Within 24 hours, over 30,000 had watched the global online rally on various streaming platforms. The rally was also broadcast on Al Mayadeen, Almanar and Almasirah TV channels across the Middle East.

Maddalena Dunscombe

Protestors in Yemen on January 25. 2021. Via al Mayadeen TV

On 25th of January Stop the War was part of an inspirational international anti-war co-ordination, with over 260 groups from countries across Europe, North America and the Middle East.

Protests against the war were held in Yemen itself, with many thousands flooding the streets. Other rallies and protests took place across the world.

The online global rally was a historic achievement for all those seeking for peace and justice in Yemen. Within 24 hours, over 30,000 had watched the global rally on various streaming platforms. The rally was also broadcast on Al Mayadeen, Almanar and Almasirah TV channels across the Middle East.

To hear from high-profile and legendary speakers such as Dr Cornel West, Jeremy Corbyn and Yanis Varoufakis, confirms to all who have been protesting against the war on Yemen since 2016 that their voices are valid, powerful and are being heard.

There were many highlights from the rally including the inspiring and passionate speech of Dr Cornel West, as well as a moving and honest testament from Yemeni-born British soldier Ahmed al-Babati, who stated: “Human life has been categorized…. At the very top we value western lives, and at the very bottom, the lives of the Middle East.”

This is where the anti-war and anti-racism movements intersect. Dr. Cornel West, who spoke from “The belly of the beast” in the USA, explained that: “We must make the connection between the police murders taking place in the United States…and connect it to the pentagon militarism. It does not make a difference what colour the president is… if they don’t meet moral and spiritual criteria of putting (the least of these) at the centre of their vision, we must raise our voices.”

An important contribution was given by John Finucane, Sinn Fein MP for Belfast North, who reminded us that there must always be another option to war and that no conflict is intractable: “I grew up in Belfast, which was a war-zone in that time. I have seen first-hand that no conflict is intractable, no matter how bad things may seem.”

Finucane went on to explain that the international community played a huge role in ending the war in Northern Ireland – and that diplomacy is always an option, and must always be the first path taken when dealing with conflict anywhere in the world.

After watching Monday’s meeting, I would be surprised to meet anyone who would not want the bombing in Yemen and arms sales to Saudi and the UAE to end. And yet, French National Assembly member, Daniele Obono, explained that as an elected official, she often questions her government on their support of the war; they answer “yes the war is terrible, but it is complex and there is nothing we can do.”

However, the real answer is that from an economic perspective, there would be too much to lose. The arms industry is thriving from this war and for governments to admit that would be unacceptable.

Obono was not alone in this view.

“Why is this war allowed to continue?” asked Lindsey German, Stop the War’s Convenor, stressing that this was the most important question to ask. The answer: “the British government relies more and more on arms sales as a means of sustaining its economy.”

The British government has made almost £15 billion from arms trading in the last 5 years – £10 billion made from selling arms to Saudi Arabia. To witness this prioritisation of weapons production over human life, particularly during a global pandemic, is deeply distressing. Britain’s quest to remain a global imperial power only leads to more poverty and austerity at home.

The newly inaugurated President Joe Biden has promised to pull out of the war – campaigners in America must ensure this promise is kept, while here in the UK we must continue to put pressure on our government to follow in Biden’s footsteps.

In Yemen, the 21 million facing famine and the 233,000 dead have been utterly failed by politicians and the media alike, but there is already evidence that the attention gained from the day of action could be a turning point for the movement opposing this devastating war.

Join our campaign by signing our petition calling on the British government to end arms sales to Saudi.

29 Jan 2021

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