There aren’t many members of Congress that criticize the Obama administration’s support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen, but Rep. Ted Lieu has been one of the few to do so consistently over the last year. He issued a statement in response to the report of the bombing of the school in Haydan over the weekend. Lieu is calling on the U.S. to halt its assistance to the coalition:
A Democratic lawmaker called on the Obama administration to cut off assistance to Saudi Arabia amid the country’s ongoing bombing campaign in Yemen, saying “the United States is aiding and abetting what appears to be war crimes.”
He went on to say that “[t]he Administration must stop enabling this madness now.” I commend Rep. Lieu for this and his past efforts to pressure the administration over its support for the war. The war has received virtually no attention in Congress, and U.S. policy has received even less criticism, so Lieu is doing a real service in continuing to object to our involvement in this disgrace.
Following the bombing of the school in Haydan, a nearby MSF-supported hospital was struck by another coalition airstrike:
A Saudi-led coalition air strike hit a hospital in Yemen’s northern Hajja province on Monday, residents and local officials said, killing at least seven people and wounding 13.
A Reuters witness at the scene of the attack in the Abs district said medics could not immediately evacuate the wounded because war planes continued to fly over the area and first responders feared more bombings.
This is the fourth MSF-supported hospital that the coalition has bombed in the last year, and it just one of the many medical facilities that coalition planes have attacked. Medical facilities are obviously protected under international law, and the Saudis and their allies have been disregarding these protections routinely. When they are forced to account for their repeated bombings of hospitals and other civilian targets, the coalition response has always been to blame the victims of the attacks, but more often they simply deny all responsibility for the results of their bombing campaign.
The campaign has other longer-lasting, more insidious consequences as well. The use of cluster munitions by the coalition is doubly dangerous to the civilian population. They are inherently indiscriminate weapons that are more likely to kill noncombatants, and they also leave behind unexploded bombs that maim and kill unwitting civilians, often children, who don’t recognize them as a threat. The AP recently reported on one such instance:
Screams rang out through the hilltop village outside Yemen’s capital after 10-year-old Youssef al-Salmi set off a bomb he had found in a field, perhaps thinking it was a toy.
He became the latest of several Yemeni civilians to be killed by unexploded ordnance from the country’s ongoing civil war, which pits Saudi and U.S.-backed government forces against Shiite Houthi rebels.
Leftover parts of cluster bombs are just one of the many poisonous legacies of this war, and they underscore why most states around the world have banned the use of these weapons. Because of these cluster bombs, the Saudi-led, U.S.-backed bombing campaign will keep claiming innocent victims years and even decades after the current fighting ends. This is what the Saudis and their allies are doing with U.S. assistance, and it’s one of many reasons why all U.S. support for the war ought to end immediately.