The war in Yemen is far more than just a political struggle. The political struggle does not even begin to capture a fraction of what the conflict is really about.
The war on Yemen today is a brutal example of how the expansion of global capitalist interests destroys nations.
It first takes the form of neoliberalism (often innocently labeled as globalisation) and then, as the inevitable structural collapse of the targeted country begins, (with its inevitable popular resistance undermining the political order), a more overt form of violence is introduced.
Yemen’s recent retelling of an oft-repeated story is something to which those in other countries, even countries as powerful as Turkey, should pay heed to.
This war on Yemen may have been first predicted by an American Ambassador representing the Obama administration.
As Washington reacted negatively to a popular uprising against economic “reforms” it’s neoconservative and Clintonite cliques threatened Yemenis with financial destruction via the devaluation of their national currency, the Rial.
The origins of the war
The war itself is officially the responsibility of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), leading a campaign sanctioned by the UN and IMF to reinstall the 2012 imposed “transitional government” led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, an old Yemeni political hand.
His “government” had the short-term mandate of imposing economic austerity after the previous government—that had agreed to insert these “reforms”—was overthrown by popular revolt.
This was Yemen’s brief contribution to the “Arab Spring”.
The formula of this supposedly interim government under Hadi devastated the country within the first few months of its enforcement. It was the violent austerity such economic policies imposed on Yemeni people that has animated the resistance to globalism (and thus the endurance of the war).
Crucially, what Yemen’s people revolted against in 2010-2011, and again in 2014, were the kinds of austerity and structural adjustments that were also recently made on Greece.
As elsewhere in the world, IMF-imposed austerity hurt the poorest of Yemen’s population, whose suffering matched those of Egypt’s and Tunisia’s masses prior to 2011.
For Yemen, victims of globalisation found a champion in the resistance movement emerging from the cities and villages of northern Yemen. Long associated with a charismatic spiritual leader, incorrectly labeled “the Houthis”, this populist outburst remained intact by late 2014 and orchestrated a successful second campaign to again remove the international regime of global capitalism.
The numbers of victims of what must be seen as globalism’s war are staggering. More than 63,000 children died in 2016 alone (the last year UNICEF dared to count).
Up-to-date statistics are even more horrific.
According to a September 21st report to the United Nations produced by the UN’s Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as of 2018, 18 million people are food insecure and 8 million are “severely” food insecure in Yemen.
On top of this starvation, the outbreak of cholera in the war-torn country is likely the worst in human history.
In other words, Yemen constitutes the world’s largest humanitarian disaster that receives little to no media coverage.
One explanation for why most media refuse to report this war is the fact that the slaughter was largely directed out of US/UK command centers. It has been the Western empires that organised hit-lists since the beginning of this war.
In fact, the first week of the bombing campaign that started in March 2015, was already a window into the criminal intent of the American-maintained Qatari and Saudi jets.
Targeting food storage facilities, farms, food processing plants, water tanks and bridges, the aim was no doubt to put pressure on the millions of civilian Yemenis and accomplish what the former ambassador’s threats did not.
Unfortunately for agents of globalism, the Yemeni people still openly revolt against efforts to impose economic and political “order” over Yemen.
The war today is the frantic attempt to reverse a popular uprising against imposed economic devastation. The GCC partners who formed the heart of the “coalition” to enforce Yemen’s compliance at the time were Qatar and Saudi Arabia (and their EU and US partners).
This “coalition” sanctioned by the UN used violence, by way of mercenaries. Crucially, this violence that targets civilians and wields righteous “international law” as its legitimising bludgeon, is nothing new.
As I painfully conclude in my study, Destroying Yemen: What Chaos in Arabia Tells Us about the World (2018), the current destruction of Yemen constitutes but the latest wave of violence used to sequester the country’s wealth.
Blessed with the region’s richest human resources, massive untapped oil/gas, mineral, water, and fishery wealth, Yemen has been the target of globalists since at least the 1920s.
With this in mind, it becomes even more clear that the origins of war in the larger Middle East today needs to be read through a new analytical filter.
Ever since the 1990s, the global economy has incrementally shifted. The petrodollar, once enabling the American Empire to finance endless wars, has been undermined by a growing crisis in liquidity. The resulting desperate search for new sources of capital animates the globalists’ drive to violently subdue the Middle East today.
Once attractive “emerging markets” offering investors desperate for higher returns a “sure thing” have become over-leveraged. The resulting crash and scramble to reverse a trend that sees much of the world’s savings shift away from the West has left much of New York and London exposed.
Western equity markets and banks broadly speaking are now desperate to siphon off the last of the world’s liquid wealth before it is forever absorbed by Asia or Africa. This campaign implicates members of the GCC long responsible for assisting in redirecting much of the trillions earned from oil and gas industries back to the West.
What has remained an unspoken rivalry between members of this false alliance, simmering for years, has exploded over Yemen.
Here, then, is the critical concern for observers moving forward.
What animates the calculations of those waging war on parts of Yemen requires an appreciation for the geostrategic concerns of participants otherwise assumed to be aligned in a “coalition” led by Saudi Arabia.
America’s favoured Kingdom, itself, is a financial wreck. Unable to find new sources of investment (even its once cherished ARAMCO can’t attract the foreign capital needed to keep the corrupt family afloat), an invasion and rapid sequestration of Yemen’s natural resources in underpopulated South Yemen was deemed a necessary gamble.
The problem here is that Yemenis despise the Saudi enterprise and have resisted this latest campaign to steal their country’s wealth most violently.
By 1990, when a newly unified Yemeni state was created, the anger was in response to a state increasingly serving the interests of the General People’s Party (GPC). From its Sana’a’ base, centered around the personality of Ali Abdullah Salih, the GPC had corruptly formed lucrative, temporary alliances with pliable local leaders’ like the Ahmar family and Abdul Majid al Zindani who all secured parallel ties to the United States, various EU countries, and rival GCC states.
As noted in my book, the evolution of these ties ultimately served an agenda that pushed Yemenis into a regime of “development” that increasingly pushed for the the country’s plunder.
In short, as in other “emerging market” economies, Yemeni leaders offered the best of Yemen’s economic assets for lease or outright purchase.
In this period of rapid “integration” into the global economy, applauded by the IMF and US Embassy, a race began between rival actors seeking the lion’s share of Yemen’s valuable assets.
Western bankers and their allies in the Gulf were the primary speculators. As with all money from the global south, in the form of savings and investments, whether poured into property markets in Dubai, Istanbul, or Beirut, regional actors and their London-based advisors hoped Yemen would be the stage to the next boom economy.
To many with the proper knowledge, Yemen’s largely untapped natural resources—especially its oil/gas, minerals, and fisheries—promised the country was going to be the next big thing.
The roots of the current destruction of Yemen was established in this context of investment in Yemen. The resulting conflict pitted key actors within Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates against each other.
As the three primary centers of finance in Arabia all directed resources into Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Qatar applied a tried-and-true tool of coercion to poison the religious underbelly of Yemen’s diverse population.
By the late 1990s, Southern Arabia was littered with al-Qaeda affiliates, a threat to the United Arab Emirates.
The subsequent sectarianism visiting other parts of the region by the 2000s brought Yemen to its 2011 political meltdown.
Lessons to learn
The foundations of the current catastrophe in Yemen, however, cannot be entirely blamed on the intra-GCC struggle over regional ascendency.
Recent reports of former and present government officials advocating war in Yemen have clearly sought to benefit certain industries to which they were affiliated. Such barely reported “scandals” highlight the obvious links between US policy and major companies in the weapons, oil/gas, logistics, and financial industries.
Indeed, war in Yemen can be seen as a campaign by these industries, through corrupt American officials, to shift what appears to be the last bits of GCC savings into the greedy hands of the financial elite.
The now obvious war pitting Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE against each other in Yemen, threatens to undermine any ability of other regional players, including Turkey, to make necessary adjustments moving forward.
Any collapse of the Saudi leadership threatens dramatic changes in Arabia’s political economic order. By necessity, this shift has the heavy hand of global financial interests attempting to control the outcome, a precarious intervention that calculates Turkey’s new relations with Russia as a possible pretext for the next violent confrontation in the region.
Therefore, the destruction of a regional order that has been shaped by an oil economy since World War II requires deep consideration. I believe a gaze into the origins of the campaign to destroy Yemen is one resource from which leaders can draw.
For over a century, Yemenis have resisted a global capitalist machine that today is threatening to break down. Ironically, it was Yemen that educated high-level Ottomans about the limits of modern government.
Perhaps responsible leaders today can also consider what lessons they can draw from Yemen and hopefully avoid the impending disaster that awaits those too closely linked to a collapsing Western-centered capitalist order ensnared in southern Arabia’s destruction.
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