Katy Kelly / AntiWar.com & Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Helene Cooper / The New York Times – 2018-08-16 00:08:00
US Is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Kathy Kelly / AntiWar.com
Donald J. Trump discussing weapons sales with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. Photo: UPI
(August 15, 2018) — On August 9, a US-supported Saudi airstrike bombed a bus carrying schoolchildren in Sa’ada, a city in northern Yemen. The New York Times reported that the students were on a recreational trip. According to the Sa’ada health department, the attack killed at least forty-three people.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, at least twenty-nine of those killed were children under the age of fifteen, and forty-eight people were wounded, including thirty children.
CNN aired horrifying, heartbreaking footage of children who survived the attack being treated in an emergency room. One of the children, carrying his UNICEF-issued blue backpack, is covered with blood and badly burned.
Commenting on the tragedy, CNN’s senior correspondent Nima Elbagir emphasized that she had seen unaired video, which was even worse than what the CNN segment showed. She then noted that conditions could worsen because Yemen’s vital port of Hodeidah, the only port currently functioning in Yemen, has been under attack for weeks of protracted Saudi coalition-led airstrikes. Ms. Elbagir described the port of Hodeidah as “the only lifeline to bring in supplies to Yemen.”
“This conflict is backed by the US and the UK,” Elbagir said, concluding her report with, “They are in full support of the Saudi-led activities in Yemen today.”
US companies such as Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin have sold billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries in the Saudi-Emirati-led coalition which is attacking Yemen.
The US military refuels Saudi and Emirati warplanes through midair exercises. And, the United States helps the Saudi coalition warmakers choose their targets.
Isa Blumi, an associate professor at Stockholm University and author of the book, Destroying Yemen, has said the United States is “front and center responsible” for the Saudi coalition attacks.
Looking for a helpful way to describe US support for the Saudi-Emirati operation in Yemen, journalist Samuel Oakford recently offered this comparison: “If an airstrike was a drive-by and killed someone, the US provided the car, the wheels, the servicing and repair, the gun, the bullets, help with maintenance of those — and the gas.”
The August 9 attack against children and other civilians follows a tragic and sordid list of Saudi-Emirati attacks causing carnage and extreme affliction in Yemen. On June 12, Doctors Without Borders reported an airstrike which destroyed its newly constructed facility for treatment of cholera, in the town of Abs, built in anticipation of a third epidemic outbreak of cholera in Yemen.
Scores of people were killed and wounded in an August 3 attack near the entrance to the port of Hodeidah’s Al Thawra hospital. Analysts examining the munitions used in the attack believe the killing and destruction was caused when United Arab Emirates forces situated near the Hodeidah airport fired mortars into the area.
Why have the Saudis and Emiratis led a coalition attacking Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab peninsula, since March of 2015?
Professor Isa Blumi believes the goal is to bludgeon Yemenis into complete submission and exert control over “a gold mine” of resources, including oil reserves, natural gas, minerals, and a strategic location.
Blumi notes that the war against Yemen costs the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia $200 million per day, yet Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who commented that a prolonged war is in the interests of Saudi Arabia, seems to believe the cost is worth it, considering potential future gains.
Business profits seem to also motivate US weapon companies that continue benefiting from weapon sales to the Saudi-Emirati led coalition. [See last story below. — EAW.]
The United States is deeply implicated in the appalling carnage in Yemen. It is our responsibility as citizens to do what we can to demand an end to this complicity.
Kathy Kelly (firstname.lastname@example.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence.
Slain Bus Full of Children Raises
Questions About US Role in Yemen War
Saudis insist killings were legitimate
as Congress pushes for US limits
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(August 15, 2018) â€“ In his signing statement for the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), President Trump set out his plans to defy Congressional attempts to limit involvement in the Saudi invasion of Yemen. Congress has been expressing concerns for quite some time about war crimes.
The Trump Administration has been eager to participate in the war, but less eager to discuss those times when Saudi warplanes bomb a school, or a wedding, or a hospital. Most recently, Saudi warplanes bombed a school bus, killing 44 children in the northern village of Dahyan.
This only adds to the questions about US support for keeping those warplanes flying, and helping the Saudis pick targets. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis both reportedly “pressed” the Saudis on the matter.
The Saudis clearly aren’t worried, with coalition leadership insisting the attack on the bus was a “legitimate military action.” Saudi internal investigations have, virtually without exclusion, endorsed the incidents that killed large numbers of civilians, and the administration has backed the Saudis consistently at the UN.
As Congress presses the administration to pare back its involvement, these large body counts, especially among children, are only going to make it more difficult for President Trump to justify continued involvement, and refuse to comply with new reporting requirements.
State Dept. Approves $670 Million
Arms Deal With Saudi Arabia
Helene Cooper / The New York Times
WASHINGTON (March 22, 2018) — The State Department said on Thursday that it had approved the sale of an estimated $670 million in anti-tank missiles to Saudi Arabia, just hours after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Pentagon leaders to discuss the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen.
The proposed package includes up to 6,700 missiles made by Raytheon, as well as spare parts for American-made tanks and helicopters that Saudi Arabia already owns.
The proposed sale is bound to be questioned by Congress, where the Senate this week rejected a bipartisan effort to halt American military support for the bombing campaign in Yemen. The Trump administration strenuously protested the effort, and sent Pentagon and State Department officials to Capitol Hill last week to lobby against its passage.
In the end, the administration prevailed, and lawmakers from both parties shelved the measure for further debate by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That it got that far demonstrates the increased frustration by Republicans and Democrats over Washington’s support for the Saudi campaign against Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, which has been roundly criticized by human rights organizations because of the large number of civilian casualties.
The State Department said in a statement that it had notified Congress on Thursday of the proposed arms sale. Lawmakers have 30 days to try to stop it.
“This proposed sale will support US foreign policy and national security objectives by helping to improve the security of a friendly country which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic growth in the Middle East,” the statement said. “Saudi Arabia will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment and support into its armed forces.”
Hours earlier, Prince Mohammed met with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who characterized Saudi Arabia as “part of the solution” in Yemen, which has been ripped apart by civil war.
Before the start of the meeting, a reporter asked Mr. Mattis whether he planned to raise concerns with Prince Mohammed about civilian casualties. Mr. Mattis said the United States was working with other countries to pursue a political solution in Yemen.
He said Saudi Arabia has supported the government in Yemen’s capital, Sana, which is recognized by the United Nations. “We are going to end this war. That is the bottom line,” Mr. Mattis said. “And we are going to end it on positive terms for the people of Yemen but also security for the nations in the peninsula.”
The strife in Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Middle East, began in 2014, when Houthis, Shiite rebels aligned with Iran, invaded Sana. Those rebels later ousted the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a staunch ally of the United States, who was once praised by American officials as a leading partner in the fight against terrorism.
Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s neighbor and a major regional power, began a concerted bombing campaign in early 2015 to help push back the Houthis. But that campaign has long raised the ire of human rights organizations for repeated bombings on civilians, something the Pentagon has admitted it has little oversight of.
One of the last acts of the Obama administration, in December 2016, was to block a transfer of precision munitions to Saudi Arabia because of concerns about civilian casualties that American officials attributed to poor targeting.
That decision blocked the sale by Raytheon of about 16,000 guided munitions kits, which upgrade so-called dumb bombs to smart bombs. It was roundly excoriated by Raytheon and Saudi royal officials.
Since taking office, President Trump has developed a far friendlier relationship with the royal family, and the crown prince in particular, than President Barack Obama had.
A Pentagon spokeswoman, Dana White, said Mr. Mattis did not bring up the mounting civilian casualties in Yemen during his discussion with Prince Mohammed. Instead, she said, the defense secretary discussed the continued cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia through additional training and military education.
“Clearly,” said Sarah Margon, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch, “the Trump administration has failed to understand — or simply doesn’t care about — the gravity of the human rights and humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. Instead of using their leverage smartly to push the visiting Saudi crown prince to stop abuse, the White House is signaling support for large-scale abuse — by unconditionally backing Riyadh with millions more in weapons sales.”
Ms. Margon called on the Senate to “step up to the plate and make clear US support will not go unchecked this time around.”
Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting.
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