The New York Times reports that the United Nations is pulling its staff from the besieged Yemeni port city of Al Hudaydah as a massive assault on the country’s only major humanitarian lifeline appears imminent.
UN staff have played a key role in delivering foreign aid through what is now one of the besieged country’s only humanitarian access points to the outside world, through which 80% of all humanitarian aid flows.
The NYT details that the UN evacuation comes after “member countries were told that an attack by forces led by the United Arab Emirates was imminent, according to two diplomats briefed on the matter.”
Houthi and other allied Yemeni tribal forces have held the port city of 600,000 for the last two years after ousting the Saudi backed government in Sanaa three years ago. The Saudi-US military coalition currently besieging the country through airstrikes and sea blockade claims Al Hudaydah is a key arms smuggling point through which Iran supplies the Shia Houthis, including sophisticated ballistic missiles which have hit locations inside Saudi Arabia within the past year.
Iran has denied that it is a party to the war which has claimed many tens of thousands of casualties — both through direct fighting and through starvation and disease.
While acknowledging the US to be a major part of the coalition preparing for the attack on Al Hudaydah, the NYT has still managed to paint the US-Saudi-Emirati forces as benevolent-minded saviors bent on rescuing Yemeni civilians.
While first noting that “Yemen is already classified as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster” with “more than 75 percent of the population… dependent on food aid” and as “millions are on the brink of starvation” the NYT report absurdly emphasizes that only the Americans can stave off disaster: “Diplomats in the region say they believe that only more pressure from Washington will stop the planned assault.”
Thus while the Pentagon has long been at the forefront of the war on Yemen which has caused the deaths of thousands of children, according to one leaked UN report from last summer, the NYT presents the US role as, in our words, ‘reluctant humanitarian aggressors’ of some sort.
The NYT report continues:
But any full-scale attack on the port would be highly contentious. American officials have warned the Emirati and Saudi governments that an offensive would result in a quagmire. The United Nations says it could cause more than a quarter of a million civilian casualties.
So the NYT wants us to believe that American officials have constantly “warned” the Saudis against committing war crimes on a massive scale while simultaneously leading the very coalition committing the aggression with overwhelming firepower? It’s really just par for the MSM course.
It bears continually repeating that the US itself has played a lead and integral part of the coalition (also including Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt, Sudan, and with the UK as a huge supplier of weapons) fighting Shia Houthi rebels, which overran the Yemen’s north in 2014. Saudi airstrikes on the impoverished country, which have killed many thousands of civilians and displaced tens of thousands, have involved the direct targetting assistance of US intelligence and use of American military hardware.
Meanwhile, Cholera has made a comeback amidst the appalling war-time conditions, and civilian infrastructure such as hospitals have been bombed by the Saudi-US operations.
The humanitarian situation is set to escalate further, however, as the International Committee for the Red Cross has already removed its staff from Al Hudaydah over the weekend ahead of impending coalition aerial attack.
According to the Times, UN negotiators are working on a deal with Houthi authorities in control of the port city to hand it over to the temporary administration of the United Nations:
The United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, has been working to forge an agreement with the Houthis to hand over control of the city and its port to the international body, depriving the Emiratis and Saudis of their rationale for an attack. Diplomats familiar with the situation say that while he has made progress, it is unclear whether Riyadh and Abu Dhabi would back any such breakthrough.
The NYT further reports that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “said in a statement that he had spoken to Emirati leaders to emphasize the American wish to keep humanitarian supply lines open and to preserve a political process between the opposing sides in Yemen.” Pompeo emphasized the US “desire to address their security concerns while preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and lifesaving commercial imports,” according to the statement.
This appears code for we will keep bombing the hell out of Yemen but reserve the right to dress it up as ‘humanitarian’.
The Houthis are not likely to trust such a scheme as the UN is seen as a Western and US-dominated institution that does the Saudis’ bidding.
After all, it remains the case that Saudi Arabia sits on the UN Human Rights Council and within the past years has even held leadership positions within the body. Not only is Saudi Arabia currently massacring civilians in Yemen, but each year sets new record-breaking numbers of domestic sharia court ordered beheadings, including for non-violent offenses like drugs or bizarre accusations of “sorcery” (often a euphemism converting from Islam).