What is happening in Yemen?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Last month’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi embassy in Turkey has put a renewed spotlight on the regime of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS). The journalist, often critical of the current Saudi regime, is said to have been killed at MBS’s behest. MBS was hailed as a progressive leader as he led economic and social reforms, like allowing women to drive, but his human rights record is less than stellar, domestically and abroad. One of the issues highlighted is the war in Yemen, one of the worst humanitarian crisis of our times, and one which is fueled by the Saudi regime. Here I want to give a short primer on what is happening there, because we hear about it all the time, but I feel that sometimes we don’t fully care until we understand what is going on.

Where is Yemen?

The Republic of Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, is at the southern tip of the Arab Peninsula. It’s bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north and Oman to the east. Its capital is Sana’a.

(From BusinessInsider.com)
What is this war about?

In 2014, Houthis rebels started fighting the government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who had to take refuge in Aden. Hadi was elected in 2012 (he was the only candidate on the ballots after being Vice-President since 1994… super democratic process!) and, though his government is internationally recognized, refused to give up power in 2014, after his 2-year transitional mandate expired. In March 2015, the Houthis declared a general offensive, thereby starting a civil war.

Who are the Houthis?

The Houthis originate from the North of the country and take their names from their former leader, Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi. They claim to fight for a more economically stable country, a non-sectarian and non-corrupt government, and for an independent Yemen -which to them means free of Saudi and US influence. Though the Houthis are Shia Muslim, many articles I have read report that they do not fight against the Sunni Muslims but against a political government they want to see change.

Who are the main international actors?

Ah, this is where this civil war becomes more than “just” a conflict between an established government and rebels.

Though I just wrote that the civil war may not be related to religion, the Houthis are backed by Iran (whose government and population are also Shia) while the Hadi government is backed by the (Sunni) Saudi Arabia and indirectly, but in a way very directly, those who sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, such as the US and France. Khashoggi’s murder became an indictment on the US-Saudi relation, especially their economic ties. Remember that Donald Trump first said that he wouldn’t jeopardize a 10-million dollar deal with the Saudi over this "incident." A lot of civil society organizations in the US, France, and Germany, among others, have put pressure on their government -even before Khashoggi’s murder- to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia to curtail the war in Yemen and to show their worry over Saudi’s human rights record.

What is the effect on civilians?

According to the UN and other sources, up to 14,000 people have been killed in Yemen, including more than 5,200 civilians, as of the end of December 2017. On top of this, more than 50,000 died because of an ongoing famine, due to the Saudi blockade of Yemen. Children are especially vulnerable to the war itself and to famine.

In Summary

This is a complicated war. The country itself was never a democracy and was never economically independent. Iran and Saudi Arabia are fighting a war by proxy and destabilizing Yemen even more. Yemeni children and their families are victims of the blockade and ensuing famine. The situation is a humanitarian catastrophe. I am able to watch Al Jazeera here in the Philippines (I’m here for a week for work) and they show videos of children terribly thin, starving, dying. This is the reality the children of Yemen face.

What can we do?

Some organizations are working in Yemen to help families and children. If you are able and feel compelled to give, I recommend Save the Children, the IRC, and Doctors Without Borders.
Additionally you can call your representative to ask what they're doing to end US' (or your country's) sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia.


Wikipedia's Yemen Civil War

Sober October - Day 26

Friday, October 26, 2018

Sorry for my absence. this week. There is nothing to report on the home front. I have to admit I'm counting the days until Halloween but I'm holding strong.

I'm thinking of possible posts for November, when this blog will resume its normal themes of family, social justice, and book reviews!

If there's anything you'd like me to dig into, let me know. Right now I'm thinking about a historical fiction / WWII books review and a summary of the situation in Yemen -which is described by many as the worst humanitarian crisis right now.

Have a splendid weekend!

Sober October - Day (2)2

Monday, October 22, 2018

22... or 2 because...

Well it happened. I had a drink on Saturday. We were at a party and a free pina colada was offered. I took it and it was delicious! But frankly I felt so bad the day after that it was not worth it. I was not sick physically but I felt terrible and weak and ashamed. Not. Worth. It.

I know... it was only a drink (or rather an evening because I had wine after that) and I'm back on the proverbial wagon, where I'll remain until October 31st. It's just so easy for me to go down a rabbit hole and have negative thoughts about myself. I have to say I didn't spend the whole day Sunday emotionally beating myself up. I moved on. But I do tend to focus on the negatives, like so many of us do, rather than on the positive (for instance, I could have focused on the good aspects of Saturday night: I didn't get drunk or even buzzed. It was easy not to have a lot to drink. Progress!).

I am actually being intentional about dreaming and setting goals for myself again to prove my mean /demoralized self that I can have self-discipline and that I can achieve something. I used to thrive on goals. I had confidence. And somehow I lost that ability to persevere and go for my dreams. I'm trying to reclaim that.

If you'd like to share, I'd love to hear about a goal you set for yourself that you're either working on or have accomplished.

Sober October - Day 17

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Well, I’m not struggling anymore, which is nice. I mean I’m looking forward to Halloween because it’ll be fun and heyyyy I like Chardonnay, but right now, I'm not craving wine in the evenings. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about my mother and what alcohol stole from our relationship. My mom was a bright and interesting woman. She and I should have been able to talk about a lot, from politics to work to babies and everything in between. But we never could. Oh sure, when she was sober I could tell her a bit about my struggles, and she was a great listener, but that was… when she was sober. She was drunk a lot and, especially during my teenage years and in my 20s, she was a mean drunk. A violent drunk. She was drunk at my wedding and on the day my two boys were born. I left home at 15 and lived at a boarding school during the week, so I avoided a lot of her drunk evenings and rages, but I still had my share of phone calls and terrible words flung at me. I walked on eggshells at home. I couldn’t confide in her because she would throw issues back at me when she was angry. So little by little I talked less, I confided less, and after years of that, I didn’t have much to say, whether she was sober or not. I’m not upset at her -not anymore- but at the addiction, at the could-and-should-have-beens, at the loss of a relationship that I can only imagine could have been fulfilling and stabilizing.

I am not a mean drunk -at all- but I never want alcohol to take anything from the relationship I build with my children and my spouse.

Sober October - Day 15

Monday, October 15, 2018

Woot, 15 days!! I'm halfway there. This weekend was easy because I was super sick. I laid on the couch all weekend long -which was actually a nice, albeit mandatory, way to relax.

I wonder what I'm going to do after November. I listened to a podcast about drinking less on Scummy Mummies (I cannot recommend this podcast enough. It's hilarious and relevant) and the guest said that after stopping for a month, her new rule is "No more than 3 drinks, 3 times per week." Now, that's still over the recommended health guidelines and I'm guessing Brits' glasses are slightly smaller than mine. Case in point: in the book I already mentioned about a mom's sobriety, the author wrote that she had one glass when the kids came home from school, and another one when she cooked, and then others and pretty soon she had been drinking 6 glasses, which was, to her ONE bottle of wine. Ha. Yeah that would be 2 bottles of wine with my heavy pour. So I'm going to do 3 SMALL drinks 3 times a week if 3 times a week is warranted. I don't want to drink 3 times because I said this would be the new normal. The fewer days the better!

Sober October - Day 12

Friday, October 12, 2018

Happy Friday! It's going well here. Joe was gone yesterday evening and the boys were chatty and lovely. And then continued to be really agreeable this morning, which made the usual chaos and rush quite easy.

I saw a doctor yesterday to get a refill on medication (Lexapro. Take good care of your mental health, everyone) and when he asked me how much I drank I felt like a badass saying "I am not drinking this month" He asked me whether I drank a lot before and whether I felt pain in my body when I drank and when I answered yes to both... he left it at that! He said "Ok. Anything else?" Imagine if I were shyly trying to tell him I needed help... he would be a very hard doctor to speak to and I'd leave as broken and helpless as when I arrived. I read once that doctors are not well trained to recognize addiction and don't really want to talk about it. I saw that yesterday. I was quite taken aback. Add that to the wine culture that's part of suburban motherhood (while looking for memes to illustrate this I found this good article) and I can only imagine the number of women drinking too much, knowing it, and not able or equipped to do anything about it.

I hope you all have a good weekend! Talk to you all on Monday.

Sober October - Day 10

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Today was quite a good day -probably because I was busy all day at work and this evening with hockey. That helps! The last few days haven't been bad but there is always an hour (6-ish) where things go wrong for everyone and poor Joe must think "woman, get some wine and stop yelling!" 20 more days. I can do this.

I read a book about a mom working on complete sobriety. She said that, because addiction is hereditary, she wanted to make sure her children didn't develop an addiction. She said that one of the main red flags is an "all or nothing" attitude, an ability to focus on one thing and go all in. And it's interesting because I used to be like that for sure. Joe is still like that to a degree. And Leo is definitely like that. Now I don't want to assign Leo with an "early warning for addiction" diagnosis, but I don't want to miss anything either. And one reason I want to drink less is to show my boys that they can have a good evening or a meal with friends without alcohol. I don't want them to normalize wine so much that it's an integral part of their lives -which would make it much easier to take up that habit once they're older. Monkey see, monkey do, right? Conversely, I'm reading books and watching good TV programs, so hey, it's not all bad.