I remember the night that Louis declared….
... “the Saudis are bombing Sana’a”.
I was awake due to my full bladder, having gone to bed without any sign of distress or imminent conflict in Yemen. It took all of my willpower to avoid checking my Jordanian mobile phone, knowing that if I was contacted on that, then things were bad. Instead, I chose to send a WhatsApp to my mother to see if they were ok and convinced myself to go back to sleep, thinking that whatever would happen will happen and I’ll find out in the morning.
When I woke up, I checked the news. It was true. The Saudis had decided to start bombing Sana’a overnight, while people were asleep in their beds, thinking they were going to wake up to another day of the Yemeni chaos they’d gotten used to over the past two years. I stared at the screen in disbelief. I started following the story. For the first time ever I felt angry at the world. I felt betrayed, abandoned, shocked. I managed to speak to my mother daily, but the situation was deteriorating. In a ridiculous effort to brand this ridiculous operative, the attacks were called "Operation Decisive Storm". I'm not quite sure what was so decisive about this operation, save that they could've decided to storm their libraries instead of their weapon halls.
Shortly after, I posted some thoughts on social media, feelings I still have over 9 months later:
...I don’t know why I feel it’s so important to post my opinion, but I guess in a time where I feel so helpless, this is the only way I know how to express...These countries ["the coalition"] have sufficient problems of their own -perhaps consider spending the millions that you are destroying my country in fixing up yours (or mine if you insist on spending money). You stand for “democracy” yet none of you are democratic...The world has disappointed me so much over the last few days. I feel so, so, so sad. I’m heartbroken...I feel no sense of justice. And I don’t want anyone to start claiming that Syria or Palestine or whoever are worse or better or whatever. This has nothing to do with them. This is about Yemen. And the World has failed us...
I read article after article, trying to understand what was going on. I think what bothers me the most about this war, well any war, is that it is all political. It sprouted out of (seemingly) nothing and there's no end in sight. I'm reminded that I can't blame the Saudi's fully, and I can accept that. I can accept that Yemen was already in a bad place, that we were most likely heading towards a civil war. But ultimately, it was our civil war. It bothers me that, in a country where the gun to man ration is 4:1, the population witnessed what was relatively a bloodless revolution. The fact is, us Yemenis are fairly laid back people. We are simple and are just about getting by with what we know. And here are these power drunk, egotistical, filthy rich neighbours who have decided to play a game with our lives.
We are all bleeding for Yemen. I can’t begin to imagine the fear that the people still living in the country are feeling. Less than a month into the war, we started discussing evacuation with my mother and siblings in Sana'a. It was not something we ever thought we'd have to discuss, assess, resort to. What made me most sad about that, however, was the fact that millions of people throughout history have been through this. They've had to abandon their homes, their lives, and sometimes, their families. And yet, this gave me a weird sense of calm - knowing that my family were going through something so many before them have had to endure, survive and ultimately, prevail over. And yet it made me so sad at the state of the world. Of course I know that I stopped to analyse my feelings towards this because my family were being affected. Of course it's selfish. But it doesn't make me any less heartbroken for those who've been through it before.
My family have now managed to leave Yemen, not without the stories that inevitably arise from any evacuation quest ever undertaken.
When I started this post back in April 2015…let that sink in…I was going to recount some events that others have shared with me and photos from family members of their houses being destroyed. But now, over 200 days since the first bomb was dropped, I’m not sure that’s sufficient. Truly, I don’t know what is. I'll read the news stories and hear family accounts. We'll all see horrendous photos being posted of the inconceivable humanitarian situation and wonder why any of it happened in the first place. And maybe one day, nowhere in the near future unfortunately, those in power will finally realise that the only way to live in a peaceful world is to stop weapons from ever being made, invested in and mostly, profited from.
Selfishly, I had to publish this post, to move on a little bit. I’ll bury my head in the sand and focus on myself to survive another hour, day, week, month. I’ve never felt as confused as I have in 2015, when I truly grasped the concept of political games and how, logical and attainable answers are ignored because those in power have their own agendas to fulfil.
Yemen will never be forgotten, because anyone who’s spent any time there has a unique love story that will forever live on. I’m not sure how the Yemeni people will come out of this - they remained optimistic for so long but now have every reason to give up hope. The dust won’t settle anytime soon. I hope that when it does, there will still be remnants of the Yemen I once knew.
I start writing here more often again. I have an inkling that my ponderings will be more sombre, but I promise to include some random photos and musings in between so as not to push anyone over the edge!
Here’s hoping 2016 will be kind to us all.