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An Unspeakable Nightmare: The Yemeni Crisis

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Rania and her eldest daughter, Amani, stand in the entrance to their home in a camp for internally displaced people in Lahj, Yemen. Photo: WFP/Mohammed Awadh

Authors: Khushi Malhotra and Vedant Avdhoot Sumant*

Why is Yemen at War?

After North and South Yemen merged, Saleh and Beidh decided to share power and form the Republic of Yemen on 22.05.1990. On 15.05.1991, the people of Yemen approved the constitutional Referendum which invested and respected human rights with and for the citizens. However, after such unification, there were disagreements between, President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Yemen’s Gulf Neighbours and the US of A.Disagreements, like these, sowed seeds for the current multifaceted problems faced by the country. Since then there have been various ceasefire agreements like ‘The Six-Point Government of Yemen-Houthi Ceasefire Agreement’ in 2010, ‘Hodeidah Agreement’ in 2018 backed by UN Resolution No. 2452, ‘Ceasefire order by Ansar Allah’, ‘Seven Point Peace Plan on Muscat Principles’ and their subsequent breaches ranging right from the Yemeni Arab Spring to the killing of Ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Over the years, Yemen has struggled in matters of good governance, stability, infrastructural developments, uplifting people, improving the standards of living and reduction of poverty, however, the current civil war in the country has exacerbated the situation. Incidents of political turmoil like the Houthis suspending the constitution and seizing the government in the early months of 2015 have further degraded the already appalling conditions pre-existing in the region. All the acts compounded together have led to Yemen undergoing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

International Laws Applicable : Human Casualties and Unprotected Rights

The conflict in Yemen involves countries like Saudi Arabia,  Egypt, Jordan, Morocco etc. supporting the Internationally recognized Government of Yemen and Iran supporting the Houthi’s, and several other countries,  however, it can’t be termed as an International Armed Conflict as the clashes are not between two states but between parties of the same country. Therefore, the rules of Non- International Armed conflicts apply. The criteria’s that have to be fulfilled are:-

1. Firstly, the armed violence must reach a certain degree of intensity so that it causes internal disturbances and tensions.

2. Secondly, at least one of the party to the armed conflict must be a non-state armed group forming an organisation.

These two conditions having been fulfilled in Yemen confirms the presence of Non-International Armed Conflict and applicability of its rules. The conflicts of such nature are governed by the treaties and rules of Customary International Lawas mentioned in International Humanitarian Law. The humanitarian laws that govern Non-International Armed Conflict and to which Yemen has ratified are the Common Article 3 to the four Geneva Convention 1949 and the Additional Protocol II. Common Article 3 prohibits cruel, humiliating and derogatory treatment. It further ensures that all parties to the conflict are humanely treated at all times. The exercise of territorial control and military operations in Yemen showcase that the criterion for implementation of Additional Protocol II has also been fulfilled. It entails the prohibition of direct attacks against civilians, prohibition on attacking indiscriminately, respecting the principle of proportionality in attack, and the obligation to take all feasible precautions in planning and executing military operations so as to avoid civilian casualties. Considering these rules, there is no denial of the fact thatthe rules of International law have grossly been violated due to the conflicts in Yemen.

Apart from the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocol II, Yemen has ratified various treaties including but not limited to the, Anti- Mine Ban Convention, 1997, that prohibits the use of weapons that leads to, ‘superfluous injury and unnecessary sufferings.’ It means that the use of such weapons is prohibited which might cause mass destruction. However, these regulations have been grossly violated in Yemen as the repeated use of anti-personnel mines, unlawful airstrikes, launching of ballistic missiles and use of fire weapons in the cities have largely killed and injured the civilian population. For instance, The unlawful airstrikes in Yemen by the Saudi-led Coalition on Houthi detention centres killed not less than 200 civilians. This attack was marked as one of the deadliest attacks in Yemen. The armed groups have been ruthlessly using unlawful methods of warfare causing mass destruction and loss of civilian life. The use of such technologically advanced weapons makes it difficult to implement the principle of proportionality and furthermore when such weapons are used without regulations it leads to war crimes. Therefore, there is a dire need to stop the use of such ‘high-tech’ weapons that cause mass destruction in order to protect the civilians and adhere to the International Humanitarian Law rules.

Yemen has also ratified several International Human Rights treaties like, United Nations Convention Against Torture, Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of  Discrimination Against Women, United Nations Convention on Rights of Child etc. though the well intentioned words of these conventions are rarely if not at all effectuated at the ground level. Yemen has ratified various International Human Rights treaties that would ensure protection to its citizens. All of these treaties ensure that all the persons irrespective of war, will not be discriminated and that their safety and dignity will not be compromised, yet, the constant bombing campaign in Yemen has led to the killing of more than 17,500 civilians. Further, In 2018, Yemen witnessed the inhumane act of bombing children which led to the murder of 40 while injuring 56 thus proving that the rules of International Human Rights law have been grossly violated. Furthermore, Feminist Perspective focusing on women specific rights gained traction when on 29.01.2011 women such as Twakkol Karman made various demands including equal representation, ending maternal mortality, illiteracy among others. UNFPA and its partners are continuing efforts to support women and girls to prevent abuse, by raising awareness for women’s rights, but the situation of women and girls is not likely to improve until the hostilities end, safety is restored and equality of women becomes a priority.

Furthermore, The US military aid to the Saudi coalition is in violation to the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act as discussed in the Resolution No. 54 presented in the US Senate on February 28, 2018. All the arms deals by the various nations are not only ethically and morally wrong but they also go against their commitment to the UN-Arms Trade Treaty. The parties involved thereto complicit in the crisis ongoing in the region are, ironically also the biggest humanitarian aid contributors. The US of A with Britain, Switzerland, Sweden and a few others have been aiding the Saudi led coalition by providing arms and enforcing maritime naval blockades and embargoswhich have further worsened the food shortage situation in Yemen. The humanitarian pledges by the donor countries are not only being delayed but are also being contradicted by the military actions that they are undertaking. The restrictions and blockades imposed by the Saudis, UAE and the Houthis need to be eased if not removed while taking political interests in consideration as land routes are being bombed and the Red sea is being rigged with sea mines. The attacks by the Islamic State have further dented the humanitarian efforts and have created a deeper crisis which puts a question on the very existence of the country’s citizens. 

These and actions similar to them have been preventing effective humanitarian aid for the Yemeni citizens who are living a life subpar to even animal existence. The armed groups in Yemen have targeted various, urban centres causing great deal of civilian causalities. Furthermore, the attacks have also led to the destruction of civilian infrastructures like, the schools, hospitals, farms, funerals and various factories. All this violence has rendered human rights of the people of Yemen ineffectual.

Conclusion : Urgent need to Prioritize Humanity 

Yemen is undergoing a severe humanitarian crisis, with its clinics and medical infrastructure severely damaged and crippled because of continued air strikes and a tussle between the various groups seeking to take control of disputed regions having rendered the medics vulnerable to attacks. It is pertinent to note that, the human rights situation in Yemen is so dreadful that it has been regarded as ‘frightening’ by the Yemeni Human Rights Minister. The reports suggest that more than a 1000 people have disappeared with hundreds having been kidnapped. Further, in 2018, Saudi-led coalition was included in the ‘list of shame’ by UN for killing/ injuring 729 children, that accounted for half of the child casualty statistics  which is wholly unwarranted and inhumane. 

The resulting political chaos has shifted the focus from various epidemics that the Yemeni’s have suffered through the years like the Cholera outbreak in December 2017, Malaria, Diphtheria, Measles, Meningitis, Dengue and other Diarrheal diseases in identified locations of internally displaced people. Approximately 400,000 children under the age of 5 years were suffering severe acute malnutrition in 2018. The aforementioned description is a resultant of 5 factors namely socio-economic factors, environmental degradation, breakdown of the healthcare system, insecurity, and political instability.

Attention must also be given to the problems faced by Yemeni’s during this Coronavirus pandemic where the administration of Yemen has been unable to accurately determine the number of active corona cases in the region due to an unavailability of adequate workforce and test kits but has reported more than 900 positive cases. There is complete lack of transparency in the data provided yet this data pertains only to those areas controlled by the Saudi led coalition. The rebel controlled areas which are even more densely populated have reported just 4 cases which is impractical and hard to believe. The strain on resources has resulted into this situation being incongruous to proper testing and assessment of the number of active corona cases in the area. Yemen is therefore one of the worst cases of a multi-faceted humanitarian crisis. Merely stating statistics will not bring an end to this crisis. The war must be withheld in such precarious situations and if not on a permanent basis at least for a temporary period of time a Federal Division natured solution must be agreed upon. The pain suffered by Yemeni’s must in fact be empathised with by the International community. This article is a mere attempt to spread awareness thereby snowballing International pressure on the parties involved in the dispute thereto, by coercing them to prioritise humanity over their vested interests.

*Vedant Avdhoot Sumant , Gujarat National Law University , Gandhinagar. 

I am a Vth year Law Student from, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda pursuing B.A. LLB (hons.). Throughout the five years of law school I have developed profound interest in areas related to International Law and subjects related to it. In future, if I have the opportunity to contribute my knowledge and understanding of importance of social issues and its threat to the society, I would thoroughly utilize that opportunity to eliminate/reduce the miseries faced by children of my country. I strongly believe that, prosperity of the country is dependent upon the well-being of children in the country.

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Middle East

MBS policies: Are a threat to the Washington-led Global Order or not?

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In this photo released by Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, greets President Joe Biden, with a fist bump after his arrival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Friday, July 15, 2022. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)

Amid the Ukraine crisis, Riyadh’s policy towards Washington took a bitter shift. The years-long loyalty of Riyadh towards Washington began to tremble. The Riyadh did not condemn Moscow’s attack on Kyiv, nor it fulfilled the Washington’s expectations by refusing to OPEC Plus’ decision of not increasing the oil production. Whether Moscow’s valiant attempt of opening war against Kyiv, against the will of Washington and NATO, inspired the KSA to take an unpredictable position or Riyadh’s policy shift is owing to its economic and strategic interests, it is quite debatable. This shift not only triggered the minds of researchers worldwide but also caused Biden’s eyebrows to rise. In addition, Riyadh also showed its willingness to join BRICS. In case, Riyadh joins BRICS to ensure its economic and strategic interests; it will challenge the supremacy of petro-dollar, as Saudi Arabia is one of the largest oil exporters. As a whole, it will affect US economy drastically, hence posing serious threats to the Washington-led Global Order.

The wake of the Ukraine war wreaked havoc throughout the globe by destabilizing the global economy. Moreover, this eruption of the conflict increased food and energy insecurity vertically and horizontally. Being a global leader, Washington stepped forward to discourage Moscow and compelled it to withdraw its troops from Kyiv. As a result, Moscow decided to cut off the energy supply to the west. This was just an initiation of the devastation. The clash of interests between Moscow and Washington led to the American use of so-called institutional power, freezing Moscow’s assets. Contrarily, Moscow’s denial to supply energy gave rise to energy insecurity caused by the rising oil and gas prices. Following the primacy doctrine, the global hegemon America took the responsibility to curb this energy insecurity leading to global economic instability. Continuing the long tradition, Washington intended to exercise the influence on the Middle Eastern partners KSA and UAE to supply the energy resources abundantly to fill the energy supply and demand gap.

This time the results were unpredictable, as both of these states defied to enhance their energy production. The unprecedented stance of the Saudi Monarch was to comply with OPEC Plus’ decision to decrease production and increase the prices of energy products. This denial of Riyadh was taken as a serious gesture by Washington. It was perceived that Riyadh’s refusal was a gesture for having goodwill for Russia, consequently creating the situation of “Either you are with us or against us.” In other terms, we may conclude that it was a shift in loyalties.

The whole debate revolves around the question, “Whether Riyadh’s policy has strength to shake the foundations of prevailing Washington led global order or not?” Is the global order a volatile structure to be transformed so easily just by shifting a policy of one state, or does this policy shift have some potential challenges? Before directly coming to the horror impacts of this policy, we should better discuss the worth of energy security and its irrefutable importance for the stable global economic system. If the fuel prices aren’t lowered, it will halt or lower the industrial processes of major industrialized states, including the U.S., consequently drastically affecting the states’ GDP and Per capita income. The vulnerabilities in economic position will surely lead to chaos and internal instability.  

The other facet of this debate, “Whether Riyadh is shifting towards Russia or not? Is Russia capable enough to serve the strategic interests of Riyadh? If not, then what does this policy shift mean?” The ultimate strategic interests of Riyadh always centered on attaining regional hegemony by countering Tehran. At the same time, Moscow is already enjoying better diplomatic ties with Tehran. Moscow will adopt a balanced approach between Riyadh and Tehran. Contrarily, there may be some possibilities of extension of this Riyadh-Moscow cooperation from energy to Economic and military cooperation because Russia is capable of providing the defense technology to Riyadh but unable to provide security in the region. Most importantly, Washington’s institutional hold can be used against Riyadh. These threats still can restrict Riyadh from standing up with Moscow. 

The other important frontier of this debate is KSA’s willingness to join BRICS. As the world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia has played a central role in the Petrodollar system. The country has used its vast oil reserves to maintain a strong influence on the global economy and has largely adhered to the practice of only selling oil in exchange for U.S. dollars. This has helped to ensure the continued global demand for U.S. dollars and has contributed to the dollar’s status as the dominant global currency. One potential outcome is that Saudi Arabia and other BRICS countries could agree to use a different currency for oil trade, such as the Chinese yuan or a new currency specifically for use by BRICS countries. This could lead to a decrease in global demand for U.S. dollars and potentially negatively affect the U.S. economy.

Saudi Arabia’s recent policy shift towards BRICS and Russia has raised questions about the stability of the current global order, particularly about the stability of Petro-dollars and global energy security. While it is debatable whether the shift is motivated by economic or strategic interests, it is clear that this move is a serious concern for the United States and has the potential to impact the contemporary Washington-led global order significantly. It remains to be seen whether Saudi Arabia will follow through with its potential decision to join the BRICS group and how this will affect its relationships with other countries, particularly Russia and the United States. In a nutshell, major global order changes are expected to occur if Saudi Arabia joins BRICS because it will affect the supremacy of Petro-dollars and consequently lead to the decline in U.S. economic power.

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China’s role to make FIFA 2022 Successful

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Image source: Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera

Argentina won the World cup in FIFA Football World Cup held on 20 November – 18 December 2022, in Doha Qatar. FIFA 2022 attracted global attention and since the beginning Foot Ball lovers spared time, either to travel to Qatar and watch the matches or sit in front of TVs and watch live transmission. Big LED screens were used to attract Foot Ball Lovers worldwide. It was really a festival mode in many countries. Analysis, Debates, and Arguments also took place, regarding the expected Champion. French was pretty sure to retain its previous title “World Champion” which they got in FIFA 2018, held in Russia. Brazil, Germany, Argentina, and many other nations were keeping high expectations. Even, though some were guessing that Morocco to be World Champion, strong arguments were given that in FIFA 2018, actually, the French team consisted of many Morocco-origin players, with very few original French. As a matter of fact, France has attracted good players from its former colonies and offered them immigration, and used them in FIFA 2018, to win the Championship. There was certainly a strong argument that if Moroccan can make France World Champion, they can also possess the potential to become World Champions.

The FIFA World Cup, often simply called the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men’s national teams of the members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport’s global governing body. The tournament has been held every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946 when it was not held because of the Second World War. The reigning champions are Argentina, who won their third title at the 2022 tournament. But the history goes back to Prior to the Lipton competition, from 1876 to 1904, games that were considered the “football world championship” were meetings between leading English and Scottish clubs, such as the 1895 game between Sunderland A.F.C. and the Heart of Midlothian F.C., which Sunderland won.

The World Cup is the most prestigious association football tournament in the world, as well as the most widely viewed and followed single sporting event in the world. The viewership of the 2018 World Cup was estimated to be 3.57 billion with an estimated 1.12 billion people watching the final match.

Seventeen countries have hosted the World Cup, most recently Qatar, which hosted the 2022 edition. The 2026 tournament will be jointly hosted by Canada, the United States, and Mexico, which will give Mexico the distinction of being the first country to host games in three World Cups.

It was a matter of great prestige and honor for Qatar to host FIFA 2022. It is the first World Cup held in the Arab world and Muslim world, and the second held entirely in Asia after the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan.

In 2010, the State of Qatar, having been awarded the rights to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup, embarked on remarkable projects in different fields to meet the expectations outlined in the bid document. It is worth mentioning that Qatar has a population of around 3 million and almost 1.5 million people from all over the world have visited FIFA 2022. A country’s preparations to host an international sporting event need serious consideration. Many aspects must have taken care of including but not limited to changing existing legislation, building infrastructure, workers’ rights and immigration, sponsorships, consumer protection, tourism, free trade, intellectual property (IP) rights, accessibility to stadia, taxation, counterfeiting, gambling, betting, to name but a few. Any country has to meet FIFA’s standards to host such an event. Qatar has the option of introducing new laws, amending existing legislation, and have concluded mutually beneficial bilateral agreements with FIFA. Qatar has directly employed more than 26,000 people to prepare the stadiums only. It is pertinent to note that in the wave of massive infrastructural developments legislation was not left out. Countries such as Russia and South Africa enacted new laws to meet FIFA’s standards and Qatar has also done similar measures to satisfy FIFA Organizing Committee.

The successful hosting of FIFA 2022, has projected and elevated Qatar in the global community, especially in the region. Direct and indirect, tangible and intangible impact of such a mega event will elevate Qatar’s stature and benefit its reparation in the days to come.

However, China was behind the success story as there were 10 ways in which China quietly worked behind the scenes at the Qatar World Cup:-

  • World cup buildings got green electricity from a next-generation power station that harvests only solar energy, built by the Power Construction Corporation of China.
  • People were taken where they need to go in a fleet of 888 fully electric buses, made by Yutong Bus, a Chinese firm that has quietly become, as far as I can tell, the world’s biggest bus maker.
  • The main stadium was built by China Railway Construction Corporation: a firm that pops up in Africa and Europe and around the planet, known for its extraordinary ability to create infrastructure in difficult environments.
  • What’s a sporting event without souvenir merchandise? It’s estimated that almost 70 percent of World Cup-related goods, from footballs to flags to jerseys to whistles, came from a single location in China, a southeastern city called Yiwu.
  • A purpose-built extra-large reservoir provided clean drinking water for sports people and fans. It was constructed by the Gezhouba Group, from Wuhan.
  • The stadium-building operations needed huge amounts of heavy equipment, from massive earth movers to cranes – nearly 100 of these were supplied by China’s Sany Heavy Industry, one of the world’s biggest construction firms.
  • The most innovative venue was Qatar’s Stadium 974, which can be disassembled and reassembled anywhere. Designed by a Spanish architect, the 974 building blocks were made by China International Marine Containers.
  • Notice all the LED floodlights everywhere? They came from the Unilumin Group of China.
  • Most people say air conditioners are a must for survival in that environment – and China’s Midea Co supplied 2,500 air cons for the event.
  • Last but not least, this was the most expensive sporting event in world history and needed a lot of support from businesses.
  • Nineteen China firms signed up to sponsor the event.

Definitely, credit goes to China too.

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Middle East

The Chinese maritime theory of linking and networking the five seas in the Middle East

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What mattered most to China regarding its three joint summits at the end of December 2022 with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries and the region, was the deepening of Chinese influence and maritime cooperation, especially with regard to the maritime side, and the emphasis of Chinese think tanks and research on the need for the success of the idea (connecting or networking the five seas in the region), namely are:

(The Mediterranean, Black, Caspian, Persian Gulf and Red Sea)

 And that is with all that it entails politically, economically and socially to unify the efforts of the countries of these seas and achieve their interests, and thus confront the American and Israeli project that aims to fragment the region.

  In this context, the Chinese White Papers document on defense, issued by the Politburo of the ruling Communist Party of China in 2013, stressed the need to develop the “Chinese naval fleet” in order to “defend the near sea and protect the distant seas”.  China’s establishment of a Chinese military base outside its borders for the first time in the state of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, as well as the militarization of the Pakistani port of Gwadar, contributes to the growth of China’s military presence near important sea lanes in the region and the Arabian Gulf, especially in the Gulf of Aden and the Straits of Hormuz and Bab al-Mandab, and nearby  From the Arabian Gulf region.

  The Chinese-Saudi-Gulf summit comes with the expansion of China’s involvement in the Middle East region economically and diplomatically, and China’s attempt to deepen security cooperation.

 Likewise, with China and its intellectual and research centers officially announcing in August 2019, regarding China’s intention to participate in a Gulf maritime security alliance, the beginning of Chinese thinking about a deeper level of military participation in the Middle East.

 Chinese analysts believe that the alliance between China, Russia, the countries of the region, the Gulf, and Saudi Arabia in the face of the United States of America is getting stronger and more solid due to the impact of a “cold war” between the West and China, especially with the confirmation of Chinese Foreign Minister “Wang Yi” after the success of his tour in the Middle East.  Clear signs that China intends to shift to play a pivotal role in the affairs of the region.

  We cannot fail to emphasize the “Chinese approach to the Palestinian cause”, and its desire to play a pivotal role in that issue, and it is clear that China is launching something like a counter-diplomatic attack to penetrate the ranks of the allied countries of the United States of America in the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf, in addition to China’s attempt to form political alliances.  New ones to restrict US alliances in China’s regional and geopolitical strategic scope, such as the Okus nuclear defense agreement between Washington, Australia and Britain, and the Quad Quadruple agreement between the United States of America, India, Australia and Japan, to form a kind of bipolarity between China and Russia in the face of the United States of America.  We find that after the Corona pandemic, the world officially entered the second Cold War, this time between the West and China.

Accordingly, the future US policy in the Middle East is linked to what will be the Chinese behavior in the region.  With China’s attempt to rush to play new security roles, and seek hegemony in the Middle East and North Africa region.

 Likewise, China’s desire to strengthen the security and military aspect of its relations with the countries of the Arab Gulf, Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, by strengthening military cooperation and joint military exercises, and cooperation in combating terrorism, through comprehensive measures to address its roots.  In addition to the Chinese desire to cooperate with countries in the region to confront what is known as non-traditional security threats, such as supporting the region’s efforts to combat piracy, continuing to send warships to the Gulf of Aden and the coast of Somalia to maintain international maritime security, and cooperation in the field of cybersecurity.

  Therefore, the importance of these three joint Chinese-Gulf-Saudi summits is to greatly enhance China’s partnerships, economically, politically and commercially, with the countries of the region, especially in the Gulf region.  Therefore, China today is emerging as a central player through direct investments, partnerships, trade and development.

  Perhaps in the future, China will intervene militarily, or seek to have a security footprint in the region, as it did in the Horn of Africa through its military base in Djibouti.

   Also, given the American influence in the Arab Gulf region, Beijing may change its security policies in the region, if Washington tries to obstruct the flow of oil to China, especially in the event that Chinese energy security or vital shipping lanes used by China are threatened, China may have to expand  Its military naval presence in the Indian Ocean near the Persian Gulf.

  Accordingly, the declared clear Chinese strategy has become to transfer the arena of competition with the United States of America to the Middle East and Africa, in order to avoid strategic competition with Washington and its allies in its immediate regional neighborhood.  By analogy, the expansion of Chinese influence in the Middle East region is a challenge to the existing American hegemony.

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