International Holocaust Day: #neveragain?

Today we remember the Holocaust, a genocide under the Nazi’s which killed an estimated six million Jewish people, two million Romani people, a quarter of a million mentally and physically disabled people and nine thousand homosexual men. Today we honour the memory of these individuals; their personalities, their stories, their hopes, passions and talents, all of which were robbed from them, and replaced with just a number. These individuals were crushed in the name of an ideology, a vision of a pure race and control of a nation.

When the Nazi’s came to power in Germany in 1933, there were large Jewish populations living in Eastern and Western Europe. In the East, Jewish communities were a minority, and kept to their own language, Yiddish, and culture, although younger Jews were beginning to adopt more modern ways to dress. In the West, Jewish communities made up a much smaller percentage of the population and tended to adopt the culture of their non-Jewish neighbours, in dress, language and culture. Jews were found in all walks of European life; some rich, although many poor. They were farmers, tailors, accountants and doctors. And then they were victims.

The Holocaust has significant contemporary relevance and learning from the mistakes made in history should prevent us from making these same mistakes again.

But we haven’t learnt from our mistakes. History is repeating itself. Before the Holocaust, countries had the chance to welcome Jewish refugees into their countries, instead, many tightened immigration restrictions. Today, we continue to shut our borders on those who are seeking freedom from persecution, war and terror. Millions of refugees are currently stuck in transit in Europe. Refugees suffer at the hands of political inaction and a discourse controlled by policy makers which separates ‘us’ from ‘them’. As President Trump begins his time in power, he intends to build a physical wall to prevent migrants crossing the border from Mexico.

We haven’t learnt from our mistakes. History is repeating itself. The recent closure of the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp in Calais left unaccompanied minors with a broken promise. A promise made by the UK to protect them from the cold, the people smugglers, and the many other risks that come with living exposed without the protection of family. The UK took 10,000 Jewish refugees from the Kindertransport before the outbreak of World War Two. That is compared to the 187 Syrian refugees who have been granted asylum in the UK since the outbreak of the war Syria.

We haven’t learnt from our mistakes. History is repeating itself. We said ‘never again’ after the Holocaust. We said ‘never again’ after the Bangladesh Genocide in 1971, the Rwandan Genocide of 1972 and 1994. We said ‘never again’ after the Bosnian Genocide of 1992. And we think we can say ‘never again’ after the loss of so many civilian lives in Aleppo, this year?

We must stop history repeating itself and we must take lessons away from these horrific events. International Holocaust Day give us this opportunity. We must remember the value and the memory of every individual that died in the Holocaust. We must learn to stand up and for what is right, we must defend the rights of minority and persecuted groups. We must have more sympathy towards refugees and not turn away from their cries for help.

Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis

The relentless conflict in Yemen continues to devastate the lives of civilians, following the breakdown of the latest ceasefire between the Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition.

The fleeting 48-hour truce ended without extension on the 21st November after both sides accused each other of violating the peace, and failed to reach a diplomatic agreement. This marks the latest in a series of failed UN and US-led attempts to end the violence and destruction that has ravaged the country since early 2015.

The war in Yemen has unleashed a humanitarian crisis of critical proportions, resulting in at least 10,000 deaths and displacing around 3 million people from their homes. Recent conservative estimates suggest at least 21.2 million people, or 82% of Yemen’s total population, are in need of humanitarian aid amid worsening food and water shortages.

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According to UNICEF some 1.5 million Yemeni children are suffering acute malnutrition or starvation, and millions of women and children must walk long distances every day to access the little clean water that is available. On top of this, rapidly spreading outbreaks of cholera and measles have put countless more lives in danger.

The humanitarian situation has been compounded by the imposition of an air and naval blockade by Saudi Arabia. This has restricted Yemen’s regular food and fuel imports, and crucially reduced accessibility for the numerous aid agencies attempting to deliver life-saving food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile, Saudi-led airstrikes have repeatedly violated international humanitarian law by targeting civilian infrastructure such as hospitals. A recent World Health Organisation survey found that just 45% of Yemen’s health facilities are fully-functional and accessible, while over half have been severely damaged or destroyed as a result of the conflict. Doctors and medical workers have repeatedly been driven out of hospitals due to safety concerns, and there is a desperate shortage of fuel for ambulances. The conflict has crippled Yemen’s health infrastructure and consequently restricted access to basic healthcare for millions of people in need.

As a consequence of these conditions, despite their best efforts, aid agencies and NGOs operating in Yemen – including the International Committee of the Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières, Oxfam and UNICEF – have been significantly hindered in their attempts to alleviate the anguish of Yemeni civilians.

Amidst such terrible suffering, it is vital for both sides of the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians from harm. According to the UNHCR almost 181,000 people have fled war-torn Yemen to seek refuge in neighbouring countries; for those who have no means of escaping the violence, the future looks bleak unless a peaceful diplomatic solution can be reached.

Amy Simon 30/11/16

Yemen Attacks – Hypocrisy Personified

Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars on arms in its campaign against Yemen – including drones, rockets, bombs and missiles – with a large proportion of it coming from the US and the UK. The supplying of such weapons has totally compromised the two governments’ ability to promote peaceful solutions to the attacks on Yemen, and the crocodile tears they have been shedding for its 21.2 million people have gone on long enough. Quietly fuelling such devastating attacks on innocent civilians needs to be translated into physical actions by the US and UK, which unfortunately thus far can only be reflected in the mere 12% of the United Nation’s estimated funding of $1.8 billion needed to help the people of Yemen. Instead of fulfilling their own self-interest, America and the United Kingdom need to reattach their moral compass and place the starving people of Yemen onto their humanitarian radar. The calling of a ceasefire within hours of a Saudi air raid on the 8th of October, killing 140 innocent civilians with a American-made bomb, by the UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the US Secretary of State John Kerry is simply not good enough. Complete diplomatic neglect from America and the United Kingdom has fuelled the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Yemen to a humanitarian crisis on a similar level to modern-day Aleppo. The absolute hypocrisy of Britain, who has recently publicly condemned Russia’s backing of haphazard Syrian bombing, to only simply take the investigation of Saudi’s involvement in this (and previous) attacks on Yemen as they decide their future policy of allowing arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Additionally, the lack of publicity given to the American missile attack on three radar sites controlled by the Houthi movement in Yemen has allowed this issue to be completely swept under the carpet during the entirety of the presidential debate. The selling of arms by the US to Saudi Arabia has totalled $110 billion since Obama assumed office, and has recently confirmed further deals of $1.15 billion in the near future. The UK’s current Prime Minister, Theresa May, has inexplicably stated that the selling of weapons to Saudi Arabia helps to “keep the people on the streets of Britain safe”. The blatant disregard for the innocent lives lost as a direct consequence of such deals reveals to us the extent of the UK’s and America’s utter indifference for the people of Yemen.

Shying away from directly addressing why the British and American government has not done more the stop the Saudi attacks on Yemen is unforgivable, and a greater sense of international justice and cohesion should be shed upon the hypocrisy of the two biggest supposed supporters of basic human rights.

Ellie Davies

اليمن الحزين

اليمن أو كما تعرف بالجمهوريه اليمنيه، دوله اسلاميه عربيه تقع في جنوبي شبه الجزيرة العربية في الجنوب الغربي من قارة آسيا و يبلغ عدد سكانها 26,687,000 نسمة. اليمن تشتهر بوجود الكثير من الموارد الطبيعية اللتي لم تستغل حتى يومنا هذا و من أهم هذه الموارد النحاس، الذهب، الرصاص، النيكل، الفحم ،الملح و الأسماك. أيضا تشتهر بزراعة الخضروات، الذرة و القطن. كما تعمل على تصدير البعض من مواردها و ما يزرع في أراضيها كالخضار و القطن و أيضا الأسماك المجففة و الجلود. كما تشتهر اليمن بجمال الصناعات الحرفيه اللتي تنتجها و ذلك لتعدد المواد الخام المتوفره هناك و الفطره الفنيه اللتي يمتلكها شعب اليمن اللتي تسمح لهم بالاحتراف في هذا المجال

في السنوات الأخيره بدأت اليمن بمعاناة الحرب على كرسي السلطة و عاش شعبها جميع أنواع الترهيب و من أهم ماتعرضو له القتل و تدمير ممتلكاتها و بعض الاماكن الاثريه، أيضا تم قطع الطرق و قطع البترول و الغاز و قطع الكهرباء عن أغلب المدن اليمنيه و تحديدا اللتي تتميز بكثرة سكانها. الشعب اليمني يعاني من تنظيم القاعده،داعش (تنظيم الدولة الاسلامية) و أيضا من الحوثيين ومن الحروب الأهليه و القبليه. لكن رغم جميع مايحدث بقي الشعب اليمني صامدا و كما عرف عنه شعب عظيم يستطيع مواجهة أيا كان مايتعرض له و لكن الوضع اليمني مع مرور الزمن يصبح أسوأ مما قبل حتى مع التدخلات و التحالفات العربيه اللتي تساهم في تحرير اليمن من الجماعات الإرهابيه اللتي تحتل اليمن ، و لكن هذه التحالفات أيضا تسهم في دمار و قتل بعض المدنيين الأبرياء اللذين لا دخل لهم في الجماعات الإرهابيه ولا يحملون الأسلحه و اللذين يتواجدون في مناطق الصراع، و هذا مايسمى بخسائر الحروب

الأطفال يعانون الخوف من الذهاب للمدارس و اتمام تعليمهم مما سيؤدي إلى ارتفاع نسبة الأميين في اليمن، بعض الدراسات توضح أن نسبة الأميين في اليمن قبل الانقلاب 59.4% و مع الاوضاع اليمنيه الحاليه ستصبح النسبه أعلى بكثير عن السابق ، سيكون تأثير ارتفاع نسبة الأميين في اليمن سلبي بشكل واضح و ذلك لعدم تمكن الجيل القادم من بناء حضاره و مستقبل يسهم في استعادة الأمن و السلام و التطور في اليمن مما سيؤدي إلى استمرار الأعمال الإرهابيه و تكوين الجماعات الإرهابيه في اليمن لتصبح مركزا و مقرا للإرهاب لعدم وجود العلم المطلوب مستقبلا. الأعمال اللتي تتطلب العلم لن تتطور كالطب و الهندسه و القانون مما سيسبب فوضى تضاف إلى ما يحدث من حروب أهليه و أعمال ارهابيه. أصبح البعض من شعبها يلجأ الى الالتحاق للجماعات الإرهابيه لتوفير المصروف المعيشي و ذلك لصعوبة الحصول على عمل في اليمن و بسبب عدم حصول الأغلبيه من الشعب على الشهادات المطلوبه المؤهله للعمل في بعض الأماكن، بشكل خاص الاطفال اللذين يشاركون تلك الجماعات مايقومون به و يجبرون على القتل و رؤية المناظر المؤثره اللتي قد تميت معنى الطفوله و تميت طيبة قلوبهم و برائتهم فتجعلهم يعتادون على القسوه و القتل و في بعض الاحيان تصل في هذه الجماعات تعليم الصغار في السن قتل والديهم

الحصول على عمل في اليمن أصبح أمر في غاية الصعوبه حيث تم إغلاق أغلب المتاجر و المنشآت الصناعيه و تم تسريح عدد كبير من العاملين و من تبقى منهم يحصل على ما يقارب 45% من الراتب الاعتيادي و ذلك قد تسبب في خسائر كبيره في الاقتصاد اليمني و ارتفاع نسبة البطاله في البلد وأيضا سيسهم بانخفاض نسبة الانتاج المحلي بشكل كبير

بعدما كانت اليمن الدوله اللتي يلجئ إليها اللاجئون و اللذين يبحثون عن وطن أصبح شعبها يبحث عن أرض مسالمه و وطن آمن مستقر يلجأون له. أصبح ذلك الشعب يعاني من الفقر و الجفاف و من جميع أنواع الترهيب كالقتل و الدمار. ذلك أسهم إلى انتشار ظاهرة النزوح الداخلي في البلد حيث اصبحت العوائل و الشباب يبحثون عن مدن آمنه و مدن تتوفر فيها الأعمال اللتي يستطيع من خلالها النازحين توفير المصاريف الأساسيه لشراء الغذاء و توفير الاحتياجات الأساسيه فالنازحين بحاجه لأساسيات أخرى غير الغذاء كالأدويه و الماء. أوضحت بعض التقارير بأن مايقارب 80% من الشعب اليمني أصبح بحاجه ماسه إلى المعونات الانسانيه للتمكن من الاستمرار بالعيش و تزداد الاحتياجات بكثره للغذاء و الماء و الأدويه و الصرف الصحي

الشعب اليمني أصبح يعاني من الفقر الحاد، اللذين كانو في السابق في حالة سيئه و وضع اجتماعي سيء أصبح وضعهم ضعف السوء و أصبحو يحصلون على معوناتهم بصعوبه تامه و أصبح ذوي الطبقه المتوسطه أيضا في حاله مزريه خاصة من يملكون الأراضي و المدخرات اللي تم تدميرها و خسارتها من دون أي تعويضات. أما رجال الأعمال و أصحاب المناصب العاليه فقد تسببو بخسائرماليه طائله بعد مغادرتهم اليمن و سحب أموالهم و ممتلكاتهم من اليمن و ذلك أيضا تسبب بتوقف الأعمال في اليمن

نعم اليمن الحزين، نعم الشعب الذي عانى الكثير و عاش الكثير و خسر الكثير. الشعب اليمني واجه الكثير من الحروب الأهليه و القبليه و ثم بدأ معاناة الجماعات الإرهابيه و حرب الحصول على كرسي السلطه. الشعب اليمني يجب أن يكون له صوت يجب أن يتوحد من أجل الغد و من أجل محاربة أعداء السلام و الحصول على الأمن و الأمان اللذي غاب عن هذا الشعب في السنوات الأخيره. أيضا الدول المجاوره يجب أن تساهم بإرسال المعونات الإنسانيه اللتي يحتاجها الشعب اليمني. اليمن تستحق السلام و تستحق المستقبل الأفضل،اليمن بحاجه لمن يدعم طفلها و يحفظ امرأتها و يكون مأوى لكبيرها. الشعب اليمني يجب أن تكون له حقوق كحقي و حق أي شخص يعيش في أمن و أمان و راحه، يجب أن يحصل هذا الشعب على السعاده اللتي خسرها منذ وقت طويل و أيضا أطفال هذا الشعب يستحقون مستقبل أفضل و يستحقون أن يتعلمو و يفرحو كما يتعلم و يفرح اطفالنا. اليمن و شعب اليمن يستحقون أن تمد لهم يد المساعده بأي شكل من الأشكال و ذلك لأن تلك البلاد قد أوت العديد من النازحين اللذين كان لا مأوى لهم لذلك يجب أن يرد لها الجميل بالمساهمه بإعادة البسمه لشعبها و أراضيها و تلك مسؤولية الجميع

وستبقى قناة "العالم" تنتصر للشعب اليمني بالكلمة والصورة

Uncomfortable trio: West, Dictators and Terrorism

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“People talk about the Middle East as if there were only two options: dictatorship or terrorism. However, this is a false dichotomy, both are terrorist groups”.

(Dr Maha Azzam)

This concluding remark by Dr Azzam last night at “Al Qaeda and Beyond: where do Arab dictatorships fit” is a powerful key to interpreting developments in the Middle East. Experts on Yemen, Syria, Egypt and Iraq analysed the relationship between dictators and terrorism, posing the question “why is the West so obsessed with dictatorships?”

In a post Arab Spring world, voices from both Europe and the USA have been advocating a return to dictatorial government in the Middle East. Distant spectators observed democratic revolutions turning into violent uprisings, peaceful protests becoming armed resistance groups and once quiet areas becoming terrorist controlled regions. The focus quickly shifted back home, with many voices denouncing ISIS attacks and asking how all of this could have happened. It is this fear and shock that has lead many to advocate increased support for Assad and Saleh, questioning the possibility of a democratic future in the region.

The history of support for dictatorships by the West is a story as long as colonialism. Even at the time of the Pahlavi dynasty in Persia, Western powers strongly supported dictators throughout the Middle East. A single individual was easier to control than a democratically elected government and his ethnicity could easily be exploited to maintain the divide and rule strategy adopted in colonial times.

It is clear that the West has benefitted from their relationship with dictators since the end of formal colonialism. From the trade deals between Italy and Libya to the military support given to Mubarak by the US, dictators in the region have been strong partners and supporters of Western interests in the area. On the opposite side of the spectrum, whenever an unfriendly government took power, Western democracies resorted to terrorist groups to destabilize the country and re-obtain their control. A classic example was the Taliban in Afghanistan, armed and supported by the US in its quest for a pipeline from Central Asia.

We should not disregard however the use dictators themselves made of terrorist groups. As illustrated by Basher Al Assad releasing jihadist prisoners in the wake of the Syrian revolution, terrorist groups have been widely used by local powers to portray themselves as “the lesser of two evils”. More recently, Sisi has used the threat of ISIS to curb peaceful civil society groups and to justify the brutal actions of Egypt’s army in Sinai. This creates a vicious cycle in which opponents of the government, deprived of their freedom of speech and assembly, resort to armed revolts, justifying increased violence from the government.

Nowadays there are two terrorist movements in the Middle East: state terrorism and religious terrorism. Depending on the time and circumstance, the West has simply opted for one or the other, perpetrating breaches of human rights and the lack of democracy in the region.

By Martina Villa

Saudi Arabia ratchets up involvement in the Yemen Crisis

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Damage caused by Saudi airstrikes to a house in Sana’a

 

Saudi Arabia is gearing up for a massive attack on Yemen. Or so it would seem.

A source close to the Next Century Foundation has informed us that Saudi officials asked for towns on the Saudi-Yemeni border to be evacuated last week, meaning there is possibility for further Saudi intervention in the war-torn country.

Sources in the Saudi armed forces indicate that the Saudi Crown Prince issued a letter to the Saudi High Command (the NCF has seen the letter in question) instructing them to evacuate all villages on the Saudi side of the border with Yemen of their entire population.

Subsequent reports from other NCF sources have indicated that Saudi ground forces are engaged in action, crossing the border into Yemen in the North. There is nothing unusual in this of itself, however this time perhaps we are about to see a more significant action rather than a mere skirmish. It is notable that the Kuwaitis have put a deadline on the peace negotiations between the warring parties (i.e. the Saudis and the Houthis) currently taking place in Kuwait. Presumably this is at the behest of the Saudis who wish to bring peace talks to an end and ramp up their attack on Yemen.

Yemen has been engaged in a civil war since March of 2015. The conflict began between forces loyal to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and a group known as the Houthis, a Zaydi Shia-led movement loyal to former dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Houthis, or Ansar Allah (“supporters of God”), were founded by Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi. They are seen in the West as a pro-Iranian group, and therefore the conflict is perceived as also being between Shiite Iran and Saudi Arabia, which is currently leading an international coalition against the Houthis.

The US and UK are part of the coalition with Saudi Arabia, but with different motives. While the Saudis are concerned mainly with their own influence in the region, the US and UK are concerned with combating Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). This group is considered the most dangerous Al Qaeda affiliate, and AQAP has taken control of entire towns and villages in the south and east of Yemen.

The Saudis have intervened in Yemen through extensive bombing campaigns. Saudi-backed government forces successfully recaptured Aden from the Houthis, who seized the presidential palace and named a Revolutionary Committee to take over the powers of the president after Hadi resigned in January 2015. Because of Saudi involvement, President Hadi was able to return in September 2015.

Saudi involvement in Yemen has gone further than reinstatement of the president, however. News of the Saudi evacuation of border towns comes at the same time as the UK government admits it was wrong in saying that Saudi Arabia has not targeted civilians or committed war crimes. In its campaign against the Houthis, Saudi Arabia has blown up hospitals, schools, and weddings. The UN’s high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has said that these appear to be war crimes. The UK has been a supporter of Saudi Arabia, supplying billions in weapons, but is hesitant to take responsibility; the admission that Saudi Arabia may have in fact committed war crimes came on the final day of parliament before the summer recess.

Today, the most pressing issue in Yemen is the humanitarian crisis. The people of Yemen are starving. Twenty million Yemenis are in desperate need of food, water, and medical care; this is nearly 80% of the population. The Saudi-led naval blockade is exacerbating the issue by preventing goods from being imported. The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has received significantly less media attention in the west than the refugee or Syrian crises, as the Saudi blockade is supported by the UK and US.

A solution in Yemen will not be found until Saudi Arabia changes its role in the country. The Saudis are afraid of losing land, and they see Iran as a security threat although it has no real presence in Yemen today. However, the Saudi view of the Houthis as Iranian-backed has become a self-fulfilling prophecy; if the Saudis offered to allow support to go to the population in the Houthi controlled areas they would easily reduce any Iranian influence, but denying them support only pushes the Houthis towards Iran.

The alleged evacuation of the border towns is evidence that the Saudis have not yet accepted a changed role in Yemen, but are continuing with their violent campaign. Retired Saudi colonel, political strategist and commentator Ibrahim al Marie showed that the war is more about Saudi influence than anything else when he stated that while the war is expensive, “If we stop it without getting Sana’a and disarming the Houthis, it will be a historical and military catastrophe.” He continues that “It would be a problem for the confidence between the government and the people, and the decision makers in the kingdom know this very well.”