Saudi War Crimes in Yemen Continue with US Aid

October 26th, 2018 - by admin

Al-Jazeerah & Daniel Larison / The American Conservative & Colin Dwyer / National Public Radio – 2018-10-26 00:50:35

Yemen: Death Toll from Saudi Raid on Vegetable Market Rises to 21

(October 24, 2018) — The death toll from a Saudi air strike on a vegetable market in western Yemen has risen to 21, with a local health official reporting children among the fatalities. Abdullah Shahawi, director of the Bayt al-Faqih hospital, said all the victims from Wednesday’s attack were civilians and included at least two children.

Video obtained by Al Jazeera showed the aftermath of the strike, with body parts lying scattered across the okra market and coffins lined up in the hospital. The video could not be independently verified, but it corresponded to events reported by the Associated Press news agency.

A Yemeni woman and her child — driven from the port city of Hodeidah by Saudi-backed forces — sit outside a school set up for displaced persons in the capital, Sanaa. (Hani Mohammed/AP)

Citing a health ministry source, news website Middle East Eye reported the attack targeted the market in Bayt al-Faqih, 70km south of Hodeidah, killing mostly factory workers and farmers. It reported that around half of the victims were killed instantly.

The Saudi-UAE alliance, which has carried out more than 16,000 air raids in Yemen, said it would investigate the incident.

“We take this report very seriously and it will be fully investigated, as all reports of this nature are, using an internationally approved, independent process,” the alliance’s spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki said. “While this is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further,” he said.

Lise Grande, the United Nation’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, slammed the attack, saying: “Civilians are paying a shocking price because of this conflict.”

“This is the third time this month the fighting has caused mass casualties in Hodeidah,” she said.

In June, forces loyal to Yemen’s government, alongside Saudi and Emirati forces, launched an offensive to retake Hodeidah from the Houthis, who control large parts of northern Yemen. Hodeidah’s port is the main gateway for commercial imports and relief supplies into the country, and also carries strategic importance for the alliance.

Saudi and Emirati officials have alleged it is the main entry point for Iranian arms shipments to the Houthis, a charge Tehran and the rebels deny.

‘US Deeply Engaged in this War’
While not directly involved in the fighting, the United States and the United Kingdom have sold more than $12bn worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, including warplanes and the payloads they drop on Yemen.

Accordoing to the Yemen Data Project, between June 1 and September 30, the alliance carried out at least 335 air raids on Hodeidah province, with civilians frequently bearing the brunt.

At least 15 people were killed in September when raids hit a highway linking the city of Hodeidah with the capital, Sanaa.

However, following a recent air attack on a school bus that killed 40 children, individual members of the US Congress have called on the country’s military to clarify its role in the war and investigate whether support for the air raids could render American military personnel “liable under the war crimes act”.

In an op-ed for the New York Times on Wednesday, US Senator Bernie Sanders urged Congress to end what he called “the carnage in Yemen.”

“The US is deeply engaged in this war. We are providing bombs the Saudi-led coalition is using, we are refueling their planes before they drop those bombs, and we are assisting with intelligence,” Sanders wrote. “I very much hope that Congress will act, that we will finally take seriously our congressional duty, end our support for the carnage in Yemen, and send the message that human lives are worth more than profits for arms manufacturers.”

According to the UN, more than 10,000 civilians have been killed since the war began in 2014, leaving nearly two-thirds of Yemen’s population of 27 million relying on aid and over eight million at risk of starvation.

The war began when Houthi rebels, traditionally confined to the north of the country, swept south taking over much of the country, including the southern port of Aden, forcing Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee.

Conflict escalated in March 2015, when a Saudi-UAE led alliance began a campaign to roll back Houthi gains.

Saudi Coalition Massacre Kills 21 at a Market in Yemen
Daniel Larison / The American Conservative

HODEIDAH, Yemen (October 24, 2018) — The Saudi coalition bombed a vegetable market near Hodeidah earlier today and killed at least 21 people.

Attacks on food markets like this one are part of the coalition’s systematic campaign to target and destroy Yemen’s food production and distribution. The coalition has made a regular practice of targeting farms, fishing boats, and marketplaces as part of an effort to deprive an already malnourished population of food.

There is no possible justification for targeting civilians as they were trying to obtain food from a local market. The slaughter of almost two dozen people is a reminder that Saudi coalition forces continue to hit civilian targets with great frequency, and civilians in and around Hodeidah are at great risk of being killed and wounded while the coalition’s attack on the port and its surroundings continues.

Saudi Arabia Bombs Fish Market and Hospital in Yemen (August 6, 2018)

This latest massacre of civilians by coalition forces has been followed by news that the Hodeidah offensive is soon going to escalate:
The Saudi-led coalition has sent reinforcements to Yemen’s west coast ahead of a fresh assault on the rebel-held port city of Hodeida, Yemeni officials said Wednesday.

The city is a lifeline for international aid deliveries, and the battle to wrest it from the rebels has, like the rest of Yemen’s war, fallen into a stalemate.

Unless the US cuts off support to the coalition and halts this offensive, there will be many more attacks on civilians like the airstrike on this vegetable market. Civilian casualties keep rising, and US military assistance is just helping the coalition to blow up civilian targets. Congress needs to vote for H.Con.Res. 138 and S.J.Res. 54 to put a stop to this once and for all.

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.

Yemen In ‘Clear And Present Danger’ Of
Massive Famine After Years Of Violence

Colin Dwyer / National Public Radio

(October 24, 2018) — The United Nations’ humanitarian chief warned a month ago that war-torn Yemen was on the brink of a “massive loss of life” — a famine-fueled catastrophe that may spell the complete collapse of an already failing country.

Since then, he says the dire situation has only gotten worse.

“The toll is unbearably high,” Mark Lowcock told the UN Security Council on Tuesday. “The immune systems of millions of people on survival support for years on end are now are literally collapsing, making them — especially children and the elderly — more likely to succumb to malnutrition, cholera and other diseases.”

Last month, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said 8 million people were desperately dependent on aid and some 3.5 million more risked joining them. But Lowcock said Tuesday that even as stark as those numbers were, they did not do justice to the crisis in Yemen.

Based on new surveys and analysis, his office said as many as 14 million people — or about half the whole country’s population — could soon be “entirely reliant on external aid for survival.”

And with violence still raging in the key port city of Hodeidah, where Saudi-backed Yemeni forces launched an offensive on Houthi rebels earlier this year, the international aid operation risks disruption in its own right.

“In the absence of a cessation of hostilities, especially around Hodeidah, where fighting for more than four months now has damaged the key facilities and infrastructure on which the aid operation relies, the relief effort will ultimately be simply overwhelmed,” Lowcock said. “The time, surely, has come for all the parties to heed these warnings.”

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