Saturday, August 13, 2016

Yemen - The Suffering Continues

War has raged in Yemen and the international community seems to be indifferent. Since March 2015, the richest country in the Arab world has bombed the poorest country to rubble, without very much outcry from the rest of the world. More than 6,000 people have been killed in these 500 days, 15 million depend on humanitarian aid, 3 million are displaced within Yemen, 1.5 million children are malnourished, and the nation's infrastructure has been largely destroyed: Hospitals, schools, and refugee camps have all been bombarded. The United Nations accused all warring factions - government troops, Houthi rebels, and the Saudi-led coalition - of breaking international law and violating human rights.

Saudi Arabia does not operate on its own but leads a coalition of nine nations and receives logistical support from the United States and the United Kingdom. German manufacturers contribute to Saudia Arabia's armaments orgy, too. The world has looked the other way while Saudi Arabia drops internationally banned cluster bombs and when the kingdom, as it successfully did in June, blackmails the United Nations by threatening to pull funding for unrelated UN programs if the country is not dropped from the secretary-general's "list of shame," which calls out states and organizations that kill children or recruit minors for combat. A UN report had revealed that the Saudi-led coalition is responsible for over 60 percent of the children killed in the conflict. Yet the country was able to use its position on the UN Human Rights Council to thwart an investigation into violations committed in Yemen.

This week, the Saudi-led coalition resumed its airstrikes, which had been put on hold temporarily during negotiations in Kuwait. Once again, it was mostly civilians who were killed. On Tuesday, instead of putting pressure on Saudi Arabia, the US State Department approved the sale of more weapons and military vehicles (130 Abrams battle tanks, 20 armored recovery vehicles plus hundreds of machine-guns) to the country in a deal worth approximately 1 billion euros ($1.15 billion). US arms manufacturer General Dynamics will be the main beneficiary.  The accompanying statement praised Saudi Arabia as a "leading contributor of political stability and economic progress in the Middle East" - that would be news to many Yemenis.

A humanitarian catastrophe is threatening Yemen. The World Bank warned of this in the spring. Imports and exports have essentially stopped. Gross domestic product has shrunk by a third, and inflation is around 30 percent. These developments are further crippling a country that is already one of the most impoverished in the Arab world. Some 40 percent of the population live below the poverty line. The situation has only become worse with the war

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