Conflict in Yemen has reached its tipping point.

Yemen separatist militias, better known as Houthis, launched a drone attack last Sept. 14, against Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities disrupting half of the country’s oil capacity and affecting global supply.

No matter how much the Houthis claimed responsibility, the international community thinks otherwise. Mike Pompeo accused Iran of being behind the attacks, the United Nations Panel of Experts on Yemen reported that the Houthis did acquire advanced drones, Saudi officials rushed to present evidence of the wreckage of what it looks like an Iranian made drones found at the site.

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Evidence presented by Saudi officials Photo source: npr.org Amr Nabil/AP

Experts on Nonproliferation Studies mentioned three reasons why the Houthi rebels probably didn’t do it:

  1. Math never lies. There were 17 impacts vs. 10 drones the rebels claimed were launched.
  2. Distance matters. The attack was 500 miles off the border with Yemen, the rebels’ weapons didn’t have the range.
  3. Sophisticated strategy. Houthis could have the technical capability to fly one or two drones into Saudi Arabia, but such a sophisticated attack is less than likely according to Fabian Hinz

After days of going on and off with the assumption that Iran’s was somehow involved in the attack, today, Sept. 20 the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, announced that the Pentagon will deploy U.S. forces to the Middle East focusing on air and missile defense, adding that Saudi Arabia requested the support.

“The president has approved the deployment of U.S. forces which will be defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense.”

The Secretary of Defense reiterated that the United States did not seek conflict and called on Tehran to return to diplomatic channels.

The current conflict makes me think about game theory, specifically the chicken-game on which two drivers drive towards each other on a collision course: one must swerve, or both may die in the crash, but if one driver swerves and the other does not, the one who swerved will be called a “chicken.”

The difference is that instead of a single-car crash, we are talking about countries with real nuclear capabilities on which neither of the leaders would like to be called a chicken.

If we get lucky enough, perhaps the U.S. and Iran decide to play a different game, like the stag game or coordination game: where each of them must choose to hunt either a stag or a hare, and each country must decide on the action without knowing the choice of the other. If an individual hunts a stag, they must have the cooperation of their partner to succeed. An individual can get a hare by himself, but a hare is worth less than a stag.

No matter what game the U.S and Iran decide to play, the fact is, the conflict in Yemen has reached its tipping point.

 


The conflict in Yemen is one of the world’s worst man-made humanitarian disaster, according to the UNHCR, here are “22.2 million Yemenis now in need of humanitarian assistance.” Of those killed in the conflict in the last four years, OHCHR has attributed “4,585 deaths to actions by the Saudi-led international coalition, 1,448 to the Houthi opposition militia and their allies, and 367 to extremists Al Qaeda and ISIL” you can read the full note on the UN News webpage.

Approximately 2 million displaced people now languish in desperate conditions, away from home and deprived of basic needs, they arrived into neighboring countries seeking refuge while their homeland battles for survival.

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Yemen situation 2017

 yemeni crisis 2015Key Actors

  • Ansar Allah, better known as the Houthi Movement a Yemeni Zaidi Shia group who ousted Saleh in 2011 and who has strong ties to Iran.
  • Gulf Cooperation Council, an anti-Houthi coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, who support Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi government.

When did all this disaster begin in the first place?

Starting point

When the last Imam Ahmad bin Yahya died in 1962, Yemen entered a civil war that ended with the creation of two independent states: the Yemen Arab Republic and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDYR)  or South Yemen. One backed up by Saudi Arabia, Britain and Jordan, and the later by the Eastern bloc.

Both regions entangled in intermittent conflicts from 1972 until 1990 when the two governments finally reached an agreement and Ali Abdullah Saleh (YAR) became president of the new Republic of Yemen, and Ali Salim al-Beidth (PDYR) became the vice-president.

While progress was made in forming a unified government and constitution, relations were still strained between the north and south. Conflicts within the ruling coalition led to the 1993 self-imposed exile of Vice President Ali Salim Al-Bidh as political rivals settled scores on their own, leading to a deterioration in the security situation. Despite continuous negotiations between northern and southern leaders, clashes intensified and secessionists from the south conceded in 1994 and consolidated Ali Abdullah Saleh as president of Yemen.

Ali Abdullah Saleh served from 1978 until 1990 president of the Yemen Arab Republic and from 1990 to 2012 as president of Yemen when he resigned after the Yemeni Revolution, and died on December 2017 at the hands of the Houthi movement.

lightbulbDid you know? South Yemen separatists had the support of Saudi Arabia against Saleh, but Ali Abdullah Saleh used Islamic militants to repress the separatists, decades after Saudi Arabia leads an anti-Houthis coalition. Strangely enough, the Houthi accepted Ali Abdullah Saleh help to combat Saudi forces back in 2014, but when they find out about Saleh’s conspiracy to go back to power, they allegedly killed him.

Recommended readings: Johnsen, Gregory D. “The last refuge: Yemen, al-Qaeda, and America’s war in Arabia” and Gelvin, James L. “The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know.”

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Who are the Houthis?

Ansar Allah (“Supporters of Allah”) better known as the Houthi Movement. The group has its origins in the 1990s under the leadership of Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi (ergo the Houthis) who sought to oust Ali Abdullah Saleh due to his ties with Saudi Arabia and the United States, the group is predominantly Shi’a.

By the 2000s, the movement evolved into a military insurgency seeking greater autonomy for Houthi-majority regions, the group pledged to fight Saleh’s corruption, a politically driven move that gained support during the Arab Spring and ultimately helped to oust Saleh in 2012.

What is the Gulf Cooperation Council?

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union consisting of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf except Iraq, namely: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

The purpose of the GCC is to create a “Gulf Union” and counterbalance Iran’s influence in the region.

Led by Saudi Arabia, the GCC seeks to consolidate a common market (created on 2008), a monetary union (designed on 2014 but not yet implemented), and strengthen the Penninsula Shield Force a joint military venture intended to deter, and respond to, military aggression against any of the GCC member countries.

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Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain News Agency via AP)

 


Yemen risks fragmentation if Conflict continues, warns UN envoy – The Irish Times

Chaos in Yemen could enable re-emergence of extremist groups – Martin Griffiths UN Special Envoy to Yemen

Micheal Jansen from The Irish Times, reports that UN envoy Martin Griffiths has warned that Yemen risks fragmentation due to warfare in the south.

Secessionist figures have repeatedly stated their aim is to recreate the independent state of South Yemen, which merged with North Yemen in 1990 to form the Yemen Arab Republic. The Yemeni government refuses to hold talks with the separatists unless they withdraw from Aden, hand over weapons and permit the return of government forces. The Yemeni government accuses the Emirates and secessionists of plotting to fragment the country despite Saudi calls for de-escalation in the south and a return to the battle against Houthi rebels in the north.

Full Story


Migrant Children & Parents to remain in detention facilities for more than 20 days​

Yesterday, President Trump announced big changes regarding immigration processes that according to him will “lead to more humane conditions” for asylum-seeking families and children. But would be? Fact is, taking away the 20 days time limit restriction will do more harm than good because it will undermine access to legal counsel due to the isolation or transfer to other facilities, violate due process rights, jeopardize basic health, the overall safety of detainees, and traumatize children.

Image result for sonia nazario books It is not about cutting off “pull factors for illegal immigration” as Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen states, it is about tackling push factors, is about improving the livelihood of women and children in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala guaranteeing the rule of law, consolidating gender equality in communities, and creating effective non-violent mechanisms to resolve conflicts, transforming root causes for those who are fleeing violence and being pushed out of their homes, not about creating deterrents that will make the journey a more dangerous one.

What is the Flores Settlement?

The Flores Settlement Agreement (1997) compels the U.S. government to transfer minors from border jails into state-licensed facilities as expeditiously as possible; in 2015 court ruled that officials could not hold children in unlicensed facilities for more than 20 days, the time the government said it needed to process their cases.

The argument the Trump administration makes is that the current immigration system, specifically the Flores settlement, helps fuel human trafficking coming across the southern border.

“The driving factor for this crisis is weakness in our legal framework for immigration. Human smugglers advertise, and intending migrants know well that even if they cross the border illegally, arriving at our border with a child has meant that they will be released into the United States to wait for court proceedings that could take five years or more.” – Kevin McAleenan

Mr. McAleenan is right and wrong at the same time, he has a real point the U.S. immigration system doesn’t respond to the needs and problems of modern times; with its static quotas, bans to specific nationalities, strict requirements for current residents, and the burden for immigrants to find a sponsor; the current immigration policies enable trafficking, and until is fixed we will continue to see it. However, he is wrong regarding the use of children as pawns for illegal crossing, since there is no such evidence for that claim, the children at the immigration detention centers either came unaccompanied or with a family member.

Fact is, asylum seekers are fleeing their home countries in Central America because of sexual assault, domestic violence, gang-related violence, and extreme poverty, they need legal counsel, due processes, safety, and be treated with dignity, not criminalized.

More on this topic

Reactions

“Indefinite detention of children is something that we saw in the apartheid South Africa. It’s something that we saw in Nazi Germany. It’s not something that we would ever expect to see in 21st century America.” – Warren Binford

“For the government to be attempting to strip children and families of these protections leaves the door wide open for abuses and poor treatment during the pendency of their case.” -Wendy Young. President of KIND

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“The detention of children can lead to trauma, suicidal feelings, and exposure to dangerously inadequate medical care.” Clara Long, Acting Deputy Washington Director at Human Rights Watch.

“There is no way we can trust that the same administration that let six children die under its watch, and argued that kids don’t need basic necessities like soap and toothbrushes, is capable of regulating itself.” -Jess Morales Rocketto, chair of Families Belong Together

Recommended reading

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The story of a boy’s dangerous trip from Honduras to the United States.

Heartbreaking and eye-opening.


Central America

Central America is the hub for U.S. trade ships and foreign trade through the Panama Canal, and gas lines across Caribbean waters, but is also home to left-wing guerrillas, juvenile gangs, crime syndicates, drug traffickers and smugglers.

With weak and non-democratic governments the region has the highest rates of poverty, child malnutrition, and poor infrastructure, and since 2014 women and children are fleeing their homes by the hundreds of thousands because of poverty, political aggression, gang-related violence and seeking entry into the U.S. via the southern border stressing and dividing communities.

Central America is part of the U.S. sphere of influence, sadly democracy hasn’t been achieved, development is a sketch and peace is still a dream yet to come especially for countries in the northern triangle –Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador- were violence and political instability push women and children to flee seeking asylum in the U.S. thus creating a political problem for local authorities and an international crisis.

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Bullying

Bullying is a type of school violence, the constant and persistent harassment towards an individual, it is intended behavior and never an isolated event.

This type of violence could include verbal abuse, isolation, harassment, physical, psychological and cyber abuse.

Bullying is the repetitive intentional behavior to hurt, harm, isolate and humiliate  a person, this person in most of the cases is a school-age child who is different from the general population because of some sort of disabilities, ethnicity, culture, gender role expectations, personality, immigration status, gender stereotypes, economic situations, political values, and the list just goes on.

Bullying differs from conflict.

  • Conflict is a disagreement or argument in which both sides express their views.
  • Bullying is negative behavior directed by someone exerting power and control over another person.

In general terms, bullying is perpetrated by students against other students, however when we as adults fail to identify those involved in bullying (victim and victimizer) we become part of the problem.

Teachers and school staff are involved too, as stand-by-viewers, adults grant power to bullies and indirectly approve their behavior.

On this topic, in 2016 Unicef made a poll and found “that 30% of those who had been bullied did not tell anyone, 30% told an adult and more than 30% told a friend or sibling; less than 10% told a teacher. Reasons for not telling anyone included being afraid or ashamed, not knowing who to tell and thinking that bullying is normal.” 

What is worst, “children and adolescents who are victims of bullying are not always willing to report these incidents to parents, teachers or other adults either because of fear of retaliation.

Did you know?

32% of 12-18-year-old students in the United States were bullied in the 2007-2008 school year.

According to the National Voices for Equality, Education, and Enlightenment (NVEEE)

  1. Every 7 MINUTES a child is bullied.  Adult intervention – 4%. Peer intervention – 11%. No intervention – 85%.
  2. Biracial and multiracial youth are more likely to be victimized than youth who identify with a single race.
  3. Bullied students tend to grow up more socially anxious, with less self-esteem and require more mental health services throughout life.
  4. Only 7% of U.S. parents are worried about cyberbullying, yet 33% of teenagers have been victims of cyberbullying
  5. Kids who are obese, gay, or have disabilities are up to 63% more likely to be bullied than other children.
  6. 1 MILLION children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying during the past year.
  7. 86% of students said, “other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying them” causes teenagers to turn to lethal violence in schools.
  8. It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. Source: National Education Association.
  9. American schools harbor approximately 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million of their victims. Dan Olweus, National School Safety Center.

Those who are bullied are also more likely to be depressed, lonely or anxious, to have low self-esteem, are prone to self-injuring and addictions, and to have suicidal thoughts or to attempt suicide.

The worst part is, that victims perceive they are not worthy of trust, or that they will not be taken seriously. The balance of power between victim and victimizer leans away from them, leaving an empty space to be filled solely with pain, despair, anger, resentment and a sense of “being broken”

“After so many years of being bullied, I feel so broken inside,

that every day I have to hot-glue myself to go to school.”

8th grader

Bullying is worldwide

Unicef collected data from 106 countries showing that the proportion of adolescents aged 13-15 who say they have recently experienced bullying ranged from 7% in Tajikistan to 74% in Samoa. In 14 of the 67 low- to middle- income countries with available data, more than half of this age group said they had recently experienced bullying.

In 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries,  students aged 10-14, a 51% overall reported experiencing some type of bullying in “the last month.” Being robbed was the most commonly reported experience, followed by being insulted or threatened.

No More Bullying

  • Start being part of the solution, listen to your child before is too late.
  • Effective communication with your child is essential to know if there is a problem at school, or home (bullying also happen there).
  • Trust your child, and do not judge.
  • Embark on straight forward discussions focusing on inclusion over exclusion.
  • Showing respect and kindness toward others, tolerance is the key word.
  • Raise awareness in your community, as many adults are unaware of the extent of the problem and of its negative impact on the well-being of children and adolescents.

Urgent action is needed to address the global problem of school violence and bullying to ensure that all children and adolescents have access to safe and non-violent learning environments.