Saudi Arabia admits coalition ‘mistakes’in targeting Yemen, Tens of its officers resigne
Under increasing pressure from international bodies and rights groups, Saudi Arabia said on Monday it made mistakes by its military fprces targeting in Yemen that has killed civilians including children.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child denounced the death of children in Saudi airstrikes on Yemen as it examined the Saudi record on compliance with a treaty protocol on children in armed conflict on Monday.
“This has been going on a number of years. But still there is no information that any perpetrators or people responsible for these kinds of actions have been prosecuted or sanctioned or dealt with in any way,” said panel vice-chair Clarence Nelson.
Osaiker Alotaibi of the Saudi Defense Ministry said the coalition investigations had uncovered “the existence of certain unintentional mistakes in a number of these operations,” Alotaibi said. “The task force recommended that perpetrators should be held to account and victims should enjoy redress.”
Renate Winter, panel chairwoman, asked why schools and hospitals had been repeatedly struck: “You say it’s an accident. How many such accidents can you bear and how many such accidents can people in the country (Yemen) bear?”
Winter then referred to an air strike on a school bus in August in Saada province in north Yemen that killed dozens.
She also referred to an August airstrike on a school bus in Yemen’s Sa’ada Province, which killed at least 40 children and 11 adults.
International human rights organizations accused Western countries, including the United States, Britain, France and Spain, of supplying the coalition in Yemen with weapons which are being used to commit possible war crimes in Yemen.
At the outbreak of the war, the then Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, pledged that Britain would “support the Saudis in every practical way short of engaging in combat.” That support has been unwavering, with the government having licensed almost £5 billion worth of fighter jets, missiles and bombs in the years that have followed.
There is no doubt that these weapons have been used in attacks on civilian infrastructure. Thorough and authoritative reports from Human Rights Watch, Sky News and Amnesty International explicitly link British arms to attacks on civilian sites.
In 2016, after months of denial, the Saudi military had to admit that it had used UK-made cluster bombs. The bombs, which had been sold to the Kingdom in the 1980s, would now be banned by the cluster munitions convention.
Such arms sales are opposed overwhelmingly by the British public, with the most recent polling showing that only 13 per cent of people in the UK support arms sales to the Saudi military. That is why hundreds of people took to the streets to protest when the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, came to London in February.
The visit, which included meetings with the Queen, Theresa May and Prince William, finished with the announcement that both sides had moved a step closer to agreeing a deal for Eurofighter military aircraft. The deal, which would be worth billions of pounds, has already received top-level support from British Ministers and civil servants.
The United States provides intelligence and air-fuel services to the coalition against Yemen.
“Why do we provide aid to armies of rich countries like Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea? They will pay us, the problem is that no one is demanding,” Trump said recently.
The US president revealed that he has raised this issue during a telephone call with Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, according to AFP.
Germany also approved selling artillery positioning systems to Saudi Arabia, going back on a ban that the European country had ordered on the sale of weapons to the countries involved in the war on Yemen.
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier announced the permission in a letter to lawmakers, Reuters reported citing a German government document.
Germany, one of the world’s biggest arms exporters, had ordered the ban on the weapons delivery in March in an apparent reaction to the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen.
The reversal came less than a week after Spain, which had earlier suspended the sale of 400 laser-guided bombs to the Saudi kingdom, said it would reauthorize the sale to “honor” a contract made with Riyadh by the previous government in 2015.
On the other side,tens of Saudi officers fighting in Yemen war have resigned for feeling guilty of committing war crimes and the fear of being listed as war criminals, a prominent Saudi whistle-blower revealed.
Saudi whistle-blower Mujtahid, who is believed to be a member of or have a well-connected source in the royal family, wrote on his twitter page on Tuesday that more than 60 Saudi officers have resigned after the UN issued statements about the Saudi crimes in Yemen.
“Some of these Saudi officers and military men resigned for feeling guilty of what is happening in Yemen and some others resigned for the fear of their names being enlisted as war criminals,” he added.
Mujtahid said that most of the resignations have not been accepted and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is punishing those who have resigned.
In March 2015, the US -backed –Saudi-led coalition started a war against Yemen with the declared aim of crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement, who had taken over from the staunch Riyadh ally and fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, while also seeking to secure the Saudi border with its southern neighbor. Three years and over 600,000 dead and injured Yemeni people and prevented the patients from travelling abroad for treatment and blocked the entry of medicine into the war-torn country, the war has yielded little to that effect.
Despite the coalition claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi bombers are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.