"Hundreds of thousands of Yemeni children languishing in refugee camps and remote villages are nearing starvation," the Washington Post reports. Airstrikes near the port of Hodeida - main entry point for food, medicine and humanitarian aid into northern Yemen - have slowed the delivery of supplies. Half a million children are severely acutely malnourished. The UN says Yemen is “on the brink of famine.”
U.S.-backed Saudi airstrikes have destroyed roads and bridges across Hodeida province. Unexploded rockets have landed inside the port, further reducing imports and the number of ships willing to come to Yemen. The Saudis are enforcing a blockade that is restricting food imports, and have told humanitarian agencies to redirect shipments to Aden. That would mean vital food and medicine would need to be trucked from Aden through war zones to reach the millions at risk of starvation in the north.
To save hundreds of thousands of Yemeni children from starvation, someone must stop the U.S.-backed Saudi attacks on Hodeida. Sadly, so far Washington has turned a deaf ear to the cries of Yemeni children. But any member of the UN Security Council can demand a meeting to discuss action to save Yemeni children from starvation. Of the fifteen current members of the Security Council, Bolivia and Russia are the most independent of the U.S.-Saudi alliance that is pushing Yemen into famine. A vigorous Security Council debate would put pressure on the U.S. to stop supporting the Saudi assault on Hodeida.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then "#occupy" protesters around the world this weekend just gave the Arab Spring an Academy Award. Of course the chain of inspiration of freedom and justice seekers is unending in history, but there's no question that the Arab Spring opened a new chapter which is inspiring people to protest for justice worldwide.
No doubt at this historical moment many people in the U.S. will be preoccupied, as they should be, more with how #occupywallstreet is going than with how the Arab Spring is going. But we still have reason to pay some attention to the Arab Spring.
Drawing inspiration from outside our immediate environment sometimes allows us to leapfrog over the crusty preconceptions of our historical surroundings. One thing #occupywallstreet, like the Wisconsin uprising, has had in common with Cairo has been an explicit appeal for solidarity to the "security forces." In Cairo, they chanted: "The army and the people are one hand!" In Madison, the conduct of the mobilization for public employee rights defeated efforts of the Walker administration to split the police politically from other public employees. Today #occupy protesters are telling police, "You are the 99%!" You could look at the police as armed employees of the state who have to follow orders to "maintain public order," or you could look at them as public employees who are largely unionized members of the working class and who often have a lot of discretion in how they interpret their mandate to "maintain public order." Not arresting protesters is a perfectly legitimate tool for keeping the peace, and most police officers and officials know that well. As mom told us when we were little, honey usually beats vinegar.