World View: Yemen War Sharply Intensifies, as ‘Truce’ is Offered.

The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Rohingya ‘death camps’ and ‘slave camps’ found in southern Thailand
  • Yemen war sharply intensifies, as ‘truce’ is offered.

Rohingya ‘death camps’ and ‘slave camps’ found in southern Thailand

Suspected ethnic Rohingya migrants, who were rescued by Thai officials from a jungle (Asia News Network)
Suspected ethnic Rohingya migrants, who were rescued by Thai officials from a jungle (Asia News Network)

In 2012 and 2013, we reported several times on massive slaughter by Buddhists of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (Burma), led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu. The violence left hundreds dead, and 140,000 homeless. ( “5-Apr-13 World View — Meiktila, Burma, violence has echoes of Kristallnacht”)

At that time, it was clear that thousands of Rohingya families were fleeing for their lives from the Buddhists, though it was not entirely clear where they were going.

It has now become more clear what happened to them, with the discovery of “death camps” and “slave camps” in southern Thailand.

Thousands attempted to flee to various countries, including Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China. Those with money could be transported to safer locations.

Many of them reached Thailand by cargo ships, and then attempted to travel south to Malaysia, where they could obtain work. But many of them did not make it. According to one expert, “in remote jungle camps in Thailand, transnational criminal networks are beating and torturing their captives in an attempt to extract ransom payments from their families and friends.” Those failing to pay ransom are sold to the fishing industry as slave labor or forced to work in the jungle camps.

Many of them starved to death or were simply killed, and dumped into mass graves. Within the last few weeks, some of these mass graves have been discovered, along with the slave labor camps where the others worked. There are reports of similar camps in Malaysia. Bangkok Post and Straits Times (Singapore) and Nation (Myanmar)

Yemen war sharply intensifies, as ‘truce’ is offered.

Saudi Arabia announced on Thursday a significant escalation of its attacks on the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen. The escalation was triggered by Houthi cross-border artillery attacks on villages on the Saudi side of the border, forcing the Saudis to close schools and hospitals, and evacuate some villages. This was described as a “red line” by the Saudis.

The Saudis announced on Friday that the entire province of Sadaa would be considered a “military target,” and subject to air strikes. Sadaa is in north Yemen, right on the border with Saudi Arabia, and is the stronghold of the ethnic Houthis.

Before blanketing Sadaa with airstrikes, the Saudis dropped leaflets warning civilians to leave the area by Friday evening. They were given only 2-3 hours’ notice. Because of the war, there are shortages of gasoline/petrol for cars and buses, so many Houthi civilians are trying to escape the airstrikes by walking. However, thousands of civilians have no place to go anyway.

The Saudis say that on Friday and Saturday, there were 130 airstrikes at 100 sites, targeting tanks, command centers, military vehicles, and weapons stores. Some of the airstrikes targeted hospitals and schools, because they were being used as ammunition depots, according to the Saudis.

The Saudis proposed a five-day ceasefire, to begin on Tuesday, “provided that the Houthis agree that there will be no bombing, no shooting, no movement of their troops or maneuvering to reposition for military advantage, no movement of heavy weapons.” Under those conditions, the ceasefire could be renewed after five days.

However, previous ceasefire proposals demanded that the Houthis must first withdraw from the cities they are occupying. Thus, the new Saudi proposal represents a significant change of position, and the Houthis view this as a significant sign of weakness.

According to analysts, the Houthis believe that time is on their side, and that international pressure will force the Saudis to back down, giving the Houthis (and Iran) a victory.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the expectation that the Saudis will back down is unrealistic. Many older Americans can recall how the Americans backed down under similar circumstances during the Vietnam war, but America was in a generational Awakening era at that time, with a “generation gap” that brought enormous political pressure from younger generations on older generations. But Saudi is in a generational Crisis era, when such a generation gap does not exist.

In fact, as we wrote last month in “22-Apr-15 World View — Patriotism and nationalism surge in Saudi Arabia, but not in Iran”, the Saudi people are in no mood to back down to the Houthis, and give an enormous victory to Iran.

For those reasons, the most likely scenario is that airstrikes by the Saudi coalition will increase, and that the next step will be a ground war between the Houthis and Saudi coalition ground forces. AFP and AP and Saudi Press Agency #1 and #2 and #3 and #4

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Myanmar, Burma, Rohingya Muslims, Buddhists, Thailand, Ashin Wirathu, Malaysia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Houthis, Iran, Sadaa
Permanent web link to this article
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.