Saudis Escalate Airstrikes Against Civilians in Yemen
Saudi war crimes have brought attention not just to the Saudis, but to the US and Britain, who’ve both been selling arms to the Saudis.
The US in particular has been supporting the Saudi war from the beginning. To that end, Pentagon officials defend continued US support for the Saudis, all while denying targeting involvement in the many civilian deaths, and claiming the mid-air refueling exercises are about protecting the Saudi border from “Houthis”. How ridiculous:
With full support from American and British militaries, Saudi warplanes have been escalating airstrikes against Yemeni civilians for weeks, and seem to be picking up the pace again over the Christmas weekend, with a huge number of different strikes reported across north Yemen over the past 48 hours.
On Sunday alone, multiple airstrikes killed at least 48 civilians, including 11 children. The strikes hit several areas, including attacking a public protest against President Trump’s Jerusalem Al-Quds decision, killing and injuring scores of civilians. Saudi officials offer no statements on any of these attacks, which has become increasingly common in recent months. In fact, the soaring death toll, with virtually no military targets being hit, seems to have the Saudis dropping the facade, and just counting on international ambivalence to keep the pressure off of them for war crimes in Yemen.
However, even the British Foreign Office now admits that Saudi Arabia and its rogue partners are breaching humanitarian laws in Yemen. Britain’s reversal in its stance only came after a new report by the United Nations found that Saudi forces and their allies fighting are responsible for killing more than 500 children. In a more sensible approach, this admission should be welcome news for the long-suffering people of Yemen. But it should only be so if the British government also does the next best thing: Stop weaponizing Saudi Arabia and company who are still bombing civilians in broad violation of International Law and International Humanitarian Law. Lest they forget, it’s Christmas time:
It’s no secret that both Britain continues to supply arms to Saudi Arabia as well as supporting the regime – whose track record on human rights needs little introduction. The same is true about the US government which has already sold Saudis arms worth over $100 billion. The US government’s involvement in the conflict is more direct than it claims. They are a member of the Saudi-led coalition. American military personnel are directly involved in the operations, are involved in carrying out strikes, and directing or conducting operations or selecting targets. They are also involved in the Saudi targeting decision making process. American agents – just like their British cousins – are not only training Yemeni spies for US drone strikes, but in addition to a training team, their Special Forces are involved in ‘short missions’.
They are parties to the conflict, making it far from neutral bystanders. As such, part of the blame for the ongoing humanitarian disaster can be placed on the American and British governments. No doubt the Saudi-led airstrikes amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, as the illegal offensive has no international legitimacy. The US and British governments make no secret of their support for ‘Operation Decisive Storm’, nor that they are providing help in terms of intelligence and logistics. This makes them complicit in Saudi war crimes. Period.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both argued that the majority of human rights violations and civilian deaths in the conflict have been committed by the Saudi-led coalition, the side receiving support from Britain and US. Meaning, the Americans are also complicit in Saudi war crimes.
It is time for the UN Human Rights Council to come up with an insightful report on the human rights situation in Yemen. The Council should stop defining what is happening to the people of Yemen as a matter of “technical assistance and capacity-building”.
Can the international community even offer such assistance while bombs, dropped by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, a member of this very Council, rain down on Yemeni weddings, buses and refugee camps? This military campaign at best fails to distinguish between civilian and military targets, and at worst explicitly and intentionally targets civilians.
To help stop the violations, an effort was made at the UN Council’s previous session to create an independent, international inquiry — yet this was extinguished by powerful political pressure, led by the same Council members Saudi Arabia and the US. In its place came a diluted and muted text, and the plight of the Yemeni people became, in the words of the Council, a “technical matter”.
How many more Yemeni civilians will need to die from Saudi Arabia’s indiscriminate bombing before their suffering is recognized as a dire situation of human rights abuse? The Council should exercise its responsibility, under Article 3 of its founding document, to create an independent inquiry, announce war crimes are being committed by the US-backed, Saudi-led coalition, and consider involving the International Criminal Court.