On Saturday, January 27, over 200 people gathered for a protest under the slogans “U.S. hands off Yemen” and “End the siege on Gaza.” The action was called by the Minnesota Peace Action Coalition in response to ongoing U.S. airstrikes on Yemen. It featured people chanting, giving speeches, and holding signs and banners to supportive honks from passing cars in the diverse Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
In October 2023, Yemen’s Sanaa-based government announced it would attempt to prevent ships tied to Israel from passing through the narrow Red Sea shipping lanes off Yemen’s coast, unless Israel ended its military attacks and humanitarian siege on Gaza. In response, in December, the U.S. and a small coalition of allied countries began “Operation Prosperity Guardian” aimed at stopping Yemen’s attempted blockade. Airstrikes have targeted sites across Yemen, killing several people, but thus far have failed to stop strikes against Israeli-tied shipping.
Yemen’s capital Sanaa and most of the country’s population centers and state institutions are controlled by an anti-imperialist movement called Ansarallah, often called “Houthis” by media due to the tribal connections of some of its leaders. In 2015, a different U.S.-backed coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), began a military invasion to oust Ansarallah. By 2022, these efforts had largely failed, and a United Nations ceasefire went into effect.
Deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Yemen, including a famine and a cholera outbreak, were widely attributed to the Saudi/UAE-led assault, prompting international outcry. In 2021, President Joe Biden removed “terrorist” designations against Ansarallah in an effort facilitate negotiations to end the war. This month, however, President Biden re-designated the movement as a so-called “terrorist organization” due to its attempted blockade of Israeli-connected shipping.
Magdi Hazaa grew up in Yemen and immigrated to the United States in 2015 and is a member of the Minnesota Anti-War Committee. “Today, the country remains under siege, its airports closed, their only permitted route of travel suspended once again. And the American airstrikes have been resumed,” Hazaa told the protesters in Minneapolis. “I stand here, in this tumultuous moment, on the stolen land of this empire of promise, this empire of excess, this empire of decadence where my tax money – same as yours – goes to the bombings of my hometown, where my parents still live, and refuse to leave.”
Maysoon Wazwaz of American Muslims for Palestine–Minnesota applauded Yemen for its actions in solidarity with Palestine, saying, “We’ve all seen within these past few weeks that the people of Yemen are some of the most damn brave people I’ve ever met – give them a round of applause! They stood up for Palestine more than any corrupt Arab nation. They refused to back down to the threats from Israel and the U.S. They protested, more than a million people gathered in the capital of Yemen. They made statement after statement countering the racist claims from these Western governments. And best of all, we all saw it, the Red Sea was shut down!”
Protest attendees waved Palestine flags alongside Yemeni ones. Chants included “Yemen, Yemen, stand your ground, turn another ship around!”, as well as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” The action came on the heels of two major victories for the Palestine solidarity movement: the January 25 passage by the Minneapolis city council of a resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire and an end to U.S. aid to Israel, and the January 26 ruling by the International Court of Justice that there was credible evidence of genocide committed against Palestinians by Israel.
Organizers urged people to continue attending protests. Palestinian-American activist Sabry Wazwaz concluded the event by telling the crowd, “They think that we come to a protest and that’s it – that after a while, we get burned out and give up. We can’t give up. Keep organizing.”
Source: Fight Back News