Tag Archives: Yemen

Report: Yemenis Agree to Ceasefire, Peace Talks

by Jason Ditz

Reports from pro-Saudi Yemeni officials suggest that both they and the Shi’ite Houthis they’ve been fighting since last year’s Saudi attack have agreed to a ceasefire for “a week or two” in anticipation of peace talks to be held in April.

Details are still scant, but the UN has reportedly been informed of the planned talks, and they are to be hosted in Kuwait. It is unclear so far if the Saudi coalition is included in the truce, or simply their Yemeni allies.

Previous proposals for talks had stalled on demands from the pro-Saudi faction that the Houthis agree to unilaterally disarm and surrender all of their territory. Though it seems unlikely to be the case, the pro-Saudi officials claimed that the Houthis have agreed to do so this time around, and that they agreed to the ceasefire to show “good intentions.”

The Saudis attacked Yemen in late March 2015, vowing to reinstall President Hadi in power. Hadi was installed for a two-year term in office in 2012, and resigned in January 2015, long after that term was supposed to be over. Despite this, Saudi officials insist he is the rightful ruler of Yemen.

Saudis Say They Will Soon Scale Back Yemen War

by Jason Ditz

Saudi Arabia’s military spokesman today announced their intention to scale back military operations against Yemen at some point in the future. They suggested this would happen soon, but that airstrikes against Yemen would continue.

The announcement comes as UN officials took the Saudi military to task for a series of Tuesday airstrikes against a Yemeni marketplace, killing at least 119 civilians. This was the latest in a number of embarrassing incidents of major civilian deaths in Saudi attacks.

[RELATED: Saudi Airstrikes Hit Yemen Market, Killing at Least 41 Civilians]

The US praised the announcement, saying they’d been concerned about the loss of innocent life in Yemen, and welcome the Saudi statement for vowing to bring stability to the country they attacked last year. The US, of course, has participated in the Saudi war, both refueling Saudi warplanes during airstrikes and participating in the naval blockade.

The Saudi war’s stated goal was to reinstall Yemen’s President Hadi, who was appointed to a two-year term in office in early 2012, and resigned in January of 2015 after spurning Shi’ite calls for elections. The Saudis insist Hadi remains the legitimate ruler of Yemen, and expected to put him back in power quickly. A year into the war, however, they only control the city of Aden and some of the surrounding area.

Saudi Airstrikes Hit Yemen Market, Killing at Least 41 Civilians

by Jason Ditz

Saudi warplanes attacked a crowded marketplace in the northwestern Yemeni province of Hajjah today, killing at least 41 people, all of them civilians, and wounding scores of others. Local officials say many of the wounded are severely so, and are not expected to survive.

The attacks centered on an outdoor marketplace and a nearby restaurant, and overwhelmed two nearby hospitals with the number of casualties. Saudi officials expressed “regret” for any “injuries or loss of life,” but insisted they weren’t sure it was true.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) confirmed the incident, however, saying 40 of the wounded civilians were admitted to Abs Hospital, one of the two hospitals which took in casualties. Amnesty International reiterated their call for the US to stop sending arms to the Saudis, saying both unexploded US bombs and fragments of exploded US bombs are showing up around civilian targets in Yemen.

This is the latest in a large number of Saudi airstrikes against targets that ended up being civilian in nature. Over the course of the first year of the Saudi war in Yemen, over 6,000 people have been killed, roughly half civilians, and those overwhelmingly the result of airstrikes.

Pentagon: Number of ISIS Fighters in Iraq, Syria Declining

By Jason Ditz

Desperate to claim some “progress” in the ongoing ISIS war, US defense officials are claiming that their assessment on the size of the ISIS force between Iraq and Syria has declined, and that the best estimates are now between 19,000 and 25,000 fighters.

In 2014, the intelligence estimate was that they believed there were around 20,000 ISIS fighters, though they later conceded that it could’ve been “as high as 31,000,” though there was never really a good effort to square the rather broad estimates.

In that regard, the claim of declining fighters might simply be untrue, with the 2016 estimate just the lower half of the over-broad 2014 estimate. US officials say they aren’t sure the reason of this, but say it could be a combination of the massive number of people they’re killing in airstrikes and efforts to make it harder to get into Syria.

The estimate also does not account for the soaring number of ISIS fighters outside of Iraq and Syria, with large numbers now in Libya, and significant affiliates also setting up shop in Yemen and Afghanistan. All told, ISIS is definitely getting bigger.

UN Report Finds ‘Systematic’ Saudi Targeting of Yemeni Civilians

by Jason Ditz

A leaked report by a UN panel of experts is calling for a formal inquiry into Saudi human rights abuses, saying the nation is “deliberately starving” Yemeni civilians in its war, and targeting civilians in airstrikes in a “widespread and systematic manner.”

The report went on to document 119 attacks on civilians that were likely violations of international law, saying some of the attacks could amount to “crimes against humanity.” They also faulted the Saudis for failing to respect any of the brokered ceasefires.

The incident is just adding to calls among human rights groups for Western nations to stop selling arms to the Saudis, and to stop blocking efforts to get a formal international investigation into the abuses. During the UN General Assembly, an attempt to start a probe into Yemeni war crimes ended when the Saudis complained, and it was agreed the Saudis could investigate themselves.

So far, the Saudis have not commented on the matter, and the US State Department has refused to discuss the report because it wasn’t supposed to be public, saying only that they’re concerned about “allegations of abuse.” The US has repeatedly endorsed the Saudi war, and is continuing to provide both arms and logistics support.

Saudi Airstrike Kills Anti-Hadi Judge in Yemen, Six Relatives

by Jason Ditz

Adding to the soaring civilian death toll in Yemen, Saudi warplanes attacked and destroyed the two-story home of Yemeni judge Yahya Rubaid, killing him and six members of his family. Seven others, including five civilians and two bodyguards, were also wounded.

Rubaid was the judge who oversaw the treason trial against Yemen’s President Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi, who the Saudis are attempting to reinstall. The Saudis, however, deny that the killings were a targeted assassination, saying they were “looking for Scud missiles” in blowing up the house.

While the Scud missile excuse isn’t particularly credible, Saudi airstrikes hit seemingly random civilian homes across Yemen so often that it is virtually impossible at this point to tell the difference between a targeted assassination and their day-to-day recklessness.

Houthi officials reported the strike as one of scores of airstrikes hitting obviously civilian targets just in the past week, saying the Saudis had destroyed 190 homes and killed 220 civilians in the last week alone.

Four Killed as Saudi Strike Kills Yemen Doctors Without Borders Hospital

by Jason Ditz

A new statement from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported a Saudi rocket strike, likely an airstrike, hit one of their hospitals in the Yemeni capital city of Sanaa, killing four people and wounding 10 others, including three MSF staff members.

MSF said they couldn’t yet confirm if the incident was an airstrike or a ground-based rocket firing, but did say Saudi warplanes were flying overhead at the time, and that in addition to the strike that hit the hospital, a second one landed nearby.

MSF Director Raquel Ayora described it as part of a “worrying pattern” of Saudi attacks against medical services, warning that the destruction of the hospital will leave residents in the area without access to healthcare for weeks.

Saudi officials have not commented yet on this latest strike, though historically they’ve offered blanket denials whenever a strike gets them too much negative publicity. This has been particularly true of attacks on hospitals and other obvious civilian targets.

Saudis Escalate Airstrikes Against Yemen Amid Growing Tensions

by Jason Ditz

Though it’s unclear if the timing is more a function of regional sectarian tension or of the Saudis canceling the mostly ineffective ceasefire in Yemen, Saudi warplanes have dramatically escalated the number of airstrikes against targets inside Yemen today, hitting a number of civilian buildings in Shi’ite-held territory.

While airstrikes continued in the contested area around Taiz, much of the increase was deep in Houthi territory, around the capital city of Sanaa and the port of Hodeida. One of the Sanaa strikes destroyed the Noor Center for Care and Rehabilitation of the Blind, wounding three people. The chamber of commerce was also hit.

The Saudis have been facing growing international criticism of the huge civilian toll in their war against Yemen, and the tendency of strikes to hit obviously civilian targets like the blind center are only going to add to the criticism of their targeting methods.

Meanwhile, the “curfew” imposed by pro-Saudi forces in Aden doesn’t appear to be going well, as ISIS bombers attacked the city governor’s convoy in the city today, killing at least one, and according to some accounts two, of his bodyguards.

Saudi Airstrikes Pound Yemen as Ceasefire Falters

by Jason Ditz

Saudi warplanes tend to kill a few dozen people in Yemen on any given day, and despite the newly minted ceasefire today was no different, with Saudi warplanes pounding Houthi targets in several provinces across Yemen. The Saudis did not deny this.

Rather, Saudi officials say they were “responding” to Houthi hostility and that if anything their airstrikes proved that the Houthis are not to be trusted in the ongoing peace talks in Geneva. The UN has a total blackout on media coverage at the talks, so there is needless to say no news there.

Still, fighting on the ground has slowed, if not totally stopped, so there is some relative calm in some parts of Yemen. Saudi officials, however, say this too could “collapse at any moment” with a full resumption of hostilities.

A prisoner swap between the two sides, meant to be a confidence-building measure, was also halted by armed tribesmen in the Bayda Province, who blocked access to the site of exchange, demanding that their own tribesmen also be released in the deal.

Report: Thousands of Yemeni Children Without an Education Due to Saudi Bombing Campaign

On Friday, Amnesty International released a new report which examined five airstrikes in Yemen conducted by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition between August and October 2015. The airstrikes targeted five schools and resulted in the deaths of five civilians and injured 14 others, including four children.

The Saudi government has been leading a coalition of Arab nations fighting in Yemen’s civil war since March 2015. Due to online rumors, the schools were reportedly suspected of being used for storing weapons. However, the report, ‘Our Kids are Bombed’: Schools Under Attack in Yemen‘, found no evidence that any of the schools had been used for military purposes.

Although students were not inside the schools during the attacks, the bombing has caused extensive damage to local infrastructure. The bombings severely disrupted the education of more than 6,500 children who attend schools in Hajjah, Hodeidah and Sana’a governorates.

On the eve of peace talks in Switzerland, Amnesty International is calling for an independent investigation into the attacks and for full reparation to the victims and their families.

“The lack of investigations by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, and those who provide them with arms and other support, into a growing list of suspected unlawful attacks suggests a chilling apathy for the devastating consequences this war has wrought on civilians in Yemen,” said Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International.

The report states that UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) has found at least 34% of children in Yemen – around 1.8 million Yemeni children – have not been to school since the air strikes first began in March 2015.

Amnesty International also points out that the United States State Department recently approved an arms transfer worth $1.29 billion to Saudi Arabia, weapons which AI claims are used in unlawful killings of innocent civilians such as the school attacks.

“It is simply appalling that the USA and other allies of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition have continued to authorise arms transfers to members of the coalition, despite the clear evidence that they are not complying with the laws of war – international humanitarian law. All such transfers must halt immediately,” said Lama Fakih.

While the United States government and taxpayer continue to fund the global War on Terror and the resulting proxy wars, there are people trying to survive and thrive under the constant threat of bombs raining death from above.

“Right now we are living in fear and terror. Today I saw a plane and I was very afraid and terrified,” said a 12-year-old girl quoted in the report who attended a school in the Red Sea port Hodeidah that was destroyed by bombing in August.

Saudi Warplanes Destroy MSF Hospital in Yemen

by Jason Ditz

Adding to concerns about Saudi attacks on civilians in Yemen, an overnight air raid against the capital city of Sanaa pounded a residential district, hitting several homes, a girl’s school, and destroying a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital.

MSF reported the facility was struck multiple times and left in “wreckage.” The first strike hit the operations theater of the hospital, which fortunately was empty at night, and the staff had enough time to evacuate for the most part before a second missile went careening into the maternity ward.

Two MSF staffers were wounded, but there appear to have been no deaths in the hospital strike, though casualties out of the surrounding area are so far not certain. This is the second MSF facility destroyed in an airstrike this month, after the US destroyed one in Afghanistan.

MSF reported they had provided the coordinates of all facilities in Yemen to the Saudi-led coalition two weeks ago, specifically for fear that the reckless air campaign would mistakenly hit them. There has been no Saudi response from the strike so far, but MSF says that whatever the circumstances, the strike amounts to a war crime.

Leaked Documents Reveal Details about Obama’s Drone Program, U.S. ‘Assassination Complex’

While President Obama has made bold claims about using restraint in terms of declaring war on countries in the Middle East, his use of drone strikes on Middle East targets has abounded.

A new series of documents obtained by The Intercept “offer an unprecedented glimpse into Obama’s drone war” by revealing the inner workings of the United States military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.

During a September meeting with a small group of veterans and Gold Star mothers of slain U.S. military personnel, Obama boasted about being different from Republicans in Congress regarding foreign policy.

“Right now, if I was taking the advice of some of the members of Congress who holler all the time, we’d be in, like, seven wars right now,” Obama said.

“I’m not exaggerating. I’ve been counting. We’d be in military actions in seven places around the world,” Obama continued, referencing the countries of Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan and Yemen, which have all been targets of U.S. drone strikes.

[RELATED: Game of Drones: Majority of Americans Support Strikes, While Uninformed]

The Intercept noted that when the Obama administration “has discussed drone strikes publicly, it has offered assurances that such operations are a more precise alternative to boots on the ground and are authorized only when an ‘imminent’ threat is present and there is ‘near certainty’ that the intended target will be eliminated.”

However, according to documents leaked by an anonymous whistleblower, the actual numbers paint a much different picture. The whistleblower, granted anonymity by The Intercept, said he provided the documents because of the need for people to understand the reality of individuals being placed on kill lists.

“We’re allowing this to happen. And by ‘we,’ I mean every American citizen who has access to this information now, but continues to do nothing about it,” said the source.

[RELATED: Obama Has Sentenced Whistleblowers to 10x the Jail Time of All Prior U.S. Presidents Combined]

From January 2012 to February 2013, as a part of the campaign Operation Haymaker in Afghanistan, the documents reveal that “U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people,” but only “35 were the intended targets.”

The documents note that during a five-month period of the same operation, “nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.”

“Anyone caught in the vicinity is guilty by association,” the source said. When “a drone strike kills more than one person, there is no guarantee that those persons deserved their fate.”

The source also claimed that the program for targeting and locating suspected terrorists, which uses a phone number or email address to locate the target, is very unreliable, and he has come across countless instances where the intelligence was faulty.

“It’s stunning the number of instances when selectors are misattributed to certain people,” the source said. “And it isn’t until several months or years later that you all of a sudden realize that the entire time you thought you were going after this really hot target, you wind up realizing it was his mother’s phone the whole time.”

The source also noted that the military has a practice of “dehumanizing the people before you’ve even encountered the moral question of ‘is this a legitimate kill or not?’”

[pull_quote_center]They have no rights. They have no dignity. They have no humanity to themselves. They’re just a ‘selector’ to an analyst. You eventually get to a point in the target’s life cycle that you are following them, you don’t even refer to them by their actual name.[/pull_quote_center]

In 2012, Ben Swann asked President Obama directly about the “Presidential Kill List” that has included U.S. citizens such as Anwar al-Awlaki. Watch Obama’s response in the video below, as well as Swann pointing out that Obama’s drone strikes have occurred well outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan.



Saudi Warplanes Kill 70 in Attack on Wedding Party

by Jason Ditz

Adding to the enormous death toll of the Saudi war against Yemen, Saudi warplanes today attacked a wedding party near the port city of Mocha, killing the groom and a huge number of civilians, with at least 70 confirmed dead in the latest reports from medical officials.

The attack does not appear to have been “accidental,” like so many other Saudi airstrikes, but rather targeted a Shi’ite wedding because the groom was seen as being “affiliated” with the Houthis. Actually what this affiliation was is unclear.

The timing couldn’t have been worse for the Saudi government, as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was to address the UN General Assembly just hours later, and slammed the Saudi war against Yemen, demanding an immediate end to the airstrikes.

“All sides are showing disregard for human life, but most of the casualties are being caused by airstrikes,” Ban noted. Some 5,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the Saudi war, with virtually all of the major incidents the result of airstrikes.

Al-Qaeda Takes Over Parts of Yemeni Port of Aden

City Was Declared ‘Temporary Capital’ by Pro-Saudi Forces

by Jason Ditz, August 23, 2015

Last Monday, officials from Yemen’s pro-Saudi “government-in-exile” declared the southern port city of Aden to be their temporary capital, with the plan for it to be the nation’s capital for the next five years while Saudi-led forces retake the rest of the country.

Pro-Saudi officials had been hyping the capture of Aden from the Shi’ite Houthis for weeks as a major shift in the war, but as they try to press their offensive, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) seems to be coming in through the back door, and now controls parts of Aden.

Interestingly, there was no sign the pro-Saudi forces were resisting in any serious way, and no signs of major battles inside Aden. Rather, locals said self-described al-Qaeda forces were patrolling the streets of western Aden with impunity, and had raised the AQAP flag over several government buildings, including the port complex itself.

AQAP had already benefitted materially from the Saudi war in Yemen, seizing the port of Mukalla further down the shore. Taking Aden would be a real game-changer, however, as it would be by far the biggest city in al-Qaeda’s possession anywhere in the world, giving them a PR victory akin to that ISIS enjoyed when it captured the huge Iraqi of Mosul.

Throughout the current war, launched in March, the Saudi forces and their allies on the ground have not fought AQAP in any significant way, and have focused pretty much exclusively on the Shi’ites. This has helped them recruit allies by couching it as a sectarian conflict, but this too may be allowing AQAP to gain a measure of credibility in the region.

Saudi Airstrikes Kill 169, Mostly Civilians, Across Yemen

45 Civilians Killed in Airstrike Against Aden Market

by Jason Ditz, July 06, 2015

Saudi airstrikes against Yemeni cities have been a daily occurrence over the past several months, but seem to be escalating greatly today, with a series of strikes leaving 169 people, mostly civilians killed nationwide in the attacks.

The biggest single strike was against the city of Aden, where Saudi strikes hit a marketplace, killing 45 civilians within. 30 others, including 10 Houthi fighters, were reported killed outside of Aden in attacks on checkpoints.

54 people, many civilians, were reported slain in Amran Province, north of Sanaa, and 40 more civilians were reported killed in a strike that hit a livestock marketplace in al-Foyoush. Saudi officials issued a statement ignoring the toll, but insisting they don’t “intentionally target civilians.”

Yet throughout the Saudi war, which began in March, airstrikes have hit a number of residential areas in a number of major Yemeni cities, with a huge portion of the overall death toll in that period civilian bystanders. Strikes have hit the Shi’ite Houthis as well, but have not significantly changed the territorial possessions within Yemen.

The UN has been calling for a new round of peace talks, which seem even less likely tonight as Saudi forces escalate their attacks. The Saudis did not directly participate in last month’s failed talks, but their allies in the former Hadi government did, starting a fistfight during a Houthi press conference.

Crisis in Yemen Escalates As Houthi Rebels Claim to Have Shot Down Moroccan Fighter Jet

On Sunday, Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen agreed to a five-day humanitarian cease fire starting Tuesday with Saudi coalition forces, who are intervening in Yemen’s civil war between Saudi-backed and recently deposed Sunni Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Houthi rebels representing the nation’s Shiite minority. However, hostilities appear to have escalated today amid reports cited by Reuters that a Moroccan F-16 fighter jet disappeared during a Saudi Arabia led mission in Yemen’s Saada province. Military officials in Morocco, one of 9 nations supporting Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen, said, “One of the F-16s of the Royal Armed Force put at the disposal of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia to restore the legitimacy in Yemen went missing on Sunday at 6 p.m. local time.”

Meanwhile, BBC News notes that Houthi-controlled Al-Masirah TV reported today that the plane was shot down by rebels as it flew over Saada province. Saudi Arabian coalition forces, backed by the United States, have been pummeling Saada with an intense bombing campaign over the past three days. Analysts cited by BBC News said that the Saudi coalition appears to be intensifying its attacks in order to cause as much destruction as possible prior to the start of the temporary ceasefire, scheduled Tuesday in an effort to allow humanitarian groups to assist civilians caught in the crossfire. Saudi Arabia previously agreed to send $274 million in humanitarian aid to civilians in Yemen through international human rights groups.

If the reports that the plane has been shot down are true, the downed aircraft would represent the first plane from Saudi Arabia’s coalition to be shot down during the intervention.

“The violent explosions can be heard from anywhere in the city and we feel they could land on our heads. We’re living a life of terror,” said Sanaa resident Ahmed Fawaz, describing civilian life amid Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign in comments to Reuters.

Houthi media director Nasruddin Amer said, according to The Wall Street Journal, “It is our right to shoot down any military plane if they violate the Yemeni airspace.”

Saudi Arabia began sending tanks to the Yemeni border on Monday, raising fears of an imminent ground invasion. Saudi coalition spokesperson Brigadier General Ahmed Aseeri denied that the tank strike force was intended to be part of a wider ground invasion and said that the tanks are just refreshing Saudi Arabia’s defenses. “In professional armies, you cannot maintain the same troops for a long time in the field. You have to renew and change your troops,” he said.

Game of Drones: Majority of Americans Support Strikes, While Uninformed

Washington D.C.- Support for American drone strikes overseas has grown to over 60% according to a new AP-/FK poll. A majority of Americans believe that the use of drones overseas to eliminate or kill terror targets is not only a good use of technology, but also serves to protect our men and women in uniform. The poll found that six in ten Americans favored using drones “to target and kill people belonging to terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda overseas,” with only 13 percent opposed and 24 percent neutral. Support among Democrats was at 60 percent and reached 72 percent among Republicans.

According the same poll, fewer Americans support those same strikes when they are asked if innocent Americans could be killed during a strike. 43% of those polled say that American casualties are “unacceptable”.

“Americans are programmed to think they are better than everyone else,” Marjorie Cohn, Professor of Law at Thomas Jefferson University told Ben Swann. Cohen noted that mainstream media does not show the results of drone strikes, making it easy for the public to believe they are precise, clinical and don’t cause civilian casualties.


Interestingly, the AP/GFK poll did not ask respondents about the use of drones when there are foreign civilian casualties. Nor did it ask respondents about whether they support the use of drones even if it creates “blowback” or retaliation for innocent people killed.

Deputy chief minister of Pakistan's Nort

“Americans are told, ‘We’re getting the bad guys, no Americans are getting killed, so naturally they are going to support [drone strikes],” Cohn said. “They don’t realize that less than 2 percent of people killed by drone strikes are high-level Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, and that nearly a quarter of those killed are civilians. That makes people in other countries resent us even more. It makes us even more vulnerable to terrorism.”

Watch Ben Swann’s Full Interview With Marjorie Cohn Here:

Witnesses Confirm First Saudi Ground Troops Arrive in Yemen

‘Limited’ Deployments Center Around Aden Port

by Jason Ditz, May 04, 2015

Weeks of Saudi airstrikes against Yemeni cities have extended into the first deployment of ground troops over the weekend, with witnesses confirming Saudi special forces on the ground in Aden, backed by helicopter gunships.

Saudi officials had denied yesterday that there was any “major” operation ongoing, but had declined to discuss exactly what was happening in Aden, a city seen as extremely important to their war effort.

In previous weeks, Saudis had tried to drop weapons to the remnants of former President Hadi’s forces, hoping this and the airstrikes would shift the tide of battle against the Shi’ite Houthis, who control most of the rest of the country.

Not making much progress that way, the Saudis seem to be bringing in the first of their ground troops. With massive numbers of troops massed around the northern border, this may just be the first of a full-scale war.

image via Wikipedia

“Americans Don’t Know What The Hell Is Happening In Yemen” says Activist

Washington, D.C.- Hundreds of Yemeni civilians have found themselves in the crossfire of the Saudi-led bombing campaign that is in its second month, while Yemeni-Americans watch in desperation at the brutality taking place.

The Saudi’s are bombing the largest cities in Yemen in an attempt to destroy gains made by Houthi rebels who are overthrowing the government of Yemen. The Saudis claim that the Houthis are a proxy force fighting on behalf of Iran, even though the Houthis are a native tribal group from Yemen.

Since March 26, 2015, more than 750 Yemenis have been killed by Saudi airstrikes, over 2,500 have been injured and more than 150,000 people have been displaced. None of that reflects the incredible destruction to the nation’s infrastructure as more than 12 million Yemenis are facing food and water shortages.

Ben Swann speaks with Yemeni activist Rabyaah Al-thaibani about the plight of the country’s citizens and their struggle for survival.

(Watch) MSNBC To Earnest: How Can You Keep Calling Yemen A ‘Success Story?’

By Al Weave

A cadre of MSNBC personalities challenged White House press secretary Josh Earnest Thursday morning over the administrations refusal to dial back its propping up of Yemen as a counterterrorism “success story.”

Appearing on “Morning Joe,” Earnest tried pushing back against host Mika Brzezinski and White House correspondent Chris Jansing, telling them the U.S. still has “resources in the broader region” to carry out their counterterrorism operations even though Yemen isn’t a stable state anymore.

“Should we dial back on the words that it is a success story, when you have the president fleeing on a boat?” asked Brzezinski, who asked if the state is a success multiple times.

“The fact is that even though U.S. personnel is no longer in Yemen, the United States continues to have the capacity and resources and reach to be able to take strikes when necessary against extremists operating there,” Earnest said.

“How, Josh? How, when you have the embassy closed, Americans have left, you have the parliament that has been dissolved, you have the president fleeing on a boat, maybe towards Djibouti?” asked Jansing. “You have so many less possibilities for intelligence on the ground. How can you say that we are still in a counter-terror situation there?”

“We do continue to be in touch with some elements of the Yemeni government. Obviously, that effort at security cooperation is not as robust and as successful as it would otherwise be if the Yemeni government were stable,” Earnest said. “But the United States continues to have resources in the broader region that we can use to strike terrorists if necessary, and the president has indicated a commitment to using those resources to keep the American people safe.”

Brzezinski and Jansing’s questioning of Earnest comes a day after the White House spokesman was grilled by the likes of ABC’s Jon Karl and Fox’s Ed Henry, who both openly questioned how the administration continues to downplay the Yemen situation.

[h/t: Mediaite]