Yesterday Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was gunned down trying to flee Sanaa, after nearly a week of pitched street battles in the capital between Saleh supporters and backers of Houthi Ansar Allah rebels.
Saleh had been elected president of North Yemen in 1978 and became president of Yemen on May 22, 1990 when North Yemen merged with Marxist South Yemen. He remained president of the country until 2012 when an Arab Spring-inspired rebellion ousted him. He was replaced by his vice-president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
In 2015 Saleh allied with the Ansar Allah to overthrow Hadi and drive him into exile in Saudi Arabia. But in early December Saleh announced his withdrawal from the Houthi coalition and his backing of Hadi and the Saudis. The Houthis claim the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was behind Saleh’s fatal move.
The Houthis have popular support in Yemen, which has historically been the poorest country in the region. It was Yemeni laborers who built the infrastructure of the Saudi oil industry beginning in the 1950’s. The international bankers keep the Yemeni rial artificially low so that Gulf Cooperation Council nations (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE & Oman) can take advantage of cheap imported Yemeni labor at $1/day.
Yemen is the Haiti of the Middle East – a low-wage platform which serves the Four Horsemen of oil in their resource extraction from the region.
In 1963 the National Liberation Front (NLF) led a struggle against British control over Yemen and the exploitation of its workers by the Rockefeller/Rothschild oil oligopoly.
In 1969 the radical Marxist wing of the NLF took power and by 1970 the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen was born. Also known as South Yemen, the nation merged with North Yemen in 1990, but the Western darling Saleh became president.
That same year Yemen voted against a UN resolution sponsored by the US to justify invading Iraq. The US immediately cut off all aid to Yemen. The country’s already weak economy was decimated.
From this historical context and economic deprivation arose the Ansar Allah Houthi rebels, backed by Iran and other progressives in the region.
Bombed and blockaded daily by a Saudi-led coalition that includes the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, the infrastructure of Yemen has been devastated. The people are in worse shape. Already in January 2017 the UN reported over 10,000 civilian dead and 40,000 injured.
In October 2017 The Guardian reported the millionth case of cholera in Yemen, calling the worst cholera outbreak in the history of the world.
And now, the famine which began this spring threatens over 17 million people.
The continued Saudi-led bombing and blockade of Yemen constitutes a war crime, as does the continued supply of weaponry to the deranged House of Saud by the US, Britain and France.
Saleh’s assassination could well mark a turning point in Yemen’s ongoing struggle against Western imperialism. Look for a Houthi offensive in the coming days.
Dean Henderson is the author of five books: Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve, Stickin’ it to the Matrix & The Federal Reserve Cartel. You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hook column @www.hendersonlefthook.wordpress.com