Early last month, in Saudi’s latest round of hostilities with Yemenis, White House released a statement condemning Yemeni Houthis missile on Riyadh.
These words have since been repeated frequently, usually in support (qualified or un-) of Saudi’s operation Decisive Storm in Yemen since March, 26, 2015.
This Saudi air campaign has been shelling Yemen with different U.S. weapons, bombs, shelling, artillery, and rifle guns. It targeted civilians, schools, hospitals, government faculties, popular markets, mosques, and almost everything around us.
There is an inarguable truth here: No country would sit idly by under such circumstances. Every state, and every citizen in those states, has a universally recognized right to self-defense. But does the white house know about this? Where is humans rights? Humans equality, democracy, children rights in living in peace.
But what — the question is almost never posed — of the defenseless?
The Yemeni people are routinely expected to suffer precisely what Saudis describe as defence rights from what they called “Houthis Threat”. But they were not able to kill one small ‘Houthi’ fighter during the all three years of conflict. Yes, the targeted every civilian, and every innocent.
So, do the Saudi royal family expect that Yemenis will remain silent and make no retaliations for killing civilians. They’re routinely united with army and formed popular committees which volunteer to fight what they call Saudi terror.
Let me be very clear: Popular committees is a defensive force. In its resistance to Saudi terror, it has used rifles and small Klashinkufs and rocket attacks on Saudi installation based on borders with Yemen, both tactics are despicable, and retaliation for Saudi war crimes. After this, they end up able to develop domestically ballistic missile that could reach Riyadh. Therefore, when Houthis and Yemeni army engages the Saudi military, it could be argued that such engagement is, at least, legitimate (armed force against terror force). But who would convince Sarah of the White House.
Furthermore, Saudi activities are often the very instigation that draws Houthis and Yemeni army ballistic missiles and cross-border incursions. Houthis isn’t to blame for the nearly more than 8000 Yemeni deaths in the latest paroxysm of violence — because surely the military that does and begun the shelling and air strikes campaign is to blame when its munitions kill.
But let’s leave “Houthis” and Saudis to the side. Let’s leave all movements to the side, down to and including the White House Administration, which, while largely considered “moderate” now, was once considered the worst of the worst. This administration is trying to defend Saudi military bases and condemn in the strongest words targeting it, but never said asked or wondered when the Saudi strikes killed hundreds on the grand hall while people gather to pay respect of losing one Yemeni official.
Let’s look only at today’s reality for Yemenis, the vast majority of whom are fierce combatants. And there are peaceful citizens whom are trying to eat, sleep, and find family members without a regular supply of electricity or water. They were killed in their hundreds and injured in their thousands, by a U.S. backed Saudi led military raining bombs from the sky and marching across their border.
Do they have a right to self-defense?
Let’s posit a circumstance in which wealthy Yemenis fund, train, and arm a small defensive force intended only to respond to Israeli assault. Saudi armed personnel carriers cross Gaza’s border — Yemen Defense Forces respond with rocket-propelled grenades. The Saudi Royal Forces bombs commercial centers — the has surface-to-surface missiles. Would that be okay? Would Saudis and the U.S. accept that?
We know the answer. We can already hear the cries that “the Yemenis” can’t be trusted to “only respond.” And that anyway, Saudi Arabia wasn’t assaulting! This was self-defense!
Yemen is an independent country. It has a military, and not just any military, but the region’s mightiest, armed with all weapons, but KSA thinks Yemen is a background garden for her.
So the Al Saud family has no access to internationally sanctioned violence. This doesn’t excuse terrorism or war crimes by them or anyone else. It’s simply a fact: The Royal Family has no access to internationally sanctioned violence. Which in practice means it has no access to self-defense.
What I question is the Saudi government’s methods, used over and over, so far unsuccessfully, and at enormous cost to both its own people and the Yemenis.
And I wonder if the world will ever get around to asking if maybe Yemenis have a right to self-defense, too.
* Naseh Shaker is a freelance journalist and blogger based in Sana’a.