Saudi Arabia's war against Yemen continues. By August 9, the main airport in northern Yemen - Sana'a International Airport - had been out of commission for the past year. This has meant great hardship for people as humanitarian relief could not reach the country easily and as those with medical problems could not exit the country. Relief agencies released a letter pointing out that more people died this past year because the airport has been closed by the Saudi bombardment than have died from the actual fighting. This, essentially, was the main focus of my report that appeared yesterday at Alternet. You can read it here. There are some painful stories here.
The United Nations should very well have sanctioned Saudi Arabia for its bombardment of the airport and for its refusal to allow the airport to open once again. But it did not. Pressured from all sides, Saudi Arabia now says that it would consider allowing the airport to open if it is managed by the United Nations. There is no question, as I note, that war crimes continue to be committed here by the Saudi coalition. More needs to be done about this atrocity. But I am not optimistic about any real action.
The problem, as I note once more, is that Saudi Arabia remains paranoid about Iranian interference not only in Yemen but elsewhere in the region. As Donald Trump continues to bang on about 'fire and fury' to be dispensed against North Korea - a seriously dangerous flashpoint - then it is realistic for the Saudis to imagine that the United States might bomb Iran - which does not possess nuclear weapons - before the year ends. That was the essence of the eight minute conversation I had on RT yesterday, which you could watch here. None of this is pleasant. War lingers on the horizon. As I had written last week, if you believe that West Asia is in chaos now, if the US bombs Iran we will have to invent a new word for the situation then.
As talk of war emanates from the White House, I've been reading about wars in the past. We are just a few days past the anniversary of the US atomic attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A very good time to re-read Dr. Michihiko Hachiya's Hiroshima Diary (1955). His recollections of the aftermath of the bombing are powerful:
- Those who were able walked silently toward the suburbs in the distant hills, their spirits broken, their initiative gone. When asked whence they had come, they pointed to the city and said, 'That way', and when asked where they were going, pointed away from the city and said, 'This way'. They were so broken and confused that they moved and behaved like automatons. Their reactions had astonished outsiders, who reported with amazement the spectacle of long files of people holding stolidly to a narrow, rough path when close by was a smooth, easy road going in the same direction. The outsiders could not grasp the fact that they were witnessing the exodus of a people who walked in the realm of dreams.
The picture above is Massacre in Korea by Pablo Picasso (18 January 1951). It is not as well known as some of his other paintings. The painting can be seen at the Musee National Picasso, Paris. It depicts the 1950 Sinchon Massacre, when anti-Communist South Korean forces with full support by the United States conducted a brutal massacre of civilians. It is said that somewhere between 30,000 and 35,000 people were killed between 17 October and 7 December. It is worth looking at Picasso's painting, thinking about the Sinchon Massacre and of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Picasso had been to the World Peace Council meeting in Warsaw (Poland) in October 1950. He heard from Alexander Fadeyev, the Soviet writer and author of The Young Guard (1945). Fadeyev said, 'Under our eyes, literally in a couple of months, an immense country, governed by men bursting with all the wealth and all the earthly goods, has transformed another country of thirty million inhabitants with a centuries-old past, into a heap of ruins, in dust and ashes. The country bathes in the blood of children....All the fascist atrocities which gave rise to the trials in Nuremberg are revived under the eyes of the mothers of martyred Korea'. Picasso was moved by this. He kept Fadeyev's speech - in the French translation - among his notes. Picasso went home and painted Massacre in Korea.