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America is likely complicit in war crimes in Yemen. It's time to hold the US to account
Saturday 5 October 2019 - 12:04:03 |  World

Since Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in Yemen's civil war in March 2015, the United States gave its full support to a relentless air campaign where Saudi warplanes and bombs hit thousands of targets, including civilian sites and infrastructure, with impunity. From the beginning, US officials insisted that American weapons, training and intelligence assistance would help the Saudis avoid causing even more civilian casualties.
America is likely complicit in war crimes in Yemen. It's time to hold the US to account

But this was a lie meant to obscure one of the least understood aspects of US support for Saudi Arabia and its allies in Yemen: it's not that Saudi-led forces don't know how to use American-made weapons or need help in choosing targets. They have deliberately targeted civilians and Yemen's infrastructure since the war's early days - and US officials have recognized this since at least 2016 and done little to stop it.

A team of United Nations investigators, commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council, presented a devastating report in Geneva in early September detailing how the US, along with Britain and France, are likely complicit in war crimes in Yemen because of continued weapons sales and intelligence support to the Saudis and their allies, especially the United Arab Emirates.

Despite pressure from Saudi Arabia, the Human Rights Council voted last Thursday to extend its investigation.

If the council pursues an aggressive investigation based on the 274-page report, the world might finally see some accountability for war crimes committed in Yemen over the past five years. The report's authors submitted a secret list of individuals who may be responsible for war crimes to the UN human rights commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, but it's unclear if that list includes any western officials. The report said third states that have influence on Yemen's warring parties - including the US, Britain, France and Iran - "may be held responsible for providing aid or assistance for the commission of international law violations".

American complicity in the Yemen war goes beyond providing training and intelligence support, and selling billions of dollars in weapons to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which has become Washington's largest weapons buyer. The US is looking the other way while its allies commit war crimes and avoid responsibility for instigating the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The full scope of human suffering in Yemen has been partly obscured because the UN stopped updating civilian deaths in January 2017, when the toll reached 10,000. And while the actual death toll is far higher, many news reports still rely on the outdated UN figures.

In June, an independent monitoring group, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, released a report detailing more than 90,000 fatalities since the war began in 2015.

In April, the United Nations Development Programme issued a report warning that the death toll in Yemen could rise to 233,000 by the end of 2019 - far higher than previous estimates. That projection includes deaths from combat as well as 131,000 indirect deaths due to the lack of food, health crises such as a cholera epidemic, and damage to Yemen's infrastructure.

Beyond the moral reasons for the US to help end Yemenis' suffering, the conflict has also harmed American interests in the region. The Yemen war has created new instability in the wider Middle East, and increased tensions between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis and their allies support Yemen's internationally recognized government, while Iran supports the Houthi rebels, who took control of the country's major cities in 2014.

In June, an independent monitoring group, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, released a report detailing more than 90,000 fatalities since the war began in 2015.

In April, the United Nations Development Programme issued a report warning that the death toll in Yemen could rise to 233,000 by the end of 2019 - far higher than previous estimates. That projection includes deaths from combat as well as 131,000 indirect deaths due to the lack of food, health crises such as a cholera epidemic, and damage to Yemen's infrastructure.

Beyond the moral reasons for the US to help end Yemenis' suffering, the conflict has also harmed American interests in the region. The Yemen war has created new instability in the wider Middle East, and increased tensions between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis and their allies support Yemen's internationally recognized government, while Iran supports the Houthi rebels, who took control of the country's major cities in 2014.

"We came to the conclusion by late 2016 that although there were very many well-meaning and professional generals in the Saudi ministry of defense, there was a lack of political will at the top senior levels to reduce the number of civilian casualties," Rand told the committee.

Saudi and allied warplanes have conducted more than 20,000 airstrikes on Yemen since the war began, an average of 12 attacks a day, according to the Yemen Data Project. Only about a third of these attacks are on military targets. The coalition has also bombed hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, farms, factories, bridges, and power and water treatment plants.

In fact, the UN findings reinforce revelations from a recent UK case brought by anti-war campaigners. A UK court of appeal ruled that British arms sales to Saudi Arabia were illegal. Documents presented during the case showed that, despite the British government's claims, Saudi bombings of civilian targets took place within days after the UK provided training to the Saudi air force.

Despite the mounting evidence of war crimes, Trump still firmly supports Mohammed bin Salman, the ruthless Saudi crown prince who is an architect of the Yemen war. Since April, Trump has used his veto power four times to prevent Congress from withdrawing US military support and ending weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and its allies. Congress could not muster enough votes to override Trump's vetoes.

The latest UN investigation, which found the US is likely complicit in war crimes, should give new momentum to the majority in Congress that wants to end American involvement in a disastrous conflict.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect HCHRs editorial stance.

Source: The Guardian

 


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چاپ شده در تاریخ Friday 6 December 2019 - 09:54:19 از آدرس: