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Sunday 25th of July 2021
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US analyst Ian Williams: You Cannot Win Hearts and Minds with Bombing and Strafing

The US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power has admitted in a tweet that around 16 million Yemenis “are desperately in need of aid.” Over 90 days of ceaseless bombardment and
US analyst Ian Williams: You Cannot Win Hearts and Minds with Bombing and Strafing

The US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power has admitted in a tweet that around 16 million Yemenis “are desperately in need of aid.” Over 90 days of ceaseless bombardment and aerial strikes by Saudi Arabia has made Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, a “ghost town”, as the Middle East expert Dr. Christopher Davidson notes.

Commentators believe that if only 10% of the bombs dropped on the civilian population of Yemen had been unleashed on the fortresses and bases of the ISIL, and if Saudi Arabia had invested some political and military capital on a genuine campaign to combat the ISIL-manufactured terrorism, the extremist cult had been eliminated long ago.

An American writer told Fars News Agency that Saudi Arabia is not able to win the hearts and minds of the people of Yemen by bombing their cities and killing their beloved ones.

“...the reckless bombing of civilian targets clearly violates international humanitarian law whether invited or not,” said Ian Williams.

Mr. Williams maintains that Saudi Arabia disregards the international law “because of confidence that their American sponsors will cover for them.”

Ian Williams has written extensively on the US foreign policy, Middle East and the United Nations for Foreign Policy in Focus, AlterNet, The Nation and Salon. He is the author of “Rum: A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776.” In an exclusive interview with Iranian Fars News Agency, Mr. Williams, a major foreign policy analyst in the United States, discussed his viewpoints regarding the legality of the Saudi war on Yemen and the underlying reasons for the continued belligerence in the region.

Q: Mr. Williams; Saudi Arabia started its aerial strikes against Yemen without the endorsement of the UN Security Council, as the sole international body responsible for safeguarding global peace and security. Why hasn’t its military intervention in Yemen received a firm response by the Security Council and the international community?

A: The Saudis’ financial power and its importance to stabilizing other repressive regimes in the region is such that it can count on regional support for its moves, and even with reservations expressed by others, it can continue. It can also pretend that it is acting at the invitation of the “legitimate” government of Yemen even though there has to be some doubt about which government has any legitimacy. However, the reckless bombing of civilian targets clearly violates international humanitarian law whether invited or not. The current talks are clearly designed to fail since both the venue, KSA, and the aim, the restoration of Hadi, is not acceptable to the Houthis. 

Q: The war on Yemen has created a serious humanitarian crisis in the Arab country. As reported by UNICEF, 2 million children have been forced to leave their schools and nearly 8 million children are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. What’s your reaction to the calamity unfolding in Yemen these days?

A: The KSA has been reckless in its use of military power and abusive in its attempt to blockade Yemen, but it does follow a pattern. At the time of the war with Iraq it “punished” the Yemeni government for its opposition by expelling millions of Yemeni workers and attacking the living standards of all Yemenis.

There is a disregard for international norms because of confidence that their American sponsors will cover for them.

Q: Is Saudi Arabia looking for precise, clear objectives in its war on Yemen? It has been pounding the urban areas, airports and hospitals, and it seems that it doesn’t have a definite strategy for the conclusion of the war. Is Saudi Arabia confused and unsure about the future of the war it has started? 

A: KSA is operating on a reflex. Its analysis is fatally flawed and influences the West. Instead of seeing the Houthi revolt as an indigenous revolt and the conflict as a civil war, it sees it as a surrogate. The Wahhabi regime is concerned that the Houthi revolt would set an example for its own repressed Shiite population. It simplistically regards the Houthis as Shiite and then compounds that by assuming that since they are Shiite, it means they are proxies for Iranian foreign policy. They feel encircled and so feel they have to lash out.  

Q: There were reports that Israel has been aiding Saudi Arabia during its military assault on Yemen. In what ways could Israel benefit from the war on Yemen? Is there something in Sana’a which scares the leaders of Tel Aviv?

A: It is interesting that just a few decades ago, Israel used to lobby against US arms deliveries to the Saudis. But since then there has been a tacit deal. While Saudi leaders maintain a public anti-Israeli stance, and even an outright anti-Semitic policy to pander to Wahhabi obscurantists, they have maintained a de facto military alliance with Israel.

Q: Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen has resulted in the resurrection of Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in the country, who are willing to find Yemen in chaos and increase their influence over the Arabian Peninsula. This will certainly backfire on the Saudis, and the United States as the supporter of the Saudi’s military operation. Isn’t it that the Saudis have ignited a fire in which they may eventually get burnt themselves? 

A: Nothing about the Saudi intervention in Yemen shows signs of long-term strategic planning or foresight.  It is reflexive and counterproductive behavior. They cannot commit ground troops without disaster, so since they feel they “have to do something” they rely upon air power. Conflict after conflict shows that you cannot win hearts and minds with bombing and strafing.


source : abna24
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