ACTION ALERT: Amnesty International Condemns Obama’s “Astonishing,” Unprecedented Arms Deals with Repressive Saudi Regime

September 3rd, 2016 - by admin

Scott Paul / OXFAM America & Ben Norton / Salon – 2016-09-03 00:42:27

Take Action on the War in Yemen:
Stop the Sale of US Arms to Saudi Arabia

Scott Paul / OXFAM America

(August 31, 2016) — Yemen is enduring a massive humanitarian catastrophe made worse by over a year of fighting. Thousands have been killed and millions have been forced from their homes.

Yemen was already the poorest country in the Middle East before the war broke out, and now conflict has only made things worse as over half of the population doesn’t have enough to eat, and prices of food and medical care skyrocket.

US officials say they want to end the war in Yemen — but right now Congress is considering selling $1.15 BILLION in weapons to Saudi Arabia to be used in that same war.

I recently visited Yemen, and I can tell you first-hand about the daily bombardment the people of Yemen have to endure.

A month ago today, on the rooftop of Oxfam’s guesthouse in Sana’a, Yemen, I heard a ‘clinking’ sound by my feet. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw when I looked down: two pieces of shrapnel, knife-edged bomb fragments meant to kill anything and destroy anybody in their path.

As I looked down at the shrapnel, I thought about all the harm that the other fragments might have caused — and that a piece might be imprinted with the words, “made in USA.”

Throughout my visit, I was asked repeatedly why the US is bombing Yemen (we’re technically not, but we’re supporting the Saudi-led coalition that is). I didn’t have a good answer. The US government insists that it wants to end the war — but the US continues to arm the coalition and refuel its jets, which are responsible for most of the civilian deaths.

As long as American tanks and bombs are involved in the conflict, more lives will be lost. Please join us in sending your letter to Congress now and telling them that the sale of weapons of war to Saudi Arabia is UNACCEPTABLE.

ACTION: Raise your voice: tell Congress to OPPOSE the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia and to support peace in Yemen. Take action now: demand that Congress OPPOSE the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Thank you for speaking out on behalf of those caught up in this terrible violence.
Scott Paul, Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor, OXFAM America

Rights Group Blasts US “Hypocrisy” in
“Vast Flood of Weapons” to Saudi Arabia, Despite War Crimes

Ben Norton / Salon

(August 30, 2016) — Amnesty International has accused the US of “deadly hypocrisy” for its massive arms deals with Middle East governments that have carried out war crimes and other violations of international law.

“One of the unspoken legacies of the Obama administration is the extraordinary uptake in the amount of US weapons and military aid that are provided to major US allies like Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt that have terrible records when it comes to human rights,” explained Sunjeev Bery in an interview with Salon.

Bery, the advocacy director for Middle East and North Africa issues at Amnesty International USA, called on the Obama administration to “do an about-face on its current policy of providing vast arms sales and military aid to repressive allies in the Middle East.”

Israel has for decades been the largest recipient of US military aid. It averages more than $3 billion a year, although this figure may soon increase. Egypt comes in second, with $1.5 billion. In 2014, these two countries received about three-fourths of US foreign military aid.

In the past few years, however, one of the most repressive countries in the world has become a key customer for US weapons: Saudi Arabia.

Since President Obama took office, the US government has done a staggering $110 billion in arms sales with the Saudi monarchy — amounting to an unprecedented increase. Like Israel and Egypt, Saudi Arabia has long been a close US ally, but the US-Saudi military alliance has grown dramatically since 2009.

Throughout the past year US weapons have kept flowing to Saudi Arabia, even while the United Nations and human rights groups have documented a slew of Saudi war crimes in Yemen.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned the US and U.K. governments for providing weapons, military intelligence and support to the Saudi-led coalition that has since March 2015 launched thousands of air strikes in Yemen, warning that they may be complicit in war crimes.

The bombing campaign has ravaged Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East. Nearly 4,000 civilians have been killed and thousands more have been injured, with an average of 13 civilian casualties a day, according to the UN.

The violence has displaced millions, incited mass hunger, fueled extremism and pushed more than 80 percent of the population into what the UN has for more than a year called a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

Bery told Salon, “The bottom line is that the US government considers to arm the government of Saudi Arabia with precisely the kinds of weapons that Saudi Arabia and its coalition have used to attack civilian communities in Yemen. That’s the fundamental problem,” he added.

“Nobody should be putting more bombs or weapons in the hands of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition,” he stressed.

A report released in February by a UN panel of experts documented coalition attacks on a dizzying array of civilian targets, including refugee camps, weddings, hospitals, schools, homes, vehicles, markets and factories.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also documented Saudi-led coalition use of widely banned US-made cluster bombs in civilian areas.

On Aug. 25, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein called for “an international, independent body to carry out comprehensive investigations in Yemen.” The UN Human Rights Council, at the high commissioner for human right’s recommendation, had previously tried to create such an international probe, but it was derailed by the US and Saudi Arabia’s European allies.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have since urged the UN General Assembly to suspend Saudi Arabia from the Human Rights Council, citing its “gross and systematic violations of human rights abroad and at home.”

For several months these leading human rights groups, pointing to the mass atrocities, have called for an embargo on all weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia. The US and other Western countries, however, have ignored them.

On August 8, the US State Department told Congress it had approved yet another arms deal: a $1.15 billion sale of tanks, machine guns and more.

This reinvigorated a bipartisan campaign by lawmakers — including Chris Murphy and Rand Paul in the Senate and Ted Lieu and Ted Yoho in the House — to pass legislation barring US arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

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