Yemen’s quest for self-determination continues unabated

Despite conditions of siege and war, the Yemeni people are finding ways to lay the foundations of a diversified and more self-sufficient economy.

Lalkar writers

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Agriculture is at the forefront of Yemen’s struggle to break the imperialist blockade that has for eight years been trying to starve its people into submission.

Lalkar writers

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After eight years of continuous imperialist siege, the Yemeni revolution begun in 2014 is still advancing.

Following the popular revolution which overthrew the US-Saudi stooge regime that had dominated Yemen for decades, and replaced it with a patriotic government led by the anti-imperialist Ansarullah resistance movement, the imperialists silently declared total war on the poorest nation in the Arab world.

Using Saudi and Emirati military forces for plausible deniability, the Anglo-American imperialist war has killed almost half a million civilians according to the Eye of Humanity Centre for Rights and Development. Millions more are at imminent risk of starvation due to an air and sea blockade that prohibits food and medicine entering the famine-stricken nation.

Very little of this is mentioned by mainstream western media, as any coverage of the extreme brutality inflicted on the children of Yemen by the US-led alliance would clearly expose all the crocodile tears and deranged horror fan-fiction stories of Russian/Syrian/Iranian/Chinese supposed ‘human rights abuses’ as being nothing but bilge.

Striving to feed the people

Despite eight years of gruelling conflict and sacrifice in defence of the revolution, the tenacity of Yemen’s resistance under the direction of Ansarullah is unabated. According to Press TV, for example, the revolutionary government is steaming ahead with plans to make the country self-sufficient in foodstuffs within the next few years.

Government-backed organisations such as the Qiwan Foundation have been set up and are helping farmers to diversify and expand their crop yields, utilising all available resources and techniques. Being a desert country, fertile agricultural land is relatively limited in Yemen, so innovative scientific techniques are being trialled, such as providing specially-irrigated greenhouses and growing crops in gravel instead of soil.

Additionally, giving priority to fast-growing crops such as cucumbers, tomatoes and onions allows for multiple yields in a single year and hence more affordable prices in a country where blockade-induced shortages have sent food prices skyrocketing.

Finding excuses to damn the Yemeni resistance

The heroic efforts of the Yemeni revolutionaries described above give lie to claims by various Trotskyist and social-chauvinist ‘left’ outfits that Ansarullah is a reactionary or so-called ‘islamo-fascist’ movement that persecutes Yemeni workers.

Articles by such groups (when they can be bothered to even write something about Yemen in the first place) often rely solely on imperialist sources, sometimes even Saudi/Emirati regime media sources, and typically repeat tired imperialist talking-points about supposed ‘Iranian influence’.

The desperation shown by such ‘left’ groups in frantically trying to find any flimsy excuse to throw any and every successful national-liberation movement under the bus, from Korea and Vietnam to Lebanon and Gaza, is well-known.

Dogmatic, rigid thinking is a poison to any serious revolutionary organisation. In this case, the dogma is the assumption that movements with a religion-inspired ideology must at all times and in all conditions necessarily be reactionary, but as JV Stalin pointed out in his Foundations of Leninism:

“The revolutionary character of a national movement under the conditions of imperialist oppression does not necessarily presuppose the existence of proletarian elements in the movement, the existence of a revolutionary or a republican programme of the movement, the existence of a democratic basis of the movement.

“The struggle that the Emir of Afghanistan is waging for the independence of Afghanistan is objectively a revolutionary struggle, despite the monarchist views of the Emir and his associates, for it weakens, disintegrates and undermines imperialism; whereas the struggle waged by such ‘desperate’ democrats and ‘socialists’, ‘revolutionaries’ and republicans as, for example, Kerensky and Tsereteli, Renaudel and Scheidemann, Chernov and Dan, Henderson and Clynes, during the imperialist war was a reactionary struggle, for its result was the embellishment, the strengthening, the victory, of imperialism.

“For the same reasons, the struggle that the Egyptian merchants and bourgeois intellectuals are waging for the independence of Egypt is objectively a revolutionary struggle, despite the bourgeois origin and bourgeois title of the leaders of Egyptian national movement, despite the fact that they are opposed to socialism; whereas the struggle that the British ‘Labour’ government is waging to preserve Egypt’s dependent position is for the same reason a reactionary struggle, despite the proletarian origin and the proletarian title of the members of the government, despite the fact that they are ‘for’ socialism.

“There is no need to mention the national movement in other, larger, colonial and dependent countries, such as India and China, every step of which along the road to liberation, even if it runs counter to the demands of formal democracy, is a steam-hammer blow at imperialism, ie, is undoubtedly a revolutionary step.” (Chapter 6, 1924)

Hussein Badreddine al-Houthi, the founder of Ansarullah, was a grassroots preacher, hailing from a remote region of northern Yemen where the central government had little presence. Going through some of his recorded lectures, one admittedly finds on the one hand some very reactionary statements about jewish people (for example, suggesting that communism was created by jews to spread atheism). On the other hand, al-Houthi shows a remarkable awareness of the nature of imperialism.

The roots of an anti-imperialist and internationalist sentiment can be seen as he rails against US monopolist capture of the Yemeni market, the presence of occupying foreign troops in Yemen, the repression of Yemeni culture and identity by the western imperialists, and the imperialist plots against Afghanistan and Iraq.

To a typical European social-chauvinist steeped in dogmatism, the idea of a religious islamic movement with antisemitic teachings evolving to become a revolutionary detachment against imperialism seems absurd. Yet as far back as 2004, the US-stooge regime in Yemen took the threat of al-Houthi’s preaching seriously enough to send troops to massacre him and his followers in cold blood, allegedly with US support.

Fast-forward to today and the movement’s current leader, the charismatic Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, regularly attracts hundreds of thousands to hear his speeches in defence of Yemen’s sovereignty and excoriation of the USA and Israel. Ansarullah has evolved to embrace revolutionary internationalism, having established links with fraternal resistance movements in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq.

Ansarullah supporters in Sana’a even rallied in defence of President Nicolás Maduro during the 2019 US-sponsored coup attempts in Venezuela. Meanwhile, there is no evidence of any mistreatment of Yemen’s tiny jewish community, or of any other minority group, under Ansarullah’s governance.

As for so-called ‘Iranian influence’, it seems somewhat analogous to the much-hyped ‘Soviet influence’ that supposedly swamped various poor east Asian, African and Latin-American countries during the cold war.

If Iran and Yemen, as two nations under brutal attack from imperialism and sharing many cultural and religious similarities, have developed close fraternal relations in the struggle, then this is something to be celebrated. That imperialism would be terrified by such fraternal relations is understandable. That self-styled ‘socialists’ would scaremonger about it is disappointing to say the least.

There is a lesson to be learned here for all those who claim to be scientific socialists: that the struggle for liberation from imperialism is the primary contradiction of our era. It is the fight against imperialism through which the most backward and isolated peoples are transformed into some of the most advanced detachments of the world revolution, whilst the seemingly advanced workers in the imperialist centres, under the malign influence of social democracy and imperialist propaganda, are transformed into the most backward and ideologically rotten.