Will Iran-Saudi deal end Yemen's war?
As part of its China-brokered deal to re-establish diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran has agreed to stop arming Yemen's Houthi rebels, the Wall Street Journal has reported. Officially, Tehran denies arming the rebels, who have been fighting forces aligned with Yemen's internationally recognized government—including a Saudi- and United Arab Emirates-led coalition—for eight years. Regardless of the report's veracity, the deal between the regional rivals has put a renewed focus on efforts to end the conflict in Yemen, which many have portrayed as a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Podcast: climate change and the global struggle III
In Episode 151 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes a tellingly ironic juxtaposition of simultaneous news stories: the COP27 global climate summit in Egypt and the World Cup games in Qatar—where mega-scale stadium air-conditioning betrays the fundamental unseriousness of our civilization in addressing the impending climate apocalypse. The COP27 agreement for a "loss and damage" fund stops short of demands for climate reparations—a critical question for island nations that stand to disappear beneath the waves, flood-devastated Pakistan, and indigenous peoples of the fire-ravaged Bolivian Amazon. Petro powers like Russia and Saudi Arabia formed a bloc to bar any progress on limiting further expansion of oil and gas exploitation, while the Ukrainian delegation called for a boycott of Moscow's hydrocarbons, and pointed to the massive ecological toll of Russia's war of aggression. Meanwhile, the world population reached 8 billion, providing an excuse for groups like PopulationMatters to proffer the Malthusian fallacy even as the rate of population growth is actually slowing. Worldwide indigenous and peasant resistance to hydrocarbon exploitation points to a revolutionary response to the crisis.
COP27: progress on 'loss and damage,' not mitigation
The 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) closed Nov. 20 with what was hailed as a breakthrough agreement to establish a "loss and damage" fund for vulnerable countries on the frontlines of climate disasters. Yet no action was taken to stop oil and gas expansion from fueling further disasters. India had pushed a proposal to extend to all fossil fuels the agreement to "phase down" coal reached last year at COP26 in Glasgow. A broad coalition of more than 80 countries took up the call, but host country Egypt, holding the presidency of the conference, was able to block the measure, acceding to powerful opponents prominently including Saudi Arabia and Russia. (ENS, NYT, Jurist, Climate Home News)
Weapons manufacturers sued over Yemen war
Three human rights organizations on June 3 filed a lawsuit in France against three arms manufacturers for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity in Yemen. The European Center for Constitutional & Human Rights (ECCHR), Mwatana for Human Rights and Sherpa allege that Dassault Aviation, Thales and MBDA France, through their military sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have enabled the killing of Yemeni civilians. Humanitarian organizations and rights groups have charged that air-strikes from the Saudi-UAE military coalition have targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure since 2015.
Israel: detention of 'terror suspects' without charge
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett instructed security services March 28 to hold any "terror suspects" in "administrative detention," even without charge. The order extends to Palestinians within Israeli a policy long applied to Palestinians on the West Bank. Bennett cited "a new situation that requires suitable preparations and adjustment by the security services to the circumstances within which extremist elements of Arab society, directed by extremist Islamic ideology, are carrying out terror attacks and taking lives." The order came a day after two Border Police officers were killed in a shooting attack at the coastal city of Hadera by two Israeli citizens who were said to be supporters of the so-called "Islamic State." The assailants were both shot dead by security forces.
'Disappointing' aid for hunger-stricken Yemen
As the country heads into an eighth year of war, Yemen is considered one of the world's largest and most complex humanitarian crises: debilitated basic services, a collapsed economy, an estimated 20.7 million people (more than two thirds of the population) in need—all amid escalating conflict involving numerous different actors. On March 16, the UN appealed to donor states for $4.3 billion in aid for Yemen. Donors coughed up less than a third of that request, with pledges—mainly from Western states—amounting to $1.3 billion. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia—top donors to Yemen in previous years—pledged nothing, while Kuwait pledged a surprisingly low $10 million. The UN's humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, called the result "a disappointment." The outcome is in stark contrast to Ukraine's pledging conference just two weeks prior, considered the "fastest and most generous" response ever to a flash appeal. As the world's attention is fixated on Ukraine, aid workers worry that it could draw resources away from other crises, such as Yemen.
UN warns of 'catastrophic' crisis in Yemen
UN agency chiefs on March 14 stated that war-torn Yemen's hunger crisis is "teetering on the edge of outright catastrophe," with more than 17.4 million Yemenis facing food insecurity and an additional 1.6 million expected to fall into emergency levels of hunger in the coming months. The number experiencing "catastrophic" levels of hunger is projected to increase five times from the current 31,000 to a staggering 161,000, taking the number of those with emergency needs to 7.3 million by the end of 2022. "These harrowing figures confirm that we are on a countdown to catastrophe in Yemen and we are almost out of time to avoid it. Unless we receive substantial new funding immediately, mass starvation and famine will follow. But if we act now, there is still a chance to avert imminent disaster and save millions," World Food Programme executive director David Beasley said.
Fascist pseudo-anti-fascism: Moscow's propaganda offensive
Russia announced on March 1 that it intends to host an international "Anti-Fascist Conference"—with hideous irony, on the same day its forces bombarded a Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv. Russia struck the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial in a raid apparently targeting a nearby TV tower, killing five people. The memorial marks the site of the murder of 33,771 Jews by the Nazis in one of the most heinous acts of World War II. Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s first Jewish president, last year attended a ceremony for the opening of a synagogue at the site. He responded to the missile attack on the monument by tweeting: "To the world: what is the point of saying «never again» for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar? ...History repeating…"
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