Saturday 2 April 2022

Ukraine and Yemen: comparisons are odious

Vladimir Putin was (to some extent anyway) a pariah in British and Western eyes after MI6 certified that he arranged to have Sergei and Yulia Skripal poisoned in Salisbury with Novichok. 

Similarly, MBS of Saudi Arabia fell from grace in the Western media's eyes when, according to the CIA, he had Jamal Khashoggi tortured and murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. 

But that was then. MBS is now fawned on by Boris Johnson because we want him to cheapen the price of petrol. 

Patrick Cockburn, one of the Middle Eastern experts who sees beyond the the CIA-MI6 line, said this on 19 March.

In reality, MBS deserved to be shunned from the moment three years earlier in March 2015 when, as Saudi defence minister, he led Saudi Arabia into a war in Yemen which has similarities with Putin’s attack on Ukraine on 24 February.

As with the Russian invasion, the Saudi action was supposed to be brief and triumphant, but seven years later it is still going on with 377,000 Yemenis killed directly and indirectly in the conflict according to the UN.

Around 4.3 million Yemenis have been driven from their homes and the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs is warning that 19 million are facing “acute food insecurity”, or in other words starvation.

Food rations provided by the World Food Programme to eight million people have already been cut and a UN appeal for funds for Yemen last week raised less than one-third of the $4.27bn that the UN says is needed to fend off severe malnutrition and disease.

Some will say that to speak of MBS and Yemen in the same breath as Putin and Ukraine is to divert attention from Russian atrocities and let Putin off the hook for ordering the invasion. But, on the contrary, bringing MBS, who has committed much the same crimes as Putin, in from the political cold, dilutes criticism of the Russian leader as a war criminal and reduces it to a term of partisan abuse. As of last week, the UN was still describing Yemen and not Ukraine as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. 
....The Wall Street Journal reports that he wants more – not less – US support for the war in Yemen, assistance with the Saudi nuclear programme, and legal immunity from court actions against him in the US.

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