Amid a flurry of diplomatic gestures of peace from the United States, US bombs are devastating parts of Yemen in Saudi Arabia’s Operation Golden Bow.
HODEIDAH, YEMEN — Inside the ruins of a modest Yemeni home where human and animal remains were strewn together, local rescuers struggled to evacuate a pregnant mother and other potential survivors from the rubble as warplanes circled above. There, they found the body of a toddler covered in ashes beside the remains of a humble dining table. The chaotic cries of rescuers covered in blood filled the scene as they examined his remains, exposing what appeared to be an umbilical cord. Near the boy, they found his young mother covered in rubble, barely groaning in a muffled voice of pain.
Just two days after World Children’s Day and three days shy of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, an unborn baby died when he was torn from his mother’s womb by an American-made bomb that was dropped by Saudi warplanes on the home of Abdullah Sherian in Yemen’s al-Mariri village in the Heis district of Hodeidah. The bomb hit as the Sherian family was gathering for lunch, killing Abdullah, his toddler, and most of the family’s cattle and sheep. The massive blast brought massive devastation, darkness, and chaos to the neighborhood as if were in the midst of the fiercest of battlefronts. “They claim to save us, but they kill us and destroy our property,” a volunteer rescuer in his fifties told a local news crew. Inside the hospital where victims of the blast were being treated, an angry bystander made clear who he blamed for the carnage, declaring: “America is behind these crimes against innocent people.”
A day after the attack, Samirah Sherian woke up in an intensive care room at the al-Hodeidah Hospital and tried hard to recount her story. “It was lunchtime and we were too hungry. We thought the warplanes left after the buzzing disappeared. When we gathered around the dining table, the bomb hit us suddenly,” she said. Samirah was evacuated to the hospital after the attack but lost her unborn baby in the blast and says her husband Abdullah died while looking at his unborn son. “I was waiting for my baby. I needed a hospital to beget him, not an American bomb to smash him and kill my husband,” Samirah concluded, in tears. In the next room, a boy from the same village was being treated for serious injuries after Saudi-backed militants targeted his house with a mortar shell.
Golden Bow’s black rain of death
According to Saudi officials, the attacks are a part of a new operation dubbed “Golden Bow,” which is being carried out in conjunction with the UAE and a number of Saudi Coalition-backed militant groups, including the notorious Giant’s Brigade and Tariq Saleh Forces.
Dozens of civilians, including women and children, have been killed and injured since the operation began on November 19. Saudi officials say their objective is to “destroy military objectives like air defense systems,” insisting that they attack only “legitimate” targets and ask civilians not to gather around or approach potential targets before they strafe the areas — though those targets are never announced in advance.
Warplanes, artillery, and shelling from warships stationed off of Yemen’s Red Sea shores have turned parts of Hodeidah into veritable hellscapes, including strategic directorates in the southern province, just weeks after the Saudi Coalition announced it would be withdrawing military forces from the area. Instead, dozens of warplanes fly over Hodeidah’s Heis, al-Tuheita, al-Khokhah, al-Dreihemi, and al-Jarahi districts on a daily basis, bombing farms and destroying infrastructure.
On the first day of Operation Golden Bow, at least 33 warplanes were recorded flying over the districts of al-Fazah, al-Jabaliyah, Heis, al-Jah and al-Tahita, and 39 spy planes over the airspace of al-Jah, al-Fazah, Heis, and al-Jabaliyah. So far, 300 airstrikes have been launched against some of Yemen’s most densely-populated cities, including Hodeidah, the fourth-largest city in the country. In Sana’a, civilian homes, schools, wells, farms, roads, and hospitals have been targeted and destroyed, and a factory that produced plastic baskets was destroyed by Saudi airstrikes ostensibly targeting a nearby hospital. In the Dhale province, 10 students were injured when a Saudi drone targeted the Zaid Al-Sharji school.
Saudi airstrikes also targeted populated areas and infrastructure in provinces outside of Hodeidah, including in IBB, Taiz, Haradh, and Harf Sufian, as well as al-Jawf and oil-rich Marib.
Staggering, cold numbers
The death toll from the Saudi-led war in Yemen will reach an estimated 377,000 by the end of 2021, according to a new report from the UN’s Development Programme. However, the raids and bombing are not the only tools to claim the lives of Yemeni children. More than 3,825 children have been killed as a result of the Saudi kingdom’s blockade on the country, according to a recent report by the Yemen-based Entesaf Organization for Women and Children Rights.
Entesaf issued its report just days after World Children’s Day, reporting that more than 3 million children suffer from blockade-inflicted malnutrition while 300 Yemeni children die every day from malnutrition attributable to the blockade. The organization also says that over 3,000 children suffer from congenital abnormalities and over 3,000 others need open-heart surgery outside the impoverished country. The UNDP also revealed that the number of Yemeni children with various disabilities caused by the ongoing war has reached 5,559 cases and recorded 71,000 cases of tumors developed among children since the beginning of the war.
Biden’s fine words
In response to Operation Golden Bow, thousands of Yemenis took to the streets in major cities across the country to condemn the United States for its ongoing support of Saudi Arabia. The main squares in Hodeidah, Sana’a, and Sadaa were filled with thousands of demonstrators. Protestors gathered under the banners that read “The US supports the military and economic escalation and the continuation of aggression and siege,” and chanted slogans blaming the U.S. not only for the new Saudi escalation but for the humanitarian crisis in the country, and accusing the Biden administration of giving the Saudis a green light to attack Yemen. Activists and families of the victims also resorted to a Twitter campaign, posting thousands of photos of victims of the war.
Indeed, Operation Golden Bow comes in the wake of a new U.S. arms deal with Riyadh. On November 4, the Biden administration approved a $650 million missile sale to the Saudis, including 596 LAU-128 Missile Rail Launchers, containers, support equipment, spare and repair parts, and logistical support services. The move is a tacit approval by the United States of Saudi Arabia’s continuation of war and exacerbation of an already dire humanitarian crisis. It also rewards the oil-rich kingdom for killing children and women, according to Yemeni families present at the demonstration who lost children in Saudi attacks.
The statements and positions by many American officials are based on ‘double standards,’ as they pretend to be calling for an end to the war, while actually pursuing their hostile and oppressive policies against Yemen. The U.S. hype is merely a cover for the country’s crimes and systematic terrorism against Yemen. The phony hype and false claims of the United States about its efforts to achieve peace in Yemen are merely a desperate attempt to deceive the public opinion in the U.S. and other countries.”
Referring to the arms deal, Ansar Allah said that recent U.S. support to Saudi Arabia enables its “aggression and horrendous crimes against the people of Yemen.” Speaking at an anti-war demonstration, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a senior member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council, told protestors: “It was Washington that withdrew its ambassador at the outset of the Yemen conflict and called on other countries to pull their diplomats out of Sana’a.”
Feature photo | Mourners bury the bodies of Houthi fighters killed fighting Saudi forces during their funeral in Sanaa, Yemen, Nov. 24, 2021. Hani Mohammed | AP
Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist based in Sana’a. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.