The Saudi coalition committed another horrific slaughter of Yemenis over the weekend with an airstrike that destroyed a prison and killed more than 100 of the people being held there:
A Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a Yemeni prison has left more than 100 people “presumed killed,” said the Red Cross late Sunday after visiting the facility, disputing Saudi officials’ claims that the attack had struck a rebel arms depot.
In a statement carried on Saudi state television on Sunday, the Saudi-led coalition said it had destroyed a warehouse that the rebels, known as the Houthis, used to house drones and missiles. The Houthis maintained it was a detention center.
“Witnessing this massive damage, seeing the bodies lying among the rubble was a real shock,” said Franz Rauchenstein, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Yemen. “People who are not taking active part in combat should not die in such a way.”
According to the group, also known as the ICRC, the multistory building that served as a detention facility collapsed from the airstrike. It held around 170 detainees, and 40 of them were being treated for injuries. “The rest are presumed killed, though no toll has been confirmed,” the ICRC said.
The coalition airstrike on the prison is reminiscent of the airstrike on the migrant detention center in Libya earlier this summer. Both showed the same callous disregard for the lives of civilians, and both slaughtered dozens as part of a failed military campaign. In Yemen, the U.S. continues to support and arm the governments that commit such senseless slaughters of civilians. In this case, people who were already victims of Houthi abuses were killed for no reason, and it was more likely than not a weapon made in the U.S. that killed them. When the U.S. arms the Saudi government, this is how these weapons are used.
As Gregg Carlstrom observed, this latest massacre was a microcosm of the war:
A microcosm of the atrocity that is the war in Yemen. The Houthis turned a college into a prison where they torture their critics. The Saudi-led coalition bombed it yesterday and killed at least 100 people. https://t.co/8m5Srsqnak
— Gregg Carlstrom (@glcarlstrom) September 2, 2019
The AP reported on the strike as well:
Residents said, however, that people arrested over being critical of the Houthis had been imprisoned in the detention center. They said at least seven airstrikes had hit the area.
This is the reality that Yemeni civilians have been living with for more than four years: wrongfully detained and abused by the Houthis, and then blown up by the Saudis. As long as the war is allowed to drag on, more innocent Yemeni lives will be taken in atrocities such as this one.
Meanwhile, the war becomes ever more absurd as the UAE bombs the Hadi government’s forces in the south:
On Thursday, Emirati jets bombed convoys of government forces, killing scores in a series of airstrikes to prevent them from retaking Aden. The Emirati strikes spurred popular anger against the U.A.E. Activists began an online petition collecting signatures to “kick Emiratis out of Yemen,” and members of the Yemeni government issued a statement demanding the president to end the U.A.E. role in Yemen.
The ostensible goal of the coalition since 2015 has been to restore the “legitimate” government to power, but that hasn’t been the UAE’s real goal for a long time. Now one member of the coalition bombs the government that the rest of the coalition backs. When the U.S. arms the Emirati government, those weapons are now much more likely to be used against the forces of the Yemeni government that Washington claims to support. The events of the last few days have demonstrated once again that the U.S. shouldn’t be supporting or arming the Saudis or the UAE, and our government should instead be doing everything to pressure both of these states to end their military operations in Yemen.