Already seven of the 10 countries in the world with the highest military budgets are in the Middle East. The development of nuclear weapons in Saudi Arabia has many speculating that it could mark the beginning of an even more dangerous era for the war-torn region.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s energy secretary, Rick Perry, has secretly approved the sale of nuclear power technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia, Reutersrevealed this week. Saudi Arabia is reportedly attempting to construct at least two nuclear power plants as part of its effort to diversify its energy sector and its economy as a whole. As part of this plan it has accepted bids from Russia, South Korea and the U.S. for the lucrative contract. Perry’s approval is known as a Part 810 authorization, which allows energy companies to begin the process of planning and starting preliminary work in anticipation of the closing of a formal deal in the future.
While the Saudi proposals are presented as civilian and do not mention nuclear weaponry, U.S. approval and sale of nuclear technology has been seen by many as a prelude to the development of a Saudi nuclear weapon, which could potentially spark a nuclear arms race in the region. Riyadh has long coveted atomic weaponry and has considered developing its own in its quest to maintain military dominance in the region. “If Iran develops a nuclear weapon, that will be unacceptable to us and we will have to follow suit” Prince Turki al-Faisal, former Saudi ambassador to the United States, told the Guardian in 2011, noting that the kingdom may feel “compelled” to pursue the option in the future, if tensions with Iran remain high. Continue reading →
Eman Al-Nafjan and Loujain Al-Hathloul—along with Nouf Abdulaziz, not shown for privacy and safety reasons—are recipients of the 2019 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award. (Photo: PEN America)
Three women’s rights activists on trial in Saudi Arabia this week because of their efforts to expand human rights in the infamously oppressive kingdom are this year’s recipients of an award “designed to honor a writer imprisoned for his or her work.”
PEN America, which works to defend free expression globally through the advancement of literature and human rights, announced Thursday that imprisoned writers Nouf Abdulaziz, Loujain Al-Hathloul, and Eman Al-Nafjan will be honored with the 2019 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award at the PEN America Literary Gala in May. Continue reading →
Local residents and analysts alike fear the Saudi-led Coalition is using the relative calm derived from the new agreement as cover to fulfill its military objectives and not as a stepping stone towards peace.
Air strike in Sana’a – 2015. Photo: Ibrahem Qasim [CC BY-SA 4.0]
HODEIDA, YEMEN — Hundreds of residents from across Yemen’s Red Sea port city of Hodeida took to the streets for the third straight day, calling on the United Nations to take action to implement a troop withdrawal deal between the Houthis and the Saudi-led Coalition that was reached on February 19th. Residents waved Yemeni flags, Kalashnikovs, and banners emblazoned with slogans accusing Saudi Arabia and its coalition allies of undermining the agreement and prolonging the suffering of Yemeni children.
Last week, representatives from Yemen’s Houthis and the Coalition agreed to redeploy their militaries to areas outside of Hodeida under a UN-sponsored deal. However, “Phase 1” of the withdrawal plan has yet to progress, as the implementation of the troop withdrawal has yet to take effect. The Houthis accuse the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of obstructing the implementation of the agreement, as indications arise that a return to violence in the flashpoint port city is imminent. Continue reading →
Destroyed house in Sanaa. Photo: brahem Qasim [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) just inked billions in deals to secure new weapons from top Pentagon contractor Raytheon a week after an Amnesty International investigation further implicated the Gulf nation in war crimes for transferring Western weapons to unaccountable militia groups, thereby deepening the humanitarian crisis and fueling carnage in war-ravaged Yemen.
“The ongoing carnage against civilians in Yemen—including at the hands of the Saudi Arabia and UAE-led coalition and the militias it backs—should give serious pause to all states supplying arms,” said Patrick Wilcken, arms control and human rights researcher at Amnesty International. “Emirati forces receive billions of dollars’ worth of arms from Western states and others, only to siphon them off to militias in Yemen that answer to no-one and are known to be committing war crimes.” Continue reading →
“An arrogant tirade extolling the U.S. as a liberator not an occupier, a defender not an aggressor—a depiction that runs totally counter to the sordid U.S. history of invasions and occupations all over the world.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressing students at the American University in Cairo on Thursday. Photo:@SecPompeo/Twitter
A speech delivered by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Cairo, Egypt on Thursday was immediately chided by critics as bellicose and ahistorical “hogwash” that did more to reveal the incoherence and dangers of the Trump administration’s foreign policy than anything else.
In his remarks, Pompeo said while Trump remains committed to withdrawing all U.S. troops from Syria, the administration would not rest until “every last Iranian boot” was also removed from the country. The U.S. government, he added, will “not ease our campaign to stop Iran’s malevolent influence and actions against this region and the world.” Continue reading →
Comedian Hasan Minhaj responded Wednesday to Netflix’s decision to take an episode of his show “Patriot Act” off its platform in Saudi Arabia after the government complained it was critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Photo: @Complex/Twitter)
Taking advantage of the recent attention brought to his Netflix series “Patriot Act” by the Saudi government’s objection to an episode that criticized Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, comedian Hasan Minhaj called on supporters to contribute to aid efforts in Yemen while mocking the prince’s insistence that the episode be banned in Saudi Arabia.
On Tuesday, on Saudi orders, Netflix removed from its Saudi platform a “Patriot Act” episode released shortly after the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents—which the CIA concluded was ordered by bin Salman, often called MbS—because Minhaj discussed the need for the U.S. to cut ties with the Saudis in light of the murder. However, the episode remained on YouTube in the country and is still available on Netflix outside Saudi Arabia. Continue reading →
While SJR 54 claims to be aimed at achieving “the removal of United State Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress,” it contains a major loophole that will allow the majority of U.S. troops in Yemen – if not all – to stay.
Last week, many celebrated the advancement of Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 54, which had been introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), as a sign that the U.S. Congress was finally willing to act to reduce the U.S.’ culpability for the situation in Yemen, currently the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The bill, which will be voted on by the Senate this week, has been praised by many within the anti-war movement for its bid to “end” U.S. military involvement in Yemen. Passage of the bill would, however, do no such thing. Continue reading →
“Today’s victory is a testament to the power of grassroots activism across the country to bring about change,” said Diane Randall, FCNL’s Executive Secretary. “This vote sets a historic precedent for future action Congress can take to reclaim its constitutional authority over war and end American involvement in wars around the world.” (Photo: Twitter/ @PeaceAction)
In a historic vote that could “mark the beginning of the end of American complicity” in Saudi Arabia’s mass atrocities in Yemen, the Senate on Wednesday voted to advance Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) Yemen War Powers resolution by an overwhelming margin of 63-37.
“I’ve been at this for three years, and I am blown away by this,” wrote Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who sponsored the resolution alongside Sanders and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah.). “The Senate just voted, for the first time, to move forward with a debate on ending American involvement in the Yemen war.” Continue reading →
“The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, with U.S. support, has killed thousands of civilians. Over 85,000 children have died of starvation. Enough is enough,” Sanders, who introduced the bill alongside Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), declared on Tuesday. “The Senate must vote to end U.S. support for this war.” Continue reading →
The London-based NGO Save the Children estimates some 85,000 children under the age of five have died in Yemen due to starvation over the past three years. (Photo: Fuad/UNICEF)
As President Donald Trump faces criticism for issuing a “dangerous” and “imbecilic” statement in which he vowed to stand by Saudi Arabia despite the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a London-based organization is estimating that some 85,000 children under age five have starved to death in Yemen since the U.S.-backed, Saudi- and UAE-led coalition launched military action there three years ago.
Drawn from United Nations data, Save the Children’s new figure is, as the Guardian put it, “a conservative estimate.”
“For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are starving to death and it’s entirely preventable,” declared Tamer Kirolos, the group’s country director in Yemen. “Children who die in this way suffer immensely as their vital organ functions slow down and eventually stop. Their immune systems are so weak they are more prone to infections with some too frail to even cry.” Continue reading →