The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Yemeni Holocaust

We often ask, what would we do if there was another Holocaust? Surely we would do something? Surely, at least, we would not be complicit?

The question might have been answered in Rwanda, where the UN commander begged the UN for orders to intervene, orders which never came. The general, Romeo Dallaire, has spent the rest of his life curled around his failure to act despite orders.

Meanwhile, we have the blockade of Yemen, which despite claims, continues:

Mark Lowcock, the UN’s emergency relief coordinator, expressed his concern regarding the “recent decline of commercial food imports through the Red Sea ports” — adding that, if conditions do not improve, the number of Yemenis at the brink of starvation would rise from the current figure of 8.4 million to 18.4 million by this December. Given that there are approximately 28 million people in Yemen, a continuation of the Saudi-led blockade would mean that nearly two-thirds of the entire country’s population will soon face starvation.

Not sure how many of those who face starvation will starve to death, rather than simply sit on the edge of death, but millions of lives are at risk, this is deliberate, it is happening in slow motion, and the rest of the world is doing nothing.

Well, if they aren’t helping the mass murder, like America (and America was helping under Obama, so no, this isn’t a partisan issue.)

America could stop Saudi Arabia cold if it wanted to; and it certainly could at least not participate.

But, of course, we all know that in the run up to World War II no one cared what was happening to the Jews: we refused to let in Jewish refugee ships, after all. If all Hitler had done was the Holocaust, no one would have gone to war with him over that.

Not that the US needs to go to war; the simple credible threat of sanctions would bring Saudi Arabia to its knees. Nor does the US, post shale oil, need Saudi Arabia’s oil, but the Saudis, in any case, are no longer in a position to not sell. Their own society would implode in months.

Europe could do this too: SWIFT is located in Europe and subject to European law. Apparently Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons program, which Netanyahu has stated was 5 years from a nuclear bomb since the early nineties, was worth Europeans forcing SWIFT to cut them off (SWIFT objected), but not millions of Yemeni deaths.

Since Europe = Germany (no, don’t pretend, if Germany wants it, it happens), that means the Germans, having done the Holocaust are now sitting aside when they could stop millions of deaths, and doing nothing.


Well, I guess we’ll just watch.

And no, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince is not a good guy even if he has decided to let Saudi women drive.

The only bright lining on all this is that Saudi Arabia will be in civil war itself by 2030, I suspect.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer country.

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  1. JOHN

    Perhaps the Saudi-Israeli alliance is so important to the USA that it requires a blood sacrifice in the form of a few million Yemenis. I have been watching this for two years … is it really two years?… unable to understand how it can be allowed to proceed and how the USA continues to be silent and to sell the means of Yemen\’s destruction to the Saudis. Do the profits of the arms makers require blood sacrifice as well? Could this be as simple as, \”Because markets.\” or is it a kowtow to Benjamin Netanyahu\’s obsession with the non-existent Iranian threat? Whatever it is is is immoral and cruel. The perpetrators however many steps removed from dropping a bomb or denying sustenance belong before the bar of the war crimes court. Somehow being called to account before a court sounds too civilized for such unmitigated barbarity.

  2. nihil obstet

    Lives of commoners matter little if at all to plutocrats. The American elite permit or encourage the deaths of lots of ordinary Americans, through limiting health care, allowing environmental poisoning, indemnifying rich man’s fraud, and permitting police brutality on the streets and in the out-of-control incarceration system. “We” would probably save ourselves first if “we” had the power to stop Holocausts. “We” have enough to eat because food shortages are one thing that will cause people to rise violently against their rulers, so for now the homeland that is the seat of military power is relatively safe — it can still be looted without violent opposition. Unfortunately for the Yemenis, that’s not true for them.

    To think about how “we” would stop Holocausts is a sop to our self-image. It denies our own helplessness and sets us up for more wars, as “we” send arms and money to protect those who need our humanitarian bombs.

  3. Stirling Newberry

    Good post.

  4. someofparts

    I’m not sure if this is a factor in the American decision not to intervene, but this post made me think of it.

    That article builds a persuasive case for the notion that our national policies toward the Middle East are entirely dictated by the Israelis.

    It builds on other information, previously linked in comments here, which explains that assassinating Rabin and marginalizing his aging cohort has made control of that country by ruthless right-wing elements effectively permanent.

    So, if our policy in that part of the world is dictated by Israel, then, to stop the holocaust in Yemen, wouldn’t that decision need to come from Netanyahu? He doesn’t seem like the type that minds a bit of genocide as long as he is on the side doing the inflicting.

  5. EmilianoZ

    Can’t the Saudis sink the dollar by demanding to be paid in Euros, Yuan or whatever for their oil?

  6. Daniel A Lynch

    Ethically, Ian is of course 100% correct. The West could and should stop the Saudi war on Yemen.
    Besides the fact that the West profits from foreign wars, the Sauds set the price of oil because it the largest swing producer. Even though the U.S. does not need Saudi oil at the moment, the price of American oil is still tied to the price of Saudi oil because oil is a global commodity and free trade and international markets synchronize prices across borders.
    Yes, the U.S. could regulate the price of domestic oil, but that would require banning petroleum exports, something that would be opposed by powerful oil companies. Both American political parties are beholding to oil companies.
    So if the West pisses off the Sauds, oil might soar to $300 / barrel. Rightly or wrongly the West believes that would crash their economies (I think wrongly — the 70’s oil shock did not crash Japan’s economy even though Japan was completely dependent on imported oil).
    Further, since there is an informal agreement that the Sauds will sell their oil only in dollars, the value of the dollar and its desirability as a reserve currency is influenced by the Sauds. Rightly or wrongly, the U.S. elites want to maintain a strong dollar and maintain reserve currency status (I think wrongly — a strong dollar benefits Wall Street but hurts Main Street).
    Hence the U.S. kowtows to Saudi Arabia’s batshit crazy foreign policy.
    If the flow of Saudi oil is cut off someday, the alternatives are Russian oil, Iranian oil, Libyan oil, and Venezuelan oil, countries we don’t get along with.
    As for the U.S. being energy dependent, don’t bet on it. We could run on fracked oil for a few years, but fracking wells are depleted quickly, and then we would have to get serious about solar power and wind power. The oil companies would not like that.
    So the Yemen people will continue to die so that Wall Street can enjoy a strong dollar and Americans can continue to drive SUVs and full size pickup trucks and live in suburban McMansions.

  7. Ian Welsh

    Comment moderation is now off. It will go back on if necessary.

  8. Rune

    Even if only few die. Children wil suffer brain damage from longterm starvation.

  9. different clue

    I hope comment moderation going off will not result in an immediate re-degradation of the threads-in-general through the re-injection of nasty comments.

    If it does, I hope moderation re-imposition will be hard, swift and sure.

  10. different clue

    I keep reading rumors that the Crown Prince of KSA . . . Mr. MbS . . . has been killed or something. If that is true, then maybe the KSA power-structure factions are quietly settling the matter and manner of succession in long-knives-filled rooms. Maybe the emerging successor will reverse MbS’s genocide war on Yemen as well as the KSA blockade against Qatar.

  11. Ian Welsh

    I’ll be watching the comments, for sure.

  12. b

    The Yemeni holocaust is uncomfortable. Uncomfortable for me sitting in a nice, well fed place in the richest town of America. Uncomfortable knowing that the country I sit in supports, arms, and feeds those who are directly causing this Holocaust. I am also uncomfortable knowing that the Congo consistently practices cannibalism, has little in way of working roads, and that I probably eat more at one meal than most families do in one day. Will I be able to make a change in either place? Do I wish them both the best? Is it my responsibility?

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