The tempering of Yemen’s resistance

The Stockholm agreement is a milestone in the long struggle of the Yemeni people for freedom.

Proletarian writers

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Official Yemeni foreign minister Khaled Al Yamani, UN secretary-general António Guterres and leader of the Ansarullah delegation Mohammed Abdel Salam at a meeting on 13 December 2018.

Proletarian writers

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In December last year the Ansarullah movement of national resistance, popularly known as the Houthis, was invited to Sweden for United Nations-brokered talks with the Saudi-led coalition.

That coalition has, since 2015, with the support of the US and Britain, been engaged in an orgy of destruction against the Yemeni people, wiping out schools, hospitals, factories and bridges, and taking a dreadful toll in human lives, whether through bombing, starvation or the spread of cholera encouraged by the destruction of water purification plants.

In committing these crimes against humanity Saudi Arabia and its allies have received the full support of Britain and the US, both on the propaganda front and directly in the supply of fighter jets and bombs.

It is to the great credit of the Ansarullah movement that, despite the worst efforts of imperialism and its lackeys, the national-resistance struggle remains unbroken – a fact that was de facto acknowledged by the UN decision to invite Ansarullah to the talks in Sweden.

The talks opened on 6 December, and on 13 December resulted in the Stockholm agreement. This included the proposal that troops on both sides be stood down in the ports of Hodeidah, Saleef and Ras Isa.

The Saudi naval blockade of the western port of Hodeida, through which 90 percent of Yemen’s food and basic commodities normally pass, has been a major factor in creating the humanitarian disaster that has, according to the charity Save the Children, seen 85,000 children under the age of five starve to death in the past three years. (Appalling that the UK government supports Saudi regime, by Ken Livingstone, RT, 5 March 2019)

Jeremy Hunt lies about the Stockholm agreement

Eager to be of service to Riyadh in its war of plunder and domination, and mindful of the big stake Britain’s arms industry has in seeing the war prolonged (in the first year of bombardment, Britain sold £3.3bn worth of arms to the Saudis, 30 times more than it had sold in the year before it started), Britain’s pipsqueak foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt was quick to try and muddy the waters post Stockholm, falsely claiming that Hodeidah “was supposed to be cleared of militia and left under neutral control by the beginning of January”.

Ansarullah spokesman Mohammed Abdul-Salem noted that the agreement made no mention of handing Hodeidah to a neutral party, simply stipulating that it be patrolled by an unspecified “local force” with UN observers in attendance. (British elite reap benefits of Saudi-led war on Yemen, RT, 18 January 2019; and Yemen’s rebels say UK foreign secretary ‘misrepresents’ agreements on Hodeidah, RT, 4 March 2019)

Though Hunt may not like it, the local forces on the ground are strongly influenced by the Ansarullah movement, widely recognised as leading the resistance against foreign interference. As the Qatar-based Al Jazeera puts it: “Houthi forces and their affiliates have become highly entrenched in Hodeidah”, and “local security forces, such as the police, are full of Houthi partisans and sympathisers”.

Al Jazeera notes: “Dismantling these unofficial networks to rebalance civilian power will be difficult.” This eventuality was foreseen during the talks, and it was agreed to set up a Redeployment Coordination Committee to deal with the issue of local control.

This committee is intended to comprise representatives from both sides and to be headed by UN officials – that is, not simply parachuted in by the west as Hunt would doubtless prefer. (The good and the bad in the new peace agreement on Yemen, by Osamah Al-Rawhani, Al Jazeera, 19 December 2018)

Riyadh sabotages the agreement

There is little sign that the Saudi coalition intends to carry out its role in implementing the Stockholm agreement. By the end of April, Ansarullah had already reported 600 ceasefire violations by the enemy.

Meanwhile, Saudi jets have compensated for the period of relative calm in the ceasefire areas by intensifying the bombardment in the north of the country, especially in the governorate of Sa’ada, and clashes continue on the ground, with Emirati troops distinguishing themselves by their brutality and cowardice.

Enraged protesters in Aden demonstrated for four straight days in March when it came to light that not only had UAE-backed militia raped a seven-year-old boy, but that they had abducted and murdered a witness to the rape. ‘President’ Hadi’s pretend ‘government’ has set up a committee to investigate/cover up these crimes. (Man who witnessed rape by UAE-linked rebels in Yemen found killed, Al Jazeera, 8 March 2019)

A word about this ‘president’ and his ‘government’ is in order. It will be remembered that when the Arab spring of 2011 saw the overthrow of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, the US was able to wangle a provisional government headed by its own pliant candidate, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

However, when Hadi made the mistake of slashing subsidies on fuel in July 2014, under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), driving thousands into even more dire poverty, people took to the streets once more and made an unscripted second edition of the Arab spring of their own.

The popular protests that ensued, stiffened by support from Ansarullah, sent Hadi scuttling off to his sponsors in Riyadh, from which perch he has since watched his countrymen suffer invasion bombardment and mass famine at the hands of his Saudi hosts.

Outside of Riyadh and the UN, Hadi has little or no authority. Rival members of the same Saudi coalition squabble and fester on Yemeni soil. According to an article in the New Republic: “Salafists and secessionists backed by the UAE often expend as much energy battling their nominal allies, Saudi Arabia-funded islamists and loyalists of the internationally recognised president Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, as they do the Houthis.” (The one thing about Yemen everyone gets wrong by Peter Salisbury, New Republic, 19 September 2018)

So ineffective is this ‘president’ that Emirati military officers were revealed last year to have run 27 prisons in southern Yemen in which 49 people were reported to have died under torture. All this was done under Hadi’s nose – or, rather, under his minions’ noses, since Hadi prefers to closet himself in Riyadh. (Man who witnessed rape found killed, op cit)

Splits in imperialism

The failure of Riyadh to break the back of the Yemeni resistance is starting to cause rumblings of unease in the imperialist camp as its deep complicity in the most abhorrent war crimes belatedly forces itself onto public attention.

Germany, hitherto a major arms supplier to Riyadh, has developed cold feet and temporarily banned arms exports there. Jeremy Hunt took it upon himself to upbraid his German counterpart Heiko Maas, telling him that he had “grave concerns” over the effect that Berlin’s suspension of arms exports was “having on the supply chains of UK and European defence industry and may ultimately have on Europe’s ability to fulfil its Nato commitments”.

Because many of the fighter jets that Britain sells contain German parts, these would fall under the German ban. Alluding to this, Hunt lamented that Berlin’s policy is delaying deliveries of Eurofighter Typhoon, Tornado and Hawk warplanes, incurring contractual penalties for 500 companies in the supply chain of BAE Systems. These impassioned pleas failed to melt Maas’s heart however. (Germany refuses to bow to UK pressure to resume arms sales to Saudi Arabia by Samuel Osborne, Independent, 21 February 2019)

There are other signs of unease in the imperialist camp. The Democrat-controlled US Congress adopted a resolution on 13 February telling Trump to end Washington’s military support for the war in Yemen and to withdraw almost all US forces. The resolution was passed by 248 to 177.

This resolution has to get through the Senate (the US’s upper legislative chamber) to have any real effect, and even then could face a presidential veto, so there is a strong element of playacting involved, and the resolution is itself hedged about with get-out clauses.

For example, the withdrawal is not to include US armed forces that are supposedly fighting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. And for sure there is a deal of hypocrisy in those same Democrats that happily cheered O’Bomber on in Syria now suddenly developing a conscience about Yemen.

Nevertheless, this move by the US House of Representatives is significant for what it reveals about the indecision besetting ruling circles over the unwinnable war against the Yemeni people. (House passes resolution to end US aid for Saudi war on Yemen, PressTV, 14 February 2019)

Here in Britain, even some in the decrepit House of Lords are wanting to distance themselves from this vile war. An all-party House of Lords committee, chaired by Lord David Howell (a former Tory minister who served under Margaret Thatcher), concluded that Britain is on “the wrong side of the law” in exporting arms to Riyadh for their war in Yemen, calling on the government to suspend the export licences and condemn “any further violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition, including the blocking of food and medical supplies.”

And, last but not least, it should be noted that in some ways the most important crack in the camp of reaction over the war on Yemen has been the refusal of Qatar to row in with the Saudi-led coalition in its war of plunder and domination, and its refusal to lend its influential media tool, Al Jazeera, to serve the propaganda war against the Yemeni resistance.

The thousands who filled the streets of Yemen’s northwestern city of Sa’ada to celebrate Martyrs’ Day made it clear that the years of sanctions, bombardment, blockade and slaughter inflicted on their homeland by imperialism and its lackeys, far from breaking the resistance of the Yemeni people, has tempered its steel.

Victory to the Yemeni resistance!

Death to imperialism!