Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Collapse: Greece + Yemen

The situation for Greece seems hopeless this morning. Reports over at Naked Capitalism highlight 1) that Tsipras never expected, never wanted to win the referendum and now has no idea what to do, that is why apparently Varoufakis' replacement, new finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos, showed up in Brussels without any proposal to present; and 2) complete capitulation by Syriza is coming fast. A proposal must be submitted by tomorrow and final agreement reached by Sunday. The new D-Day is now July 12, not July 20.

Though Yves Smith is reporting that Tsipras is already signalling his intention to accept most parts of the austerity package that was overwhelming rejected by Greeks at the polls this past Sunday, this might not be enough to satisfy the hardliners in the eurogroup, who are now rallying for even more austerity.

I think we have arrived at the point of Grexident. I suppose Tsipras can abjectly surrender to the eurogroup, that might have been the point of convening all parliamentary parties in a show of solidarity heading into negotiations. But then how does Syriza survive politically after receiving that 61% "Oxi" vote? It can't.

So it looks like drachmas it is. A lot of chaos is coming.

Which brings us to what I wanted to mention this morning -- Yemen. Yemen is infrequently covered in the "newspaper of record." Whether because its "Mad Max" landscape prevents Times' reporters from being dispatched to a war zone, or the more malign reason that the Gray Lady shares the foreign policy goals of the Obama administration, and the Obama administration is actively involved in the Saudi-led genocidal campaign against the poorest Arab country, New York Times readers are not receiving daily coverage of the ongoing slaughter in Yemen.

The numbers of dead as reported by CNN are as follows:
In total, more than 3,260 people have been killed in Yemen since March, [Stephen O'Brien, the top U.N. humanitarian affairs official, said Tuesday] and close to 1.3 million people have been displaced.

Of the dead, more than 1,500 are civilians, according to the U.N. human rights office.
The Gray Lady did publish a topnotch unsigned editorial yesterday, "As Yemen Collapses":
Yemen has now been added to the United Nations’ list of most severe humanitarian emergencies, along with South Sudan, Syria and Iraq. It is a tragic distinction, highlighting the peril to 80 percent of the country’s 25 million citizens. The international community, including the United States, is not doing enough to push for an immediate cease-fire in the war that is ravaging the country to make it possible to deliver aid.
Yemen, a poor country, was deeply unstable even before a coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States, started bombing the Houthi rebel movement in late March. Last week, Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, declared the situation a “catastrophe.”
The coalition is seeking to reinstate the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is now in exile in Riyadh. Mr. Hadi was ousted by the Houthis, an indigenous Shiite group allied with Iran. Most Yemenis are Sunnis, and Saudi Arabia, a leading Sunni country, has feared that a Houthi takeover would extend the influence of Iran, its regional rival.
The statistics are staggering. Over the past three months, the conflict has forced over a million Yemenis to flee their homes, and 21 million are in need of immediate help. Close to 13 million people are hungry and nearly half the provinces are “one step away” from famine, the United Nations said. Some 15 million people have no health care, and outbreaks of dengue fever and malaria are raging unchecked, in part because a fuel shortage has cut the electricity that keeps water pumps functioning.
The armed conflict is the biggest obstacle for United Nations relief agencies and private groups that are trying to reach desperate Yemenis, but a Saudi-imposed blockade along the coastline is also impeding crucial supplies from getting to those in need.
Mr. Ban and his special envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, have been working to arrange a pause in the fighting so humanitarian aid can be delivered, and late last week aid groups were told that a cease-fire lasting about five days could begin soon. But the Saudi-led coalition may have hurt that goal by unleashing more airstrikes in the past few days against the Houthis and causing scores of new civilian casualties. One attack, on a marketplace near the city of Aden on Monday, killed more than 45 civilians, The Associated Press reported. In all, the United Nations has said 3,000 Yemenis have died since March, half of them civilians.
Some aid groups say five days is not enough time to resupply the millions of civilians caught in the fighting. And even if there is a pause, the conflict could grow worse unless all sides pledge not to use it to seize more territory. The Houthis did exactly that in the last brief break in the fighting.
What is needed is a permanent political solution that will ensure the Houthis, who have some legitimate grievances and are unlikely to give up, get a significant role in any new government. Negotiations should be started without preconditions. But Saudi Arabia and its allies have appeared intent on forcing the Houthis to surrender, no matter what the cost to civilians and Yemen’s cities and villages.
Yemen has been a breeding ground for extremists, including Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the most lethal Qaeda affiliate. Its further unraveling will make it impossible to contain those threats, and that is a consequence all sides should fear.
Add to this the two Islamic State in Yemen car bombs that struck Sana yesterday, and you have a picture of superpower backed states bombing from above while its takfiri proxies Islamic State and AQAP bomb from down below.

At this point it is obvious that even if all Houthis were to spontaneously combust, Yemen would remain a cracked, failed state, a staging ground for takfiri jihad for the foreseeable future.

We have entered that stage of the dialectic where state powers in order to maintain their hegemony are destroying the possibility of any peace.

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