Saudis bomb Sanaa during “Million-Person march”

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The Houthi Ansarullah Movement that controls most of north and west Yemen staged what was by all accounts an enormous demonstration in the capital of Sanaa on Saturday. It may have been the single largest demonstration in the country’s history. While it was unlikely actually to have involved a million people, it did probably tens of thousands, and it showed how strong grassroots support for the Houthis is in the north.

The massive demonstration in Sab`in Park in downtown Sanaa was intended to send a signal to Saudi Arabia and its coalition that the Houthis are enormously popular in the north and that the General People’s Congress, the parliament of Yemen in its present form, shares in that popularity.

If so, Saudi Arabia did not get that message. Its fighter-bombers targeted downtown Sanaa in the midst of the demonstration, which arguably was a war crime (you aren’t allowed to endanger large numbers of civilians in war if you don’t have to). The Saudis are at war with rebel supporters of the Houthis, whom Saudi Arabian inaccurately depicts as a cat’s paw of Iran.

The Houthis are a fundamentalist movement growing out of the moderate Zaidi branch of Shiite Islam in north Yemen. They were one of the groups that supported the Yemeni revolution of 2011-2012, which deposed ‘president for life’ Ali Abdullah Saleh. But during the transition to elected governments, the Houthis derailed the country’s move to democracy by making a coup and gradually dismissing civilian high governing officials.

About a third of Yemenis are Zaidis, but the proportion is much more enormous if we look only at their power base in the northwest of the country. Sunni Aden and some other regions were liberated from Houthi control by Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (plus Morocco and Jordan).

The Saudi-led group has bombarded Yemen intensely for the past year, knocking out key infrastructure and killing or endangering the civilian population.

One Houthi spokesman said that the crowds in the square had sent a message to Saudi Arabia and its allies, that the Houthis are here to stay and retain a great deal of popularity.

The indiscriminate Saudi bombing of Yemen and the destruction of civilian infrastructure such as bridges and ports has caused the Obama administration to begin distancing itself from this war. But too late– most Yemenis see the US as behind the GCC effort.

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Massive pro-Houthi rally in Yemen | DW News

18 Responses

  1. saudia arabia can only dream of what our airplanes are capable of. still if they need the planes, we should sell them a bunch.

  2. These things are always reported from a plateau of high moral principle. Unfortunately that is not the way the world is, and although the reports themselves evoke appalled reactions in many they have no other effect. There are laws but they are little more than guidance as too many nations pay no attention to them, unrepentant individuals too like that arrogant swimmer. Any sane individual knows that pouring billions of classy weapons into an area of contesting nations guarantees they will be used with these results. If there is any sentient matter out there in the cosmos what is happening on Earth must be a developing concern.

    • High moral comes by easy, if one of the wealthiest countries in the world bombs its neighbor that happens to be one of the poorest.

    • I don’t understand your post. Are you saying it is hypocritical to denounce an attack on masses of unarmed civilians demonstrating peacefully? Are war crimes okay because so many people commit them?

  3. rob clement

    it’s not the #GCC behind this. #Oman was never involved #UAE buggered off when their troops were killed en mass. Its #KSA & #USpoli

  4. “Its fighter-bombers targeted downtown Sanaa in the midst of the demonstration, which arguably was a war crime (you aren’t allowed to endanger large numbers of civilians in war if you don’t have to). ”

    The qualifier ‘arguably’ is gratuitous: international law is clear that targeting of civilians is a war crime. There really should not be any equivocation in calling it as such. Saudi Arabia’s targeting of hospitals and schools also amount to war crimes.

    “But too late– most Yemenis see the US as behind the GCC effort.”

    The Yemenis are not wrong in their assessment. Our supplying of all of their military equipment and logistical support give solid evidence that we have more than supported Saudi Arabia in their war crimes in Yemen.

  5. Come on Professor Cole, do you really think that this demo (which is certainly the largest since 2014) was larger than the +80 days demo that took down Saleh?

    And the war in Yemen won’t end any time soon unfortunately. Neither the Saudi government and the Southern Yemeni alliance nor the Houthis are bowing down and as Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi said “This war will end at Mount Marran” (the last mountain in Northern Yemen and the historic “Fuhrerbunker-like” of the Houthis since the 1960s civil war) before the Saudi Borders and the Saudi Lead coalition is already 50km away from the Sanaa air port.

  6. Looking at the photos, why are Juan and DW trying to pretend there are NOT hundreds of thousands of protesters?
    It is interesting that the “rebels” are so defined as if the Government is really legitimate and I suppose the Saudi-US “good guys” are justified in their murderous attacks.

  7. KSA is committing war crimes; Assad is committing war crimes; BUT the USA wants regime change only in Syria and condemns Assad. AND KSA, USA and Russia have bombarded hospitals and the world is SILENT. And you Juan are soft rock with KSA and the USA but hard rock with ASSAD when the USA is the one who STARTED ALL THIS WITH THE INVASIONS OF AFGHANISTAN/IRAQ

    • There is a difference between a guy who killed 300k of his own people and a country that has lost 700 of its civilian citizens well before intervening in Yemen. Plus the UN never gave the Houthis or Saleh a pass, they actually killed more civilians than Saudis.

  8. Wait…wait…wait…
    There was no “transition to elected government”; Salah’s vice president was the only candidate after Salah stepped down! THAT is why the Houthis rebelled.

    • I, Ed. No, I disagree. Some 80% of the Yemeni electorate voted for Mansour Hadi in the Feb. 2012 referendum and severe critics of Saleh like Tawakkul Karman were on board with it and the process of multi-party consultation it initiated. Mansour Hadi appointed what was essentially a national unity cabinet. The Houthis supported these processes as well.

      The Houthi coup of September 2014 was instigated by Ali Abdullah Saleh as a way of coming back to power and it is clear he ordered the elements in the army still loyal to him to collaborate with it. Had the Houthis not made their coup, there would by now be a new constitution and a multi-party parliament and the country wouldn’t be in shambles.

  9. Once again, Chomsky and Herman are vindicated as their theory of how the US media self-censors is again proven by comparing coverage of 2 wars: the Syrian War, and the US-backed Saudi War against Yemen.

    The worthy victims being the Syrians, as bloodied children are an almost daily and nightly fixture of print reports and TV newscasts. These victims are “worthy” of our sympathy because they’re the victims of the official enemies – in this case, Assad and Putin.

    The bloodied Yemeni children are not covered by the MSM. These “unworthy” victims are the victims of official US allies – Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc. Plus, they’re being slaughtered by weapons being provided by the US and UK.

    Chomsky and Herman should be applauded for giving us an essentially fool proof propaganda model that has been substantiated over and over ever since they first proposed it in the book “Manufacturing Consent.”

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