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The U.S. Enables and Indulges Saudi War Crimes

As long as U.S. support for the war on Yemen continues, there are sure to be more senseless killings of civilians like the one we saw last week.
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The Red Cross has confirmed that 40 of the civilians killed in last Thursday’s massacre in Saada were children:

Forty children were among 51 people killed in a Saudi-led coalition air strike on a bus in rebel-held northern Yemen, the Red Cross said Tuesday, after thousands protested at a mass funeral.

Fifty-six children were also among the 79 people wounded in the Thursday strike on Saada province, a rebel stronghold that borders Saudi Arabia, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a new toll.

The coalition airstrike struck the bus in a crowded marketplace. The Saudis and their allies don’t deny committing this crime, but pretend instead that it was a “legitimate” attack. There is no way that attacking a school bus full of kids in the middle of a civilian area could ever be legitimate, and it is absurd that this even has to be said.

The Trump administration predictably has had very little to say about this except for one statement from Nikki Haley that notably omitted the identity of the perpetrator. The president and Secretary of State have yet to mention it, and the subject wasn’t included in the readout of Pompeo’s conversation with Mohammed bin Salman:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke Monday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but according to a State Department readout of the conversation, the top US diplomat made no mention of last week’s Saudi-led airstrike that hit a school bus in Yemen and killed dozens of children, many under the age of 10.

Pompeo and the White House have failed to publicly address the bombing in recent days, as reports continue to emerge detailing the tragic incident.

No one expects the Trump administration to condemn the Saudis over their conduct in Yemen, but it is remarkable that they won’t even mention the latest attack on civilians in passing for fear of offending the hypersensitive crown prince. When Houthi missiles were fired at Riyadh and other targets inside Saudi Arabia, the administration was quick to put on a big public show of accusing Iran. When the administration is presented with clear proof of a Saudi coalition massacre of dozens of children, they suddenly become mute and unwilling to draw conclusions.

The standard administration line about the war is that the U.S. has to continue supporting it in order to minimize harm to civilians, but attacks like this one and in Hodeidah earlier this month show that the coalition is not seriously trying to avoid civilian casualties. Our government doesn’t use the leverage it has with the Saudis and its allies to reduce the harm done to civilians, and it doesn’t hold the coalition accountable when it commits war crimes. Our Yemen policy makes the U.S. complicit in crimes that our government could prevent, and then once those crimes have happened the coalition governments pay no penalty for their slaughter of innocent civilians. The Trump administration in particular has made clear that our despotic clients can do whatever they want and still enjoy the full backing of the United States, and so as long as U.S. support for the war on Yemen continues there are sure to be more senseless killings of civilians like the one we saw last week.