Pentagon admits presence of US troops in Yemen
The Pentagon admitted for the first time this week that it has “conducted multiple ground operations” in Yemen, the impoverished and war-ravaged country on the Arabian Peninsula, while conducting more than 120 air strikes there this year, triple the number in 2016.
This revelation of an escalation on yet another front in the expanding US military intervention in the Middle East came as Yemen marked the 1,000th day of the war being waged by Saudi Arabia and its fellow Gulf oil sheikdoms against the poorest nation in the Middle East.
Multiple aid agencies issued statements warning that the deaths of millions are threatened as the war claims more victims and plunges vast portions of the population into conditions of famine and disease.
The depth of the country’s humanitarian crisis was underscored this week with the announcement by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that the number of cholera cases in Yemen had reached one million, making the ongoing epidemic by far the worst in recorded human history.
The rapid spread of the disease, which has claimed the lives of over 2,200 people since April, a third of them children, is an unmistakable manifestation of the destruction of Yemen’s social infrastructure by the nearly three-year-long, unrelenting US-backed Saudi bombing and blockade of the country.
Cholera is easily preventable and treatable so long as there is access to clean water. US-supplied Saudi bombs and missiles, however, have destroyed much of the Yemen’s water and sanitation infrastructure, while the air, sea and land blockade has deprived the country of fuel needed to run whatever systems have survived the onslaught. Meanwhile, at least 50 percent of Yemen’s health care facilities have been destroyed.
According to the ICRC, fully 80 percent of Yemeni population now lacks access to food, fuel, clean water and health care, creating the conditions for the spread not only of disease, but also famine.
In a report released Thursday in Cairo, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said that fully one-quarter of the Yemeni population, nearly 8 million people, was suffering from severe food insecurity, placing their lives at imminent risk. Another 36 percent of the population faced what the agency referred to as “moderated food insecurity.”
Prices of what food is available reportedly shot up 28 percent in the month of November alone, placing basic necessities out of reach for the majority of the population.