Podcast: The Medieval Siege of Yemen's Farmlands (Interview with Dr. Martha Mundy)

Published July 29th, 2018 - 11:27 GMT
A farmer in Yemen (AFP/FILE)
A farmer in Yemen (AFP/FILE)

The ongoing war in Yemen is devastating a country that was little known before 2015. A mostly agrarian society before the Saudi-led coalition began destroying farmlands and agricultural infrastructure, Yemen now teeters on the brink of famine, disease epidemics, poverty and death. A vast majority of its people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and up to eight million are at the risk of famine at any given time.

This is not mere collateral damage, unforseen consequences of a raging conflict. It is part of the war strategy. One of the first people who began to notice that Yemen’s civilians were the target of a medieval-style besiegement was Dr. Martha Mundy. An professor emeritus at the London School of Economics, Dr. Mundy spent much of her career in and out of Yemen, analyzing its agriculture.

Now that Yemen’s agricultural sector is being systematically obliterated, Mundy has been on the forefront of exposing the war crimes in the wartorn country.

In The Gateway podcast, Dr. Mundy goes in-depth describing her experiences in Yemen before the war, and how the war has impacted Yemen.

The country is locked in a stalemating proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran and between separatists and loyalists. An intervention and occupation by a Saudi-led coalition in addition to Iran’s support for the separatist Houthi militia has been maintaining the war’s frontlines, ensuring it becomes a war of attrition.

But the coalition initially planned for a quick war, attempting to break the morale of the Houthis with a “shock and awe,” campaign according to Dr. Mundy. But when that didn’t work, the coalition began “smashing economic production. That also included smashing factories,” including water, industrial and agricultural production, attempting to eliminate any semblance of normalcy and trapping the entire country in a humanitarian crisis that shows no sign of slowing down.

“It was in a strategy of economic war,” Dr. Mundy stated. “To force the other side, mistakenly clearly, through economic destruction.” The thinking closely followed the lines that bombing someone “back to the Stone Age,” as Mundy put it, would pressure the Houthis to surrender.

“Amazingly, they also attacked cultural monuments,” targeting tourism, Yemen’s history and heritage.

“And when that did not work, one began to see a more sophisticated economic war whereby all of the airports… were closed,” beginning the aid blockade that continues to this day, easing and constricting.

To listen to the full podcast, click here.


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