Calls for Diplomacy Unheeded as Saudi-Led Assault Pummels Yemen
United Nations staff and other diplomats flee with assistance from Saudi military
Calls for peace and diplomacy in Yemen continue to fall on deaf ears as a Saudi-led coalition launched heavy airstrikes on the impoverished nation Friday evening.
United Nations officials and other foreign diplomats are fleeing Yemen on Saturday after war planes pummeled the capital Sanaa. According to witnesses, bombs fell "all through the night and stopped at dawn."
Meanwhile, fighting on the ground near the southern port city of Aden between also continues to intensify.
"The director general of Yemen's Health Ministry, al-Khadher Laswar, said more than 62 people had been killed and 452 wounded in the city since Wednesday," Reuters reports. Meanwhile, Laswar added, "Explosions at the city's largest ammunition depot on Saturday left at least nine badly wounded."
On Saturday morning, international aid organization Doctors Without Borders reported that their hospital in Aden was at capacity, adding that there were 250 wounded over the past week and 49 wounded only yesterday.
While the media and international community have largely focused on the proxy war at play in the impoverished nation, reports from the ground highlight the crisis for the country's residents, largely forgotten and caught in the cross-hairs of the fighting.
"While we all pontificate over Saudi-Iran battle, no one seems to care about the 26 million Yemenis who are now the victims of their game," independent journalist Iona Craig wrote Saturday.
The attack, launched on Wednesday by Saudi Arabia with backing from the U.S.-allied Gulf Cooperation Council, is targeting Houthi rebels who for months have gained increasing control of the country's military and main population centers. The Shiite rebels, the coalition alleges, is allied with Iran and support Yemen's disposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Further stoking the fervor of the international proxy fight, Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi—who last week fled to Saudi Arabia—appeared before other Arab leaders at the League of Arab States Summit in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt and called for sustained attacks against his country.
"I call for this operation to continue until this gang surrenders and withdraws from all locations it has occupied in every province," Hadi said. "I say to Iran's puppet and whoever is with him, you are the one who destroyed Yemen with your political immaturity."
After his appearance, Hadi reportedly flew to Saudi Arabia with King Salman with no plan to return to Yemen until "the situation settles," his Foreign Minister Riyadh Yassin said.
Also appearing at the summit, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon acknowledged that "the military action has been undertaken at the request of Yemen's sovereign and legitimate leader." However, he added that the only chance to prevent a long drawn out conflict is for UN-facilitated negotiations between the factions.
"It is my fervent hope that at this League of Arab States summit, Arab leaders will lay-down clear guidelines to peacefully resolve the crisis in Yemen," Ban added.
The Saudi-led military action in Yemen continues without sanction by the United Nations Security Council. As activist and Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow Ajamu Baraka wrote on Friday, the aggression "continues the international lawlessness that the U.S. precipitated with its War on Terror over the last decade and a half."
"U.S. and Saudi geo-strategic interest in containing the influence of Iran has trumped international law and any concerns about the lives of the people of Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain," Baraka continued.
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