Last March a coalition of Gulf States led by Saudi Arabia and supported by Washington began a daily bombing campaign and later ground operation in Yemen.
Over the last year this war has accelerated bringing in military forces from Egypt and Sudan in what is seen as a proxy war against the Islamic Republic of Iran and its growing influence throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
The aim was to halt and drive back the Ansurallah Movement (Houthis) in their seizure of territory in central and southern regions of the country. The Ansurallah are a Shiite-based movement which has also formed a tactical alliance with elements of the Yemeni military which remains loyal to former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Despite several attempts to broker a ceasefire the bombing of Yemen by Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) utilizing United States manufactured warplanes, offensive weapons and intelligence sharing, is continuing. The administration of President Barack Obama has provided diplomatic cover for the war against Yemen which is a continuation of aerial bombardments and drone attacks which have been in effect for several years.
On April 4 attacks by warplanes killed at least one person and injured many others in Yemen as the Gulf monarchies continued their bombing of residential areas across the country. Yemeni news agencies also reported that the Saudi-GCC bombing raids struck an internally-displaced persons camp located in the northwestern Hajjah Province, leaving at least six children and one woman injured. These bombing operations hit the Lamrour district of al-Shahel, a city in Hajjah.
According to Yemen’s al-Masirah TV, the Saudi-GCC coalition carried out bombing raids earlier on April 4 destroying homes in Sa’ada, in north of the country, killing one person. Additional reports said air strikes also bombed a telecommunications installation in the city of Saqayn as well as a post office in the city Haydan, both of which are located in the Sa’ada Province, a stronghold of Ansarullah. These reports noted that a number of houses were struck in the operations.
In an article published by Press TV based in Tehran, it says that “The Saudi attacks on Monday (April 4) came as Ansarullah fighters and allied army units continued to launch reprisal attacks on Saudi and pro-Saudi military positions inside and outside Yemen. Yemenis managed to kill scores of Saudi forces in one such attack on troops in Rabuah region, southern Saudi Arabia. The allied forces also launched missile attacks on Saudi-led forces in al-Naser military base, located between Yemen’s Jawf and Ma’rib provinces.” (April 4)
Meanwhile, resistance efforts on the part of the Ansurallah and its allies are complicating the war for the U.S.-backed Saudi-GCC coalition.
In recent days Yemeni resistance fighters have taken 42 Saudi troops into custody in Bayda and Jawf provinces. Several other Saudi troops have been killed as well in Ma’rib.
The Yemeni armed forces which are supported by Popular Committees loyal to the Houthi Ansarullah Movement, captured 31 Saudi troops in Rada district in the southern province of Bayda and detained 11 others in al-Matma district in the northwestern province of Jawf.
News reports claimed that the detained soldiers were being deployed to the west-central Ma’rib province to enhance the Saudi-GCC forces there when Yemeni forces captured them. In a separate operation, the Yemeni forces launched another operation against Saudi troops utilizing Katyusha rockets in Ma’rib city, resulting in the deaths of six of them and the wounding 17 others. (sabanews.net, April 3)
Attacks were carried out by the Saudi-GCC warplanes in Taiz, the third largest city in the country. Saba News agency reported “Saudi fighter jets waged on Monday (April 4) a series of air raids on many areas in Taiz province, a local official said. The war jets targeted al-Shuqirah market in the central district of al-Wazeyah, leaving damage to houses and private properties, the official added.”
This same reports goes on to emphasize that “The warplanes targeted al-Siteen Street, in the north of Taiz, with several raids leaving serious damage to a number of houses and roads in the area. The Saudi aggression also waged many sorties on Warazan and Khadeer areas in the south of Taiz city, the official added.”
Death and Casualties Figures Escalate
Over the last year it has been estimated by various news and humanitarian sources that up to 10,000 people have died in the intensified fighting in Yemen. At the same time 80 percent of the population is in dire need of assistance.
A report published on March 29 by the United Nations Children Educational Fund (UNICEF) entitled “Children on the Brink”, said that millions of people are being impacted negatively by the war. Children and women have been affected severely through the aerial strikes, ground operations and the attacks on civilian areas including neighborhoods, IDP camps, schools and medical facilities.
Statistics cited by UNICEF indicates that 63 healthcare facilities have been bombed and severely damaged while most hospitals and clinics report extreme shortages in equipment, supplies and personnel. Repeated bombing operations have resulted in sporadic access to electricity.
A news release announcing the reports says “UNICEF verified more than 1,560 incidents of grave violations again children in Yemen. As a result, over 900 children were killed and more than 1,300 were injured in the past year alone. On average, at least six children have been killed or injured every day. These numbers are almost seven times higher than the whole of 2014. With more than 50 verified attacks on schools, children were also killed while at school or on their way to or from school. These numbers represent the tip of the iceberg as they only indicate the cases that UNICEF was able to verify.”
Moreover, the UNICEF report stresses that “disruption of the inflow of food and fuel as a result of the violence and restrictions on imports has paralyzed the delivery of basic services across Yemen. Beyond the direct impact of the war, UNICEF estimates that nearly 10,000 additional deaths may have occurred among children under five years old in the past year due to preventable diseases as a result of the decline in critical health services including immunization and the treatment of diarrhea and pneumonia. This figure is in addition to the nearly 40,000 children who die every year in Yemen before their fifth birthday.”
With the U.S. military and security apparatuses coordinating the war by providing fighter jets, ordinances, refueling technology, intelligence sharing and diplomatic cover for the Saudi Arabian and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) coalition and its allied militias, Washington is culpable in the current strife. The impact of the military campaign aimed at the Ansurallah over the last year is compounded by the periodic drone attacks ostensibly targeting al-Qaeda and its partners inside the country.
Many civilians have been killed in the Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) targeted drone operations as has been noted in several news reports and documentaries produced by the U.S.-based Public Broadcasting System (PBS) program Frontline. Several of those killed were U.S. citizens who were living in Yemen and accused by Washington of being operatives of so-called “terrorist organizations.”
Nonetheless, resistance by the Ansurallah and other allied forces is formidable with ongoing attacks in Yemen and the spreading of the war into eastern Saudi Arabia. Prior to the initiation of the Saudi-GCC bombing campaign of March 2015, the Obama administration had withdrawn Special Forces from the country along with its diplomatic personnel.
Another ceasefire has been announced for April but if the recent past is any indication it will only intensify the airstrikes and targeting of civilians and therefore worsening the conditions for people living in Yemen.
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire