Truthfulness in times of cholera: yemen reporting flawed

love of truth in times of cholera: yemen reporting flawed

After a 2015 Saudi airstrike on Sanaa. Picture: VOA/freeware

The New York Times writes London and Washington the Yemen war already, the ARD likewise

Amnesty International has now identified the bomb that claimed 33 lives in Yemen’s capital a month ago as U.S. made. 16 civilians were killed, 17 injured, including five-year-old Buthaina, whose photo went around the world. According to the Guardian, human rights groups are calling for a halt to the export of rustic goods from the U.S., the U.K. and France to Saudi Arabia. German media still often show a lack of interest in the humanitarian catastrophe, which, according to competent observers, has long outstripped Syria’s suffering.

Yemen is home to the worst cholera outbreak and the sharpest humanitarian crisis to date, with half a million people already sick (see Yemen sinks further into misery). For a long time, the Yemen war was ignored by most Western media, who were preoccupied with Syria and Ukraine. Now this is actually no longer possible.

Concealed background of the need

But it seems that our quality journalists are slow to come up with facts about the military background of the disaster. There is talk of a civil war and of an ominous alliance led by Saudi Arabia, which is intervening militarily there, and of Iran, which is suspected of being the mastermind. The involvement of the U.S. and Great Britain is less mentioned, if at all under the heading of "the war on terror" "furthermore".

Am 1.In September, the New York Times International (as a Friday supplement of the Suddeutsche) published the article "Little Hope in Yemen as War and Cholera Kill", which laments over ten columns the suffering of the Yemenis. Only in column ten, three pages further back, was the sentence referring to humanitarian donations found:

The United States is also a major donor, as well as a primary supplier of arms to the members of the Saudi-led coalition. Although not directly involved in the conflict, the U.S. has provided military support to the Saudi-led coalition … (Author’s translation; original: "The United States is also a major donor, as well as a primary supplier of arms to the members of the Saudi-led coalition. Althoug the United States is not directly involved in the conflict, it has provided military support to the Saudi-led coalition …")

NYT int., Sept.1, p.4

Unfortunately, the New York Times (NYT), unlike Telepolis, did not come up with the idea of contrasting the rather measly donations for war-ravaged Yemen with the enormous costs of the war. A week earlier, on 25.Augst 2017, was the NYT in its article "The Slaughter of Children in Yemen" The report is a bit more concrete, although again only in the last paragraph:

But the war is at a stalemate, and the Saudi coalition – and its American backers, who provide military advice, aerial refueling and target acquisition – simply cannot allow the continued killing of civilians and destruction of what little Yemen has left. (translation by the author. Original: "But the war is at a stalemate, and the Saudi coalition – and its American enablers, who provide military equipment, aerial refueling and targeting – simply cannot be allowed to continue killing civilians and destroying what little is left of Yemen.")

NYT 25.Aug.2017

What is striking is that the leading role of Great Britain is not mentioned, while the role of the USA is presented in a dismissive way. However, without logistical leadership from major military powers such as the U.S. and Great Britain, the huge number of 90.000 air strikes on the poorest country in the region hardly imaginable.

The U.S. support for the Saudis’ Yemen campaign has been known since March 2015, according to the Guardian. Volkerrechtswidrige wars of aggression and human rights violations (of their own governments) are reported in Western media only zogerlich, complain again and again critics. Middle East expert Michael Luders, who at least makes it into public broadcasts from time to time because of his prominence, wrote about Yemen:

Washington has obviously delegated the Yemen war to London. British officers sit in the control center of the Saudi air force and coordinate with the Saudis the attacks in Yemen with the help of American intelligence.

Michael Luders, "Who reap the storm"

The Saudis, Luders suggests, had rewarded this by rapidly increasing their arms purchases from British arms companies. In the use of these weapons, Riyadh "deliberate and premeditated" targeted civilian targets, which "would hardly have been possible without the knowledge and approval of the USA and Great Britain", according to Luders; the target of the continuous bombing: the civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and "everything related to agriculture, food and water supply (…) even individual cows and goats … ".1

The intent, according to Luders, is obvious: to provoke a famine, which is why the Saudi navy blockaded Yemen’s port and shut down air traffic. The Swiss historian Daniele Ganser made a similar assessment in his book in 2016 "Illegal Wars: How NATO Countries Sabotage the UN":2

Saudi Arabia imposed a comprehensive naval blockade, which immediately led to food shortages and fuel shortages in Yemen, which is heavily dependent on imports. Fuel-powered pumps also failed, and hardship and disease spread. The military coalition led by Saudi Arabia also bombed civilian objects in Yemen such as hospitals, schools, universities, airports, mosques, food transport vehicles, factories, gas stations, telephone networks and electricity plants. By doing so, Saudi Arabia clearly violated the Volker Humanitarian Law, which prohibits attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure

Daniele Ganser, "Illegal Wars"

No US military operations in Yemen?

So much for the often obscured background to today’s hardship in Yemen. So to what extent is the U.S., as the NYT writes, really "not directly involved"? Are they not directly involved, because, as the NYT wisely conceals, they delegated this war to the British?

Their affiliation with the war coalition, let alone their leading role, is not mentioned. They prefer to name other Gulf states that provide military support to Riyadh, most notably the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The language regulation given by the NYT seems, by the way, also to pull itself through many German leading media.

However, a few direct implications of the U.S. forces had also the NYT notice or. can mention in its articles on Yemen’s plight: In May 2016, Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davies spoke of a "small number" of US soldiers in Yemen. In April 2016, these U.S. forces had helped the Saudi Arabia-led alliance and the Yemeni military capture the port city of Mukalla, which was controlled by the al-Qaeda offshoot AQAP.

Off the coast at that time, the U.S. Navy had the amphibious assault ship Boxer with 4.500 troops, but which is said to have provided only medical assistance to the troops of the Saudi alliance. However, the presence of U.S. Special Forces in Yemen was evidenced as early as March 2015, when the Pentagon was forced to evacuate 125 soldiers in the midst of the civil war after the embassy was closed down.

In October 2016, missiles were fired from land off the coast of Yemen against the US destroyer USS Mason without hitting it. In retaliation, U.S. destroyer USS Nitze fired cruise missiles against three radar stations on the coast. The stations were controlled by Huthi rebels as well as their affiliated parts of the Yemeni armed forces. In January 2017, the first U.S. soldier killed in Yemen under the newly inaugurated President Trump was reported by Telepolis author Emran Feroz.

In February, it became known that US special forces had killed up to fifteen women and children in Yemen. U.S. soldiers, along with United Arab Emirates soldiers, had allegedly killed 14 al-Qaida fighters after heavy fighting. Their camp was well secured, the fighters were well armed. An attack helicopter crashed and was destroyed by a missile from an aircraft to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. In June, we learned that U.S. military personnel were interrogating detainees in secret prisons in Yemen.

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