Saudi Arabia is being criticised by many political parties and organisations worldwide after it launched air-strikes in Yemen’s civilian-occupied areas, including a hospital and school. Attacks by Saudi started in March 2015 in a bid to overpower the Houthi rebels and restore (Saudi Arabian-backed) Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi government in Yemen. The Kingdom plays a major role in the destruction caused by wars in the Middle East. Thousands of innocent people and children have lost their lives and properties because of these attacks. It is the US and the UK who have been providing weapons massively to Saudi Arabia. However, now, both the suppliers are being pressurised to freeze their sales to the Arabian oil exporter.
Deep concern over threat to innocent Yemeni lives has encouraged 64 US Congressional Democrats to sign a letter demanding freezing of arm-sales to Saudi Arabia. These congressmen allege that Saudi has been continuously committing war crimes and that its air-strikes were dropped at places that were nowhere close to the military targets. According to the United Nations, Saudi-led coalition is accountable for nearly 3,000 civilian casualties, which is double the number of casualties caused by the insurgents and other troops.
During the eight-year period, the Obama government provided the Saudis with weapons worth USD 115bn. The supplies included attack helicopters, air-to-ground missiles, combat aircraft, warships, bombs and military training. According to reports by Human Rights Watch, Saudi has been violating international humanitarian law by using US weapons for illegal, inhumane attacks. The US continues to support Saudi so as to assure that its nuclear deal with Iran’s capital Tehran won’t impact its relationship with the Arabian Kingdom. Recently, the US entered into a deal with the Kingdom to sell over 150 MIA2 Brams battle tanks worth circa USD 1.15bn.
“Freezing of weapon-sales by the US and the UK would be a strong step forcing Saudi Arabia to stop war crimes in Yemen.”
According to many MPs in the US as well as in the UK, Saudi Arabia should be warned that if it fails to control the number of civilian casualties, sales of arms and explosives to the Kingdom will be discontinued.
What’s more important- the lives of innocent people or political interests of Saudi and its supporters?
Despite the alleged havoc Saudi coalition has created in the Middle East, some of the political leaders in the UK continue to support Saudi Arabia citing that there are no reports proving its intentional involvement in war crimes. According to British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is being pressurised by other MPs to ban multi-million dollar arm-sales to Saudi, the UK would continue to be the Kingdom’s weapon supplier as the “key test” determining violation of international humanitarian rights hasn’t been met.
The Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir defended the Kingdom by stating that the cluster munitions found in Yemen post attacks were not launched by Saudi coalition; in fact, Saudi didn’t have those launching equipments. Heaccused Houthis of using schools and hospitals as weapon depots.