The Civilian Victims of the War on Yemen
The Houthis and their allies are the declared targets of the coalition’s 5-month-old air campaign. In reality, however, it is civilians like little Rahma and her family who all too often pay the price of this war. Hundreds have been killed in such strikes while asleep in their homes, when going about their daily activities, or in the very places where they had sought refuge from the conflict. The United States, meanwhile, has provided the weapons that have made many of these killings possible.
There is good reason to believe that the Saudi air campaign has been deliberately targeting civilians for months. When they illegally declared all of Saada a military target, they were practically admitting that this is what they were going to do, and they have since made good on that threat. While there has been some very good reporting and documentation of Saudi war crimes by journalists and human rights groups, these crimes have largely gone unnoticed here in the U.S. along with the rest of the war. This has made it much easier for the administration to avoid public scrutiny of its ongoing support for the intervention.
Rovera goes on to describe the Saudi use of cluster bombs, which the Saudis purchased from the U.S., and reminds us that they are such exceptionally indiscriminate weapons:
The poisonous legacy of these U.S.-made weapons will plague Yemen for years to come. In Inshur, a village near the northern city of Saada, I found a field full of U.S.-made BLU-97 cluster submunitions — small bombs the size of a soda can that are contained in cluster bombs. Many lie in the field, still unexploded and posing a high risk for unsuspecting local residents, farmers, and animal herders who may step on them or pick them up, unaware of the danger. In one of the city’s hospitals, I met a 13-year-old boy who stepped on one of the unexploded cluster bombs in Inshur, causing it to explode. It smashed several bones in his foot.
Cluster bombs were banned by an international convention in 2008. But in the 1990s, the United States sold the type of cluster bombs now littering the fields of Inshur to Saudi Arabia. Each of these cluster bombs contains up to 200 small bombs, which are dispersed by the bomb’s explosion over a large area. However, many of these smaller bombs often do not explode on impact, leaving a lethal legacy for years to come.
The war on Yemen will continue claiming innocent victims long after the hostilities end, and the U.S. will have provided the Saudis the weapons that will end up killing them.