Media Stays Silent as U.S. Backs Saudi War Crimes in Yemen

Created: 16 August, 2018
Updated: 21 November, 2022
14 min read

Not only is the United States backing the Saudi monarchy with intelligence and logistical support as it prosecutes a violent proxy war via relentless airstrikes in one of the world's most destitute and war torn countries, stoking and perpetuating the violence there by providing substantial military support to the embattled corrupt Hadi regime as it seemed on its last leg after a very successful Arab Spring uprising of Houthi revolutionaries...

The U.S. is also incidentally fighting alongside terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda and ISIS, who also oppose the Houthi movement's ascension to power in an uprising that enjoys the popular support of a broad segment of Yemeni society.

It sounds impossible, so strange and unlikely that it couldn't possibly be true, like a bizarre conspiracy theory fluidly spun in a surreal impromptu rant by someone like Alex Jones, who is fluent in making utterances that are so fantastic that they often make for great unintentional(?), dark, and very surreal comedy.

But as anyone familiar with U.S. foreign policy can attest, its starkest realities are tragically even more surreal than the content of Alex Jones' most manic paroxysms.

The idea that the United States is on the same side as Al Qaeda in a civil war in Yemen, the terrorist group responsible for plotting and carrying out the 9/11 attacks; or ISIS which it is ostensibly at war with in Iraq, seems so impossible that the only way many Americans would believe it is if the mainstream media reported it.

Luckily for the Washington foreign policy and military establishment, which is now officially and undeniably a state sponsor of terror, much of the partisan mainstream media– both left and right– is only barely reporting it if at all, and very quietly when it does.

But as Kate Brannen wrote in April 2017 at JustSecurity.org:

"Defense secretary Jim Mattis has described Syria as 'the most complex civil war probably raging on the planet at this time,' but Yemen is giving it a run for its money.In both places, the line between adversary and ally is not easily drawn, which puts the United States at risk of unintentionally furthering the cause of some of its worst enemies. In the case of Yemen, this means al-Qaeda."

It's clearly not something the media establishment wants the American people to know about. Instead they're content to sweep it under the rug. But this is journalistic malpractice on a massive scale, because– with your money and in your name– the U.S. is helping one side of a civil war to commit acts of terror, and crimes against humanity, such as deliberately murdering schoolchildren.

The U.S. and Saudi Led Intervention in Yemen Civil War: Drone Strikes, Civilian Casualties

A Yemeni boy lies in the hospital after he was injured by an airstrike in Saada, Yemen August 9, 2018./REUTERS/Naif Rahma

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Just last week, Reuters reported on a Saudi airstrike (again this is a sustained military campaign that receives logistical and intelligence support from the U.S. military, moral solidarity from the U.S. State Department, and which uses weapons made in America and sold to the Saudis in arms deals facilitated by the U.S. federal government) that targeted a school bus in a marketplace, full of schoolchildren heading home from a day at summer school.

"Our shops were open and shoppers were walking around as usual. All of those who died were residents, children and shop owners," witness Moussa Abdullah, who was being treated in the hospital for wounds, told Reuters.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on its Twitter account that its medical team at the ICRC-supported hospital in Saada had received the bodies of 29 children. All were under the age of 15 years old. The hospital also received 48 wounded people. Among the wounded were 30 children. And that was the reported death toll at just one hospital.

Abdul-Ghani Sareeh, of the Saada health department, told Reuters: "A bus carrying children was targeted today while they were coming from summer school," resulting in 43 dead and 63 wounded. One Red Cross nurse told The Guardian, "The sound of children screaming keeps replaying."

The Bigotry and Inhumanity of Mainstream and Social Media Apathy Toward The Children of Yemen

Photograph: Hani Mohammed/AP

If a school shooting had happened in the United States last week that killed 43 children and wounded 63, it would still be three of the top trending hashtags on Twitter. It would dominate headlines and social media discussions for the next two months, and linger in the national corporate media and social media conversation and public policy debate for years to come, as the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting has, which took place in December 2012.

This was a school shooting too, the deliberate targeting of a school bus full of school children, but far more unsettling than Sandy Hook, because that shooting was carried out by a single, evil terrorist acting alone, while this one in Yemen was committed as the concerted effort of hundreds of people working together, as a matter of policy, by national governments, including our very own, claiming to represent our interests as they go about their violence.

If so many of us can call on our government with such impassioned pleas to take broad, quixotic measures to prevent any single one of 300 million people from ever planning and carrying out a terrorist attack to murder dozens of children, how much easier would it be for us to call on our government to simply withdraw its own active support for such terrorist attacks on children in other countries?

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Do these children matter less to the mainstream media? To the American people? Because they're poor? Because they're not white? Because they're Muslim children? Because they don't speak English? Because they don't have names that we're familiar with and can pronounce like Noah, Charlotte, Jack, Olivia, or Dylan?

Well if you have the heart and stomach for it, I will leave a link here for you to an article covering the attack by the quite independent news source: The American Conservative Magazine.

It includes tweets from three journalists and humanitarian activists in Yemen who shared photos and videos of the victims of this attack. I warn you they are quite graphic and disturbing. One of the photos is of a truck bed full of dead children.

As much as these photos may upset you, if you can bear to look, I suggest that you look to see how very real this attack was, every bit as real and tragic as school massacres that happen in America, and understand the real human cost of the Washington establishment's continued sponsorship and support for the Saudi government's deadly crimes against humanity. Last year the U.N. "added the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen to its annual list of shame for killing hundreds of children in 2016. The United Nations said 683 children were killed or injured in Saudi-led attacks that struck dozens of schools and hospitals in Yemen last year."

Mainstream Media Blackout: In One Year, MSNBC Covered Stormy Daniels 455 Times, War in Yemen 0

You would think the American people would be shocked and interested to know that their government is fighting on the same side as Al Qaeda and ISIS in a foreign civil war against a popular Arab Spring uprising that may have been over long ago if the Saudi-U.S. alliance hadn't intervened on behalf of the losing side to keep the fighting going.

You would think the mainstream media would consider itself morally obligated to urgently inform the American public about the long train of atrocities against Yemeni civilians done in our name and paid for out of our earnings. You may even think that media sources with a liberal slant would report on it if only to undermine the moral credibility of the Trump Administration.

But U.S. involvement in this war is a bipartisan effort that started with the Obama Administration, and has continued with the Trump Administration, all without an authorization by a vote of Congress, as the Constitution requires for acts of war. So the partisan media, Republican and Democrat, agree this is something to remain silent about– too embarrassing to their darling messianic presidents.

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Incredibly, a study published last month by the non-profit Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting found that in one year, from July 2, 2017 - July 2, 2018, MSNBC aired 455 segments about Donald Trump's affair with a sex worker named Stormy Daniels (you might have heard of her), and exactly ZERO segments about the war in Yemen, prompting FAIR to ask, "Why is the No. 1 outlet of alleged anti-Trump #resistance completely ignoring his most devastating war?"

Absurdity Beyond Comprehension

This is all happening as a coalition of mainstream media sources led by CNN aggressively pushed for Silicon Valley social media giants to delete and ban Alex Jones' InfoWars channels from their platforms, amid the controversy over his denial that any children ever died at Sandy Hook as part of an inane theory that the shooting was a hoaxed media event as part of a conspiracy to garner public support for stricter gun control laws.

Alex Jones' attempt to deny the deaths of these Connecticut school children is transparently deranged and offensive. But the way the mainstream media has denied the deaths of these school children in Yemen last week, and last year, and the year before, in an ongoing campaign of organized violence by state actors, by ignoring them completely, and diverting the public's attention to soap opera dramas and sex scandals instead– that is the far more insidious of the two.

Because Alex Jones is an independent journalist with a relatively much smaller audience and doesn't hold a candle to the mainstream media for the sense of legitimacy they have, for the trust in their authority and credibility which a perhaps too credulous American public has vested in its view of them.

And in a twist of irony that elevates this context from surreal to a state of absurdity beyond all comprehension, while the mainstream media continues its blackout of this U.S.-backed violent humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which reached a fever pitch the same week Alex Jones was de-platformed for "glorifying violence" and "dehumanizing language" against Muslims, it turns out that Alex Jones' InfoWars has been one of the most outspoken and vocal critics of the intervention in Yemen(!).

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So all I'm asking is the surreal question: Can we maintain a sane sense of context and proportionality, or at the very least, hold the mainstream media accountable to the same moral standards that the mainstream media wants to hold Alex Jones and InfoWars?

History of Yemen Conflict: Saudi Intervention in Yemen Explained

King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia bids farewell to President Barack Obama at Erga Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump join King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, and the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, Sunday, May 21, 2017, to participate in the inaugural opening of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

The civil war in Yemen is horrific, one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, but most Americans remain completely ignorant of what is happening in this extremely impoverished country that borders Saudi Arabia to its North, with the Gulf of Aden to its South and the Red Sea to its West.

During the Arab Spring, Yemen's longtime authoritarian dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was forced to hand power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, in 2011. Hadi inherited a severely weakened government full of corruption and warring factions. The Houthi movement in Yemen, which champions the Zaydi Shia religious minority, and had attempted to rebel against Saleh before the Arab Spring, made a move to overthrow Hadi and assume power.

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The Houthis seized the northern heartland of the Saada province and neighbouring areas. By that time, many ordinary Yemenis (including Sunnis)– still disillusioned with the Saleh-Hadi regime and ready for a regime that could restore order to a country ravaged by deadly Al Qaeda attacks– supported the Houthis, and by late 2014 and early 2015, the rebels took over Yemen's capital city of Sanaa.

The Houthis had the support of Iran (which has the most Shia Muslims of any country in the world), and so Iran's rival, (the majority Sunni) Saudi Arabia, backed the diverse array of enemies faced by the Houthis, including the embattled Hadi government, and ISIS as well as Al Qaeda. Currently ISIS has taken control of several provinces in its war against the Houthi revolutionaries.

George Washington Farewell Address

With a weary and heavy heart as I consider these facts, I implore the reader once again, as I have many times before over the course of foreign policy discussions over the last decade, to read an excerpt from George Washington's Farewell Address, and in every instance of the word "Europe" or "European," to replace them with "The Middle East" or "Middle Eastern," and so to steer U.S. foreign policy away from so much unnecessary violence and destruction:

"So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils. Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

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Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people under an efficient government. the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them."

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