Home/Daniel Larison/The Saudi Coalition’s Insidious ‘Weaponization of Disease’

The Saudi Coalition’s Insidious ‘Weaponization of Disease’

Recent Saudi coalition airstrikes in Hodeidah struck water facilities in another deliberate attack on Yemen’s civilian infrastructure:

Airstrikes carried out in recent days by the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen struck facilities providing most of the water to the crucial port city of Hodeida, the UN said Sunday.

Hodeidah has already suffered greatly from the cholera epidemic, and attacks on water facilities risk causing a new outbreak of the disease there. The U.N. has warned that coalition attacks on Hodeidah’s water facilities pose a grave threat to the civilian population:

“Cholera is already present in neighborhoods across the city and governorate. Damage to sanitation, water and health facilities jeopardizes everything we are trying to do,” said Ms. Grande. “We could be one airstrike away from an unstoppable epidemic.” [bold mine-DL]

Like the multiple coalition attacks on the cholera treatmentplant in Abs and the watersystem in Saada, attacks on a water sanitation facility is part of a deliberate effort to deprive the civilian population of clean drinking water in a country that is suffering from the worst cholera outbreak on record. There can be no illusions that the coalition is hitting these targets by mistake. Even if they were mistakes, that wouldn’t absolve the coalition of responsibility for these attacks, but it is clear that they aren’t. They are intentionally damaging and destroying infrastructure that Yemenis need to prevent the spread of cholera in an insidious use of preventable disease as a weapon against the civilian population. This is part of the “weaponization of disease” that we have seen before in coalition attacks on sewage treatment facilities and health clinics. These are all unquestionably war crimes, and the U.S. continues to make them possible with ongoing military assistance in the form of weapons, fuel, and intelligence.

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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