(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed) — Following an air strike in Yemen that killed at least 12 civilians, a senior United Nations official has condemned Saudi Arabia’s actions, asserting the Kingdom has shown a complete disregard for human life.
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According to Reuters, three women and six children from the same family were killed in their sleep during the dawn air strike conducted the Saudi-led coalition. Medical officials noted that the youngest of the children was just two years old. Ten others were wounded, according to the U.K.’s humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick.
In an official statement, McGoldrick said he was “deeply concerned” about the Saudi-led action, also accusing Saudi Arabia of violating international law:
“While these new incidents are still being investigated by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, they are an example of the brutality in which the conflict is being conducted. All parties to the conflict continue to show a disregard for the protection of civilians and the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants in the conduct of hostilities. As I have said before, even wars have rules and such rules must be respected.” [emphasis added]
More often than not, keyboard warriors across the globe excuse this particular conundrum with the common rationalization that ‘People always die in war,’ as if this absolves state parties of their duty to not commit mass murder.
Anti-Media has put together a list of three points to explain why the current slaughter of Yemen cannot and should not be justified or supported in legal or moral terms.
- People die in war — so it’s okay
In any war, the duty is on the state party conducting the war to take precautions to avoid civilian loss of life. This entails that only military targets should be pursued and that civilian targets are a huge no-no (ideally). Yet Saudi Arabia directly, routinely targets civilian infrastructure. To date, Saudi Arabia has hit well over one hundred hospitals, as well as wedding parties, refugee camps, food trucks, factories, transport routes, agricultural land, residential areas, and schools. Saudi Arabia even targeted the cranes that were used to unload container ships at the port of Hodeidah, the only place Yemen can import food though (Yemen is dependent on imports for 90 percent of its food). Taken together, it appears this targeting of civilian infrastructure is done intentionally in complete violation of international law.
This is not a case of ‘People die in war, anyway, so let’s keep doing it.’ People are dying because they are directly being bombed on purpose as part of a violent strategy to cripple Yemen and bring it to its knees, not because they are accidentally getting in the way of military targets.
Even though this was the case under Barack Obama, a special Reuters report has found that under President Trump, the pace and frequency of air strikes have dramatically increased. A draft U.N. report has also apportioned blame to the Saudi-led coalition for at least half of the child casualties. This is an American ally.
Further, the decision to launch a war needs a legal basis. This is why you don’t see New Zealand bombing Fiji; most countries understand this basic premise. Wars are, generally speaking, only permissible in instances of self-defense or if otherwise sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council. This blatant war of aggression against Yemen has no U.N. mandate whatsoever.
However, the biggest issue with the rationale that people die in war anyway is the implication that this particular war is necessary and/or legal to begin with. As it turns out, this is not the case.
While it is true that Yemen’s president Adbrabbuh Mansur Hadi requested U.N. assistance, a very important factor in this conflict that the media refuses to highlight is the fact that Hadi was already overthrown in a more organic manner than what regional powers have been attempting to incite in Syria since 2011. Following the ouster of Yemen’s former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012, Hadi has widely been regarded as a Saudi puppet. For this reason, Saleh has retained much of the loyalty of Yemen’s armed forces.
As explained by Noam Chomsky in his infamous book “Manufacturing Consent”:
“True, the Russians were invited into Afghanistan in 1979, but as the London Economist accurately observed, ‘an invader is an invader unless invited in by a government with some claim to legitimacy,’ and the government that the Soviet Union installed to invite it in plainly lacked any such claim.” [emphasis added]
- This is Saudi Arabia’s war; it has nothing to do with us
The United States and the United Kingdom have primarily facilitated this war since its inception. U.S. and U.K. officers sit in the command and control center to provide assistance with Saudi air strikes. They have access to lists of targets and provide airborne fuel tankers and thousands of advanced munitions. As Anti-Media further explained in January:
“In addition to regularly drone-striking Yemen, killing countless civilians in the process, the U.S. has also provided intelligence to the Saudi-led coalition that has been gathered from reconnaissance drones flying over Yemen. In arms sales, the U.S. has made an absolute killing – quite literally. So much so that in December 2016 the Obama administration was forced to halt a planned arms sale to Saudi Arabia because of the mounting civilian death toll. It is hard to get an exact figure on the amount of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but as it stands, it was well over $115 billion during just Obama’s eight years as president.”
Following one notorious aerial bombardment last year that killed over 140 Yemenis and injured at least 525 others at a funeral procession, the United Kingdom refused to cut its planned arms sales to this violent warmongering state and has since approved over £283 million of arms sales in the months following the funeral attack (roughly $366 million USD). Similarly, Donald Trump bragged about a $110 billion arms sale to the kingdom earlier this year (it does appear, however, that the size of this arms deal was completely exaggerated).
Now, the U.S. officially has troops on the ground in Yemen, too, and their concern is clearly not to liberate the Yemeni people from the violent and genocidal behavior of Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. and the U.K. are enabling this war, and it is for this reason that lawyers have been warning the U.S. it could become a co-belligerent in Saudi Arabia’s vast list of war crimes.
- This is Iran’s fault
“Yet as [the author] argued in a recent article in the May 2016 issue of International Affairs, the Chatham House journal, Tehran’s support for the Houthis is limited, and its influence in Yemen is marginal. It is simply inaccurate to claim that the Houthis are Iranian proxies.” [emphasis added]
This was further confirmed by U.N. experts in January of this year, who were warning primarily about Saudi Arabia’s criminal behavior before stating:
“The panel has not seen sufficient evidence to confirm any direct large-scale supply of arms from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, although there are indicators that anti-tank guided weapons being supplied to the Houthi or Saleh forces are of Iranian manufacture.” [emphasis added]
Generally speaking, Iran’s military spending is actually quite low, especially compared to the U.S. or Saudi Arabia.
In summary, this war is not just, has virtually no legal basis, and is wreaking absolute havoc on the people of Yemen (the Arab world’s poorest country). The World Health Organization (WHO) just announced that the number of people suffering from cholera in Yemen has jumped to 500,000 – and nobody is doing anything worthwhile to help contain this problem.
The U.S. and its allies are directly responsible for enabling this war and its unnecessary violence, and Iran’s culpability for this catastrophe is close to minimal.
Despite this, anyone would be hard pressed to find a mainstream media outlet that would admit all of the above, especially one that would regularly denounce and question the policies that have lead to this humanitarian catastrophe.