On this episode, Roqayah and Kumars speak with Afrah Nasser, an independent Yemeni journalist and blogger. In 2011, she was forced to seek asylum in Sweden due to her vocal participation in the revolution against the government of Yemen’s long-time president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Afrah helps us understand the current conflict in Yemen, where a Saudi-led, US-backed intervention in the Yemeni civil war has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians, and created a massive humanitarian crisis for millions more.
We learn a bit of Yemen’s political history, including how former President Saleh was able to maintain his grip on power for decades, and what finally led to his removal from power in the 2011 revolution. We hear about the weak government that followed, led by former Vice President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, and the failures of that government to reach a negotiated peace in the country.
Afrah tells us about the Houthi rebellion, beginning in 2004, which succeeded in deposing the Hadi government in 2015, plunging the country into a civil war. We discuss the strange alliance between the Houthi rebels and forces loyal to former President Saleh, who were once bitter enemies. We also discuss the Saudi Arabia-led, US-backed coalition that intervened on behalf of the Hadi government, in an attempt to stifle democracy in Yemen so it cannot threaten Saudi power in the region. Afrah tells us about war crimes committed against Yemeni civilians by both sides of the conflict, and the role that Western governments like the US government plays in perpetuating the violence.
We focus on the recent “double-tap” strike by Saudi jets, using American bombs, that killed over 140 and injured over 500, where a funeral was bombed and then jets circled back around to bomb the same area to target first-responders. We also discuss the often-overlooked humanitarian crises affecting millions of Yemenis, including a cholera outbreak, famine, and extreme water shortages, and the role that actors on both sides of the war play in exacerbating these devastating circumstances. Finally, we ask Afrah what she sees as the path to a lasting peace for the country.