Friday, April 28, 2017

Stoking the Yemen Civil War

As of March 21, 2016, Human Rights Watch reported the following weapon sales, in 2015 to the Saudi government:
  • July 2015, the US Defense Department approved a number of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, including a US $5.4 billion deal for 600 Patriot Missiles and a $500 million deal for more than a million rounds of ammunition, hand grenades, and other items, for the Saudi army.
  •  According to the US Congressional review, between May and September, the US sold $7.8 billion worth of weapons to the Saudis.
  • In October, the US government approved the sale to Saudi Arabia of up to four Lockheed Littoral Combat Ships for $11.25 billion.
  • In November, the US signed an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth $1.29 billion for more than 10,000 advanced air-to-surface munitions including laser-guided bombs, “bunker buster” bombs, and MK84 general purpose bombs; the Saudis have used all three in Yemen.
Reporting about the role of the United Kingdom in selling weapons to the Saudis, Peace News notes that “Since the bombing began in March 2015, the UK has licensed over £3.3bn worth of arms to the regime, including:
  •  £2.2 bn worth of ML10 licences (aircraft, helicopters, drones)
  • £1.1 bn worth of ML4 licences (grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)
  • £430,000 worth of ML6 licences (armoured vehicles, tanks)
On April 26th, 2017, in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, the Saudi-led coalition which has been waging war in Yemen for the past two years dropped leaflets informing Hodeidah’s residents of an impending attack. Already, five cranes in Hodeidah which were formerly used to offload goods from ships arriving in the port city were destroyed by Saudi airstrikes. 

UN agencies have clamored for humanitarian relief. Yet the role the UN Security Council has played in calling for negotiations seems entirely lopsided.  On April 14, 2016, UN Security Council Resolution 2216 demanded: “that all parties in the embattled country, in particular, the Houthis, immediately and unconditionally end violence and refrain from further unilateral actions that threatened the political transition.” At no point is Saudi Arabia mentioned in the Resolution.
Speaking on December 19, 2016, Sheila Carpico, Professor of Political Science at the University of Richmond and a leading Yemen specialist called the UN Security Council sponsored negotiations a cruel joke.
These negotiations are based on UN Security Council resolutions 2201 and 2216. Resolution 2216 of 14 April 2015, reads as if Saudi Arabia is an impartial arbitrator rather than a party to an escalating conflict, and as if the GCC “transition plan” offers a “peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led political transition process that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Yemeni people, including women.”
Although scarcely three weeks into the Saudi-led intervention the UN’s deputy secretary-general for human rights said that the majority of the 600 people already killed were civilian victims of Saudi and Coalition airstrikes, UNSC 2216 called only on “Yemeni parties” to end the use of violence. There was no mention of the Saudi-led intervention. There was similarly no call for a humanitarian pause or corridor.

The U.S. Congress could  insist that the U.S. stop supplying the Saudi-led coalition with weapons, stop helping Saudi jets to refuel, end diplomatic cover for Saudi Arabia, and stop providing the Saudis with intelligence support. And perhaps the U.S. Congress would move in this direction if elected representatives believed that their constituents care deeply about these issues. 


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