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Propaganda: How Neocolonial Progressives Support Western Imperialism

Libya 360 | Tortilla con Sal

January 7, 2017

20 July 1979: Nicaraguan leftist Sandinista rebels exult in Managua after entering the city and overthrowing Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. General Somoza whose family ruled Nicaragua since 1933, finally surrendered 20 June to the Sandinista rebels. Somoza left a country devastated by civil war, with thousands of people killed in June and July 1979 and half a million, one-fifth of the country’s population, displaced from their homes. Somoza was assassinated in exile in Asuncion, Paraguay in 1980 by a left-wing Argentinian Trotskyst rebel group. Picture: AFP/Getty

 

Across the region, the legitimate struggles of indigenous peoples are being coopted by Western NGOs and media to serve the psychological warfare offensive of the US government and its allies against progressive governments in Latin America.

 

Almost all Western reporting of foreign news constitutes a permanent drip-feed of poisonous disinformation accumulating into a deep, broad, toxic propaganda wave drowning out rational critical analysis. That process has been very clear in reporting of international affairs from Libya to Ukraine, to Venezuela and Syria – anywhere the interests of Western elites encounter resistance. The collaboration of alternative media in that process has been evident in Libya, Syria and Ukraine and is certainly very evident in the case of Nicaragua.

Here, the constant underlying false message is that President Ortega is a dictatorial leader crushing dissent in Nicaragua to impose an anti-democratic regime run by his family. This false message creates a context justifying arbitrary measures by the US authorities and their allies, like the recent NICA legislation, attacking Nicaragua’s economy and intervening heavily in the country’s internal affairs in favor of Nicaragua’s right wing opposition. To flesh out that keynote psychological warfare message, Western media attacks focus on whatever current events they can manipulate to align with the overall falsehood.

All through 2016, the attacks consisted mainly of distorted or downright false reports covering the 2016 national elections. But two other associated media offensive fronts have been established, namely, developments relating to the proposed Interoceanic Canal and also continuing land conflicts in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast. A good example of the complete collapse of conventional reporting standards in Western progressive media is this headline news summary from Democracy Now of a recent protest demonstration against Nicaragua’s Interoceanic Canal:

“In Nicaragua, activists say federal police attacked a campesino caravan heading to the capital Managua Wednesday, opening fire with both live and rubber bullets and throwing tear gas. The caravan was heading to the capital to protest the construction of a $50 billion canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Campesinos say the project could displace up to 120,000 people.”

Democracy Now’s editors ran this classic psychological warfare propaganda beneath a photograph supposedly of a rural worker wounded in an allegedly peaceful protest. Democracy Now omits that six police officers were reported to be wounded after being attacked by violent protesters. The summary report also omits that the “activists” are militant anti-Sandinistas of the misnamed MRS Sandinista Renewal Movement, funded by the US and allied governments and associated NGOs. Likewise, the suggestion that 120,000 people may be displaced by the proposed Canal is completely false, the real figure is under 10,000 people, all of whom are entitled to complete indemnification.

A flurry of reports in corporate and alternative media alleged that the government of Daniel Ortega tried to repress national protests against the Canal timed to coincide with a visit to Nicaragua’s capital Managua by Luis Almagro, right wing Secretary General of the Organization of American States. In fact, it seems that only the incident in Rio San Juan involved violent exchanges between protesters and the police. The national demonstration itself passed off peacefully, with a modest total of several thousand people demonstrating in Managua’s center against the proposed Canal.

The incident in Nicaragua’s south-western Rio San Juan department provoked angry condemnation from the local bishop Socrates René Sándigo, certainly no friend of the Sandinista government. Bishop Sándigo remarked, “The MRS has always been out there manipulating our rural families and non governmental organizations who involve our rural workers in demands that may well be legitimate but they take these rural workers and put them at the head of their attacks...” Given that context, Democracy Now’s headline summary can be seen as all of a piece with its similarly false reporting, for example, of the conflict in Syria, favoring anti-Russian US government propaganda.

Much less prestigious than Democracy Now, the Intercontinental Cry web site purports to represent the views and interests of indigenous peoples around the world. But in the case of Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast its reports are written in the worst neocolonial tradition by North American academics and writers with a very clear anti-Sandinista agenda . One of these writers is the PhD anthropologist Courtney Parker whose widely published inaccurate report in July 2016 carefully omitted relevant information inconvenient to her account. International Cry later supplemented Parker’s July report with a disingenous, misleading attack on us at Tortilla con Sal, evading our criticism that they recycle propaganda of the local Yatama political party, effectively covering up Yatama’s own role in the violent events Parker and others fail to report fairly and honestly.

To make their phony case against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, Intercontinental Cry’s reports consistently omit two essential facts. Firstly, Nicaragua’s Sandinista government under Daniel Ortega is the first administration since the revolutionary Sandinista government of the 1980s to guarantee indigenous people’s land rights. As a result, indigenous peoples in Nicaragua now have statutory land rights to a third of Nicaragua’s national territory. So it is completely counterfactual and deceitful of Intercontinental Cry to publish reports implicitly claiming that the Sandinista government deliberately seeks to deprive indigenous peoples of their land. Intercontinental Cry’s reports are based on allegations of Yatama political party supporters whose leadership themselves have faced serious allegations of complicity in the illegal sale of their own peoples’ land.

The second fact obscured by Intercontinental Cry’s reports is that Yatama is not the only representative of the region’s Miskito and other indigenous peoples. In 2013, a large group of the region’s Miskito population rejected the Yatama leadership and now support the Myatamaran political movement allied with the Sandinista government. That omission indicates just how skewed and neocolonial Intercontinental Cry’s reporting on Nicaragua really is by creating an inaccurate, image of a united Miskito people, hapless victims of relentless alien oppression. The history of the Miskito people itself shows up that kind of account as a ridiculous neocolonial construct. Reports in Intercontinental Cry seem to deliberately omit the fact that extremist Miskito groups have attacked and murdered rural workers’ families in the area in conflict.

Historically, some components of the Miskito people allied with British colonial forces and were themselves cruel oppressors preying on weaker ethnic groups to sell them as slaves to British plantation owners in Jamaica and other British Caribbean colonies. Furthermore, Miskito groups in Jinotega along the Rio Wangki, have a somewhat different history to that of Miskito groups along Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast. So even in historical terms it is false to suggest that the Miskito indigenous people share a uniformly homogenous history and cultural identity. None of that is reflected in the neocolonial accounts rendered by the writers for Intercontinental Cry.

To the contrary, despite the complicated political reality in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, Courtney Parker’s July report and Brett Spencer’s November 11th report both falsely suggest that Yatama is the only organization representative of Miskitos in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast and the only opposition movement to the Frente Sandinista Front for National Liberation. In fact, the right wing Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC) has always had significant support in the interior of the northern Caribbean region area and won a seat in the legislative elections along with Yatama’s caudillo Brooklyn Rivera. The third seat was won by the FSLN.

Both Courtney Parker and Brett Spencer write essentially as propaganda shills for Yatama, portraying Yatama’s violent supporters as victims. Spencer manages that difficult task even in his report on how Yatama destroyed and looted the offices of the regional authority in Bilwi and violently intimidated local people and businesses. Spencer in particular implicitly tries to justify those attacks by alleging that Yatama caudillo Brooklyn Rivera “was ousted from office in September of 2015, following a rise in violence over an endemic land conflict between the Miskito and Sandinista settlers known to the Miskito as colonos.”

Spencer neglects to mention that Rivera was stripped of his status as a legislator following very serious allegations that he and his Yatama colleagues were illegally selling Miskito land. Spencer turns that reality on its head by alleging that the rural farming families trying to settle Miskito land sold to them illegally are “Sandinista”. Intercontinental Cry have no factual basis at all for publishing that kind of malicious smear which is pure Yatama propaganda diverting attention away from the questionable dealings of their leadership. For her part Courtney Parker published another pro-Yatama propaganda piece exploiting the terrible murder of three members of a family on their isolated farmstead. Parker suggests on the basis of hearsay that the murder was committed by marauding settlers, arbitrarily excluding the possibility of inter-ethnic violence by Yatama extremists or some other sinister interests.

Despite Intercontinental Cry’s very clearly biased coverage of the complex conflict in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, their team of writers has still managed to co-opt other alternative media so as to broaden the reach of their attacks on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Influential progressive Western alternative outlets like Truth Out and the Ecologist published Parker’s flawed reports which break just about every rule of academic rigor and basic reporting. Intercontinental Cry’s editors have finally explicitly acknowledged their anti-Sandinista agenda, overtly attacking Telesur, and openly avowing their sympathy with US and allied government funded Nicaraguan anti-Sandinista NGOs and media like Confidencial and CENIDH.

Given that clear ideological alignment it was perfectly natural for the neocolonial progressives at the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) to publish yet another propaganda attack on Nicaragua’s Sandinista government this time authored by International Cry writer Brett Spencer and US anthropologist Laura Hobson Herlihy. Their NACLA article repeats every main talking point of the US sponsored centre right Nicaraguan opposition as follows:

 

NACLA, Brett Spencer and Laura Hobson Herlihy offer precisely zero evidence for their claims of electoral fraud apart from the claims of Yatama leader Brooklyn Rivera. The apparently authoritiative link by the foreign funded CENIDH human rights outfit leads to a fact-free opinion piece by veteran anti-Sandinista Carlos Tunnerman Bernheim. NACLA’s article alleges inconsistencies in results published in Nicaragua’s official La Gaceta and the Electoral Council’s web site apparently in ignorance of the Electoral Council’s reporting procedures which consists of presenting first preliminary results, then provisional results and, only when all challenges have been processed, the final results.

Here are the final results from the Electoral Council’s web site which enables visitors to scrutinize results right down to those of the local voting centres. The Yatama party for which Laura Herlihy Hobson and Brett Spencer propagandize is a regional party which only participates in Nicaragua’s departmental elections for the National Assembly. The results completely contradict Yatama’s claims of electoral fraud. In the three municipalities where indigenous people predominate, Yatama prevailed easily against a strong minority vote in favor of the Sandinista Front for National Liberation.

But only in Prinzapolka did Yatama get a really overwhelming vote of over 60%. In the region’s interior so-called mining municipalities, Siuna, Rosita and Bonanza, Yatama was wiped out. The main opposition there came from Nicaragua’s national right wing parties led by Maximino Rodriguez’s Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC) which maintained its traditional support, including winning overall in the municipality of Mulukuku. Here are the departmental legislative election results for Nicaragua’s North Caribbean region in which Yatama participated:

Bilwi Waspan Prinzapolka Rosita Siuna Bonanza Mulukuku Average

Yatama

51 57 63 6 0.6 4 1.4 30.26

FSLN

42 38 27 72 68 85 43 55.33

PLC

2.9 2 1 17 29 7 51 9.81

 

In the other elections where the Yatama party was not involved, the Yatama vote went mainly to the traditional right wing parties, especially the PLC, which may or may not indicate Yatama’s broader ideological position:

Presidential elections: FSLN 73%; PLC 19%; Other right wing parties 8%.

National legislative elections: FSLN 65.86%; PLC 15.3%; Other right wing parties 18.89%.

Central American Parliament elections: FSLN 74.3%; PLC 18.86%; Other right wing parties 6.84%.

Yatama claim to have an important presence in the Nicaragua’s Southern Caribbean region but in the municipalities Yatama contested there, they were wiped out by support for the right wing PLC as the departmental legislative election results for the region where Yatama participated clearly indicate:

La Cruz
Grande
Laguna de Perlas Bocana de Paiwas El Tortuguero Bluefields Kukra Hill Average

PLC

65 25.06 62.93 81.77 16.56 20.81 45.35

FSLN

30 52.85 32.61 16.75 59.9 73.54 44.27

YATAMA

0.65 18.89 0.2 0.19 15.46 3.05 6.4

 

That was the reality of the elections beyond NACLA’s vague, hazy propaganda message and the predictable complaints of Nicaragua’s inept, dishonest political opposition parties, duly parroted by Western media.

A look at NACLA’s other anti-Sandinista allegations reveals how disingenuous is the case they are trying to make. The allegation that the National Assembly abolished term limits in 2014 is categorically false. The link in the NACLA article leads to an ill-informed, factually incorrect report from the pro-US government Qatari news outlet Al-Jazeera which writes “The latest reform would allow President Daniel Ortega to follow in the footsteps of his ideological ally, late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and a string of other Latin American nations to give presidents power extending beyond their traditional limits.”

In fact, the term limits for almost all Nicaragua’s institutions, the Presidency, the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Electoral Council and the Auditor General’s office all remain unchanged at five years. Rather than checking their facts, NACLA and Al Jazeera have lazily recycled the false accusations of Nicaragua’s miniscule centre right social democrat movements who have proved incapable of developing a credible political opposition to Nicaragua’s Sandinista government under Daniel Ortega. By linking to this inaccurate Al Jazeera report, NACLA, Laura Herlihy Hobson and Brett Spencer show up the categorical falsity of their argument.

Equally false is their accusation that no foreign observers took part in Nicaragua’s electoral process. In fact, a group of extremely prestigious foreign electoral specialists accompanied the whole process starting in May 2016. Their reportthoroughly vindicated the professionalism and impartiality of Nicaragua’s electoral authorities throughout the electoral process as well as the efficiency and transparency of the elections on November 6th. The neocolonial demand by Western progressives for foreign electoral observers is one not raised in the case of the United States or other Latin American governments like  Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay whose example Nicaragua has now followed by excluding a role for interventionist electoral observation missions.

Similarly, the accusation that Daniel Ortega effectively ran unopposed is belied by the NACLA report itself and the election results too. Nationally the total opposition vote would have been well over 30% if the right wing parties had overcome their petty internecine divisions, thus enabling a much more effective opposition in the legislature. As has been the case for years now, the weakness of political opposition to the FSLN government in Nicaragua resides in the right wing’s own divisions and their inability to mount a credible political program capable of matching the success of President Ortega’s Sandinista government’s National Development Plan.

Turning to the falsehood that President Ortega’s family occupy high governmental positions, the reality is again completely different from NACLA’s mendacious assertion. Four children from Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo’s family work in posts associated one way or another with the government. None of them occupy ministerial positions. Rafael Ortega works as a personal assistant to Daniel Ortega. Daniel Edmundo Ortega heads the Sandinista media outlet El 19 Digital. Camila Ortega is a personal assistant to her mother Rosario Murillo. Laureano Ortega is an executive of Nicaragua’s investment promotion authority ProNicaragua. None of them has an executive position at the head of any central government Ministry. NACLA’s accusation is completely false.

Laura Herlihy-Hobson and Brett Spencer follow up the falsity of their broad accusations against President Ortega’s Sandinista government by repeating the claims made by Courtney Parker and Spencer in Intercontinental Cry’s series of articles through 2016. They even allege that “settlers have invaded and now illegally occupy half of the Muskitia rainforest region”. The link there is to a New York Times article that offers nothing to support the claim in Herlihy Hobson’s and Spencer’s NACLA article.

To the contrary, the New York Times article shows the Nicaraguan government is trying to combat the violent land conflicts in the northern Caribbean Coast but with limited success. Nor does NACLA offer any other support for their article’s false allegation. More clearly than in the Intercontinental Cry series of psy-warfare articles, Laura Herlihy Hobson and Brett Spencer cursorily acknowledge the controversial role of Yatama leader Brooklyn Rivera. But they play down the political opportunism that has marked Rivera’s career ever since his days as a collaborator with the US government funded Contra terrorist campaign in the 1980s.

An interesting point from the NACLA article which will certainly figure in similar future psy-warfare attacks is the effort to link the land conflicts in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast with opposition to the proposed Interoceanic Canal, even though the Canal lies many hundreds of kilometres to the south of Yatama’s strongholds. The NACLA article and its writers studiously avoid noting that the Nicaraguan authorities have already reached agreement with indigenous people’s organizations in the areas likely to be affected by the route of the Canal. But the efforts to connect Yatama to the Canal protests tie in with Democracy Now’s dishonest coverage of the most recent Canal protest, representing a coordinated alternative media agenda similar to that of Western corporate media. That agenda is very clearly one of neocolonial divide and rule, fomenting violence in any countries with a progressive government, not just Nicaragua but in the other Bolivarian Alliance countries like Bolivia, Ecuador and, most notoriously perhaps, Venezuela.

NACLA’s and Intercontinental Cry’s blatant propaganda in defense of Yatama’s repeated aggressive violence promotes Yatama’s sectarian political agenda in a self-serving, sensationalist way evidently calculated to maximize the potential for conflict. This is very much in line with the experience of the Ecuadoran government, faced with vicious attacks from the CONAIE indigenous people’s organization or the experience of the Bolivian government faced with murderous attacks by indigenous mining cooperative organizations.

Across the region, the legitimate struggles of indigenous peoples are being coopted by Western NGOs and media to serve the psychological warfare offensive of the US government and its allies against progressive governments in Latin America. That is why it is entirely correct to characterize as neocolonial the psychological warfare role of supposedly progressive alternative media that recycle propaganda material like that of Intercontinental Cry.

YEMEN: UN Whitewashing Saudi Coalition War Crimes and International Human Rights Violations

The Wall Will Fall

April 4, 2016

by Vanessa Beeley

 

“If those who support aggressive war had seen a fraction of what I’ve seen, if they’d watched children fry to death from Napalm and bleed to death from a cluster bomb, they might not utter the claptrap they do.” ~ John Pilger

Professor Francis Boyle, distinguished Professor of Law in Illinois and long-time thorn in the side of the Imperial Establishment has publicly expressed his disgust at the UN complicity with the sanctions that engendered starvation on a catastrophic scale in Iraq in the early 1990s.  Over 500,000 children died from malnutrition:

During the summer of 1991 I was contacted on behalf of several Mothers in Iraq whose children were dying at astounding rates because of the genocidal economic sanctions that had been imposed upon them by the Security Council in August of 1990 at the behest of the Bush Senior administration.”

Boyle went on to present his complaint accusing President Bush of committing international genocide against the 4.5 million children in Iraq, “in violation of the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948 and in violation of the municipal legal systems of all civilized nations in the world

“My Complaint estimated that since sanctions were first imposed against Iraq in August of 1990, Iraqi children were dying as a direct result thereof at the rate of about 500 per day.”

Boyle expressed his frustration at the UNSC [Security Council] failure to suspend the crippling sanctions against Iraq.

“Despite my best professional efforts working on behalf of my Clients pro bono publico, the grossly hypocritical United Nations Organization adamantly refused to act to terminate these genocidal sanctions and thus to save the dying children of Iraq.”

Professor Boyle’s full speech: Legal Protection of Children in Armed Conflict: The Iraqi Children Genocide

Shortly after Professor Boyle’s attempt to derail the genocide being carried out against an entire generation of Iraqis, endorsed by the UNSC, then US secretary of State, Madeleine Albright made her horrifying statement on CBS TV network.

May 12th 1996 TV presenter, Leslie Stahl posed this question:

“We have heard that a half a million children have died [in Iraq]. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And-and, you know, is the price worth it?”

Albright’s reply is still shocking, 20 years after the first US NATO campaign of extermination in Iraq.

“I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.”

Is the UN Repeating History in Yemen?

Bani Quis 2
Mona Relief 1/4/2016: Bani Quis, Hajjah, Northern Yemen on border with Saudi Arabia.  

Since the start of the illegal Saudi-led coalition war of aggression against Yemen that began on the 26th March 2015, the UN has appeared to work in lock-step with the lawless aggressor, Saudi Arabia and its allies to exacerbate the widespread suffering of the Yemeni people.

UNSC Resolution 2216 was adopted on the 14th April 2015.  It called specifically for the arms embargo to be imposed against 5 named individuals.

Arms Embargo: All Member States shall immediately take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to, or for the benefit of Ali Abdullah Saleh, Abdullah Yahya al Hakim & Abd al-Khaliq al-Huthi.”

Two other names were included in the Annex to this list, Abdulmalik al-Houthi and Ali Ahmed Saleh.

Basis for Resolution 2216

This resolution was entirely based upon the premise of the legitimacy of the fugitive, former President of Yemen, Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Reaffirming its support for the legitimacy of the President of Yemen, Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and reiterating its call to all parties and Member States to refrain from taking any actions that undermine the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen, and the legitimacy of the President of Yemen” ~ Resolution 2216

On the same day that the UNSC signed off on a resolution of staggering partiality and bias towards one party in the conflict, namely ex President Hadi and his Saudi backers, a letter had been addressed to the UN by Ali AlAhmed, Director of the Gulf Institute. In this letter, AlAhmed clearly states that, legally,  Hadi is NOT the legitimate President of Yemen.

“To reiterate, at present Mr. Hadi is a former president of Yemen. The UNSC has no legal authority to appoint him as president of Yemen, or treat him in such capacity. Although his term ended February 25, 2014, Hadi remained in office until February 2015; one year after his term has expired, in violation of the UNSC-endorsed GCC Initiative. He also failed to call for general presidential elections per the agreement he signed.

Because the Saudi-led war on Yemen was built on the false premise that Hadi is the current legitimate president of Yemen, it must be emphasized that he is, in fact, not a legitimate leader of that country. Legally, Mr. Hadi is the former transitional president of Yemen whose term expired February 24, 2014.”

AlAhmed reminds the UNSC that Hadi had been elected in a one-horse-race election in February 2012 under the terms of the GCC Initiative [Gulf Cooperation Council]. That term of presidency had been set to expire after two years, when new elections would be held in Yemen.

One month prior to the agreed election date, in January 2014 the NDC [National Dialogue Conference] took the decision, to extend Hadi’s term under the pretext that the transition period was incomplete and that a draft constitution would not be ready for referendum until March 2015.

According to Abdulazeez Al-Baghdadi, a former legal advisor for the Ministry of Interior, the extension of Hadi’s term in office and the justification for this action was:

“A fraud that has no legal basis in constitutional terms….the NDC has no legal authority to extend Hadi’s term because NDC members do not represent the Yemeni people,” he said. “Hadi’s term expired when his two-year term stipulated in the GCC Initiative ended in February 2014.”

During the UNHRC [Human Rights Council], 31st Session in Geneva March 2016, Mohammed al Wazir, Yemeni-American Lawyer and Director of Arabian Rights Watch Association testified that:

“UN Security Council Resolution 2216 is about an arms embargo on 5 people, yet its being used as a cover to justify a blockade on 27 million Yemenis. According to the 2016 Humanitarian Needs Overview released in November 2015, 21.2 million people making up 82% of the population are now in need of some form of Humanitarian assistance.  Nearly 2.1 million people are currently estimated to be malnourished, including more than 1. 3 million children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.”

Bani Quis HajjahMona Relief: Bani Quis April 2016

According to Al Wazir’s statement to the UNHRC, Hadi had in fact resigned on the 22nd January 2015 and despite calls from various political factions, he refused to withdraw his resignation prior to the expiry of his questionable extended term as President of Yemen.

In a bizarre turn of events, perhaps after his Saudi controllers had put pressure on their marionette, Hadi fled Sanaa [Yemen’s capital] for the port city of Aden. Once safely ensconced in Saudi loyalist territory, Hadi plucked up the courage to renew his claim to the Presidency.

Hadi even attempted to relocate the Government to Aden but once he realised this was not a popular decision and with the Yemeni army closing in, Hadi fled to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. From there he requested that the Saudi Arabian government launch a war against his own people to reinstate him as President, a post he had resigned from, weeks previously.

So are we seeing the UN endorse and sustain an illegal war without a UN mandate, being waged against the Yemeni people by a known human rights violating, totalitarian, absolute monarchy, Saudi Arabia? And if so, on what basis? To protect an illegitimate, fugitive President who has called for the destruction of his own people?

Is the UN Defending Yemen’s Sovereignty, Independence & Territorial Integrity?

Resolution 2216 states:

“Reaffirming its strong commitment to the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen, and its commitment to stand by the people of Yemen”

Why then did the UN ignore the statement of their own Special Envoy, Jammal Benomar, made on the 28th April 2015?

“When this campaign started, one thing that was significant but went unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would institute power sharing with all sides, including the Houthis”

Why then did the UN not strongly oppose the Saudi war of aggression that has decimated the Yemeni people or demand that humanitarian aid be allowed entry to alleviate the universal suffering of the already impoverished nation.

Instead the UN flung the door wide open to the Saudi-led war of aggression against Yemen. A war devoid of any legal, moral or ethical justification. A war that would punish the Yemeni people for striving to form their own government without foreign meddling or Saudi corruption and neo-colonialist intent.

Why is the UN not defending the determination of the Yemeni people to create a new government that would guarantee equal citizenship and governmental proportional representation for previously marginalised minorities?

Is the UN Preventing the Deteriorating Humanitarian Situation in Yemen?

Resolution 2216:

“Expressing grave alarm at the significant and rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Yemen, and emphasizing that the humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate in the absence of a political solution.

Recalling that arbitrary denial of humanitarian access and depriving civilians of objects indispensable to their survival, including wilfully impeding relief supply and access, may constitute a violation of international humanitarian law.”

Having allowed the Saudi-led coalition to bomb all hopes of a political solution into smithereens, why is the alarm not being sounded against this oppressive, despotic regime that has the worst human rights record in the region?

Mohammed Al Wazir at the UNHRC:

“So, in summary, the Saudi-led coalition of absolute monarchies and military dictatorships conducted daily airstrikes and imposed a comprehensive land, air and sea blockade for the past year on 27 million Yemenis in order to re-install Hadi, a person whose mandate had expired in Yemen.  Is this what we call defending legitimacy? Collective punishment and terror, inflicted on the entire population in order to deter a group called the Houthis who are less than 1% of the population.  I can say with utmost confidence, there is a major issue with proportionality and a reckless disregard for the principles of distinction and military necessity not to mention international law.”

Taiz bombing driver
Mona Relief: September 2015 KSA bombing of Humanitarian
convoy on the Hodeida to Taiz road. 

The UN is, in reality, actively allowing the denial of human rights to the Yemeni people by the predatory aggressor, Saudi Arabia.  The UN is sanctioning the “depriving of civilians of objects indispensable to their survival”.  When the Saudi Coalition bombs humanitarian supply convoys does the UN not consider this to be “wilfully impeding relief supply and access”? 

Is the UN wittingly allowing these grave violations of humanitarian law or is it an unwilling victim, prey to far more powerful geopolitical players in the region?

What is the UN’s Mandate in Yemen?

“The UN was established to maintain state sovereignty, and both national and international unity.  Instead we appear to be witnessing a process of fracturing society along false sectarian fault lines and the disruption of internal reconciliation and political peace processes within nation states.”

The UN is allegedly seeking a peaceful political transition in Yemen according to the terms laid out in the GCC initiative and its implementation mechanism.

This objective becomes untenable when we consider that effectively, the GCC initiative has expired.  So who precisely is obstructing the peaceful political transition?  The Yemenis or those who launched an illegal war against them and who are destroying their ability to survive let alone decide their political future?

“That is if we take the GCC initiative as a legal document with full force and effect, which is not conceded by any means….but even by its own terms, it has expired.” ~ Mohammed al Wazir

The illegitimate, fugitive President, Mansour Hadi fled Yemen and incited a war against his own people from Riyadh. A war that has massacred over 8000 people and injured tens of thousands more.  A war that has left Yemen without resources, infrastructure, electricity, communication, food and water.

In a logical, rational world all those who supported Hadi’s endeavour should be found by the UN “Sanctions Committee” and Panel of Experts to be “obstructing the peaceful political transition in Yemen” and be considered the main instigators of instability and insecurity in Yemen.

Conclusions

It is almost impossible not to conclude that multiple parties are colluding to starve Yemen into submission to Saudi objectives. Objectives that are aligned with those of the US, NATO and Israel.

“The UN embargo/blockade against Yemen and the Yemenis violates Genocide Convention article II (e):  Deliberately inflicting on the group, conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” ~ Prof. Francis A Boyle

The Arms Trade

The UK has sold over £ 2.8bn in arms to Saudi Arabia since this illegal war began.  The US, a staggering $33bn.  Lockheed Martin, a major player in the Military Industrial Complex announced in January 2016 that they would be opening an “expanded repair capability centre” in Saudi Arabia, the first support centre for their Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod technology outside the US.  To ensure “fleet readiness”.  France has just signed off on a mind-blowing $ 7.5 billion arms contract with Qatar [member of the Saudi coalition].

The Oil Trade

oil map

Saudi Arabia’s annual $10 trillion oil revenue is a major factor. Yemen is essential for the survival of the Gulf States in this market, and by default, pivotal to US and NATO resource needs. If Saudi Arabia lost control of Yemen, the effects would be catastrophic for the Gulf states.

Saudi Arabia is the only Gulf state with the geographic potential of an east-west pipeline which would give access to the west and the Red Sea, if ever a conflict should arise with their arch enemy Iran who controls the eastern Straits of Hormuz, the primary crude oil shipping channel. However that east-west pipeline was converted in 2001 to gas and it would take some time to restore it to suitability for oil. Saudi Arabia has recently replaced Iraq as India’s number one crude oil supplier.

It is no accident that Saudi proxy forces, AQAP [Al Qaeda Arab Peninsula] and ISIS have seized swathes of land in the southern province of Hadramaut and the port of Aden.  According to a 2008 Wikileaks cable, Saudi Arabia’s intent is to lay a pipeline from the oil and gas rich areas of Al Jawf and Marib in Yemen to the southern coastline, enabling them to avoid both the Straits of Hormuz and the Yemen controlled, Bab el Mandeb straits.

“A British diplomat based in Yemen told PolOff that Saudi Arabia had an interest to build a pipeline, wholly owned, operated and protected by Saudi Arabia, through Hadramawt to a port on the Gulf of Aden, thereby bypassing the Arabian Gulf/Persian Gulf and the straits of Hormuz.” ~ Wikileaks

This would liberate Saudi Arabia from the clutches of Iranian logistical control and challenge Iran’s regional hegemony head on. With Japan, India, China and S Korea representing the expanding crude oil markets, the geopolitical and economic significance of Yemen to the Gulf States becomes transparent.

The Human Trade

Finally and perhaps most disturbingly, lets review the actions of known US outreach agent and neo-colonialist battering ram, USAID. In July 2015, USAID announced that it would turn the aid tap off to Yemen.

“Given the current situation in Yemen, USAID is placing most development programs on a full suspension,” spokesman Sam Ostrander told Al-Monitor. “The suspension will allow us to keep programs in place so that we can restart development activities quickly when the situation becomes more permissive.”

Criticism abounded against this decision accusing the US of facilitating Saudi human rights violations in Yemen. However, nothing should surprise us when we learn that almost simultaneously Saudi Arabia established its first, official, international Human Rights NGO..there are so many oxymorons in that one sentence.

“A UN source said he expected it to operate as the Gulf State’s equivalent of USAID – the state aid agency of the United States”

With barely a fanfare, the King Salman Centre was launched to fill the crater left in Yemen,  by the departure of USAID and by the US UK and NATO supplied weapons of mass destruction. The chutzpah of this move is only challenged by the flattening of Gaza by Israel who is then tasked and paid to rebuild it.

During my recent visit to the UNHRC, to testify against the Saudi coalition’s illegal use of US supplied cluster munitions on civilian targets in Yemen, I had the misfortune to attend a Saudi presentation of their Humanitarian flagship. There were numerous UN organisations in attendance.  At the end of the Saudi unveiling, oozing with hypocrisy and inflated claims of universal humanitarianism, the representative of UNICEF raised their hand.  I paraphrase their comment.

We would like to thank Saudi Arabia for their continued efforts to provide humanitarian assistance on a global basis and look forward to many years of continued and increased collaboration” 

So, having appointed Saudi Arabia to chair of a key human rights panel inside the UNHRC, the UN is now fully endorsing an absolute monarchy’s attempt to further whitewash their crimes against Humanity.  One look at King Salman Centre’s partners, denies UN impartiality when dealing with Saudi atrocities against the Yemeni people. Does it implicate the UN in these crimes?  Combined with the unjustified and illegitimate bias of UN Resolution 2216,  it must certainly raise questions that need answering.  The Yemeni people deserve an answer.

partners

Has the UN been bought and paid for by a Monarch? Is this the ultimate spin cycle to rinse the blood of innocent Yemeni men, women and children from the hands of the Saudi monarchy and its allies, including the UN, US, NATO & Israel.

The UN is disproportionately influenced by the 5 permanent members of the Security Council, with particular reference to the helmsman, the US and it includes 3 permanent members who are backing the Saudi-led coalition.  France, the UK and the US.  Maintaining impartiality is virtually impossible under these circumstances and too much is geopolitically at stake if Saudi Arabia loses its grip on Yemen.

“Impartiality does not – and must not – mean neutrality in the face of evil. In the face of genocide, there can be no standing aside, no looking away, no neutrality – there are perpetrators and there are victims, there is evil and there is evil’s harvest.” ~ Kofi Annan,  Rwanda 1998 after UN peacekeeping forces deserted, handing 1 million civilians over to mass murderers. 

It is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that Iraq does not happen again.  Yemen does not deserve this level of collective punishment from one of the world’s most oppressive, soulless and malevolent regimes and the UN must answer for its failure to protect Yemen against the Saudi coalition murderous ravages.

Bani Quis 7 Bani Quis 6 Bani Quis 3 Bani Quis 5

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[Author Vanessa Beeley is a contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement, and a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog The Wall Will Fall.]

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