Thursday, June 25, 2015

With All the Talk of "Putin's Aggression," Why No Mention of King Salman's Aggression?

Sometimes the lie is so big it is best to remain silent. This is the case of late with reporting in the West about the breakaway Donbass region in Ukraine, an area that has been in revolt since the U.S.-backed coup in Kiev sent Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich fleeing to Russia.

The last non-Reuters story filed in the "newspaper of record" that mentioned the rebel People's Republic of Donetsk was last Friday's report by Moscow-based Russophobe Neil MacFarquhar, "Russia and Greece Flaunt Solidarity at Business Forum, but Deals Are Scarce"; in it MacFarquhar notes the disappearance of Ukrainian civil war coverage as well:
“There was an obsession about Ukraine, headlines all the time — Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine,” said Charles Robertson, managing director and global chief economist at Renaissance Capital. 
“Now, how many people died in the Donetsk region yesterday? How much shelling was there? Does anyone know?” he asked. “Greece has become the European story, rather than Ukraine and Russia.”
While it is true that interminable Greek debt negotiations are finally coming to a head, with a sudden show of alarm that Merkel might not make any concessions that would prevent a default by Greece and the possible tumultuous Gexident, I think what is going on here is less a crowding out of Ukrainian news and more a premeditated taciturnity. The marauders in Kiev are violating Minsk 2.0, paving the way for a broad resumption of fighting, and there is no way to obscure this other than by spiking coverage.

Whenever NATO starts keening about Russia positioning troops on Ukraine's border, as AP is reporting this morning, that is a strong tell that the Kiev junta is about to strike at DPR/LPR. As Reuters reported yesterday, "Russian Former Leader of Ukraine Rebels Warns of 'Big War' ":
MOSCOW — A ceasefire is likely to collapse in east Ukraine and Russia could be drawn into a "big war" to cleanse the "sore on its borders", the former leader of the region's pro-Russian separatists said. 
Violence has eased but not halted in east Ukraine under what are known as the Minsk 2 agreements, reached in the Belarussian capital on Feb. 12 after an earlier ceasefire collapsed. 
Alexander Borodai, a Russian citizen and former journalist for nationalist newspapers who emerged last year as prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR), said he expects the Ukrainian army to launch a new offensive. 
"To be honest, I expect that the Minsk 2 agreements will not be observed, in the same manner as the Minsk 1 agreements were not," Borodai said in an interview this week in a Moscow restaurant surrounded by former rebel commanders. 
"And at the end of the day the Ukrainian army will launch an offensive. This is a very probable development ... I am not sure that it will end without a big war, as Russia cannot tolerate this sore on its borders forever."
There has also been a great deal of silence about the Saudi terror bombing and naval blockade of Yemen, which began in March. But that changed this morning when no less than three substantive stories appeared in today's Gray Lady. In one, the UN mediator assigned to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, reported to the Security Council yesterday morning that a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding (Somini Sengupta, "U.N.’s Yemen Mediator Depicts Grim Scene of Deprivation"):
Painting a dire picture to world powers on Wednesday about life in Yemen, a United Nations envoy warned that polio could soon make a comeback and that a dengue outbreak had struck an estimated 3,000 people. 
Clean drinking water is out of reach for 20 million — most of Yemen’s population — and a large portion of country is, in the words of the envoy, “one step away from famine.” 
The envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the special mediator for resolving the Yemen conflict, spoke to Security Council diplomats in a closed meeting on Wednesday morning. Later in an interview, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed said he was continuing to push for a humanitarian truce during the holy month of Ramadan between the Saudi-led coalition carrying out airstrikes and the Houthi rebels who have ousted the Saudi-backed government.
I assume the sporadic coverage up until now of the Saudi terror campaign directed against Yemen has something to do with the fact that the United States is administering the air war and supporting the naval blockade. What makes this cognitively so difficult to swallow is that it is an almost perfect inversion of the situation in Ukraine. There the U.S. backed Ukrainian fascists and neo-Nazi shock troops, Right Sector, based in the country's west sent the president fleeing for his life to adjoining Russia. In Yemen, the Houthis, based in the country's north, sent president Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi fleeing from the capital Sana to the port city of Aden before absconding by boat to Saudi Arabia. Salman of Saudi Arabia has been bombing and blockading his neighbor ever since.

Imagine if Putin had done the same thing to Ukraine, reducing to rubble the Maidan as Saudi bombs have leveled a UNESCO world heritage site in Sana's Old City. The Western press has adopted a shorthand for the Ukrainian civil war, calling it "Putin's aggression," absent any acknowledgement of the interests or aspirations of Russian-speaking citizens of the Ukraine. Yet there is no equivalent label for what is happening in Yemen. There is no discussion of "Salman's aggression."

It must be kept firmly in mind that not only is this aggression by Saudi Arabia clearly illegal under international law, it is now on the verge of becoming genocidal with widespread famine a likely outcome -- and it is all being facilitated by the United States.

Yes, the mind reels. Goebbels would beam with pride.

But today's frontpage story by Shuaib Almosawa and Ben Hubbard, "Saudi Bombing Only Fans Yemen’s Flames," with an adjoining sidebar by Hanna Ingber, "The Many Miseries of Yemeni Families," is proof that there is at least some sense within the corridors of Great Satan's beltway that the situation in Yemen is spiraling out of control, that the U.S. is complicit in genocide and soon it will not be able to control the narrative of the big lie.

Almosawa and Hubbard don't pull any punches, other than omitting the centrality of the U.S. to the Saudi/GCC military campaign:
SANA, Yemen — For nearly three months, Saudi Arabia, along with its allies, has been bombing Yemen, its southern neighbor, hoping to force the retreat of Shiite rebels who have seized major cities and to return the country’s president from the Saudi guest mansion where he lives to the presidential palace. 
So far, it has not worked. The rebels, known as the Houthis, have gained ground, more than 2,600 people have been killed, and aid groups have blamed the Saudi-led bombing and limits on maritime traffic for exacerbating a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country. 
With the failure of talks last week in Geneva to establish even a short-term cease-fire, it increasingly appears that Saudi Arabia lacks a realistic strategy to end the war, according to analysts and Yemenis interviewed in different parts of the country. In fact, many of them said Saudi intervention had made matters worse, expanding the violence while making resolution even harder to achieve.
“It is very clear that the Saudis did not do their homework before they went into Yemen,” said Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemeni visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon. “They thought it would be really easy, but it has not turned out that way.”
Instead, Saudi Arabia and the coalition it is leading have added an international dimension to what analysts said had essentially been a domestic conflict, while also prompting frequent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s southern border and creating space for extremists to expand.

There is much riding on the outcome for the United States, which has provided the Saudis with advice on targets and has watched with dismay as the number of civilian casualties has risen. Yemen is home to the branch of Al Qaeda long considered the most dangerous to the West, and the jihadists of the Islamic State, new to the country, claimed a number of deadly attacks last week in Sana, the capital. 
But the stakes are higher for Saudi Arabia, which must defend a long and rugged border with Yemen and could find itself embroiled in a protracted, costly war at a time when falling oil prices have strained the country’s finances.
The New York Times does not stake out a bold position on foreign affairs that is at odds with the USG. So I would imagine this has been vetted ahead of time. While the nations of Europe essentially have no sovereignty when it comes to dealing with the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia have shown a greater degree of independence and autonomy. Hence, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's ability to include an Al Qaeda bigwig, ‘Abd al Wahhab al Humayqani, in the Yemeni-government-in-exile delegation sent to the failed Geneva peace talks.

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