Panel discusses the human rights condition in Marib, solutions for salvation

Press Release | Republic Underground, Timberwolf Phoenix LLC

April 16, 2021 

On April 16, Republic Underground hosted a roundtable to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Marib, once Yemen’s second-largest city, now turned into the largest hub of internally displaced people in the region. The conference was moderated by Irina Tsukerman, Media Vice President, Timberwolf Phoenix LLC. It was joined by Ellie Cohanim, former U.S. State Department staffer, Simone Ledeen former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, and Michael Johns, Sr. founder of the Tea Party, and Nageeb Alsadee, the head of Executive Unit for the Displaced in Yemen.

Tsukerman first asked Mr. Alsadee to give some insights into the status of Marib’s humanitarian crisis. Speaking through his interpreter, Alsadee stated that Marib had become the resettlement home of 1,900,000. These internally displaced people are primarily civilians with approximately 79 percent of them being women. Marib continues to face the pressure and added toll on resources of shuffling the camps and moving their residents from one location to the next in a repeat effort to control the supply chain of resources. The Houthis continue to target the camps directly, shooting missiles in their direction, as well as launching disinformation campaigns against them that falsely accuse the civilian residents of being Al Qaeda forces. Despite this fact, Alsadee noted that the world humanitarian community appears silent on Marib’s behalf.

Tsukerman thanked Alsadee for his insights, noting that most of this information was omitted from the press, then turning the floor over to Simone Ledeen.

“How did the U.S. get involved in Yemen in the first place?” asked Tsukerman, asking Ledeen to give context to how Iran is involved in the region and what the U.S. policies are regarding the offensive.

Ledeen thanked Tsukerman for inviting her to the discussion and then proposed she answer her questions in the order of last to first.

“Talking about the Houthi rebels, it’s important to highlight the close military and intelligence they share with Iran. At this point, many people describe the Houthis as another Iranian satellite similar to Hezbollah. Iran is and has been heavily invested in the Houthis through the provision of technical knowledge, through the provision of intelligence, and through the provision of weapons,” said Ledeen. She stated, with confidence, that the relationship of Houthis to Iran is a “subordinate” one. She stated that the Iranian regime has used its political gains through the Houthis, with the ultimate goal of attacking Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The relationship between the Houthis and Iranians was unclear until recently. The U.S. gained this intelligence due to the fact that drones were sent from the conflict parameters in Yemen into Saudi Arabia, and Saudi forces were able to exploit them for information.

Ledeen stated that Saudi Arabia has reached out many times to the region for a peace process. Yet, the Houthis persist, attempting to take over Marib in the same way that they took over Sana’a. She noted that there have been “increasingly kinetic” conflict since March, with heavy losses, including heavy losses for the Houthis as well. Ledeen stated that Marib is the last stronghold of the pro-government forces.

“If Marib falls, that’s it for them, I don’t know where they go from here,” said Ledeen. She likewise described Marib as the last safe haven for those refugees escaping the conflict, and stated that it would be beneficial if the international community would speak out.

She then turned her focus to the current U.S. administration’s “very strong desire” to make a deal with Iran, noting that the current U.S. administration’s top priority in the region is to strike a new deal with Iran. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. put its focus on supporting Saudi Arabia’s defense in the region as a U.S. regional partner. She likewise stated that the U.S. intelligence sharing with the Saudis, while miscommunicated, was shared to minimize civilian casualties and improve targeting so that Yemeni civilians would not be caught in the crossfire.

She likewise clarified that the U.S. State Department determined that designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organization would not undermine the traffic of aid into the region, as the U.S. has been advised previously. The Biden administration lifted the designation shortly after it was made, which, in Ledeen’s opinion, was to support the U.S. conversation with Iran.

She likewise clarified that the U.S. State Department determined that designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organization would not undermine the traffic of aid into the region, as the U.S. has been advised previously. The Biden administration lifted the designation shortly after it was made, which, in Ledeen’s opinion, was to support the U.S. conversation with Iran. She stated that without designation and with full support from Iran, the Houthis are unlikely to come to the negotiation table with the Saudi-led coalition.

Tsukerman noted that, even though Obama was negotiating the JCPOA, he still joined the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. She asked then why Biden would feel that it was important to sacrifice Yemen to Iran to reach a deal the U.S. wants with the IRGC. She then asked how other terrorist organizations can benefit from the status on the ground in Yemen.

“What happens in the event that the Houthis do manage to take Marib over?” asked Tsukerman, noted the stakes that surrounding nations, such as Saudi, will face if Marib is taken.

Ledeen stated that Obama’s decision to join the coalition in Yemen was based on the ground realities of the 2015-era when the IRGC was less involved than it currently is. At that time, Al Qaeda was likewise larger and more active in Yemen than it is today, as Al Qaeda has been significantly reduced due to U.S. regional counterterrorism.

Ledeen stated that Obama’s decision to join the coalition in Yemen was based on the ground realities of the 2015-era when the IRGC was less involved than it currently is. At that time, Al Qaeda was likewise larger and more active in Yemen than it is today, as Al Qaeda has been significantly reduced due to U.S. regional counterterrorism.

“I think it was the counterterrorism focus for Obama and his administration,” said Ledeen, noting that the Houthis were not expected to advance to the strength of force they have today and that they never would have without the assistance of Iran.

Ledeen likewise stated that Marib, as the oil and gas hub of Yemen, will be a disaster. She was not sure what the plan was if Marib falls, noting that “all of the eggs were in one basket” for a political solution.  Ledeen likewise stated that Marib, as the oil and gas hub of Yemen, will be a disaster. She was not sure what the plan was if Marib falls, noting that “all of the eggs were in one basket” for a political solution. She noted that the political solution will require more pressure, but as the Houthis are not interested in the negotiations, repeat attacks will continue and Marib will fall.

The floor was then turned over to Cohanim.

“What is the plan now?” Tsukerman asked Cohanim, to detail what the international plan was for dealing with the rising IRGC.

“First, when it comes to Iran, I would like to spend a few minutes discussing Iran’s human rights abuses if I may, because I think it’s important for people to understand that context.” She then detailed the rise of Khomeini in Iran and detailed the leftist movements in Iran that backed the Khomeinist revolution of 1979. Khomeini grabbed power quickly and rapidly executed political enemies including his leftist supporters, which likewise targeted religious minorities. She then broke down the current humanitarian abuses of the IRGC. The political regime had prepared for street protests prior to the reality of mass protest. When Iranians did protest, they were met with extremely brutal reaction from the IRGC.

By editing a former administration’s State Department human rights report, and by delisting Houthis as a terrorist organization, Biden is making a unilateral concession to bring the IRGC to the negotiating tactic.

She wanted the audience to understand that, even as the people demand the regime to relinquish control, the people are gunned down, imprisoned, and mass executed.

 

“There is no one in Iran today who is not targeted unless they are Iranian regime cronies,” stated Cohanim.

Cohanim stated that the 1,500 people killed by the IRGC during the 2018 uprisings had been edited by the Biden administration and reduced to 300 people. By editing a former administration’s State Department human rights report, and by delisting Houthis as a terrorist organization, Biden is making a unilateral concession to bring the IRGC to the negotiating tactic.

She wanted the audience to understand that, even as the people demand the regime to relinquish control, the people are gunned down, imprisoned, and mass executed.

“There is no one in Iran today who is not targeted unless they are Iranian regime cronies,” stated Cohanim. Cohanim then stated that Israel has taken a must-needs approach to Iran’s rising nuclear power, something that the western world must begin to consider and to allow Iran’s immediate neighbor nations to have seat at the table discussing Iran’s policy, as Iran’s immediate targets.

“It behooves the west to be listening to these voices,” said Cohanim.

She then stated that the IMF reported that Iran is on the verge of bankruptcy and that the Iranian regime is on the verge of collapse. The Biden administration thus has all the leverage in the world and can demand hostage release, and hold the region accountable for Houthis, Hezbollah, the Hamas, and other terrorism. She also stated that the U.S. should demand that Iran halt its human rights abuses.

Tsukerman then turned the floor over to Johns. Johns listed the priorities needed to deal with Iran and to taking action against Iran for Yemen. Johns agreed with Cohanims points that forcing Iran to cease its support of terrorism is key.

“The human rights condition I think its almost beyond anyone’s dispute,” said Johns, noting that the IRGC was at war with its people.”

Johns stated that the Biden administration had not had any succesful stance for justifying declassifying the terrorist classifications of Houthis, but rather echoed the U.N. political stance.

He detailed the human rights abuses of the Houthis in brief, which he noted was almost “unfair” to the gravity of the situation. These abuses included preventing WHO organization PPE for the COVID-19 from reaching civilians and recruiting children for combat. These are generally cited as any children under 18, but some children are younger than 12 with some even younger. He likewise noted the major concern of the mass use of landmines and antipersonnel weapons.

He noted that the situation, grave as it is, has the potential to grow exponentially worse. He likewise noted that, in the event of Iran’s absence from Yemen, the situation would have a much greater cause for optimism.

He noted that the U.S. is sending all of the “wrong messages” by relaxing its support of Saudi Arabia and increasing diplomacy with Tehran to bring the Houthis to the negotiation table.

Johns broke down the priorities for dealing with the Houthis and Iran into three key points.

He stated that first the Houthis must be categorically classified as a terrorist organization, based on the fact the definition of attacking civilians for military advancement.

Then, he stated that the most important action the U.S. could take is to regulate the flow of weapons into Yemen.

The ultimate solution then, he determined, was for the full removal of Iran as an influencing force in this independent nation. He noted that Iran was the “gasoline on a fire” in the continued civil conflict.