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The Atrocious War on Yemen

The Economist reports [1] on the war on Yemen, especially the Saudis’ latest attack on Saada province in northern Yemen that I referred [2] to yesterday:

As Adel al-Jubeir, the freshly minted foreign minister, declared the impending halt on May 8th, the Saudi-led coalition began an intense bombing campaign on Saada, a province in northern Yemen, in a reprisal against Shia rebels known as the Houthis.

Reports from residents of Saada say that the bombing has been relentless. “Homes, schools, everything has been destroyed,” says a Houthi supporter in the capital who has friends and family in Saada. Aid workers say the bombardment will probably lead to a “mass loss of life”.

When the Saudis declared the entire province a military target, they were effectively telling the world in advance that they were going to be killing civilians in large numbers. According to this report, it appears that this is exactly what they’ve been doing in the last two days. I don’t think there is any question that these attacks on civilians constitute war crimes. They seem to have been committed deliberately to punish civilians in the area for the acts of Houthi militiamen, who were themselves retaliating against the bombing campaign that the Saudis began in March. Indeed, the Saudis must have expected that these attacks would be seen as war crimes, which is why they sent their useless warning to the inhabitants shortly before the attacks began.

As I noted in my previous post, the Saudis’ call for civilians to evacuate the area was an impossible demand. The article continues:

“It is impossible for the entire population of Saada province to leave within hours,” says Llanos Ortiz, an emergency coordinator at Médecins Sans Frontieres, an aid agency. “Many people have no transport or fuel due to the coalition’s blockade. Many others have no access to information because the province’s phone networks are barely operational.”

The Saudis’ warning was the thinnest of fig leaves used to provide cover for the atrocious tactics that they were preparing to use against the civilian population. Every day that the U.S. backs this war, our government is contributing to the senseless killing of Yemeni civilians. This has only become worse since the campaign began, and it seems likely to keep getting worse. It’s worth noting that this is the sort of thing that usually spurs “humanitarian” interventionists to call for the U.S. to attack the government that does things like this. Strange how that doesn’t seem to happen when the civilians being killed are considered to be on the “wrong” side of a conflict.

The report says that “America has grown frustrated with broken promises by the Saudis to halt the fighting,” but that hasn’t translated into any change in the U.S. policy. If the administration is so frustrated, it could start by withdrawing its support for the campaign and refusing to give the Saudis and their allies any of the things they are hoping to get at the upcoming GCC summit. Instead of rushing to “reassure” Riyadh of U.S. support, Washington should be making clear that the Saudis’ reckless intervention will have consequences for the future of the relationship between our governments. The U.S. may not be able to stop the Saudis from what they’re doing, but it can at least ensure that the Saudis don’t benefit from increasing U.S. support in the process.

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3 Comments To "The Atrocious War on Yemen"

#1 Comment By SteveM On May 9, 2015 @ 12:44 pm

I made the comment early on that the Saudis are as militarily ruthless as Assad but just have not had the opportunity to demonstrate those warped sensibilities.

But now they have. But make no mistake, when the fat, retrograde Saudi Princes come back to Obama with an open checkbook to replenish their weapons stores filled by the American Merchants of Death, Obama will again ensure that the store is “open for business”.

About the destruction of Yemen, the Administration/MSM and the American people: “Nothing to see here… Move along… Keep moving…”

#2 Comment By Grumpy Old Man On May 9, 2015 @ 4:19 pm

I was going to say we have a trifecta, but really for for four in the Mideast:

1. We supported the Gaza wars of Israel.

2. We are aiding and abetting the Shiite militias in their reprisals against the Sunnis in Iraq.

3. We are meddling in Syria, helping God knows whom.

4. We are assisting our friends, the Saudis, in their devastation of Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world.

None of these policies has anything to do with our vital national interests, they all are in violation of basic humanitarian law, and they all seem to be handled with astonishing incompetence.

And no one seems to be saying anything against it, suggesting that they really are all daft except thee and me.

#3 Comment By Reinhold On May 9, 2015 @ 4:46 pm

“Every day that the U.S. backs this war, our government is contributing to the senseless killing of Yemeni civilians.”
Aren’t you forgetting that the U.S. has been conducting a bombing war on Yemen for the past decade? You’re writing as though the U.S. is just supporting the Saudi war (it is doing so vigorously), but we’ve basically been waging the same war for many years, and the Saudis are just exacerbating it. I mean, of course, the war on Yemenis, not on al-Qaeda or the Houthis or whoever the alleged target is this week.