Rescue Ship to Yemen forced to dock in Djibouti

Djibouti, on the Red Sea

Caleb Maupin about to board ship with humanitarian aid bound for Yemen.

Caleb Maupin about to board ship with humanitarian aid bound for Yemen.

May 23 — From the port of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, it is with great sadness and burning outrage that I announce that the voyage of the Iran Shahed Rescue Ship has ended. We will not reach our destination at the Port of Hodiedah in Yemen to deliver humanitarian aid.

The unsuccessful conclusion of our mission is the result of only one thing: U.S.-backed Saudi terrorism.

Yesterday, as it appeared our arrival in Yemen was imminent, Saudi forces bombed the port of Hodiedah a total of eight times during the day.
The total number of innocent dock workers, sailors, longshore workers and bystanders killed by these eight airstrikes is still being calculated.

Furthermore, the Yemeni revolutionaries arrested 15 people who were part of a conspiracy to attack our vessel. The plan was to attack the Iran Shahed when we arrived and kill everyone on board.

With its many criminal threats and actions, the Saudi regime was sending a message to the crew of doctors, medical technicians, anesthesiologists and other Red Crescent Society volunteers onboard the ship: “If you try to help the hungry children of Yemen, we will kill you.”

These actions, designed to terrorize and intimidate those seeking to deliver humanitarian aid, are a clear violation of international law. I can say, without any hesitation, that I have witnessed a crime against humanity.

In the context of extreme Saudi threats and after lengthy negotiations taking place around the clock in Tehran, it has been determined that the Red Crescent Society cannot complete this mission.

The 2,500 tons of medical supplies, food and water are being unloaded and handed over to the U.N. World Food Program, the largest humanitarian organization fighting hunger worldwide, which has agreed to distribute them on our behalf by June 5.

Djibouti and U.S. imperialism

Here in Djibouti, I can clearly see what the people of Yemen and Iran have been fighting against for so long. Unlike in Tehran, here in Djibouti I see masses of desperate, starving people. Impoverished Africans, who are desperate for a day of work, are lined up outside the port. They are joined by Yemeni refugees, who are living in tent cities.

There is a huge U.S. military base here in Djibouti, and this small country of only 3 million people is well under the control of Western neoliberalism. This country was basically carved into the maps of the world by the imperialists. As the European plunderers divided up the African continent for themselves, they created this tiny country so that naval bases could be conveniently placed in a strategic location on the Red Sea.

The living conditions here are horrific in comparison to those in Iran. Iran has broken the chains of imperialism, and has been independently developing since its popular revolution in 1979.

Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2003, Iran has opened its doors to 3 million refugees, most of them steadily employed. Iran’s oil resources have been utilized to create a vast apparatus of social programs.

One of the Red Crescent Society volunteers told me: “The Iranian government has a department to make sure that everyone in our country who wants to work can work.” Iranian mothers are given a guaranteed stipend for each child. Education in Iranian universities is absolutely free, and the Ministry of Health provides free medical care to everyone in the country.

Compared to the millions of enslaved guest workers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, or the impoverished people throughout the African continent, Iran has been able to guarantee its people a great deal of economic security by breaking from neoliberalism.

Message to Yemen: ‘We’re on your side’

If the resistance forces are successful in their fight against the Saudi onslaught, Yemen will join Iran in becoming an independent country. The logo of the Ansarullah organization shows a hand holding a rifle to represent armed resistance. Perpendicular to the rifle is a stalk of wheat to represent “economic development.”

It’s no secret that Yemen has vast, untapped oil resources. If the resistance forces are victorious, they can seize these resources and start using them to build up Yemeni society. Yemen can then begin to do what the people of Venezuela have done — transform their country with public control of natural resources.

As the ship prepares to return to Tehran, I have become even more convinced of the need to overthrow the system of Western monopoly capitalism. I am reinvigorated in my belief that there must be a global alliance of all forces that oppose imperialism. All progressive forces fighting the continued domination of the planet by Wall Street bankers must stand firmly together.

The people of Yemen, like the forces of resistance in so many other parts of the world, have refused to surrender. As they face a horrendous onslaught of U.S.-made Saudi bombs, I hope that news of our peaceful, humanitarian mission has reached them. I hope they are aware that in their struggle against the Saudi king and the Wall Street bankers, they are not alone. There are millions of people across the planet who are on their side.