Gianna Toboni reports from the Myanmar-Bangladesh border to investigate what the future holds for Rohingya Muslim refugees who have fled violence in Myanmar. Also: Aris Roussinos goes to Mali to join UN peacekeepers in the lawless Sahara desert. Includes an interview with UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
Nearly 690,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled their villages and crossed the border into Bangladesh since August. The Rohingya accuse the army of arson, rapes and killings aimed at rubbing them out of existence in this mainly Buddhist nation of 53 million. The United Nations has said the army may have committed genocide; the United States has called the action ethnic cleansing. Myanmar says its “clearance operation” is a legitimate response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents. 
Tucked away in the southern tip of Arabia lies Yemen, a majestic land which blue skies, and breath-taking beauty have now become painful reminders of what once was, and of what could have been should the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had stayed away – should grand military powers had refused to partake in the invasion of a people calling for political emancipation.
While you may not find my words pleasing, I will still tell you of this war which since March 2015 has torn a nation and a people apart, so that imperialism, and war capitalism could claim their pound of flesh.
Yemen I realise is not popular! Yemen I realise is no more than a dark corner of the world, a faraway land Westerners have little interest in, since it speaks not to their immediate needs. Yemen you may soon learn was the domino we should never have abandoned to the fury of Riyadh. Yemen you will do well to remember holds very crucial geopolitical keys … however poor and undeveloped it may stand today, however unsophisticated and traditional it may appear, Yemen nevertheless stands a crucial rampart against Saudi Arabia financial, religious and geopolitical monopoly.
Yemen as it were has prevented thus far for Riyadh to manifest a dangerously ambitious plan: absolute control over the world oil route. Beyond the kingdom’s pecuniary agenda, also exists the need to develop and build a grand Wahhabi empire – a dominion which the House of Saud could claim control over to secure its survival, as did its founders when they branded the Hejaz to their coat of arms.
A violent and reactionary theocracy raised around the radicalism of Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia was built upon the blood of the innocent. The kingdom’s very existence was sustained upon the blood of the innocent since it is in oppression and repression it has best expressed its will.
Why should we then be surprised that Riyadh sought to push the boundaries of its kingdom further out, to ultimately carve a grand Wahhabist empire? I would personally argue that it is our ethno-centrism which prevented us from recognizing the threat posed by al-Saud’s imperial ambitions. If Western powers imagined themselves cunning enough that they could exploit Riyadh and syphon money away from royals’ coffers, they find themselves now bound to princes’ political whims – condemn to capitalist servitude.
But I will not discuss today Saudi Arabia’s pursuit of power, or even argue the vengeful violence of Wahhabism against religious communities … all religious communities. Today I would like you, the public, to learn of Yemen’s pain, and of a people’s desperate cries for help.
You may have caught from the corner of your eye the devastation, and carnage which befell northern Yemen this August as Saudi war planes have played double-tap on civilian targets, while appointing blame on those below for being there!
As our reality continues to be sold out, and defined by unscrupulous media we have been told a twisted fairy tale, where the abominable has been dressed up as a victim, and the dead criminalised for daring claim to a dignified life.
Many of you I’m sure have grown unsure and confused as contradictive narratives have been thrown around, blurring the lines in between the legal, the politically acceptable, and the ethically questionable.
Those children you watched being pulled from the rubbles of their schools were sacrificed to serve the vindictive political agenda of Yemen’s rebels: the infamous Houthis … The innocent you were told were not really murdered, but rather forfeited by their families so that they could cry war crimes against the otherwise righteous Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Such allegations are sickening … such allegations I believe speak volumes of the very nature of the war lobby.
Children were killed because they were targeted!
The sick were murdered because they were targeted!
Civilians have died in their droves because the kingdom willed it, chose it and demanded it.
And yes wars are by definition ugly, and no parties should ever claim impunity – but let’s not confuse collateral casualties with cold-blooded murder. Yes abuses were committed on all sides of the board, but none greater and more abject than those of the kingdom’s.
Let us remember here that Yemen is fighting against a foreign invasion.
Let us remember that it was Saudi Arabia which unilaterally declared war on Yemen for it could not bear to see rise a democracy south of its theocratic borders.
Let us remember whose dogma the Greater Middle East has cowered under since 2011 before dismissing Yemen’s Resistance movement.
Yemen you may not have noticed has cracked, burnt, exploded, bled, died and cried well beyond the tolerable – still we have looked on and debated the right of a people to exercise their right to political self-determination.
As we, or rather they, this infamous and elusive they, which are the powers that be, have criminalised Resistance, let us remember how all of our democracies were born. Democracy’s history tells us, was built upon and around nations and individuals’ right to resist oppression, as to affirm popular will.
In political philosophy, the right of revolution is the right or duty of the people of a nation to overthrow a government that acts against their common interests. Throughout history nations have risen against their respective tyrants on the back of such principles. Comes to mind the famous phrase: vox populi,vox dei – “the voice of the people is the voice of God.”
Can we in all good conscience deny Yemen the courtesy of its resistance when we ourselves were saved by its armies? Can we truly sit atop our democracies and deny others their own?
Can we even conceive criminalising a free people and demand that they quietly allow for tyrants to shackle their future for the sake of lucrative military contracts?
And so I ask: Who will answer Yemen’s cry?
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on Yemen and radical movements. She is the Director of Programs for the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies in the UK, and serves as Special Adviser for the Middle East for Prince Ali Seraj of Afghanistan. She also sits as the Executive Director of PASI (Prince Ali Seraj of Afghanistan Institute for Peace and Reconstruction) She is the author of Arabia’s Rising – Under The Banner Of The First Imam. Her writings have appeared on RT, Press TV, Mehr News, The Foreign Policy Journal, The Duran, MintPress, the American Herald Tribune, Open Democracy, the Age of Reflection and many others. She’s the director and founder of Veritas-Consulting.
We welcome comments and conversation. Scroll down page to use the comment box.
Get your news straight from the source. UPDATED DAILY– this playlist contains the U.S. State Department daily press briefings, NATO news updates on the war against terrorism, and other related press statements from United Nations world leaders.
This is a continuous news feed that is updated regularly. The window will open to the latest video, and play through to the last. You can always fast forward and rewind. Each video varies in length from 2:00 min up to 1:30 hours.
Alistair Reign News Military Channel: Pentagon Briefings and Military Events.
Alistair Reign Playlists bring you the news from the source Watch, listen, learn and stay informed.
The United Nations envoy facilitating peace talks on Yemen announced that as the discussions wind down for a one-month break, the process will enter a “new phase,” during which “the focus will be on working with each side separately to crystalize precise technical details.”
“We depart Kuwait today but the Yemen peace talks continue. The structure and mechanism will change during the coming weeks so that we give the parties space to consult with their leaderships,” UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said of the talks, which have been hosted by Kuwait for the past three months, between a Yemeni Government delegation and a delegation of the General People’s Congress and Ansar Allah.
“We will work with each party separately to crystalize the precise technical details. I once again repeat that a lasting solution is one which is worked upon with care, study and consideration. Every rushed solution comes truncated and incomplete,” he added.
He stressed that the solution for the economic crisis depends on the political solution: “The economic situation has seen a serious decline and the economic indicators are disconcerting if not dangerous. I am sounding a warning for those involved in the internal affairs of Yemen. The alarm is being sounded strongly for the economy and this is a direct result of the war. There will be no economic solution except through a lasting political solution,” he explained.
“We must continue to urge the parties to initiate a series of confidence-building measures and it is their duty to continue the releases of detainees and refrain from adopting unilateral measures,” he said.
Noting the difficult situation in the country, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed raised the alarm regarding the faltering economy, and called on the two sides to unify their efforts to ease the increasing burden of suffering on the Yemeni people.
On Saturday fighting was reported on the Yemeni-Saudi border, where a Saudi border guard was killed by fire directed from the Yemeni side, the Saudi state news agency SPA said citing a security spokesman.
The world must raise their voices louder to save the Yemenis – because the United Nations’ leaders are very hard of hearing, and they are also blind, and apparently have forgotten their responsibility to protect the vulnerable nations – and this is the case worldwide, not just in Yemen.
It is time for the average person to pay more attention to what the United Nations is doing, and not doing. Personally, I feel abandoned by the United Nations, by the fact that I am now living during a time in history that our UN leaders are corrupt, weak and greedy – to the extent of turning their backs on the deaths and suffering of millions of children in the small, impoverished country of Yemen – suffering and deaths that could be stopped – but instead are accepted with impunity.