US-Saudi military adventures have led to genocide in Yemen: activist

What Saudi Arabia is doing is state sanctioned terrorism. It could even be accurately labeled genocide. What the US did in Iraq was also state sponsored terrorism. And it supports the Israeli terrorist attacks on the Palestinians. When US "interests" conflict with the rights and welfare of human beings, the interests always win -- no matter what the cost.


Best known for his portrait series “Americans Who Tell the Truth”, Robert Shetterly was born in 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States.  He was active in both the Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam war Movements. Since 1990, he has served as the President of the Union of Maine Visual Artists (UMVA), and a producer of the UMVA’s Maine Masters Project, an on-going series of video documentaries about Maine artists.  Mr. Shetterly was interviwed by on the ongoing Saudi-led war in Yemen. 



It has been 10, 11 months now that a country is bombarding Yemen and destroying cities; why does the US administration support it?

What Saudi Arabia is doing to Yemen is a war crime. And it is being done with US weapons and help. There are a few possible reasons why the US is supporting -- once again -- an atrocity in the Middle East which is causing horrible suffering to civilians and children. The first is that the US wanted the Saudis to support their new agreement to normalize relations with Iran --- end the sanctions and limit nuclear development. In exchange, the US supported the Saudi attacks on Yemen, and wanted to prove to the Saudis that normalizing relations with Iran didn't mean we would stop supporting them.  But there is more to it, of course. US weapons manufacturers have made billions --- maybe as much as 10 billion dollars now --- selling weapons to Saudi Arabia for this war. It seems, sometimes, the primary reason for some of the US military adventures is solely to keep this industry making huge profits. The US is providing logistical and intelligence support as well as the active use of US drones to target people.


 US governments have always claimed to be advocates of human rights; is the US-backed Saudi aggression in Yemen not a form of governmental terrorism?

Yes, what Saudi Arabia is doing is state sanctioned terrorism. It could even be accurately labeled genocide. The US is party to the same activities that it accuses others of in Syria. What the US did in Iraq was also state sponsored terrorism. And it supports the Israeli terrorist attacks on the Palestinians. When US "interests" conflict with the rights and welfare of human beings, the interests always win  -- no matter what the cost.

Does Saudi Arabia apply the Israeli model of suppressing Palestinians against Yemeni civilians?

At this point I'd have to say the Saudi method is worse -- not that it could be worse to the victims --- but this war is more prolonged than most of the Israeli attacks on the Palestinians. And the Yemenis have even less access to major media news in the US. Most Americans have no idea this war is even going on, much less that the US is helping out. Also, it seems to have different determining factors. The Israelis claim a religious right to all of Palestine; they also want the land and water resources of Gaza, the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. Their policy is a gradual ethnic cleansing. Extreme violence is the common denominator.


In countries that are US allies in the South West Asia and North Africa region, one cannot even speak of elections; how does the US administration sign brotherhood pact with such regimes and claims to be advocating democracy?


Well, I think your question answers itself. The US uses "regime change" for democracy as a cover for power consolidation, resource and market control. It's not that some of the leaders and regimes that the US attacks have good records on human rights but the US often makes the situations worse --- perhaps purposely. Destabilizing countries, creating terrorism, justifies the enormous expense of the US military and intelligence establishment. It's a wonder that the whole world doesn't laugh at US claims of imposing democracy. It's even more of a wonder that US citizens allow it to go on. Many young Americans have been sacrificed for this charade.


 How do you assess the power of Zionist lobby in setting the agenda for American politics? Which candidates is the Zionist lobby backing in the upcoming Presidential election?

It's been suggested that the Zionist lobby is losing some of its clout in the US. There is much more criticism of Israeli policies today than was possible a few years ago. But this criticism is not being made inside our government. Nor is Israel criticized in our major media. And this coming election is a good case in point. The candidates of both parties are rarely asked about Israel/Palestine, but if they are, they all say they support Israel's right to defend itself against terrorism. And, apparently, Israel's right to preemptively attack a pretty much defenseless people. The Zionist lobby supports all the candidates. It wants every candidate to be in its control.

The best attack yet on Israeli control of US politics and media is the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement (BDS). It's very strong in Europe and gradually building in the US. It's powerful because it cuts Israeli profits. It's modeled on the successful economic divestment movement against apartheid in South Africa.


 Senator Bernie Sanders criticized the CIA-led coup in Iran over 60 years ago; how is this historical incident relevant to American foreign policy in the 21st century specially when analyzing Iran-US relations?

Unfortunately, I'd say the overthrow of Mossadegh in 1953 and the return of Shah is very little known in the US. Even though Bernie Sanders mentioned it, there was little follow up by the media. Most people probably had no idea what he was talking about. The history of US subversion of legitimate governments around the world is not talked about. The US doesn't like to dwell on its crimes and hypocrisies. The US media and public do not credit Iran for having any good reasons for disliking or not trusting the US. But we are fed plenty of propaganda about how dangerous Iran is.

 Do you see any signs of hope for ending US hostility toward the Iranian people?

Strangely, I'd say yes, there is hope of ending the hostility of the US toward Iran & the Iranian people. After all of my other answers that would seem unlikely. But if US corporate interests begin making deals with Iranian companies, it will be in the interests of the US to present Iranians as decent people. Unfortunately, such changes are often not made by appeals to justice and morality, to history and peace, to a common interest for the future, but because of the possibility of profit.

Let me add, that many people in the US share my views about the hypocrisy and criminality of our government and know its sordid history.

We know that the rights of all people must be protected as well as the rights of all living creatures. We think of Iranians as our brothers and sisters in the great enterprise to make a peaceful world.

Is there any comment you would like to add?

Thank you for allowing me to answer these questions. You may be surprised to know that I am not asked such questions in this country.