are trying to do, and it isn’t adding any value to the community here and we can all see what you’re up to.

      You’ve never commented on this site before today. For your first comment here to be so obviously unproductive makes us all wonder about what you’re really up to.

      You wonder if what is “propaganda,” the photo? Let’s assume you’re right and the photo (tweet) is misleading. That would only be important if the entire post focused on the photo at the top, which it did not. In fact, the post is filled with all sorts of warnings about famine that don’t originate from Al Jazeera.

      You’re being dishonest about what your intentions are here, and we all see it, so stop.

  2. Trust me MAGA Hat, I’m not concerned.

    I always avoid personal attacks. But your initial comment was so transparently trollish and completely lacking anything even approaching empathy, that I made an exception for your sorry ass.

  3. The majority of the 911 terrorists who blew up the trade center and pentagon were Saudi Arabians. Ties to the Saudis funding Al Quada have been published. And yet Bush, another Oligarch Puppet invades Iraq. The Oligarchs who control Washington don’t care about America or protecting us from harm or anybody else in the world. All they care about is making more money. Increasing greed and power at our expense. The petrodollar is extremely profitable and the Oligarchs will do anything to keep the oil and dollars flowing.

    • Al Qaeda had nothing to do with 911, as per Diane Feinstein, the CIA, and the senate. OBL had nothing to do with it as per the FBI.
      That leaves Saudi, ISI, and Mossad. Still, it had to be allowed to happen.
      The petro-dollar is as good as dead.

  4. Genaro,

    Redhatty is right. But as Michael states that is not the point of discussion here which is a good response. Personal attacks though will just change the subject matter of the debate to emotional and pointless responses that take up unnecessary time as they encourage more personal attacks in defense from both parties.

  5. Mike, picking nits here but your article states:
    “Saudi Arabia’s three-day-old blockade of entry points to Yemen…”
    All of Yemen’s airports, most sea-ports, and most roads have been blockaded for many many months now. The UN could not even get cholera vaccine into the country.
    The blockade may now be ‘official’, but it has existed in reality for months. Starvation was already a major issue at the beginning of summer.
    The (illegal) use of white phosphorous has also been sanitized in the media.
    Having said all that, thanks for being one of the few to even broach this subject.

  6. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that Germany is supporting the Saudi onslaught on Yemen as well. They know that the Saudis are waging an illegal war but they deliver Leopard 2 tanks nonetheless.
    Do you know that Germany is still selling patrol boats to the Saudis which are used to enforce the naval blockade and thus lend a helping hand in starving Yemen? There is a German website that tries to bring these facts into the open:

    Unfortunately, the article regarding the patrol boats has not been translated yet.

  7. It one thing when the US and Western antions do nothing to stop a mass-starvation, but when they actively make it worse, it is so sad.


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