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Yemen: Two Assassinations and Potential Changes by Rene Wadlow

The assassination of Jamal Khashoggi on 2 October 2018, a day designated by the United Nations as the Day of Nonviolence, and especially the wide reaction to that assassination may result in a change of Saudi Arabia’s policy in the Yemen war. The assassination and the reaction may have weakened the power of the Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salmane, the chief promoter of the Saudi war in Yemen. Jamal Khashaggi was opposed to the war in Yemen as not serving Saudi Arabia’s interests. While there are probably a number of reasons that Khashaggi was put on a “hit” list, opposition to the war and its U.S. support may have been an important reason.

The situation in Yemen is tragic in its humanitarian aspects but is somewhat more fluid due to the second assassination.

yeme000_400The assassination on December 4, 2017 of former Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh has potentially opened a new chapter in the ongoing struggle for power in Yemen. There might be a possibility that with a major actor pushed off the stage, the lesser actors might accept the good offices of the United Nations (UN) mediator I and form an inclusive central government. There is also a real possibility that the armed conflict becomes even more protracted as factions see increased opportunities to advance their interests.

The Saudi Arabian leadership had expected a quick victory when in March 2015 they launched their operation at the time called “Decisive Storm”. Despite limitless weapons from the USA and Great Britain, including the use of U. S.-made cluster weapons now banned by world law, the Saudi-led coalition made relatively few territorial gains beyond those tribal areas within Yemen that were already favorable to the Saudis, tribes that often existed on both sides of the frontier.

Both Saudi Arabia and Iran have been backing separate and opposing factions. The lack of progress as well as the costs of the military operations may create a climate favorable to stopping the fighting. However, Saudi Arabia and its coalition are directly involved in the fighting while Iran only supplies some weapons and political support to its allies. Thus, of the outside actors, most responsibility for a change lies with the Saudi decision-makers.

There are two major issues that shape the future. The first is the possibility or not of forming a decentralized but relatively inclusive central government. Yemen remains largely a tribal society with political decisions made by the tribal head. Tribes usually have a specific geographic base. Thus, a central government requires participation by members from the major tribal groups. However, through economic development, people from different tribes now live in the cities and larger towns. These more urbanized populations do not depend as much on the decisions or views of tribal chiefs.

The relative strength of the central government has been based on patronage strategies, offering major tribal leaders some economic advantages. Until March 2011, most people had little say as to government policy. In March 2011, in the spirit of the “Arab Spring”, there were popular demonstrations throughout the country demanding jobs, the end of corruption and some respect for all citizens. By the end of 2011 Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had been in power for 33 years, was pushed out and replaced by his Vice-president Abdu Rabbu Mansur Hadi who has the same governing style but who was considered as a change without upsetting too much the governing pattern.

Saleh, however, never really accepted the idea of giving up power and its material benefits. He formed an alliance with a religious movement that drew its members from the same geographic region. Saleh had combated this Huthi movement, including by force of arms, when he was president. But for a time, the alliance seemed to be mutually beneficial. The alliance broke sharply in November 2017. Fighting among the Huthi forces and those loyal to Saleh broke out in the capital Sana’a thatNovember and on December 4, Huthi troops shot Saleh in his auto as he was trying to leave the city.

The second major issue concerns the ability of Yemen to remain as one State or again to split into two with Sana’a as the capital of one State in the north and Aden as the capital of another State in the south. The two States were the political structure until 1990 when the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, with its center in Aden, combined with the Yemen Arab Republic in the north to become the Republic of Yemen. Leading up to 1990, there was wide hope that the union of the two States would lead to increased economic well-being. In practice, there has been little improvement. If there has been an improvement, it is because of external economic factors and not directly linked to the union. The lack of improvement in the south has led to resentment in the south and on the part of some persons, a desire for southern separation. Now, some in the south have formed militias. It is difficult to know how far they will push for separation and the creation of an independent State. Already in 1994, there had been armed attacks to push for a return to an Aden-based State.

The Association of World Citizens (AWC) has been concerned with three issues in the Yemen conflict:

1) The violation of international humanitarian law, involving attacks on medical facilities, medical personnel and the use of weapons banned by international treaties, especially cluster munitions. The AWC had been particularly active in promoting a treaty on the prohibition of cluster munitions.

2) Humanitarian relief, especially food aid. With the Saudi-led blockage of ports and air fields, it has been difficult for the UN or relief organizations to bring in food supplies. It is estimated that some eight million people suffer from famine-like conditions and that some 17 million others are in conditions of food insecurity. The fighting makes certain roads unsafe, preventing the delivery of food and other relief supplies.

3) The creation of a Yemen confederation. While the form of State structures depends on the will of the people of Yemen (if they were able to express themselves freely), the AWC proposes con-federal forms of government which maintain cooperation within a decentralized framework as an alternative to the creation of new independent States. In 2014, a committee appointed by then president Abu Hadi proposed a six-region federation as the political structure for Yemen. The AWC believes that this proposal merits close attention and could serve as a base of a renewal for an inclusive Yemen government.

Today, the choice between an end to the armed conflict with negotiations for a renewal of a Yemeni State on the basis of the con-federal system proposed and continued fighting in the hope that one faction become a “winner-take-all” is relatively clear. The AWC is resolutely for an end to the armed conflict with serious negotiations on the structure of a future State. We encourage others to support such a policy.

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Eureka: Avoiding wars by Akli Hadid

war01_400_03As counterintuitive as it may sound, people make peace with strong countries, not with weak countries. This basically means leaders say “we’re strong” as opposed to leaders saying “I’m strong, my people are weak.” Countries with weak people get swallowed up.

What is also true is if you’re a leader and you believe your country and people are strong and other countries and people are weak, at best you’re going to have to make alliances with weaker countries, before you get swallowed up by stronger countries. If your employees are weak, sales lag behind and your competitor moves forward.

Politics is a game where there are no weak people and where there are no weak countries. So if you want a strong country, you need to be strong at five levels:

-At the military level. This is the most important level of strength. You need a strong, fit, smart army. But you also need collaboration and discussions with other armies, formal and informal talks. You need a degree of skepticism when holding those talks, and need to keep in mind that you are a strong army dealing with strong armies.

-At the environmental level. People don’t do business with poorly dressed businessmen, nor do they do business with countries where cleanliness is not the standard of living. Clean air, clean streets and clean citizens needs to be your way to go. Other countries share the air you breathe, and too much pollution, be it the air or the rivers or the seas or sending tourists who have no basic hygiene can be a motive for wars.

Read the whole article in Ovi Magazine, HERE!

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Rape a …war tactic

The UN Security Council has voted unanimously in favor of a resolution classifying rape as a weapon of war.

The document describes the deliberate use of rape as a tactic in war and a threat to international security. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said violence against women had reached “unspeakable proportions” in some societies recovering from conflict.

The UN is also setting up an inquiry to report next June on how widespread the practice is and how to tackle it. Human-rights group hailed the resolution as historic.

Ki-moon doing something right?

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UN mission to study African wars

The UN Security Council is on a mission to Africa to look at the continent’s wars and see how they might be ended.

The mission is due to have its first discussions with Somalia’s government and its opponents, then go to Sudan and several other countries at war.

It has decided it is too dangerous to hold its Somali talks on Somali soil – they will be held in Djibouti instead. The Security Council is also hoping to broker the first official direct talks between the Somalis.

To study what? Obviously Ban Ki-moon is there to totally fail. When there is a war like the one in Sudan, when there are places like Darfur there is nothing to study but a lot to act!

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Sudan cuts Chad ties

Sudan says it has cut off diplomatic relations with Chad, blaming it for helping rebels from Darfur to launch an attack on Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir made the announcement on state television. Sudan has accused Chad of helping the Jem rebels to attack the Khartoum suburb of Omdurman, which the rebels said they had taken control of. Although the government says the rebels have been defeated, this is the closest they have come to Khartoum.

Remember that Darfur is in Sudan, remember what’s going on in this poor African country, think how many more …innocent!!!

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Dozens die in Iraq

In the bloodiest single incident, 13 Iraqi soldiers died when a suicide attacker drove a fuel tanker into an army base in Mosul in northern Iraq. The US military said it killed 12 militants preparing suicide attacks in a house east of Baquba.

 

At least 15 people died in rocket and mortar fire apparently aimed at Baghdad’s Green Zone. Eight were civilians who were killed when rockets landed short of their targets on Sunday morning. The bloodshed comes despite an overall reduction in violence since last June.

The reality of a secure and good planning! How long is it going to take to fix things in Iraq and when the US administration will admit that they need the help of the UN?

 

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