It was one of the scariest moments in my life.
I was playing with my than 1 year old daughter Eva at a play park just off YCMES when hell broke loose. The loud sound was just terrifying and I was shaken to my bones. Mortar fire. It was my first experience. I grabbed Eva and ran like mad heading back to our living quarter´s at Beit Sabri at the same time some people locked up and closed their shops, but mostly, young people came running out on the streets, eagerly heading for the source of the sound. I also remember somebody had told me that mortar fire was unpredictable and to be able to find the exact target, you needed at least 3-4 mortars to measure the right position exact. So I knew 2-3 more mortars where to come. The second struck just before we reached Beit Sabri and it felt like the walls were shaking all around us. I was scared stiff for my daughter who seemed like she enjoyed the situation. I remember I saw Sabri peeking out of his window at the fifth floor of his house, more curious than scared, and I ran inside and sat down in a corner of the first floor with my daughter. The fear I felt was enormous. After only experiencing 3 heavy explosions from mortar fire. I remember I asked my wife:
“How can the locals stand this noise of the explosions and this constant fear? If it goes on like this, it will drive me insane!”
That was back in 2011. Abdullah Ali Saleh was fighting the Al Ahmar Clan and General Mohsen. Sanaa was split up along the areas belonging to these three groups. We didn´t experience anymore mortar fire and even managed to walk from Al Hudaydah to Sanaa together with two Yemeni friends. Now, the end of March 2015, we have a set of new players involved fighting for the power in one of the most interesting countries on earth. Yemen. And after talking to friends, I realize the situation is getting worse by the day and as Farea Al Muslimi tweeted this morning:
“I don’t want to live through last night again , no no no . Stop ths war. We need years of thereby just to over go last night horror.”
And the bombing of Sanaa is going on right at this moment that I am writing this. I just had a note saying 35 have been killed today, though it is unconfirmed so far. I even hear the magnificent Old Sanaa is taking hits and this UNESCO Heritage Site is under great danger. But, obviously, my greatest concern which keeps me awake all night is the nightmare my friends and all other great Yemenis have to live with. I haven´t been able to get through to any of them and few are on Twitter or Facebook. And, I feel incredibly sad for Yemen and the Yemenis that they have to continue to go through the pain and suffering involved in the poor decisions and war games done by a few. There´s so many incredibly strange decisions starting with the UN sending Jamal Bin Omar as a special envoy to Yemen, after having failed in Afghanistan and Iraq, to set up the utterly failed GCC deal to the strange fact that the Egyptians want to be part of what is happening, on the Saudi-American side and put ground troops onto the peninsula. Have they forgotten how bad it went when they did the same 1961? And, after reading a few articles from the Saudi controlled Al Arabiya and read all the nationalistic outpouring in this not very much appreciated country globally, and once again, have they forgotten what happened when they involved themselves against Saddam Hussein´s battle hardened troops? I find this almost amazingly strange.
Unfortunately it seems, when it comes to the media reporting, most forget the human cost in all this. Not only the one´s who perish under the Saudi bombs, but the one´s who even before this unwelcome war was suffering from hunger and daily pressures to survive. If humanitarian aid was difficult before, it seems almost impossible at this moment. In this country of just under 26 million people, almost 2/3rds was in dire need even before this conflict. 10.6 million Yemenis are hungry each day more or less. But, of course, as we know from history, the one´s in power or the aggressors, don´t really care. It is all a political game, explained very well by Jeb Boone´s article here , and as regards to the Saudi and why here. Scary but unfortunately true. Most people on earth are just pawns in somebody else´s political game.
I am still very much stunned by what is happening, sleep is poor, worries are extremely high and I have problems putting my thoughts together. My mind goes out to these fantastic Yemenis who live in the most exciting and hospitable country on earth. I really owe my life to Yemen. I have major worries how little global media try to understand as regards to this very much complicated country. I get many calls asking for my opinion, but I refer to others, since I haven´t been there since 2012 and never have been an expert.
So I tell them to read this https://www.facebook.com/notes/mikael-strandberg/yemen-crisis-attention-media/822539981154581 written by Atiaf Al Wazir, who is one of my favorite journalists as regards to Yemen. She knows what it is all about.
*Read all Yemen stories here http://www.mikaelstrandberg.com/?s=yemen