aside PRIMER ON MIDDLE EAST, PART VI/ YEMEN’S DESTRUCTION OF ANCIENT STRUCTURES BY AL-QAEDA

Representation of Palmyra in Syria before destruction by ISIS
Representation of Palmyra in Syria before destruction by ISIS

In the Western media, ISIS has been heavily criticized for the destruction of ancient artifacts. For example, in Syria, only rubble remains at the site of the Temple of Bel in Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra which has rightfully received a lot of press. This demolition is comparable to the vandalism of Yemen’s cultural heritage by ISIS and al-Qaeda (Sunnis) which has not been well covered in news outlets.

The civil war in Yemen (2015) is thought to be a proxy war between the U.S. ally, Saudi Arabia (Sunnis) and Iran (Shia). This is actually why I believe that the U.S. republican party has been against the Iran Nuclear deal. Iran will now have more monies to support the terrorist group, Houthis who are a Shia rebel group in control of the capital, Sana’aho. This is not an adequate reason for the republicans en masse to not support the Iran Nuclear deal. This situation in Yemen cries for a political solution, followed by a plan to permanently remove al-Qaeda, AQAP (al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Pennisula) and ISIS from this special country.

MAY 2015 DESTRUCTION OF PALMYRA IN SYRIA BY ISIS (ISIL)
MAY 2015 DESTRUCTION OF PALMYRA IN SYRIA BY ISIS (ISIL)

For some time now, it has been an open secret that the U.S. has been backing our ally, Saudi Arabia with air strike support which partly explains why we read little about the ruination of Yemen’s religious and cultural icons. The battle of these two countries (Saudi Arabia and Iran) is thought to be to over insuring crucial access for their shipping needs out of Yemen’s port in Aden and for its air force base of military strategic importance.

Wikipedia reports the following and some excerpts are:

The Yemeni Civil War is an ongoing conflict that began in 2015 between two factions claiming to constitute the Yemeni government, along with their supporters and allies. Southern separatists and forces loyal to the government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, based in Aden, have clashed with Houthi forces loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have also carried out attacks, with AQAP controlling swaths of territory in the hinterlands, and along stretches of the coast.

YEMEN- GORSELI
YEMEN- GORSELI

“On 22 March 2015, a Houthi offensive began with fighting in the Taiz Governorate. By 25 March, Taiz, Mocha, and Lahij fell to the Houthis and they reached the outskirts of Aden, the seat of power for Hadi’s government. On 25 March, Hadi fled the country. On the same day, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched military operations by using airstrikes to restore the former Yemeni government and the United States  provided intelligence and logistical support for the campaign. As of 2 May, at least 400 civilians have died in Aden.

The reporters, N.P. and Erasmus in their 9/9/15 Economist write about this subject in their article, “The religious and cultural heritage being ruined by Yemen’s war.” The following are some excerpts:

Sana'a, Yemen
Sana’a, Yemen

“But for people who love Yemen’s extraordinary history, ranging from pre-historic walled towns to some of the most finely decorated mosques in the world, a great irreversible tragedy is occurring. The country was once known as Arabia Felix, Happy Arabia, because of its dominance of the incense trading route.”

“While the relationship between intentions and results in aerial warfare can be foggy, other damage is being done by al-Qaeda forces, fighting along Yemen’s southern coast, who make no secret of their purpose. They have threatened to destroy the “idols” in the museum of Mukallah port, and destroyed two Sufi shrines, including a 700-year-old mosque in Lahj, a short way inland.”

MAP OF YEMEN/ LOCATION WOULD BE VERY BENEFICIAL TO SAUDI ARABIA AND IRAN
MAP OF YEMEN/ LOCATION WOULD BE VERY BENEFICIAL TO SAUDI ARABIA AND IRAN

“In Aden, the main southern port, Sunni fighters who were under bombardment by the Houthis responded by destroying a Shia mosque. Other traces of non-Sunni culture were wrecked too, including the gravestones of Chinese workers who built the coastal road in the 1960s. Perhaps the latter were deemed to be relics of atheism, dating from the 1970s when Yemen was a socialist republic, says Thanos Petouris, a Yemen expert who released footage of their destruction.”

“As with any belligerent in any war, the Houthis have an agenda too; they naturally want to draw attention to cultural vandalism in the hope that the West will snap out of its indifference and rein in the Saudi-led coalition. After Aden was pounded by the Houthis and their allies, loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country’s only Christian cemetery and an Indian mosque were left in ruins. Opportunistic developers might also have helped to bomb the sites, eyeing a chance to turn old city-centre buildings into prime real estate.”

HILLSIDE TOWN IN YEMEN
HILLSIDE TOWN IN YEMEN

“The roster of antiquities damaged in the war in Yemen runs long. Missiles fired from the coalition’s planes have obliterated a museum (where the fruits of an American-Yemeni archaeological dig were stored), historic caked-mud high-rise dwellings, 12th century citadels and minarets and other places whose importance to humanity’s heritage has been recognized by the UN. The Great Dam of Marib, a feat of engineering that was undertaken 2,800 years ago, has been struck four times, most recently on August 18th. Antiquities experts fear for the oldest surviving fragment of the Koran, in a six-month war which has killed over 4,000 and injured 20,000.”

“Yet Western officialdom has been tongue-tied about Yemen; Britain’s Foreign Office, for instance, did not respond when asked about the cultural damage there. In the ancient city of Sana’a, a UNESCO World Heritage site, there is a bitter feeling that the West is applying lenient standards to a coalition whose members are strategic allies and defense customers. Ali Abdullah Saleh, director of Yemen’s General Organization of Antiquities and Museums, laments that his country is suffering cultural vandalism whose ideological purpose resembles the campaign against Syrian and Iraqi antiquities. In all cases, people are bent on wiping out what they consider to be “idolatry”—in other words, any object that in their view signals deviation from the strict path laid down by the Prophet Muhammad and his immediate successors. In addition to the strikes from the air, he says, ruthless local branches of Islamic State and al-Qaeda are making ground attacks on Yemen’s cultural sites.”

YEMEN
YEMEN

“Lamya Khalidi, a France-based archaeologist who worked for many years in Yemen, says the Saudi-led coalition must surely know what it is bombing; its munitions are high-precision, and it has received a list of sensitive heritage sites, drawn up in the vain hope that would be spared. It is at least somewhat heartening that UNESCO, the UN’s cultural arm, has spoken out on the subject; in June it held a conference in Paris and condemned the multiple acts of cultural destruction that have taken place in Yemen, including the bombing of two places it has designated as World Heritage sites. UNESCO is also concerned by the wrecking of the Dhamar museum, which housed over 12,000 artifacts, and by air attacks on the archaeological excavation sites at Lamya Khalidi, and Sirwah, both impressive pre-Islamic walled cities. Behind the scenes, the United States too is financing an anticipated Red List of antiquities at risk, to be produced by the Paris-based International Council of Museums. But America does this discreetly for fear of embarrassing its Saudi and Gulf allies.”

Bab-al-Yemen/ IT WOULD BE A SHAME TO SEE THIS WALLED CITY DESTROYED BY ISIS
Bab-al-Yemen/ IT WOULD BE A SHAME TO SEE THIS WALLED CITY DESTROYED BY ISIS

“While the relationship between intentions and results in aerial warfare can be foggy, other damage is being done by al-Qaeda forces, fighting along Yemen’s southern coast, who make no secret of their purpose. They have threatened to destroy the “idols” in the museum of Mukallah port, and destroyed two Sufi shrines, including a 700-year-old mosque in Lahj, a short way inland.”

In Aden, the main southern port, Sunni fighters who were under bombardment by the Houthis responded by destroying a Shia mosque. Other traces of non-Sunni culture were wrecked too, including the gravestones of Chinese workers who built the coastal road in the 1960s. Perhaps the latter were deemed to be relics of atheism, dating from the 1970s when Yemen was a socialist republic, says Thanos Petouris, a Yemen expert who released footage of their destruction.”

3 comments

    • GRAZIE MILLE!! Thanks a million for your support and the reblog. The area dynamics are so intricate and complicated in this region. I shutter at the thought of someone like Mr. Trump who is clueless being even close to the White House.

      • I share your apprehension. I’m sure that the majority of us have I clue about what you’ve researched. This is thin ice …. the proverbial billion the china shop.

Comments are closed.