Peace Economy: Yemen
Tens of thousands of people attend a protest rally in the Yemeni capital Sana’a on May 12, 2017 to voice their outrage at the US-backed Saudi war on the impoverished Arab country. (Photo by al-Masirah) The Yemen war economy that stretches back decades between Shia and Sunni has evolved into a regional power struggle between Shia-ruled Iran and Sunni-allied Saudi Arabia and it’s ally the US. This conflict has become an epic tragedy of destruction and starvation. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations reports that the scale of the food crisis in Yemen is staggering with 17 million people – two thirds of the population – severely food insecure and seven million of these on the verge of famine. “The need for long-term political solutions for achieving sustainable peace in Yemen is unquestionable, but there is much we can do now to fight hunger and malnutrition. We save lives by saving livelihoods,” Graziano da Silva said of FOA. It is time for a peace economy between Shia and Sunni, between America and Iran to save Yemen and the Middle East. The Yemen people want peace not more destruction.
Disillusioned with the transition, due to the lack of democratic and economy progress, many ordinary Yemenis – including Sunnis – supported the Houthis and in September 2014 they entered the capital, Sanaa, setting up street camps and roadblocks, later toppling the government. In response, the Sunni kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries launched an air campaign against the Houthis with support from the United States, UK and France.
The campaign has only made Yemen’s local problems worse. It has so far failed to bring peace or restore democracy. The latest figures show that the fighting and airstrikes have killed more than 12,000 people and displaced at least 3.3 million, the United Nations says. Twenty people are dying every day, many of curable diseases because barely 45 percent of the health facilities are functioning. A Human Rights Watch report, referring to the UN panel’s findings, notes that the panel documented attacks on camps for internally displaced persons and refugees; civilian gatherings, including weddings; civilian vehicles, including buses; civilian residential areas; medical facilities; schools; mosques; markets, factories and food storage warehouses; and other essential civilian infrastructure, such as the airport in Sana’a, the port in Hodeidah and domestic transit routes.” Nearly 3.3 million Yemenis, including 2.1 million children, are currently suffering from acute malnutrition, while more than seven million people are grappling with starvation. The figures, however, could drastically increase if the US fed Saudi war machine continues to rain destruction on the Yemeni people. Yemen’s war economy has created a nationwide humanitarian crisis of of destruction, suffering and more bombing, killing will not bring peace, save lives or livelihoods. Yemen needs urgently to switch to the peace economy.
As Graziano da Silva says:””If we don’t urgently address the needs of rural people – who make up 70 percent of Yemen’s population – we will not have the prospect for a better future.” The first step towards a Peace Economy is food and water.
FAO is doing its best to respond to the crisis on many fronts and with limited funding. So far this year, FAO has reached 450 000 people with a mixture of animal health, dairy, animal feed, crop and vegetable production. In Yemen, at a cost of $220 per family, a crop kit can yield enough food for about three months. A vegetable kit costing $80 per family can yield enough vegetables that families can eat and even sell to their communities all year long. FAO is working closely with the World Bank, the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and others to increase food production, maintain and enhance livelihoods, protect and public health. Yemen a country of scenic beauty has terrace farm fields that date back to the 3rd millennium BCE. For a faction of the cost of creating famine America could make it’s citizens safer by helping farmers feed their families.
The good news is water can be at the core of peace in Yemen. Water management can be an instrument of regional cooperation to promote human development and security, and not an activity to be pursued for its own sake. A recent study by Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) on 205 shared river basins from 148 countries concludes: “any two countries engaged in active water cooperation do not go to war for any reason whatsoever, including land, religion, economy or terrorism.” The key to peace thus lies in the intensity of cooperation as measured by the water cooperation quotient (WCQ)the report introduces. Singapore and Senegal are examples of how to avoid conflict through good water governance and transboundary cooperation.
To promote active water cooperation, the SFG has developed the Blue Peace approach that transforms water from a source of potential crisis to an instrument of cooperation. Specifically, it consists of creating regional mechanisms for cooperation, engaging mainstream political leaders from rival river-bordering countries, and enabling them to negotiate trade-offs between water and other public goods. Such mechanisms are already in place in Europe, North and South America, and West Africa.
Water diplomacy of Yemen’s water resources management is a road map to the Peace Economy. America needs to stop participating in Yemen’s War Economy, it is not making us safer or is it bringing peace to Yemen, it is only expanding the famine and destruction. In order to save lives, livelihoods, and stabilize democracy America has to halt the coalition air campaign and join with the United Nations to bring food and water to the Yemen people. Water diplomacy requires negotiation among parties and America needs to start talking with all nations and groups. It time to talk with Iran. That will take courage for the US government dominated by males and the women follow on security, will need to stop butting heads, posturing for power, name calling, shouting threats and admit the current war policy is not working and begin to work on a policy of peace with negotiations in order to make the US and nations around the earth a more democratic, greener and safer place. The American people and people around the world have to tell their elected representatives that we want a life of peace with clean water, enough to eat, to be able to earn a living, have education for the children, healthcare, retirement and hope for a better future. A Peace Economy.
The war economy has created broken nations, killed hundreds of thousands, displaced millions, the planet is less secure and the future is only more death and destruction. What can change this ominous scenario? Only a bold political act of deep social and economic reforms that can heal a broken society. A courageous policy change from a War Economy to a Peace Economy. A policy change from not talking to talking is the long term solution that can bring stabilization, economic and democratic reforms to Yemen, the Middle East and everyone else. A economy where progress is measured not by body count, but by how many lives and livelihoods have been saved. The Yemeni People are demanding this and we the people around the world need to add our voices and shout we want a Peace Economy.
Join CodePink and it’s peace partners as we work to help the Yemen People please Donate to Yemen_famine all donations will go to Unicef’s Famine Relief Efforts.
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Shibam is a city in Hadramaut, Yemen, with a population of 13,316 inhabitants (2004) Shibam is famous for its incomparable architecture, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage program.
P.S. Join us for our CODEPINK summer retreat in Northern California from 8/26 –8/27, and our friendship journey to CUBA from 10/29–11/5/17
Various Articles BBC News.
Various Articles Wikipedia on Yemen.
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