In Flames (III)

SANA'A/RIYADH/DOHA/ABU DHABI/BERLIN | | saudi-arabienyemen

SANA'A/RIYADH/DOHA/ABU DHABI/BERLIN (Own report) - Germany's close Arabian allies are using German weapons to launch their deadly offensive on Yemen's capital. Saudi Arabia has been carrying out its aggression on that country for about half a year, seeking to drive the Huthi rebels, considered allies of Iran, out of Sana'a. The Saudi military is using German weapons to wage its war, and its allies - the United Arab Emirates and Qatar - have also been equipped by German arms manufacturers. The air forces of these three Gulf dictatorships have been training aerial combat with the Bundeswehr and acquired skills that they could now put to use in their offensive on Sana'a. This is significant because observers have noted their extreme ruthlessness in combat methods. More than 5,000 people, half of them civilians, have been killed; a vast number of others have fled. However, the majority of those fleeing cannot leave their country - also because German technology blocks their routes at the Yemeni borders. Relief supplies into the country are insufficient due to a Saudi blockade. More than a quarter of the population is currently suffering acute starvation. Germany, however, is continuing its arms deliveries to Saudi Arabia's war coalition.

Against the "Scum"

Nearly six months after launching their military offensive against Yemen's Huthi rebel movement, the Saudi-led Sunni war coalition is now preparing an offensive on Sana'a, the country's capital. The objective of this war is to drive the Huthi rebels from power - because the Shia Huthi are seen as allies of Iran, Saudi Arabia's main rival - to restore former President Abd Rabbo Mansur Hadi to office. Yemen must be "purged of the scum," [meaning Shias, editor's note] Riyadh's ally, Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayid al Nahyan was quoted saying.[1] In the meantime, alongside 1,000 Saudi and 3,000 Emirati, another 1,000 Qatari and 600 - 800 Egyptian troops are stationed in Yemen. Observers are accusing Riyadh's Sunni war coalition of particularly ruthless methods of combat. It is reported that, even before the ground offensive has been launched on Sana'a, its densely populated residential areas have been repeatedly bombed. It has also been reported that in the city of Sa'dah, the stronghold of the Huthis, "no building is left standing."[2] Because of the war, twenty-one of the twenty-six million Yemenis now depend on relief aid, but, because of Saudi Arabia's nearly total blockade of the country, only a minor portion of the needed relief supplies arrive, leaving 6.5 million suffering "acute starvation." With the looming ground offensive against Sana'a, a worsening of the already catastrophic situation is expected.

With German Weapons

The Saudi-led war alliance is also using German weapons to wage its war on Yemen. For example, Panavia Tornados and Eurofighter Typhoons, which German companies helped produce, are being used in the air attacks. Saudi Air Force has bought 48 of the latter. The German government has confirmed, "the Tornado is being flown on missions in the Saudi Air Force's aerial operations over Yemen."[3] According to Saudi press reports, the Eurofighter is flying missions as well in Yemen. The German government has declared that it "does not know" whether the three Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) are being used. The government says it also does not know where the Saudi coalition had gotten the German G3 assault rifles the coalition had airdropped to their partisans on the ground soon after the attack began on the Yemeni port city Aden. It is however known that Saudi Arabia has purchased €2.8 billion worth of military equipment from Germany since 1999, and is licensed to produce German G36 assault rifles. Since the beginning of its aggression on Yemen, that country was delivered German combat equipment and received official German government authorization for the deliveries of Tornados and Eurofighters,. There is no question of Berlin's material support for Saudi Arabia's military, leading the aggression.

Battle Tanks and Ammunition

Whether the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are also using German weapons for their aggression on Yemen is still unknown. Since 2005, the German government has authorized the delivery of more than €2.1 billion worth of combat material to the military forces of the United Arab Emirates, including a combat training center, armored vehicles and ammunition. In 2013, the delivery of 62 Leopard battle tanks, 24 tank howitzers 2000s, and 6 recovery vehicles were authorized for Qatar. That business deal is estimated at €1.9 billion. The deliveries are scheduled to begin this year, perhaps just in time for the war on Yemen.

Joint Maneuver

In addition to arms exports, the German Bundeswehr is cooperating militarily with the Saudi-led Sunni coalition's armed forces. Within the framework of its "Strategic Partnership" with the United Arab Emirates, Germany signed a "cooperation agreement in the military sector" in 2005, which includes joint training measures. For example, the German Air Force carried out joint training exercises with the Emirati and Saudi Air Forces. French and US units also participated. They were training for an - unspecified - war at the Emirati Al Dhafra Air Base. According to the German Air Force at the time, "the training exercises were aimed at" enhancing the capability for "planning and implementing complex, multinational and combined aerial combat operations," "in the most realistic tactical situations possible."[4] In late 2012, other aerial combat maneuvers focused on multi-national operations followed in the Emirates. This time, Qatar participated alongside the Emirates and Saudi Arabia. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[5]) The participating militaries of those Arabian countries can now draw on the profitable experience gleaned from their joint maneuvers for their war on Yemen.

Mass Exodus

The military coalition's attacks are forcing vast numbers of the population to flee. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, by late August, nearly 1.5 million Yemenis - out of a population of approx. 26 million - had been forced to flee their homes. More than 100,000 had fled the country, nearly 23,500 to Djibouti, and almost 29,000 to devastated Somalia. Just about 40,000 sought refuge in Saudi Arabia. The number of refugees has continued to grow. No end to the mass exodus is in sight.

Border Fence

Very few Yemeni refugees have made it to Europe, and their catastrophic predicament is widely ignored, due to both geography and German technology. Fleeing by sea takes them only to the desert of Djibouti or the devastation of Somalia - perspectives promising little relief. Warships of the EU's "Operation Atalanta" cruise the straits separating Yemen from Eastern Africa with the participation of German Naval vessels, officially hunting pirates, but also observing refugee movements. The fortified Saudi borders, on the other hand, block fleeing by land to Saudi Arabia. The German-French EADS company - today renamed "Airbus Defense and Space" - won the contract in 2009 to seal the Saudi borders. As the Saudi Al Sharq Al-Awsat journal reported, the sealing off of the Saudi borders to Yemen with a "border fence" had already been completed, and preparations were in progress for equipping it with state of the art technology for monitoring and tracking infiltrators.[6] This business deal brought billions to EADS/"Airbus Defense and Space." The company was supplementally able to benefit from German border police support - with logistical aid of the German Association for International Cooperation (GIZ) - for the advanced training of Saudi border personnel. The training measures most recently carried out in May and June were scheduled to be continued this month. The efficient sealing of the Saudi borders has contributed to containing refugees, fleeing the war, inside Yemen, and far from Europe. Berlin can therefore more easily avoid pressure, created by another refugee movement, to halt its arms deliveries to its Arabian allies.

More on this subject can be found here: In Flames (II).

[1] Qatar deploys 1,000 ground troops to fight in Yemen. www.aljazeera.com 07.09.2015.
[2] Paul-Anton Krüger: Der vergessene Krieg im Jemen. www.sueddeutsche.de 16.09.2015.
[3] Antwort der Bundesregierung auf eine Kleine Anfrage der Abgeordneten Jan van Aken, Christine Buchholz, Wolfgang Gehrcke und der Fraktion die Linke. Deutscher Bundestag, Drucksache 18/4824, 06.05.2015.
[4] Das Geschwader "Boelcke" übt in den Vereinigten Arabischen Emiraten. www.luftwaffe.de 09.03.2009. See German Arab Maneuvers.
[5] See With Dictators, Headed for War.
[6] Saudi Arabia building hi-tech border fence. gulfnews.com 22.01.2015.