Yemens health ministry calls for urgent help
Saudi-allied anti-Houthi forces use civilians & medics as human shields in Yemen – Amnesty
Anti-Houthi fighters in Yemen allied with the Saudi-led coalition have been “terrorizing” hospitals and doctors in the city of Taiz, Amnesty International reports. Regular harassment at medical facilities in the city began roughly half a year ago, the NGO said after interviewing 15 doctors and other hospital staff. Anti-Houthi fighters even threatened to kill them for offering emergency medical treatment to Houthi fighters. Forces aligned with the ousted president even set up positions and tanks around one medical compound.
The anti-Houthi forces are allied with exiled former leader Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who fled to Saudi Arabia when the Houthis took power. Anti-Houthi forces are backed by the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition, which has been armed by the UK and US.
At least three hospitals operating in Taiz, a city of over 100,000 people, were forced to shut down due to threats against staff, Amnesty said. In the latest incident, which took place on Monday, three armed men stormed an office at the al-Thawra hospital and threatened to kill medical staff if it was not shut down immediately to halt treating three injured Huthi fighters being cared for at the facility at the time. “It is a fundamental rule of international humanitarian law that the wounded – whether civilians or fighters – must be collected and cared for. It is outrageous and unacceptable that anti-Houthi forces are retaliating against medical staff for performing their duties,” said Philip Luther, research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
Yemeni doctors also said that they have been forced to perform their work at gunpoint. In other cases, when the hospital was full, the anti-Houthi militants would threaten them, making them treat their own patients. The pro-Hadi fighters even started physical fights with medical staff. “One man opened fire inside the hospital compound after being told his son, an anti-Houthi fighter with a minor leg injury, did not require emergency care and could be treated by a nurse. His violent outburst injured hospital staff and killed a patient,” the report said. Yemen: Houthis Capture Ratel-20 IFV from Pro-Hadi Loyalist in Midi District
…………………Arrayed against the Houthis are Saudi Arabia and a number of Sunni Arab states who support the presidency of Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. At this point Hadi’s presidency is a lost cause as he has so little domestic support. But the combatants continue fighting, in part because they see the conflict as one theater in the broader struggle between Sunni and Shia political power that is raging across in the Middle East.
The U.S. role in the war is substantial. Saudi Arabia buys most of its weapons from the United States. Its pilots are trained by the United States. And the United States refuels Saudi planes in the air. The U.S. military is widely believed to be helping the Saudis choose targets. And U.S. special forces are on the ground in Yemen, ostensibly to fight local al Qaeda outfits. But just as in Syria, the U.S. finds itself committed to the downfall of a Shia government, while at the same time working to degrade the ability of al Qaeda to benefit from the fall of that same government. The Saudi coalition routinely bomb civilian targets like hospitals or food production facilities. In turn, the Houthis have resorted to extreme tactics as well.
The humanitarian effect of the war has been disastrous. Over three million Yemeni people have been displaced from their homes. Another 14 million are threatened with what the U.N. calls “food insecurity,” because blockading efforts and the war itself have a devastating effect on the import-dependent food supply of the nation.
But the United States does not have to continue exacerbating the situation. It’s an immoral and unjust war on a population that does not threaten the United States. It contributes to the disorder and chaos in the Middle East that has benefited international terror groups. An end to the conflict would at least begin to ratchet down tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. (Although any realist must admit they may tick up again in Syria or in any number of conflict sites in the Middle East.)