ACTION ALERT: Call the White House! Stop Blocking Relief Shipments to Victims of Yemen War
May 21, 2015
International Action Center & The Associated Press
The White House has claimed the primary purpose of US Navy warships in the waters off Yemen is to "ensure goods can transit safely" through the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. The Pentagon has said the ships are there "to assure the waterways are open." But if the US is concerned about protecting "freedom of the seas," why does it continue to threatened relief shipments trying to bring food and medicine to the besieged civilians of Yemen? Call the White House.
Special to EAW
ACTION ALERT: Call the White House! The US and Saudi Arabia Must Not Attack a
Civilian Relief Vessel! Let the Aid Ship Pass!
International Action Center
(May 19, 2015) -- The US and Saudi Arabia are threatening to attack a humanitarian aid ship on the high seas! International observers, including US citizens, are aboard. This would be piracy and an act of war!
ACTION: Call the White House now
at 202-456-1414 and 202-456-1111
The message: Let the aid ship pass!
The ship Rescue, chartered by the Red Crescent Society of Iran, is now approaching the coast of Yemen. It carries 2,500 tons of medicine and humanitarian aid for the thousands of Yemeni children, women and men wounded and hundreds of thousands displaced by Saudi bombing. It has international observers aboard, including IAC activist Caleb Maupin.
The Saudi bombing and blockade of Yemen is Washington's war. The brutal, corrupt, oil-rich Saudi monarchy does nothing without a green light from the White House and the Pentagon!
US-made planes, flown by US-trained pilots, are raining US-made bombs and missiles on the impoverished land of Yemen.
The Saudi military is violating the ceasefire signed on May 12.
It is using white phosphorous bombs on civilians.
It had blockaded the poorest country in the Middle East and is blocking food from reaching hungry children.
We remember that in 1988 the US missile cruiser Vicennes shot down Iran Air 655 over the Arabian Gulf, killing 290 civilians. We know that the Obama administration has been silent when Israeli naval commandos murdered and kidnapped unarmed people, including US citizens, on the high seas.
We must not let this happen again! Call the White House and demand that the president let the aid ship Rescue pass!
As Saudi Arabia Resumes Bombing of Yemen
Let the Iranian Relief Ship Pass!
Deirdre Griswold / International Action Center
(May 19, 2015) -- A Red Crescent Society cargo ship carrying medical supplies, food, water and other humanitarian aid to Yemen from Iran is presently in the Gulf of Aden, due to arrive at the Yemeni port of Hodaida on Thursday, May 21.
Human rights and antiwar activists on board the relief vessel, the Iran Shahed, are urgently calling on concerned people to contact the White House and demand that the ship be allowed to dock in Yemen so the aid can be delivered.
Two days ago, Saudi Arabia announced that, after a five-day pause, it had resumed the bombing of Yemen, begun two months ago with tactical support from the Pentagon. The oil-rich, reactionary kingdom has intervened in a long-lasting internal struggle in Yemen in order to restore a pro-Saudi political figure, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, to the presidency.
Saudi Arabia, a major US ally in the Middle East, has also imposed an embargo on deliveries of food and water to Yemen, formerly a British colony and now the poorest country in the Middle East. Yemen is largely desert, and must import almost all the food for its 25 million people.
The internal struggle and the Saudi bombing have left at least 1,400 people dead since March 19, according to the United Nations.
According to an online database, since 2002 the US CIA has carried out 124 drone and missile strikes in Yemen that have killed approximately 1,100 people. (securitydata.newamerica.net)
'The Blockade Must End!'
Caleb Maupin, a US activist aboard the relief ship, reported in a May 18 message to people in the United States:
"There is no question in my mind about the absolutely humanitarian nature of this mission. I have personally looked inside the cargo areas of this ship and seen nothing but humanitarian items like band-aids, disinfectant, food and bottled water.
"The Iranian Red Crescent Society, like all organizations affiliated [with] the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Society in Geneva, follows seven guiding principles of work. Among them are non-involvement in military operations, non-partisan delivery of aid and volunteerism.
"The Iranians would welcome the United Nations or the International Red Cross/Red Crescent to inspect this ship. But the criminal Saudi regime and its US and Israeli allies are simply not welcome aboard. The Iranian government has made that absolutely clear, and all of us in the delegation of peace activists from Germany, France and the United States absolutely agree with this decision.
"The Saudi regime, which beheads and tortures people routinely, and is currently burning the skin of Yemeni children with the chemical weapon white phosphorous, has no business entering this ship.
"If we have no interference, we will reach Hodaida on Thursday and deliver our 2,500 tons of supplies to the Yemeni people. We have recently been informed that the Saudis have already bombed the port of Hodaida in anticipation of our arrival.
"Let the hungry children of Yemen live! This illegal, immoral blockade must end."
For information on how to send a message to the White House demanding the humanitarian ship be allowed to pass, see the website of the International Action Center, iacenter.org.
US Says Ship's Mission Off Yemen Is To Protect Navigation
WASHINGTON (April 21, 2015) -- The White House on Tuesday played down the role of the US aircraft carrier that is steaming toward the waters off Yemen, saying the USS Theodore Roosevelt will primarily be there to protect freedom of navigation.
The massive carrier will join eight other Navy ships in the waters around Yemen amid reports that nine Iranian ships are heading that way, possibly carrying arms for the Shiite Houthi rebels. Such shipments would be in violation of a UN Security Council resolution, and several of the other Navy ships contain teams designed to board naval vessels if there are concerns the ships are carrying illegal or improper cargo.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the Roosevelt's primary purpose is to ensure goods can transit safely through the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.
But he also said "a specific arms shipment from the Iranians, intended for the Houthis, would be a pretty clear violation of the United Nations Security Council embargo," Earnest said. "No doubt about that."
Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Roosevelt is there to assure the waterways are open. But, he added: "They have moved to that area in response to the deteriorating security situation in Yemen. Many have asked me whether or not they are there because of the Iranian ship convoy or flotilla that is also in the area. That is certainly one of the factors."
The Roosevelt also brings to the situation off Yemen a strong command and control function that could help coordinate any efforts by the other US Navy ships. Carriers don't routinely carry search and seizure teams, and generally would play no role in any interdiction, other than to be a strong show of US military might.
Earnest and other US officials have declined to say what would happen if the Iranian ships try to get into Yemeni ports, or whether the US would be willing to conduct any kind of contested boarding if the Iranian ships refuse to allow a search. He also wouldn't say whether the US notified Iran in advance about the deployment.
"Right now, their ships are in international waters," President Barack Obama said Tuesday in an MSNBC interview. "What we've said to them is that if there are weapons delivered to factions within Yemen that could threaten navigation, that's a problem. And we're not sending them obscure messages -- we send them very direct messages about it."
Recently, US forces requested and received permission to board a Panamanian ship that they thought may be carrying weapons to Yemen. No weapons were found on board. Most ship boardings done by the US are consensual.
Saudi Arabia and several of its allies, mainly Gulf Arab countries, have been trying to drive back the rebels, who seized the capital of Sanaa in September and have overrun many other northern provinces with the help of security forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The US supported the Saudi airstrike campaign, which ended Tuesday and will evolve into a new drive to push the rebels out.
Western governments and Sunni Arab countries say the Houthis get their arms from Iran. Tehran and the rebels deny that, although the Islamic Republic has provided political and humanitarian support to the Shiite group.
Associated Press video journalist Sagar Meghani contributed to this report.