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The War on Yemen and the Administration’s Empty “Concern”

Empty statements of "concern" can't hide that U.S. support for the war is indefensible.
yemen sana'a air strike

The Obama administration is now “concerned” about civilian deaths in a war that they have been enabling for the last ten months:

The White House on Saturday said it was deeply concerned about reports of harm to civilians amid escalating violence in Yemen, and called on all sides involved in the conflict to resume peace talks.

“The United States takes all credible accounts of civilian deaths seriously and we again call on all sides of the conflict in Yemen to do their utmost to avoid harm to civilians,” said National Security Council spokesman Ned Price in a statement.

It would be much easier to take official statements like this seriously if the U.S. hadn’t been providing arms, fuel, and intelligence to the coalition whose bombing campaign is responsible for most of the war’s civilian casualties. The U.S. has backed the Saudi-led war on Yemen since it began last March, and it has continued to do so despite numerous credible reports of likely war crimes committed by members of the coalition. The U.S. now feigns concern for the predictable consequences of an atrocious war that the administration has been aiding for almost a year.

The Saudis and their allies have been using inherently indiscriminate cluster munitions in civilian areas throughout the campaign. Amnesty International confirmed the use of cluster munitions in the capital earlier this month. The coalition is also responsible for many attacks on civilian targets, and has repeatedly bombed civilian structures and then returned to attack rescue and medical personnel that come to the scene. An ambulance from an MSF-supported hospital was attacked in just this way last week. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) issued a statement on the attack:

In this latest instance of an attack on a medical facility or medical personnel in Yemen, the ambulance was responding to an earlier bombing in Dhayan. Just as it arrived and people were gathering to assist the victims of the initial bombing, the same site was hit again with another airstrike, wounding many people. A third strike was then launched, hitting the ambulance and killing its driver.

This is the campaign that the U.S. continues to support, and this is how the weapons the U.S. provides to the Saudis and their allies are being used. It is clear that the Saudi-led coalition has been deliberately targeting medical facilities and personnel in this conflict. This would be appalling and illegal under any circumstances, but it is even worse when we remember that Yemen’s medical facilities are being starved of necessary medicine and fuel by the Saudi-led blockade to the point where the country’s health care system is collapsing. The civilian population suffers from the effects of the bombing campaign, and then it is harmed again because the blockade is depriving the country of basic necessities that medical facilities need in order to function. U.S. support for the war is, like the war itself, indefensible, and empty statements of “concern” can’t hide that.

The Saudi-led coalition is obviously indifferent to U.S. statements of “concern” about the harm they are doing to the civilian population, and as long as the U.S. backs their war it is not surprising that these extremely mild statements are completely ignored.



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