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The Latest Saudi Slaughter in Yemen Kills 17 Civilians

The Saudi coalition has said that it will investigate another one of its own war crimes following the latest slaughter of Yemeni civilians earlier this week:

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen promised on Thursday to investigate a military operation this week that the United Nations said killed at least 17 civilians in the latest of three attacks this month on a market.

Saudi coalition atrocities in Yemen have not stopped. Our government’s support for the war criminals responsible for these atrocities has not ended. Innocent civilians continue to pay the price for the indefensible U.S. policy of backing this war.

When the Saudi coalition promises an investigation into one of its own massacres, we already know what they will conclude. They will either claim that it was an accident or they will attempt to shift the blame to the people they blew up. We know this because the coalition’s Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) exists to whitewash these crimes as much as possible. Having the coalition investigate itself will predictably yield a result as dissatisfying and outrageous as the verdict in the sham Khashoggi trial. The report mentions this bogus process:

The case has been referred to the coalition’s incident assessment team in keeping with its commitment to international humanitarian law, Malki added.

Since the Saudi coalition’s “commitment to international humanitarian law” is non-existent, referring to the case to JIAT is very much in keeping with it. The Saudi coalition acts with impunity in Yemen because their military personnel know that they face no consequences for killing civilians a dozen or more at a time. Their assessment team exists to create the appearance of taking international law seriously while they routinely violate it in practice.

More than a dozen were killed in this latest attack on a market in Saada:

U.N. humanitarian coordinator Lise Grande said first reports showed 17 people, including 12 Ethiopians, died and 12 people were injured in Tuesday’s strike on the al-Raqw market in Saada, an area near the Saudi border controlled by the Houthis.

A Nov. 20 attack there killed or injured 28, and another on Nov. 27 killed or injured 32, according to the United Nations.

The Saudi coalition has been launching indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas all over Yemen for almost five years, but Saada has been the hardest hit and one of the most frequently targeted parts of the country. Almost as soon as the bombing campaign had begun, the Saudi coalition illegally declared all of Saada to be a military target. It is no accident that many of the most egregious massacres of innocents have occurred in that province, including the Dhahyan bus massacre that took place in August 2018. That bus massacre also took place in the middle of a busy marketplace. That didn’t stop Saudi jets from blowing it to pieces and killing more than 40 boys, and it hasn’t stopped them from attacking this market several times in a row.

The coalition is responsible for causing more Yemeni civilian casualties throughout the war. In just the last few weeks, they are responsible for killing dozens and dozens of civilians in a marketplace. They get away with this in large part because their Western patrons value arms sales over everything else, and because virtually no one speaks up for their Yemeni victims. The longer that the U.S. supports this war and continues enabling Saudi coalition atrocities, the more atrocities our government will have made possible.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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