Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Leith Aboufadel / Al Masdar News – 2018-09-16 01:33:41
Saudi Warplanes Attack Yemen Bus Station,
Killing at Least 20 Civilians
Attack comes after Pompeo endorses Saudi activity
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(September 13, 2018) â€“ Last month, Saudi warplanes attacked a busload of school children in northern Yemen, killing scores of them. The strike used a US-provided bomb, and led to major Congressional moves to limit involvement in the war. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on Wednesday, signed off on Saudi activities, bypassing Congressional limits.
Having dodged a bullet in avoiding Congressional attempts to halt US aid, the Saudis clearly haven’t learned anything, however, as on Thursday, Saudi warplanes attacked a bus station in the port city of Hodeidah, killing at least 20 civilians, mostly children.
Saudi forces have carried out multiple attacks against Hodeidah in recent days, trying to help Yemen forces attack the vital aid port. Yet as has often been a problem with Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, their targeting seems haphazard, and as likely to just hit a bus depot full of civilians waiting to evacuate as any combatants.
Very public incidents of civilian deaths, especially egregious cases of killing children in buses, have meant a lot of patience with the Saudi war has run out. Such incidents are likely to continue to undermine what little international support the war still enjoys.
Saudi Airstrike Kills 15 Civilians in Western Yemen
Leith Aboufadel / Al Masdar News
BEIRUT, LEBANON (September 12, 2018) — The Saudi Coalition carried out a new round of airstrikes over the Hodeidah Governorate this week, a local human rights group reported on Wednesday. According to their report, at least 15 civilians were killed in the Kilo area of the Hodeidah Governorate after the Saudi Coalition heavily bombarded this part of the province.
This latest bombing the Saudi Coalition comes as the Gulf-backed forces resume their large-scale offensive inside the Hodeidah Governorate.
Since restarting this offensive, the Gulf-backed forces have failed to capture any significant areas, despite the heavy clashes with the Houthi troops.
Pompeo Allows US Military Aid
To Saudi Coalition in Yemen to Continue
Rebecca Kheel / The Hill
WASHINGTON (September 12, 2018) â€“ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday he made a certification allowing the US military to continue refueling coalition aircraft in the Yemen civil war.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed into law last month requires the Trump administration to certify that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are taking steps to end the war, alleviate Yemen’s humanitarian crisis and protect civilians.
The first certification was due Wednesday. The NDAA also requires certifications 180 days and 360 days after it was signed into law.
“I certified to Congress yesterday that the governments of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from military operations of these governments,” Pompeo said in a statement Wednesday.
If Pompeo could not make the certification, the US military would be required to stop refueling coalition aircraft. Pompeo could have also submitted a justification to Congress to waive the certification on the basis of national security.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are leading a coalition in Yemen’s civil war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels that began in 2015. The United States supports the coalition with aerial refueling, intelligence sharing and billions of dollars in arms sales.
US lawmakers’ patience with the Saudi coalition is wearing thin as the civilian death toll increases, largely blamed on coalition airstrikes. The United Nations pegs the civilian death toll at least at 6,660 as of Aug. 23.
Outrage increased last month after the coalition struck a school bus and killed 40 children. The outcry prompted a rare admission from the coalition that the strike was “unjustified.”
The coalition pledged to hold those responsible accountable and review its rules of engagement.
The coalition’s response to the school bus strike led some to believe it would give Pompeo cover to make the certification required by the NDAA.
The Trump administration has expressed concern about the coalition’s conduct but insisted US support is vital to counter Iran and has resisted congressional efforts to curtail support.
In his statement Wednesday, Pompeo said the administration “has been clear” that ending the war is a national security priority.
“We will continue to work closely with the Saudi-led coalition to ensure Saudi Arabia and the UAE maintain support for UN-led efforts to end the civil war in Yemen, allow unimpeded access for the delivery of commercial and humanitarian support through as many avenues as possible, and undertake actions that mitigate the impact of the conflict on civilians and civilian infrastructure,” he said.
In a separate statement, Defense Secretary James Mattis said he endorsed Pompeo’s certification.
“I endorse and fully support Secretary Pompeo’s certification to the Congress that the governments of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are making every effort to reduce the risk of civilian casualties and collateral damage to civilian infrastructure resulting from their military operations to end the civil war in Yemen,” Mattis said.
“The Saudi-led coalition’s commitment is reflected in their support for these UN-led efforts. Alongside the Department of State we are actively engaged with Mr. Martin Griffiths, the UN Special Envoy, to achieve a negotiated end to this fighting.”
In the memo to Congress, the administration argues the coalition has taken steps to reduce the risk to civilians by paying for US training for the Saudi air force, incorporating some US recommendations into its rules of engagement and developing a no-strike list.
But, the memo adds, “recent civilian casualty incidents indicate insufficient implementation of reforms and targeting practices. Investigations have not yet yielded accountability measures.”
The memo also says Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are complying with US laws on arms sale “with rare exception,” without elaborating on the exceptions.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who co-authored the NDAA provision, said the certification fails to hold the coalition to a “higher standard.”
“The coalition clearly hasn’t met these goals and it is evident that the administration is deliberately sidestepping congressional oversight,” she said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“Fortunately, our legislation established additional certification deadlines that ensure the administration is complying with policies that further US national security interests and not simply the interests of partners who are acting irresponsibly. I hope that the administration will take these opportunities to finally use the leverage it has to hold our allies accountable.”
Bomb That Killed Scores of
Children in Yemen Was US Supplied
Saudis attacked school bus with 500 lb US MK-82 bomb
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(August 17, 2018) — A week after Saudi Arabia attacked a school bus full of children in northern Yemen, killing at least 42 of them, munitions experts are confirming that the bomb itself which hit the bus was provided to the Saudis by the US.
The bomb was identified as a US-made MK-82, a 500 lb pound made by Lockheed Martin, and sold to the Saudis during one of the many arms deals reached in recent years to supply the Saudi war in Yemen.
This further complicates the US government’s intentions to continue the war over Congressional attempts to limit it, and once again underscores US culpability in the many war crimes being committed in Yemen.
Saudi officials have defended the attack on the school bus, saying it was a “legitimate military target.” The US has largely not discussed the attack, but has tried to deny any involvement, clearly not true when it was a US-made bomb dropped by a US-made plane refueled by the US Air Force.
The 2019 NDAA, signed earlier this week, explicitly limits US involvement in the Yemen War until the Pentagon gives a report to Congress about war crimes. President Trump’s signing statement indicates he will not comply with this.
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