By Patrick Brogan
Our regular readers and podcast listeners are well aware of the ongoing conflict in Yemen that is not getting the coverage it deserves in the Western corporate media. This presumably is because of Saudi Arabia’s ally of the West status, an alliance further strengthened during President Trump’s visit there.
For those unfamiliar with the conflict, the genesis of this armed struggle goes back to the destabilisation of the political scene after the long term President Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to stand down. After this period, the Houthis with the backing of many of the Yemeni population seized the capital Sana’a and forced Saleh’s replacement, Abdrabbruh Mansour Hadi, to leave the country.
Saudi Arabia felt that the Houthis were being backed by its regional rival, Iran. They led an Arab coalition to rout out the Houthis. Over 10,000 people have died with over two million being displaced. Of the civilians that have died, over 60% were killed by Saudi air strikes. Added to this, the dire humanitarian aspect. Cholera has reached epidemic levels and more than 1,700 have died of the disease with over 320,000 suspected cases. Saudi Arabia has been criticised for not letting medical aid get to where it is needed.
We have seen reports of ISIS trafficking young Yazidi women and girls for sex in Iraq and Syria. And something not too dissimilar is happening in Yemen. Young women are being sold off to make ends meet. Society has completely collapsed after three years of conflict and Yemen was already one of the poorest Arab countries before the conflict began. Rape is never far away in war and many parents are worried about keeping their daughters’ virtue.
In surveys conducted, over 70% of women said they were married before the age of 18. Many of these are due to the fact that there is no legal age for marriage in the country, but these have greatly increased since the war started. As The Independent reported, these marriages come about because the parents can no longer support their families, the girls may be safer with the husband’s family or because the family need a dowry just to survive.
It can be hard to get your head around what is happening in Yemen because of the scale of the disaster. The individual stories are horrific. One girl was given away by her father to pay for a khat debt. As we reported in a previous article, khat is a leafy substance that many are addicted to in Yemen. One girl bled to death after having sex. Her father gave her away as a taxi payment. This is an all too familiar story in this part of the world. Sex with prepubescent girls is outlawed but rarely enforced. As a result, many girls bleed to death after being raped by their husbands.
I was about to write meanwhile, the West sits back and watches but it is far worse than that. The US and Britain are actively creating these conditions by selling weapons to the Saudis. With such backing, there is no end in sight to this conflict and these terrible conditions.
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