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EghtesadOnline: Catherine Shakdam, director of Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies says that the war in Yemen is illegal and there is no political will to prosecute leaders of Saudi Arabia.

In an interview with IRNA and expressing her opinion about the crisis in Yemen, Shakdam said, 'What I think is a tragedy in Yemen is that this war has been portrayed as a political restoration. What you have today is an attempt by Saudi Arabia to expand the Wahhabi empire and try to disappear not just the people of Yemen but their faith.

'What is happening today in Yemen is a genocide; religious genocide, cultural genocide and an attempt by foreign powers to obliterate the voice of people to resist against tyranny.

'Whenever people have risen up against their tyrants, whenever people have attempted to oppose radicalism which is the expression of Wahhabism, foreign powers have attempted to criminalize those people, trying to build a narrative that those people are the rebels and have no legitimacy. 

'Today you have tyrants, trying to pretend to some form of rationalism; but it is the people who are trying to claim their rights. People have the right for political determination.

'The Houthis have just acted as a banner for resistance movement. The situation in Yemen is not a civil war between Shia and Sunni Muslims, it is the people fighting against oppression. It is an attempt by the people to reaffirm their religious, national and cultural identity and tell the world that they will make the future that they choose for themselves, regardless of what other people may think and want for them. Yemeni people want to be an independent people. 

On war crimes in Yemen by Saudi Arabia, the political analyst said, 'There have been countless war crimes. If you look at March 2016, you have had half of the population being bombed, you have had humanitarian blockade meaning that Yemeni people have been made to starve and prevented from accessing health care, and shelter. 
Civilians have been systematically targeted by Saudi Arabia under the pretext that it is an act against rebel.

'What is happening in Yemen is a genocide. This is a war against humanity. 
Two million children are facing starvation and no one is saying anything about this. 
People have died because they have not had access to medicine that they needed. 
Saudis have decided that the Yemeni people are not worthy of being treated in hospitals and receive health care. 

'You have had the entire United Nations standing by Saudi Arabia as it had committed war crimes after war crimes. This war is illegal. 

To a question if it is possible to prosecute Saudi leaders by the International Criminal Court, Shakdam said, 'It is possible, but we lack political will. I do not think the UN would be tempted to blacklist Saudi Arabia for the war crimes against the children. 
Saudi Arabia has become so powerful and can leverage with the officials. 

'You cannot talk about justice when you have Saudi Arabia sitting at the head of UN Human Right Council. Even though I would very much like to see Saudi Arabia being sent to court and answer to the world about the crimes that it has committed, I do not think it is going to happen, because we do not have the kind of leadership that people deserve to see this kind of justice being applied. 

'It is a tragedy itself that western powers think that they have the answers when they actually are the oppressors.'

Asked why the Western powers support Saudi Arabia, the political analyst said, 'It is about capitalism. They only care about how much money they can make by selling weapons to tyrants. When you see UK or France talking about democracy and then supporting Al-Saud or Al-Khalifa, how can you take them seriously? 

'They want imperialism to inflame as much country they can so that they would be able to benefit, control and make money. When you look at the western world, there is no more democracy; they have tried to drive God away from the public and make religion a crime. They have attempted criminalize people who believe in God. What they are doing is a crime at a grand scale. There is no more morality and ethics in the West.

Talking about her opinion about the role of Iran in the Middle East, Shakdam said,' For a long time the war against Yemen has been portrayed as a proxy war. A lot of media have accused the Houthis of being supported by Iran, but this is not the case. 
If there is support, it is ideological. Iran has supported the right of democracy and that people resist oppression and fight for freedom. 

'Yemen is not Syria, Iran has not sent troops, it has not aided the Houthis in terms of money; because if they had, Houthis would have won against Saudi Arabia a long time ago in the same manner that in Syria the army has managed to advance against Daesh and are winning the battles. 

*** Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen. She is also the Director of Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies.

Yemen war Catherine Shakdam Shafaqna