The War on Yemen’s Horrible Consequences
The New York Timesreports additional details about the aftermath of the school bus massacre in northern Yemen:
Ali Abdullah Hamlah, a local bakery owner, said he heard the explosion and saw a huge cloud billow from the site before seeing a young man covered in blood dragging himself away. Mr. Hamlah approached and saw the bodies of seven children scattered around.
“In some cases, only the upper bodies of the kids were found,” he said. The mangled body of one child was found on the roof of a building, propelled by the force of the blast [bold mine-DL].
Videos shot in the aftermath show the demolished bus with the lifeless bodies of two boys on the floor. Other boys are on the ground nearby. Some struggle to move. Others are dead and eviscerated, their remains mixed up in the street with the detritus from the explosion.
“It was the first time in my life that I have seen such a horrific massacre,” Mr. Hamlah said.
There can be no justification for the attack on the school bus in Dahyan. A bus in a crowded market is not a military target, but it was deliberately blown up anyway. There is no doubt as to who is responsible, and there is no question that the bombing of a bus full of small children constitutes is a war crime. It also appears that the bomb that killed them was sold to a member of the coalition by the U.S., and it is more than likely that the U.S. military refueled the plane that dropped it. Our military claims that it doesn’t know what the coalition does with the weapons and refueling that they provide, but ignorance is no defense when our government has every reason to believe that our military assistance is being used to kill civilians.
This attack is just one among thousands of other attacks on civilian targets carried out by the Saudi coalition since the war began. It is an especially egregious example of how the war on Yemen is killing the country’s children. Many tens of thousands of Yemeni children are dying each year from preventable causes because of this war, and their deaths go mostly unremarked and unnoticed in the U.S. It is horrifying that it takes the massacre of over three dozen small boys to force our media and our government to pay close attention to what U.S. policy has been making possible for more than three years, but perhaps at least now more Americans will understand the consequences of our indefensible support for this war.
Civilian deaths from coalition airstrikes have risen in the last year, and they are likely to keep rising if the coalition’s offensive on Hodeidah is not stopped. Just this week coalition airstrikes claimed at least another 13 lives and injured two dozen more civilians in Hodeidah. Fatik Al-Rodaini of the charity Mona Relief reported another two dozen killed in airstrikes yesterday:
Please world wake up & talk about #Yemen
A new massacre committed today by Saudi airstrikes on civilians.
At least 25 people have been killed & wounded, icluding children & women in raids by Saudi regime on homes and markets in al-Durehimi area of #Hodeidah in western #Yemen
— Fatik Al-Rodaini (@Fatikr) August 14, 2018
The Saudi coalition clearly isn’t reducing the number of civilians that they kill in their attacks. As the Times report notes, the coalition keeps doing the same things they have been doing for years:
“The Saudis aren’t learning,” said Larry L. Lewis, a former State Department official who visited Saudi Arabia five times in 2015 and 2016 to help the country’s air force improve its targeting procedures and investigations. “They’re making the same mistakes they’ve been making all along. And we are not pressing the issue. We are letting them get away with it.”
The Saudis and their allies must not be allowed to get away with it any longer. The administration won’t hold them accountable, so Congress and the public have to do it. There is increasing Congressional scrutiny of U.S. policy in Yemen, but there needs to be much more than there has been. If the president is going to ignore the conditions that Congress sets on military assistance to the coalition, Congress will simply have to cut off that assistance entirely.