By Finian Cunningham
April 23, 2015 "ICH" - "SCF"
Former UN envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, has given an undiplomatic assessment
of the crisis in that country, in which he rhetorically explodes Saudi myths
«justifying» the US-backed aerial bombing campaign. The Moroccan diplomat told
media at the weekend that the ongoing conflict was a direct result of Houthi
rebels having been excluded from the political process last year.
Furthermore, Benomar went on to
say unequivocally that during his tenure as UN envoy in Yemen he saw no evidence
of Iranian involvement stirring the country’s strife.
That testimony debunks the Western
media-contrived whitewash of the continuing Saudi slaughter in Yemen – a
slaughter that is being aided and abetted, politically and militarily, by
Benomar resigned from his
diplomatic post last week after three years of being charged with facilitating
political talks between Yemeni rebels and the US, Saudi-backed regime of
now-ousted president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Benomar’s task had always been a
futile one because the foreign sponsors of the Hadi regime were never interested
in a genuine transition to a more democratic, representative government in the
Arab Peninsula country.
The US, Saudi-backed
puppet-president Hadi, who was elected in an uncontested ballot in February
2012, was only ever supposed to hold a transitional office for a year, while in
theory overseeing the formation of an elected, fully representative government.
For three years, Hadi under the
tutelage of Washington reneged on promises to hand over power to a more
democratic constitution. Among those shut out from the transition were the
northern-based Houthis. When Hadi and his ruling clique refused to fulfil
promises, the Houthis took over government institutions by force and deposed the
so-called caretaker president at the beginning of this year.
That account of events has now
been substantiated by the former UN envoy, who more than anyone is best-placed
to make a call, having had a ringside seat in Yemen for three years.
Benomar’s more recent diplomatic
task of trying to re-engage Yemeni opponents in talks was again made impossible
because the Gulf Arab backers of the Hadi regime – in particular Saudi Arabia –
refused to countenance engagement of the Houthi rebels. This is because the Arab
dictators are implacably opposed to allowing a wider franchise in the formation
of a new government in Yemen, one that would have genuine democratic
participation. Benomar’s resignation last week was prompted by muted antagonism
from the Saudi and Qatari rulers.
Saudi Arabia launched an aerial
bombing campaign on Yemen on March 26, along with support from other Arab
dictatorships, including Egypt, Jordan and the Persian Gulf monarchies of Qatar,
Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The United States has given full
political backing to the bombing campaign along with supply of munitions and
logistical targeting of air strikes.
The constant air strikes on Yemen
for more than three weeks has resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths. Last
week, eight civilians, including a mother and three children, were killed when a
school in Malahidh region near the Saudi border was hit in an air strike. The
true death toll of the Saudi-led bombing campaign may be several thousand, much
more than official UN figures, according to Yemeni military and medical
The military intervention has been
denounced by Russia, China and Iran, with all three countries calling for an
immediate halt to the violence. A Russian draft resolution put to the UN
Security Council last week calling for a humanitarian ceasefire was rejected by
the US and its Arab allies. But an alternative resolution was passed, despite
Russia’s abstention, that imposes an arms embargo on the Yemeni rebels.
Washington and its Arab allies
have claimed that the Houthis illegally overthrew the Hadi «government». Their
justification for the all-out bombing campaign is that they are responding to
the «legitimate requests for assistance» from «President Hadi» who last month
fled to Saudi Arabia. Last week, in the Saudi capital Riyadh, a «deputy
president» of Yemen was sworn into office and continues to reside in the Saudi
capital, along with Hadi. This remnant regime in exile can therefore hardly be
construed as a «legitimate government».
Moreover, there are clear double
standards over the way Washington in particular has tried to uphold the Hadi
regime compared with the way it immediately delegitimised the deposed president
of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovych. At least Yanukovych was constitutionally elected
and had a democratic mandate from a large section of the Ukrainian population.
The ousted Yemeni nominal president can make no such claims.
Former UN envoy Jamal Benomar
clearly makes the US and Saudi «justifications» for their actions in Yemen
untenable. Hadi was an unscrupulous, dishonest broker who had long abused his
transitional office for the purpose of obstructing democratic transition, in
accordance with the geopolitical wishes of his foreign masters.
The other disclosure by Benomar
that Iran has conducted no covert interference in Yemen is equally significant.
The alleged subversive role of Iran trying go expand Shia influence in the
region has also been held up by the Saudis and the US-coordinated bombing
coalition as another «justification». That rationale never posited an acceptable
legal argument anyway, even if there had been some Iranian involvement in
supporting the popular uprising spearheaded by the Houthis. But what Benomar is
saying is that there is not a scintilla of Iranian malfeasance.
Earlier this month, US Secretary
of State John Kerry warned Iran over allegedly «destabilising the region» and he
used the claim to rationalise American support for the bombing of Yemen. Kerry
claimed without citing specific evidence that Iran was flying in weapons to
Houthi rebels. How the Iranians could carry out such a mission while hundreds of
Arab warplanes have imposed a no-fly zone over Yemen was not explained by the
Besides, the Iranian government
and the Houthi rebels have both strenuously denied any such military connection.
Several other independent monitors have also rejected the notion that Iran had
infiltrated the country with «fifth columnists» and military supplies.
With the Iranian «bogeyman» factor
nullified, that strips the US, Saudi bombing of Yemen down to what it is:
criminal foreign aggression.
The broad swathe of Yemeni public
have from the outset denounced the foreign coalition as foreign aggression. A
Yemeni Army Colonel Sharaf Luqman was quoted by Al Manar news agency as calling
the US-Arab bombing a «war crime». He listed the civilian infrastructure
destroyed so far to include government buildings, power plants and fuel depots,
hospitals, schools, family residences, mosques, markets and businesses.
«Saudi Arabia is the international
supporter of terrorism. It is hiring foreign armies because its troops cannot
dare to fight in Yemen,» noted Colonel Luqman.
Another Yemeni Army source,
Colonel Adel Sattar al Boushali, said that Saudi Arabia had recently sent up to
5,000 Takfiri Al Qaeda mercenaries into Yemen to step up the ground war. The
mercenaries, he said, had been relocated from Syria, where they have been waging
a covert war on behalf of Western and Arab allies to topple the government of
Bashar al Assad.
The US, Saudi criminality in Yemen
is thus emerging as both egregious and transparent. There is not a shred of
justification for their military operations. Civilians are being mass murdered
and a country – the poorest in the region – is being destroyed simply because
the foreign powers are refusing to give way to a democratic uprising. These
powers are trying to bludgeon the democratic will of the Yemeni people in order
to reinstall a discredited, unelected regime that serves to suppress democracy.
Meanwhile over the weekend, the
«benevolent» Saudi rulers announced that they were pledging $275 million in
«humanitarian aid» to Yemen. How depraved is that? Bombing and massacring with
one hand, and then with the other handing out bandages and analgesics to
Surely, a day of judgement is
urgently needed whereby Washington and its despotic Arab allies are prosecuted
for war crimes in Yemen.
© Strategic Culture Foundation