The United States entered deeper into military combat when American and British forces along with Australia, Bahrain, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands, and New Zealand launched a series of strikes on Ansar-Allah (Houthi) targets in Yemen in response to continuing attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
The U.S. has accused Houthi militias of being “proxies” of Iran. However, Iran refutes involvement in the attacks. The round of American-led warfare in Yemen was the second in less than a month. At Final Call press time 36 Houthi targets across 13 locations were bombed.
“This collective action sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will continue to bear further consequences if they do not end their illegal attacks on international shipping and naval vessels,” said U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, in a Feb. 3 statement.
Houthis maintain that targeting shipping is in support of Palestinian resistance against Israel’s war on Gaza.
“We affirm that our military operations against Israel will continue until the crimes of genocide in Gaza are stopped and its siege on its residents is lifted,” said Mohammed Al-Bukhaiti, of the Houthi political bureau. Coalition attacks “will not go unanswered, and we will meet escalation with escalation,” he cautioned.
The bombardment came one day after the U.S. separately struck targets in Iraq and Syria days after three American soldiers were killed in a drone attack on a U.S. military base in northeast Jordan near the Syria border.
The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) which is the U.S. military command of the region said airstrikes targeted sites belonging to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and alleged affiliated militia groups. The attack was touted as retaliatory for the deaths of the U.S. soldiers and took place hours after their remains arrived on Feb. 2 at Dover Airforce Base in Delaware.
“This afternoon, at my direction, U.S. military forces struck targets at facilities in Iraq and Syria that the IRGC and affiliated militia used to attack U.S. forces,” said President Joe Biden, in a White House statement on Feb. 2.
“Our response began today. It will continue at times and places of our choosing. The United States does not seek conflict in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world,” Mr. Biden continued. ‘But let all those who might seek to do us harm know this: If you harm an American, we will respond,” he said.
The U.S. service members killed Jan. 28 were all from Georgia—Sgt. William Jerome Rivers of Carrollton, Sgt. Kennedy Sanders of Waycross and Sgt. Breonna Moffett of Savannah. Ms. Sanders and Ms. Moffett were posthumously promoted to sergeant rank, said the Associated Press. The deaths were the first U.S. fatalities blamed on the militia groups, allegedly backed by Iran, but have been targeting American forces in the region following the start of Israel’s war with the Palestinian resistance movements in October of last year.
Syrian state media said the “American aggression” in Syria’s desert areas and the Syrian and Iraqi border resulted in a number of casualties and injuries.
“These airstrikes constitute a violation of Iraqi sovereignty … and pose a threat that could lead Iraq and the region into dire consequences,” Iraqi military spokesman Yahya Rasool said in a statement after the strikes.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi said Tehran will not start a war but will give a decisive and strong response to any adventurism seeking to bully the Islamic Republic, according to Iranian Press TV. “We have said many times that we will not be the initiator of any war, but if a country or a cruel force wants to bully the Islamic Republic of Iran, it will respond firmly,” Mr. Raeisi said, in an address on Feb. 2.
Rising resistance to aggression
War with members of the “axis of resistance” in the region is part of America’s problem, the U.S. strikes came amid rising numbers of protests over the U.S. support of Israel’s war on Palestinians.
As war steadily mounts outside of Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip, global pressure to stop it is also mounting. Calls for Israel to end repression, domination, and illegal settler-colonial occupation is increasing. Recent weeks saw an explosion of worldwide condemnation of the Zionist state and America, its chief benefactor and facilitator. Four hard months into the bloodshed Israel has waged on the Palestinian people under the guise of eradicating the resistance group Hamas is worsening by the day.
Reports continue about egregious state-sponsored violence on civilians, unfettered killing of journalists, humanitarian aid workers, medical personnel, culture creatives, and just everyday people. Amid a humanitarian crisis and now expanding conflict involving the U.S. strikes on Iraq and Syria, record numbers of people decrying the situation can expect to swell further.
Analysts and observers told The Final Call why there is a major increase in active condemnation, although the Israeli and Palestinian conflict has raged for years.
“In this case, this has gotten so much farther than any other time, other than the ethnic cleansing that occurred in 1948 and again in 1967,” said Alison Weir, founder of IfAmericansKnew.com, and author of “Against Our Better Judgment-the hidden history of how the U.S. was used to create Israel.”
Ms. Weir was referring to the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948 when nearly one million Palestinians were forcibly removed from their lands at the creation of Israel. Then nearly 400,000 Palestinians were displaced—many for the second time and their villages were leveled by Israelis during the “Six-Day War” in 1967.
“This time Israel is just very openly massacring Palestinians, usually several hundred every day. … it’s just so massive,” she said.
More people are being exposed to the atrocities on the ground through social media, explained Ms. Weir, even though Israel keeps Western journalists out of Gaza as much as they can, there are Palestinian journalists and individuals in Gaza live-streaming videos, pictures and commentary on what’s happening.
“Many more people are actually seeing what’s going on for themselves, not through Fox News or through the New York Times,” Ms. Weir told The Final Call. “They’re actually having access to direct information from Gaza itself,” she said.
According to the Gaza Health Ministry, at presstime over 27,000 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 70,000 are injured. The World Health Organization says people are enduring “unimaginable circumstances” and “exhausted, hungry, and traumatized.”
The ongoing attacks by Israeli occupation forces are forcing families who lost everything into repeated displacement. Aid workers have said “no place is safe” from attacks. Thousands lack adequate shelter against the cold and rain, and diseases including upper respiratory infections, and meningitis are soaring.
For activists’ genocide is far from an ambiguous accusation and silence is not an option. What some describe as “shock theater” seeing alarming numbers of innocent people killed in a few months, with no end in sight, has taken an emotional toll. Now the streets are screaming worldwide.
“It’s just so blatant this time,” reasoned Ms. Weir. “That it is getting more people to leave their fear of being called anti-Semitic … being called nasty names … willing to speak out and to do things publicly,” she added. “Many people still are not, but more and more people are doing that.”
According to a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, half of U.S. adults surveyed now think that Israel has “gone too far” in its assault on Gaza. The poll, released on Feb. 1 surveyed 1,152 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 25-29.
Dr. Iva Carruthers, general secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference told The Final Call the growing call is about justice. The atrocities inflicted on Palestinians by Israel as a settler-colonial state are redolent to the Black and Indigenous experiences in the settler-colonial state called America and others worldwide, Dr. Carruthers noted. Why Gaza is resonating could be rooted in shared experiences of oppression, colonization, and being devalued.
Dr. Carruthers emphasized the importance of valuing human life and dismantling systems of oppression, particularly for Palestinian and African communities.
“The experiences of people of African descent all over the world is grounded in—as we know our life today—systems of oppression in its different forms, which gives us a barometer and a sensibility about injustice,” said Dr. Carruthers.
She noted how the Palestinian people are Christian and Muslim and victims of a “political system of occupation,” which before the current “act of aggression and war” lived under a system of oppression and colonial settler expansion.
“It’s not about ceasefire. It’s about ‘cease’ and ‘justice,’” reasoned Dr. Carruthers. “So that it’s not just a demand for ceasefire. Most importantly, it is a demand for the dismantling of empires and systems that create the injustice,” explained Dr. Carruthers. “The demand is for justice; the demand is for valuing human life. The demand is for us being able to live in a world in which we appreciate the diversity that we represent,” she said.
Diverse voices crying out
Diverse individuals and groups are engaging in everything from sending collective letters of dissent, disrupting speeches of public officials, meetings and hearings, to mass demonstrations rallying against Israel and U.S. errant foreign policy in Israel. Global Day of Actions are held weekly in Yemen, Jordan and sentiment of dissent and protests are growing in the United Kingdom, and throughout the European Union. It is seen in the boldness of South Africa taking legal action against Israel on genocide charges at the International Criminal Court of Justice. The pressure is mounting against the spillers of Palestinian blood and their enablers in America and Europe. A few examples of a rising list of countermoves are:
· More than 800 officials in the U.S., UK and the EU inked a letter criticizing their governments’ support of Israel—the latest in a string of similar actions against U.S. President Biden over the war.
· Over 1,000 pastors under The Black Christian Faith Leaders for Ceasefire, signed an open letter to the Biden Administration demanding a ceasefire.
· The American Federation of Teachers representing 1.72 million educators, higher education professionals, healthcare workers and public employees, unanimously called for a ceasefire
· Feds United for Peace, a group of career professionals and political appointees— across 27 government agencies, including the White House and Congress left their jobs in mass, and fasted a day to protest Gaza’s rising death toll, and America’s role.
· Hundreds of Chicago high school students walked out of schools Jan. 30, adding their voices and declaring to local aldermen, that they too oppose continued U.S. funding of Israel’s war.
· Brown University student activists embarked on a hunger strike demanding the school fully divest its endowment from companies enabling and profiting from the genocide in Gaza.
“I’ve been very encouraged to see the amount of people … the diversity of the people who are speaking up,” said Father Michael Pfleger, senior pastor at St. Sabina Church in Chicago.
Father Pfleger, a longtime activist on domestic and international issues said he is encouraged by the numbers of faith leaders and others who normally may have been silent lifting their voices about a ceasefire in Gaza. Over 1,000 pastors under The Black Christian Faith Leaders for Ceasefire, signed an open “Moral Call for Ceasefire” letter imploring the Biden Administration to act.
“If you stand for life, you can’t really cherry-pick when life is valuable and when it isn’t. So, there’s a kind of a falsity about elected officials in Washington, to be vocal on one hand, and then the other hand, be very silent,” argued Father Pfleger. “So, while that is disappointing, what has been constantly encouraging to me is seeing this rising tide of voices and of action of movement going to the streets of walking out of schools, and protests. So, I am very encouraged by that.
He told The Final Call he hopes the actions are a beginning, of people being more vocal and moved to action on issues of justice.
“Dr. (Martin Luther) King said that ‘our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,’” said Father Pfleger, quoting the late civil rights leader.
While anti-war pressure mounts and Mr. Biden’s approval rating is south of the border in an election year, demonstrators and dissatisfied voters are meeting Mr. Biden on campaign stops and disrupting his speeches to demand a ceasefire. In Dearborn, Michigan, where an “Abandon Biden” campaign is hugely supported by Arab Americans disgruntled over his handling of Gaza, protesters chanted slogans such as “genocide Joe has got to go” and “Biden, Biden you’re a liar/we demand a ceasefire.”
Rev. Timothy McDonald, senior pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta and a signatory to the clergy letter said the faith leaders moved out of concern for young Black voter disillusionment and the impact on the November election.
“The main reason I feel that we needed to do it is we’re seeing a number of young Blacks identifying with the Palestinian and the Palestinian cause,” said Rev. McDonald.
With the upcoming election, there is real concern about losing young Black voters around the country who see the issue as very powerful.
“It’s almost as if their voices are not being heard, and we wanted to send a message to President Biden, that you can’t take Black votes for granted—especially young Black voters,” said Rev. McDonald.
Young Blacks overwhelmingly supported Mr. Biden in 2020 but are very disappointed in his handling of Gaza and threatening not to vote, he said.
For Muhammad Sankari, an organizer with the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN)-Chicago, the heightened energy to organize against the atrocities befalling Palestinians is attributed to Israel being exposed on the international stage.
In addition, Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank are making the world bear witness to the reality of Israeli genocide and occupation. People with a “heart and conscience” are moved by that, he reasoned.
“Our job as organizers is to collect people with that heart and conscience and move them into strategic action,” said Mr. Sankari. “I believe that’s why we see this upsurge happening all across the world,” he added.
Others see the upsurge as a rejection of the hubris of empire that perpetuated past wars and injustice. Some see the world in a dangerous place, however, a place where people who want peace, justice, and a world free of militarism, domination and colonialism can unite and build massive movements for transformation.
“So, we are at a crossroads,” said Brian Becker, executive director of the Act Now to End War and Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R.) Coalition. “What happens is really about whether or not the people of the world including people in the United States, have the capacity to build a movement to resist the foundational war drive that is now inherent in U.S. ruling class politics,” he added.
In a recent interview, Mr. Becker told The Final Call he is optimistic, but not pollyannish about the prospects. “I don’t think we have the luxury to be pessimistic. Pessimism leads to passivity, and paralysis,” he said, “optimism suggests that people can make change, do make change and that until the last battle is fought, you have to keep fighting.”
However, there is an awakening and a growing cry for justice and change. The crisis in occupied Palestine driving folks into the streets of world capitols in solidarity is the expression of dissatisfaction permeating the globe.
For years the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, National Representative of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam, has described the growing outrage and protest as an intensifying “universal cry for justice,” and warned that the way of tyrannical rule is ending.
Minister Farrakhan, and his teacher explained it is a universal change of an “old world going out, and a new world coming in. Both men have warned the exploiters, warmongers, global ballers and evil shot callers that the tides would change against malicious rule.
“Pride and arrogance are part of the leaders’ mentalities,” wrote Minister Farrakhan in his illuminating book, “A Torchlight For America.”
“This spiritual disease is what blinds them to the true formula for success, because they’re trying to keep up a posture in the world that is out of step with the will of God and the demands of the time,” he further wrote. “They want to maintain themselves as the great imperialist power, the overlord, the slave-master, the god beside God,” added Minister Farrakhan.
On February 25, Minister Farrakhan will address the subject, “What does Allah The Great Mahdi and The Great Messiah Have to Say About the War In the Middle East?” in Detroit, Michigan, at the Nation of Islam Saviours’ Day Convention. For more information, visit noi.org.