To mobilize against this madness and at the same time to present an optimistic outlook for Yemen, the Schiller Institute and the Yemeni organization INSAN for Human Rights and Peace organized a joint seminar on „A Future for Yemen: Instead of Geopolitical Destruction“ on October 13 in Berlin – a new paradigm for construction and development with the New Silk Road in the Middle East and Africa „. More than 60 activists and guests from Germany and Yemen took part in the half-day event, including many young people.
The event was opened with „Dona nobis pacem“, sung by the choir of the Schiller Institute. In her message to the conference, which was subsequently read, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, chair of the Schiller Institute, described the aggression against Yemen as a crime against humanity, for which western governments and the media are also responsible. She emphasized: „When the National Socialists committed the Holocaust against Jews, Sinti and Roma, and people whose lives were not considered worth living, many later said that they knew nothing about all this. That may or may not be true, but today, given the repeated, if sporadic, reports on the genocide in Yemen, nobody can claim that argument! „After killing a Saudi journalist, US Senators are now bringing the Magnizkij law on sanctions against Saudi Arabia into play. „But for every starving child in Yemen, the Magnizkij Act must apply equally!“
Nevertheless, there is hope. China’s Silk Road Initiative has already changed the strategic situation to a great extent, and that also means a concrete perspective on how to build Yemen in the near future. The economic development of Syria is emerging, and the infrastructural development has already changed the situation in the Horn of Africa and thus the immediate neighborhood of Yemen positively towards cooperation and development. In conclusion, Ms. Zepp-LaRouche challenged those present: „Therefore: let us be in the spirit of Friedrich Schiller’s warlike angels and fight for a better order for all humanity, in accord with our true identity as the One Humanity. No one in the world is safe unless the people in Yemen are safe and can not realize their potential for bliss! „
The chairman of INSAN, Aiman Al-Mansor, in his speech, emphasized that the idea of human rights needed to be revived, that it was not enough just to talk about it. „Insan“ means human, and Mr. Al Mansor appealed to all to embrace humanity as a whole in their hearts and thus to give a voice to the victims in Yemen. (More about the goals and activities of INSAN can be found here: http://www.insan-org.de).
The following speeches made it drastically clear how absolutely urgent it is to end this aggressive war immediately. Mr Abdullatif Elwashali from INSAN first described the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen and the consequences. The Saudi air strikes and the blockade of ports and airports have destroyed vital infrastructure, water systems and people’s health care. The port of Al-Hudaida, which is vital for imports and is under constant fire from the Saudi-led coalition, has the highest rate of cholera cases. The psychiatrist Hussein Al-Warith (INSAN) described the shocking reality of millions of children living in Yemen under war conditions and the multiple traumas – the loss of parents and siblings, as well as their own physical and mental injuries. Every child is threatened every day. Military war damage to soldiers is documented, but what happens in children whose bodies and souls are destroyed? How should one treat these children, and will they ever be able to help build their country?
Mr. Mohammad Abo Taleb (INSAN) described the consequences of the Saudi blockade against Yemen. This blockade is a war crime and the Yemeni people are collectively punished. Yemen today is „the largest prison in the world“. The blockade of Yemen’s oil exports (more than 85% of GDP and more than 90% of foreign exchange revenue) meant, among other things, that the state could not pay salaries for more than two years. The collapse of the currency rial caused an unprecedented rise in the price of consumer goods, especially food – if they ever came into the country. There have been a large number of bankruptcies, leaving more than three million people in the private sector with lost jobs and sources of income. The only „legitimacy“ that underlies the blockade and aggression against Yemen is „international silence“.
For the war in Yemen and the German attitude took Engeline Kramer, Green Party politician from Leer (East Frisia), position. She has met many Yemenite students herself, many of whom are no longer alive today. Ms. Kramer condemned German participation in the ongoing arms exports to Saudi Arabia, although this had been decided differently in the coalition agreement, as well as the reluctance of the government to condemn the war against Yemen.
The video of the Saudi air raid (with a laser-guided missile built by Lockheed Martin) at the end of the panel on a school bus on August 9, 1818, which killed 40 children between the ages of six and eleven and eleven adults, shocked many participants who saw this for the first time.
Elke Fimmen opened the second part of the seminar with her lecture „The future of Yemen is the future of the world“. It has long been clear to the so-called international community that the Saudi-led war of aggression and the illegal blockade against Yemen will lead to genocide (see the preface by UN Coordinator James McGoldrick on the UN 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen). It is therefore necessary to ask Friedrich Schiller: „Is humanity morally capable of surviving?“ Today’s „culture of death“, according to Mrs. Fimmen, desensitizes people to the wars that are taking place before our eyes. „We are in a historical situation where the old order has failed and is falling apart. It is up to us to make the future positive in the sense of humanity – for humanity. „
Finally, Hussein Askary, the Southwest Asia coordinator of the Schiller Institute, gave a fascinating picture of what this future might look like in his lecture „A Recovery Plan for Yemen in the New Silk Road Context“ .1 The Plan for Operation Felix Yemen, Mr. Fouad al-Ghaffari, in particular, has a significant stake in Sanaa, was presented in early summer at a conference of the Yemeni Investment Authority in Sana’a, and is now further developed with weekly seminars.
As Mr. Askary has shown, Yemen is geographically well positioned to become „Felix Yemen“ with economic development in the context of the New Silk Road – „Happy Yemen“, as it was called because of its wealth and ancient culture. Yemen is located at the crossroads of the Maritime Silk Road and the Land Bridge and in the immediate vicinity of the Horn of Africa, where China’s infrastructure projects have already begun a far-reaching peace and reconstruction process.
Mr. Askary stressed that it was important not to repeat the mistakes of the past, which made Yemen the poorest country in the region even before the war. After the end of the war immediate war damage would have to be rectified immediately, but then it would be necessary to build up the infrastructure and an own industry and agriculture, instead of relying again on oil exports and being completely dependent on imports.
The productivity of the entire country can be completely transformed by development corridors, Askary said, focusing on the most important geographic and population-based north-south axis, from which more corridors can serve as the backbone of the entire country. This is also a prerequisite for the continued existence of Yemen as a unified state. A key element of the construction strategy is the construction of a rail link from Saada in the north to the southern port of Aden. This project is comparable in terms of both its extremely mountainous position and length (607 km) to the Mekele-Weldiya-Awash (622 km) railway line now built by China in Ethiopia, which is expected to be completed within four years.
Unlike propaganda in the West, Askary said, Yemen’s greatest potential lies in its growing and predominantly young population: over 50% of the Yemeni population today is under 15 years old! When the war is over, the youth and Yemeni intellectuals will have the primary responsibility for shaping the future of Yemen itself.
In the ensuing lively discussion, there were many questions about the projects, the political situation, how to make this perspective known to a broad public in Yemen, and how such a program can sustain itself so that it is not destroyed by corruption or outside interference becomes.
But for the people of Yemen to have the chance to realize their right to peace and development, we need an international mobilization that ends the geopolitical war of annihilation and places the new human paradigm on the agenda. And everyone can contribute to that.
1. cf. „Operation Felix The Miracle of Yemen’s Reconstruction and the Connection to the New Silk Road“, New Solidarity 30/2018, https://solidaritaet.com/neuesol/2018/30/askary.htm