Saudi Atrocities in Yemen Can Stop If Western Media Stop Ignoring Carnage: American Activist
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A peace activist and journalist based in Virginia deplored the “heinous, numerous, and continuous” crimes committed by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and said the crisis will continue until the Western media outlets “stop ignoring the carnage”.
“Sadly I believe the war will be long and continue to be very costly in humanitarian terms,” Janice Kortkamp from Leesburg, Virginia, said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.
“Unless Western media outlets will stop ignoring the carnage and the real motives behind the conflict, the foreseeable future looks bleak,” she added.
“Accurate and consistent reporting is what is needed in my opinion to sway popular opinion which would apply pressure on Western governments to end their support,” the senior journalist noted.
Janice Kortkamp became an independent, completely self-funded, journalist after “seeing Western media bias regarding Syria and how that bias was promoting war and destabilization in Syria and all the Levant”. She has researched the current crisis for over four years, putting in over 6,000 hours of study. She has visited Syria three times over the past year, spending three months traveling around the major population areas and the outskirts of Damascus, Homs, Latakia (including Kessab) and Aleppo. She has also gone to Germany, Lebanon, and Kuwait to meet with Syrian refugees and emigrants. Through friends and contacts in Syria as well as reports from genuine news sources around the world, she tracks the situation on the ground in Syria on an hourly basis.
Following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: More than three years into Yemen’s war, over 16,000 civilians have been killed and injured, the vast majority by airstrikes, the UN human rights office estimates, adding that the figures are likely to be far higher. After the US Senate narrowly approved a $510 million first installment of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia last June, the kingdom said it would launch a training program to reduce accidental targeting of civilians in Yemen. But in the year since that announcement, civilian deaths were 7 percent more than the year prior, UN data shows. In April alone, there were 236 civilians killed and 238 injured — the deadliest month this year so far. A UN report in June found 1,316 Yemeni children were killed or injured last year, and that more than half of the casualties resulted from airstrikes. What is your assessment of the heinous crimes committed by the Riyadh regime and its backers, mainly the US?
Kortkamp: The crimes are indeed heinous, numerous, and continuous. I would argue that any war in the region at this point of time will rarely qualify as a truly civil war. Certainly, the conflict in Syria is not and never has been. The Saudi (with the US and UK) war against Yemen is a clear act of aggression in my opinion.
The fact that the Western governments and media are completely silent on the atrocities being perpetrated by the Saudis while continuing to promote their leader as a reformer and selling them tens of billions of dollars in weapons is not a good sign I fear for the future. There have been some notable exceptions among elected officials like Senator Rand Paul but none of his efforts to end weapons sales and support for the war have gained any momentum. A recent report regarding MSNBC (a popular mainstream media outlet in the US) showing how that cable channel never ran a single segment on Yemen in all the second half of 2017 is a sad commentary on how much coverage the tragedy there is receiving from American media.
Tasnim: The United Nations has made a muted response to the Saudi-led coalition’s crimes in the Arabian Peninsula country. What do you think? What role can the international community play in protecting the lives of the oppressed people of Yemen?
Kortkamp: The UN has proven itself weak-willed and ineffective at bringing about conflict resolution – they are good at talking. After UN Secretary-General Guterres on April 23 called for a “prompt, transparent investigation” to the mass murder of over 50 Yemeni civilians by the Saudis (an investigation I haven’t seen any reports from as yet), the next week the UNSC condemned the Houthi missile attacks against Riyadh gaining far more publicity regarding that action than the several dozen victims killed by KSA. And so it goes: condemnations, calling for investigations, and a perpetual stalemate while the people of Yemen suffer and die.
Tasnim: Saudi Arabia recently suspended oil shipments through the Red Sea’s Bab al-Mandeb strait, one of the world’s most important tanker routes, after Yemen’s Houthis attacked two ships in the waterway. Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement - which has joined hands with the country's army against the Saudi-led coalition - says capital cities of the alliance will be “no longer safe" from missiles fired in retaliation for the massive attacks on Yemen. What do you think about the deterrent power of Yemen's Houthis and how do you predict the future of the protracted war?
Kortkamp: A key piece of evidence emerged recently when Netanyahu announced that “any attempt by Iran to block the Straits of Bab al-Mandab at the mouth of the Red Sea would be met by an international coalition that would include Israel.” (Haaretz)
Netanyahu’s unbridled ambition for Israel to become not only energy independent but a major oil/gas exporter is at the root of these conflicts including Iraq, Syria, and now Yemen. Total control over the Straits of Bab al-Mandab is of paramount concern, as any blocking of that would nullify their port of Eilat. Also according to sources, the Saudis are taking approximately 65% of Yemen’s crude oil production.
These recent regional wars always come down to three major factions: the US/UK – Saudi Arabia – and Israel and their alliance that is determined to take total control of the region and its resources. This alliance has proven itself to be unhindered by any level of violence and suffering their policies and actions result in.
As for the Houthis deterrent power, that is hard to speak to. So far they’ve proven themselves to be steadfast and surprisingly (surprising to their enemies at least) strong. The isolation that has been imposed however makes their fight, including resupplying and other support, all the more difficult.
Sadly I believe the war will be long and continue to be very costly in humanitarian terms. Unless Western media outlets will stop ignoring the carnage and the real motives behind the conflict, the foreseeable future looks bleak. Accurate and consistent reporting is what is needed in my opinion to sway popular opinion which would apply pressure on Western governments to end their support.