Amnesty International USA & Chris Toensing / Foreign Policy In Focus – 2016-03-14 21:48:20
ACTION ALERT: Stop $1 Billion
US Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia
Amnesty International USA
It’s the war that no one is talking about. Thousands of civilians have been killed and injured by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition since the conflict began in Yemen.
Where is Saudi Arabia getting the bombs to do it? One major seller is the US Government. The US Government risks complicity in the actions of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition as they commit violations of international humanitarian law.
And now President Obama has authorized the sale of over 18,000 bombs and 1,500 warheads to Saudi Arabia — but these bombs have not yet been delivered. There is still time to act: Urge President Obama and Congress to cancel the arms sale to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia’s government has led a devastating campaign of unlawful air strikes and bombardment of civilian targets in the next-door country of Yemen.
Yemen is in a humanitarian crisis, with over 2.5 million displaced, and 82% of the population in need of some form of humanitarian assistance.
While all sides have committed violations, a UN report found that Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes were responsible for most of the civilian deaths in Yemen’s conflict.
The Saudi Arabia-led coalition declared the entire city of Sa’da — civilian homes included — a military target, which is in direct violation of international humanitarian law.
Saudi Arabia is the largest arms sales customer of the US. Based on Amnesty International’s evidence of civilian targeting, putting more US bombs in the hands of Saudi Arabia’s military will only make matters worse for civilians in Yemen.
Tell President Obama and Congress that the US should not sell bombs and arms to countries who are using them to commit human rights abuses and violations of the laws of war.
I urge you to stop the sale and delivery of over 18,000 US bombs to the Government of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and its military coalition have already killed many civilians in Yemen through their unlawful air strikes and indiscriminate bombardment.
Since November 2013, the US Defense Department has authorized over $35.7 billion in major arms deals to Saudi Arabia. This includes the announcement of a $1.29 billion US arms sale to Saudi Arabia on November 16, 2015 that will supply 18,440 bombs and 1,500 warheads to Saudi Arabia to replenish their stocks. However, these bombs have yet to be delivered.
Since the conflict in Yemen began, thousands of civilians have been killed and injured. Yemen is in a humanitarian crisis, with over 2 million displaced and 82% of the population in need of some form of humanitarian assistance.
While all sides have committed violations, a UN report found that Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes were responsible for most of the civilian deaths in Yemen’s conflict through the end of July of 2015. For example, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition declared the entire Yemeni city of Sa’da a military target, in direct violation of international humanitarian law.
Since March 2015, Amnesty International researchers have spent weeks on the ground in Yemen, where they found both unexploded US bombs and identifiable fragments of exploded US bombs among the ruins of Yemeni homes and other civilian objects.
The Saudi-led coalition’s pattern of air strikes raise serious concerns about an apparent disregard for civilian life and for fundamental principles of international humanitarian law.
There is overwhelming reason for concern that the Government of Saudi Arabia will use new US arms to commit even more violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen.
By providing Saudi Arabia with thousands more bombs and warheads, the US government risks complicity in the Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen, including war crimes.
Please halt the $1.29 billion US arms sale immediately and make sure that none of these bombs are delivered.
Sunjeev Bery is the Advocacy Director for Middle East North Africa at Amnesty International USA.
Your Tax Dollars Are Enabling
Police Brutality in Egypt
Chris Toensing / Foreign Policy In Focus & Middle East Report
(March 11, 2016) — Ever since the Black Lives Matter movement exploded into the headlines, violence by American police officers has come under fire from activists and ordinary citizens alike. Less discussed, however, is how the U.S. government winks at the police brutality of its client states abroad.
The military government in Egypt, for example, is cracking down hard on its restive citizenry — harder than any time in memory. And the United States, which sends the country over a $1 billion a year in security aid, is looking the other way.
The cops on the beat in Egyptian cities are a menace. They demand bribes from motorists on any pretense and mete out lethal violence on a whim.
On February 18, a Cairo policeman shot 24-year-old Muhammad Sayed in the head because the youth asked him for a few extra dollars to do the cop a favor. The policeman is facing murder charges. But, as in the United States, it’s common for Egyptian courts to acquit officers or send them away with a slap on the wrist.
Beatings and other abuses are rampant at the country’s police stations.
Last month, according to the heroic El-Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, a Cairo-based group, there were eight deaths in police custody — and almost 80 cases of torture. The group estimates that nearly 500 Egyptians died in police custody last year, and over 600 were tortured.
Even worse are the plainclothes agents of the Interior Ministry, who operate with near total impunity against perceived political dissidents. When these secret police take people away, Egyptians say they’ve gone “behind the sun.” No one knows where the detainees are, and anyone who looks for them too long will go blind.
Those Interior Ministry goons are the leading suspects in the torture and murder of Giulio Regeni. The Italian graduate student was found dead on a desert roadside, his body bearing cigarette burns and other signs of repeated torture, in early February. He’d been missing for 10 days.
Because he was from Europe, Regeni’s case got a lot of media attention. But it’s grimly ordinary for Egyptians to disappear and die under similar circumstances.
Egyptians don’t take these outrages lying down. Students at the American University in Cairo, where Regeni was a visiting scholar, hung banners in protest. Thousands more surrounded a police station to demand justice for Muhammad Sayed.
Most famously, five years ago young protesters chose January 25 — designated by the government as Police Day — to start the enormous popular uprising that forced the octogenarian dictator Hosni Mubarak to step down.
For a time after the 2011 revolt, the hated police disappeared from the streets, and neighborhood watches sprang up in towns and villages across Egypt.
But as the authoritarian state reasserted itself, so did the most appalling tactics of repression. Police torture, in particular, has become more frequent and more severe. El-Nadeem Center director Aida Seif al-Dawla calls it “a beast that took a break and came back in full force to take revenge.”
This makes it pretty odd timing for the United States to remove all the remaining human rights conditions on the $1.3 billion aid package it sends annually to its cherished ally on the Nile. But that’s exactly what the Obama administration is asking Congress to do.
Secretary of State John Kerry says human rights concerns in Egypt are outweighed by Washington’s “huge interests” there — among them a counterterrorism partnership, a strong state in a region roiled by civil war, the Suez Canal, and Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.
These are the same arguments for “stability” that US administrations of both parties have made for decades. The Egyptian regime gets the message, and so do the Egyptian people: Washington doesn’t care, ultimately, if the police state is unleashed.
The United States is in no position to lecture other countries about police brutality. But the Obama administration’s stance toward Egypt effectively condones it.
Chris Toensing is the editor of Middle East Report, published by the Middle East Research and Information Project. Reprinted with permission from Foreign Policy In Focus.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.