As Israel crosses the genocidal threshold in Gaza, a regional summit in Riyadh protests, and issues an urgent call for a ceasefire. Yet the regional powers at that summit are guilty of equivalent crimes—Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and Iran and the Basar Assad regime in Syria. Assad's propaganda chief Bouthaina Shaaban especially decried Israel's targeting of hospitals in Gaza. Yet as recently as last month, the Assad regime bombed hospitals in Syria's rebel-held north. Indeed, the Assad regime also savagely bombed and besieged Palestinians for months, at Yarmouk refugee camp outside Damascus. In Episode 200 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes with chagrin that key organizers of this month's National March on Washington for Palestine included pseudo-left "tankie" formations that actively support the genocidal Assad regime. They also now abet Russia's genocidal campaign in Ukraine, in which hospitals have been repeatedly targeted. This moral contradiction undercuts our effectiveness in advancing the urgent demand for a ceasefire in Gaza.
A member of the Israeli cabinet broached a nuclear strike on the Gaza Strip Nov. 5, making outraged headlines in the Arab world. Jerusalem Affairs & Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu of the ultra-nationalist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party said in a radio interview that there are "no non-combatants in Gaza," and using a nuclear weapon on the Palestinian enclave is "one of the possibilities." The comment was immediately repudiated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who issued a statement saying that Eliyahu has been suspended from cabinet meetings "until further notice." Eliyahu is not a member of the special "war cabinet" formed for the Gaza campaign, Netanyahu's office emphasized, adding: "Eliyahu's statements are not based in reality. Israel and the IDF are operating in accordance with the highest standards of international law to avoid harming innocents. We will continue to do so until our victory." (The Guardian, Haaretz, Politico)
As Israel intensifies air-strikes in the Gaza Strip, a northern front appears to be opening in the war. Escalating cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces have led to the displacement of over 4,200 people in south Lebanon, and authorities have designated some 100 kilometers of the border with Israel a military zone. Inhabitants pf the border region have retreated deeper into Lebanese territory to avoid entanglement in the ongoing skirmishes. In the southern port city of Tyre, authorities have converted three school facilities into makeshift refuges for the displaced. (Jurist)
Houthi de facto authorities carried out a wave of arrests, rounding up scores of largely peaceful demonstrators who gathered to commemorate the 61st anniversary of North Yemen's 26th of September Revolution, reports Amnesty International. The organization is calling on Houthi authorities to "immediately and unconditionally release all demonstrators held solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of assembly." On Sept. 26, the date marking establishment of the Yemen Arab Republic in 1962, people took to the streets in cities across North Yemen, including Sana'a, Ibb, and Houdeidah, carrying flags of the republic that was formally disbanded with Yemen's unification in 1990.
Saudi Arabian border guards have killed hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum-seekers attempting to cross the border from Yemen, according to an Aug. 21 report from Human Rights Watch (HRW). The report documented incidents between March 2022 and June 2023, based on interviews with migrants, satellite imagery, and social media posts. According to the report, Saudi border guards used explosive weapons such as mortars against migrants, and shot them at close range with live ammunition. Saudi border guards reportedly fired on people even when they complied with orders. HRW called the recent pattern of killings a change from "an apparent practice of occasional shootings" to "widespread and systematic killings."
More than 40 Yemeni civil society organizations released a declaration on July 26 laying out a vision for how to achieve justice and reconciliation post-conflict. They highlight the importance of addressing past human rights violations to prevent future violence and call for accountability and reparations through a gender-equal and victim-centered process. The war, which started in 2014, has led to one of the world's most acute crises, with more than 20 million people requiring humanitarian assistance and 80% of the population facing hunger.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention released a report May 30 finding that Afghanistan, Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Romania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the US all participated in human rights violations against Abd al-Rahim Hussein al-Nashiri, the man accused of involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. Al-Nashiri is currently held in Guantanamo Bay prison, though he is said to have been previously detained in the territories of each of these countries.
A first round of official peace talks between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi rebels concluded April 14 in Yemen's capital, Sana'a, followed by the (long-delayed, and painstakingly negotiated) release of 880 prisoners from both sides of the country's eight-year war. It's not the first time that Saudi Arabia, which leads a coalition backing Yemen's internationally recognized government, has spoken directly with the rebels. But some see new momentum in this effort to end the war, particularly given the recent rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which has close ties to the Houthis. Still, getting a truce back in place (the last one expired in October) and sorting out the various sides' grievances will not be easy—especially as not all the groups vying for power in Yemen are represented at the talks: The government is notably absent, as are the powerful separatists of the Southern Transitional Council.