US/Saudi Coalition Kills Scores of Men, Women and Children at Yemeni Wedding Party

April 24th, 2018 - by admin

The American Conservative & The Independent & Reuters & Canadian Broadcast Corporation & The United Nations – 2018-04-24 00:46:39

Saudi Coalition Kills Scores at a Yemeni Wedding Party

US/Saudi Coalition Kills Scores at a Yemeni Wedding
Daniel Larison / The American Conservative

The murders of these Yemeni women and children and thousands more like them are [Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman’s] doing, and the US is responsible for enabling him and his allies to do it.

(April 23, 2018) — The latest Saudi coalition atrocity against Yemeni civilians was another attack on a wedding party, killing 20 people including the bride and wounding dozens more:

At least 20 people including the bride were killed when an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a wedding party in northern Yemen, health officials have said.

The dead were mostly women and children gathered in a tent set up for the wedding in the Bani Qayis district, according to Khaled al-Nadhri, the leading health official in the northwestern Hajjah province.

Hospital chief Mohammed al-Sawmali said the groom and 45 other wounded people were brought to the local al-Jomhouri hospital. Thirty of those injured were reported to be children, with some in critical condition having suffered severed limbs and shrapnel wounds.

There is no excuse for blowing up a wedding party. There is clearly no military purpose served by attacking these people, and most of the dead and wounded are women and children. The death toll will very likely increase due to the severity of some of the injuries.

This is a clear violation of international law, and unfortunately it is just one of thousands like it over the last three years. Other weddings in Yemen have been similarly turned into the sites of Saudi coalition massacres during this war. This is far from the first time this has happened, and unless the Saudi-led war on Yemen is ended it won’t be the last.

The Saudi coalition keeps carrying out these attacks with no regard for the lives of civilians, and our government continues to arm and refuel their planes as they do it. The Saudis and their allies know they can act with complete impunity because the US keeps providing military assistance and diplomatic cover no matter what they do to Yemeni civilians.

Our State Department won’t even report on the war crimes that they commit. Instead of being treated as the war criminal that he is during his visit to the US, Mohammed bin Salman was feted and embraced by our government, given mostly fawning media coverage, and welcomed by the biggest names in entertainment and business.

The murders of these Yemeni women and children and thousands more like them are his doing, and the US is responsible for enabling him and his allies to do it.

The idea that US support is reducing the number of civilian casualties is impossible to take seriously when it seems undeniable that many of the coalition’s attacks on civilians are done on purpose. After three years of bombing and starving Yemen, the coalition is no closer to any of its stated goals, but it has succeeded in raining death and destruction on numerous weddings, funerals, medical clinics, markets, treatment plants, farms, schools, and homes.

This is what happens when at least 30% of all coalition strikes hit civilian targets. Providing arms and refueling to the Saudi coalition guarantees that more Yemeni civilians will be killed in this way. For their sake, it is imperative that the US halt its support for this war at once.

Update: The death toll is now reportedly 33 people:
Second Update: CNN confirms 33 killed, at least 41 injured by the strike.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter.

Yemen: ‘At Least 20 Killed Including Bride’
After Airstrike by Saudi-led Coalition Hits Wedding Party

Groom and 45 other wounded people are in hospital

Jon Sharman, Ghaida Ghantous, and Ahmed al-Haj / The Independent

April 24, 2018) — At least 20 people including the bride were killed when an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a wedding party in northern Yemen, health officials have said.

The dead were mostly women and children gathered in a tent set up for the wedding in the Bani Qayis district, according to Khaled al-Nadhri, the leading health official in the north-western Hajjah province.

Hospital chief Mohammed al-Sawmali said the groom and 45 other wounded people were brought to the local al-Jomhouri hospital. Thirty of those injured were reported to be children, with some in critical condition having suffered severed limbs and shrapnel wounds.

Footage that emerged from the scene of the airstrike showed scattered body parts and a young boy in a green shirt hugging a man’s lifeless body, screaming and crying.

Health ministry spokesman Abdel-Hakim al-Kahlan said ambulances were initially unable to reach the site of the bombing for fear of subsequent airstrikes as the jets continued to fly overhead after the initial strike on Sunday.

“We take this report very seriously and it will be fully investigated as all reports of this nature are,” a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said.

Al-Masirah, the TV station of the armed Houthi movement which controls the area and much of northern Yemen, claimed on its Twitter account that 33 people had been killed and 55 wounded. More than 10,000 civilians have been killed and tens of thousands wounded in three years of war in Yemen.

The civil war broke out after the government of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi was pushed out of the capital, Sana’a, by the Houthis in March 2015. It led to a military intervention by the Saudis and others. Some 22 milllion people, or 80 percent of the population, are in need of humanitarian aid, the UN has said.

UN officials have accused the Saudi Arabia-led coalition of war crimes and of being responsible for most of the killings. Air strikes have hit weddings, busy markets, hospitals, and schools. For its part, the coalition has blamed Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and said they have used civilians as human shields.

Earlier this month the UK approved a £170m aid package for several million Yemenis at risk of starvation. In November last year. Theresa May’s government was criticised for allowing arms deals with Saudi Arabia worth billions of pounds.

Additional reporting by agencies

State Department Report
Whitewashes Saudi War Crimes in Yemen

Daniel Larison / The American Conservative

(April 22, 2018) — The State Department’s annual human rights report whitewashes Saudi war crimes in Yemen:
In the section on Saudi Arabia, the State Department pared down language on the effects of its US-backed bombing campaign in the Yemeni civil war and misquoted reporting from human rights watchdogs, according to Raed Jarrar, a Middle East expert with Amnesty International.

The report, Jarrar says, “sugar-coats” Amnesty International and other nongovernmental organizations in writing “some coalition airstrikes caused disproportionate collateral damage.” Amnesty’s actual reporting says the Saudi bombing campaign constituted serious violations that could be amount to war crimes.

“I thought to myself, how dare you misquote us in the report,” he tells Foreign Policy. “That’s not our language at all, and it was obviously changed for political motives.”

The Trump administration is not the first to indulge the Saudis and their allies in the war on Yemen, but US support for the war has increased and criticism of the coalition has waned since Trump took office.

Unfortunately, the administration has every incentive to minimize or deny Saudi coalition crimes in Yemen because the US has been enabling their bombing campaign and supporting their blockade for three years.

On Friday, 20 Yemeni civilians were slaughtered by a coalition airstrike when they were driving near Taiz. Last week, coalition strikes destroyed a water system that displaced people relied on for clean drinking water.

Earlier this month, more than a dozen displaced Yemenis were blown up for daring to step outside. Attacks like these happen on a regular basis, and US support for the coalition helps make them possible.

Our government has been aiding and abetting Saudi coalition war crimes for three years straight. The administration doesn’t want people knowing that, and that is why the State Department’s report says nothing about these crimes.

There is no possible justification for our continued support for the bombing campaign. Continued military assistance to governments that commit such crimes is a disgrace that ought to be halted at once.

Yemen Wedding Party Airstrike
Death Toll Tops 130, Medics Say

Saudi-led Arab coalition denies they were responsible

Thomson Reuters & Canadian Broadcast Corporation

(September 29, 2015) — The death toll from an airstrike on a wedding party in Yemen has jumped to 131, medics said on Tuesday, in one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in Yemen’s war that drew strong condemnation from the UN secretary-general.

A Saudi-led Arab coalition that has air supremacy over Yemen has strongly denied any role in the wedding party carnage, and a coalition spokesman suggested that local militias may have fired the projectiles.

The US-backed coalition has been targeting the Iranian-allied Houthis mostly by air across Yemen since March with the goal of ousting the war’s dominant armed faction from regions it has seized since last year, including the capital Sanaa in the north, and to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Residents said on Monday that two missiles tore through tents in the Red Sea village of Al-Wahijah, near the ancient port of Al-Mokha, where a local man affiliated with the Houthi group was holding his wedding reception.

The area is deemed the gateway to the Bab al-Mandeb strait connecting the Red Sea with the Arabian Sea, a vital route for oil tanker and other maritime traffic between Asia and Europe.

A resident of Al-Wahijah had said on Monday that 12 women, eight children and seven men had died in the airstrike, and a local official put the death toll at 30.

On Tuesday, a medical source at Maqbana hospital, where most of the casualties were taken, said the death toll had climbed to 131 people, including many women and children.

The United Nations and international rights groups have expressed alarm at the escalating number of civilian deaths in Yemen – at least 2,355 out of more than 4,500 people killed from the end of March to Sept. 24, according to figures released by the UN human rights office in Geneva on Tuesday.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the high death toll at the wedding event and warned that any intentional attack on civilians violates international law and must be investigated.

Arab coalition spokesman Brigadier-General Ahmed al-Asseri said there had been no air operations in the area in the al-Mokha area for three days so “this is totally false news”.

He added that the coalition would concede a mistake if it made one but Yemen’s conflict was chaotic with a grab bag of armed groups active, and that civilians sometimes could not differentiate between cannon, mortar and Katyusha rocket fire.

In Geneva, U.N. human rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said it had a team on the ground in Yemen trying to verify details of the wedding party bloodshed.

“The (Hadi-led) government in exile seemed to have acknowledged it and said it was a mistake … I don’t think we have much doubt that this incident took place and it is a grave incident,” Colville told a news conference.

US Refueling of Saudi Coalition Planes
Leads to More Civilian Casualties

Daniel Larison / The American Conservative

(March 29, 2018) — Secretary Mattis has offered a new ludicrous defense of US refueling of Saudi-led coalition planes:
Mattis said, “When you’re a pilot in the air and you’ve got bombs on your wing and you’ve got somebody calling on you to drop and you’re watching your fuel gauge go,” US refueling provides pilots reassurance that “there’s no need for a rash or hasty decision there.”

US refueling of coalition planes has not made them more careful or reluctant to drop bombs on the wrong targets. The coalition illegally treats all of Saada and its vicinity as a military target, so there is not even a pretense of trying to avoid civilian casualties in attacks in that part of the country.

The coalition bombing campaign overall hits civilian targets with remarkable frequency that makes a mockery of the idea that they are trying to limit the harm done to noncombatants. The latest findings from the Yemen Data Project show that coalition strikes hit civilian targets at least 30% of the time, and that rate has remained steady throughout the conflict . . . .

The frequency of strikes on civilian targets is not the result of haste. It is the result of a blatant disregard for civilian life. We can see this because we know that the coalition is engaged in systematic, deliberate attacks on Yemeni food production and distribution and the country’s infrastructure . . . .

The coalition hasn’t bombed over 400 farms because they were worried about running out of fuel. They haven’t destroyed water treatment facilities and electric plants because they were in a rush. They did it because they wanted to destroy as much of Yemen’s infrastructure and food production as possible as part of their larger effort to starve the country into submission.

US refueling not only makes the US a party to the conflict and proves that US forces have been introduced into hostilities without authorization, but it makes the coalition bombing campaign possible and it makes it more destructive than it would otherwise be.

US refueling just gives coalition planes more time in the air to carry out more attacks. When at least 30% of those attacks are on civilian targets, it guarantees that more civilians will die. The evidence shows that US support isn’t making the coalition war effort safer for civilians, and it can’t so long as the coalition is deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure and food production.

By enabling that war effort and allowing their planes to remain in the air longer, the US is helping the Saudis and their allies kill more innocent Yemenis than they possibly could on their own. Mattis’ justification for US support for the coalition war effort makes no sense.

It is wrong to continue providing support that we know will cause more civilian casualties, and that is one reason why the Senate should have voted to end US involvement in the war last week.

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US Secretary-General Strongly Condemns
Deadly Air Strikes on Civilians in Yemen

(April 23, 2018) — The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres:

The Secretary-General strongly condemns the air strikes on a wedding party in Hajjah and on civilian vehicles in Taizz, where at least 50 civilians, including children, were reportedly killed and scores of others injured.

The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed.

The Secretary-General reminds all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law concerning the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure during armed conflicts. He calls for a prompt, effective and transparent investigation.