As US officials travel the world lecturing everyone on human rights, that same world has accused Washington of being the number one human rights violator. Saudi Arabia’s war against Yemen, instigated and widely supported by the West and the United States in particular, is a prime example of this.
On March 25, 2015, the then Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, under pressure from the American ruling circles, declared war on Yemen. This was done specifically from the American capital, Washington. He said that the military action would be “aimed at protecting the people of Yemen,” adding that “the operation will be limited in nature.”
The alleged “limited in nature” war has already turned into eight years of almost daily aerial bombardments in the provinces of the Saudi kingdom’s southern neighbor. Prior to the war, Yemeni officials argued that Riyadh controlled nearly every sector of Yemeni society, from the economy to culture, and that the time had come for independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. This war still brings innumerable hardships and misfortunes to the Yemenis, from which the “democratic” United States shamelessly capitalizes.
The list of US support for the Saudi war in Yemen is so long that senior Yemeni officials say it was America that started the war against their country, using the Saudis and other Gulf kingdoms as its “proxies.” Human rights organizations accuse other Western countries of complicity in what they call war crimes against the defenseless Yemeni people. But the same “democratic” United States remains conspicuously silent about this, forbidding not only its own, but also the Western media to write about this massacre in negative terms.
In March 2015, a Bacchanalia of American politicians, economists and financiers emerged, who all together and individually simply pitted Riyadh against Yemen. Even the American media did not hide this interest in unleashing another war on the Arabian Peninsula. First, there were huge orders from the Saudis for the purchase of a wide variety of weapons, and the American military-industrial complex was loaded to capacity, with work conducted in three shifts. It is quite natural that the prices for these weapons were very high, and the Saudis did not even discuss them, buying weapons in bulk for a future war. Second, having got stuck in this difficult war against the fraternal Yemeni people, Riyadh could not take any independent steps on the world stage, obediently trailing in the wake of Washington’s policy. And besides, the Washington administration was pleased that the Yemenis had been “taught a lesson” by the Saudis, avenging the unsuccessful drone war against Yemen that the Pentagon had unleashed and pursued for a whole decade.
When war broke out in Yemen, the US Department of Defense immediately provided hundreds of billions of dollars worth of weapons to the Saudi-led coalition. Among the many other types of support the US provided to the Saudis during the war was intelligence products to be targeted by US-made Saudi warplanes. The Pentagon has also provided military advice and logistical support, such as air-to-air refueling of military aircraft, while Washington said it had authorized US contractors to service Saudi military aircraft.
But the war did not go quite as America had planned. Washington simply did not expect the brave resistance of the Yemeni people and their staunch support for the popular revolution led by the Houthi movement (officially called Ansar Allah). The Pentagon had to urgently intervene in hostilities, supplying not only modern weapons, but also air defense systems. And yet, the Yemenis delivered several sensitive strikes against Saudi forces, including successfully shelling an oil field and refinery on Saudi territory. These actions led to a surge in oil prices and sowed panic among the ruling circles in Saudi Arabia.
But the war has created an extremely difficult situation for civilians living in the poorest country in Western Asia. Especially for Yemeni children who are suffering from untold humanitarian conditions. Hundreds of thousands of people have died during the hostilities, due to American-made bombs. Saudi pilots, trained in the US and the UK, using American aircraft at the prompting of American military intelligence dropped American bombs on Yemeni houses, schools, hospitals, funeral parlors and foreign humanitarian organizations, forcing them to withdraw staff from the country.
Here is what the Yemeni monitoring group, Entesaf Organization for Women and Child Rights, recently published (compared to data from other groups and institutions, these are very conservative numbers):
- 8,116 children have been killed and wounded since the beginning of the US-Saudi war;
- 5,559 Yemeni children have become disabled as a result of hostilities since the beginning of the war;
- 632,000 children in Yemen are suffering from acute malnutrition that threatens their lives with death during the current year;
- 2,400,000 children do not attend school, forming a generation that has completely lost education.
Entesaf has documented that the number of Yemeni people with disabilities has increased from three million before the start of the US-backed war to 4.5 million today. This highlights the consequences of Yemen’s total blockade (in addition to the war being waged on it), which has placed its airspace, sea and land under unprecedented blockade by the West.
The organization also drew attention to the increase in child labor in Yemen due to the aggression and total blockade, pointing out that 1.4 million child laborers are deprived of their most basic rights, and that about 34.3% of child laborers are between the ages of 5 and 17. These new occurrences of child labor during the war are four times the rate of child labor than before the start of the war in Yemen.
In the healthcare sector, it is reported that public and private hospitals across the country are facing the threat of closure due to the blockade and detention by the US and Saudi Arabia of ships with petroleum derivatives.
Entesaf holds the coalition led by the US and Saudi Arabia responsible for all crimes and violations against civilians, especially children, in the last eight years of the war, calling on the international community, global organizations, human rights and humanitarian organizations to be held accountable for violations and heinous massacres that occurred against civilians. The organization also called on the international community to take effective and positive action to end the aggression and blockade against the civilian population and form an independent international commission to investigate all crimes committed against the Yemeni people and to bring to justice all those found complicit.
In August 2018, munitions experts reported that the bomb fired by Saudi warplanes that killed dozens of Yemeni children on a school bus was a 500-pound (227 kg) laser-guided MK 82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin, one of America’s largest arms manufacturers. Photos of the shrapnel taken immediately after the attack were sent to CNN, and a cameraman working for the company filmed the shrapnel footage. Munitions experts confirmed that the numbers on it identified Lockheed Martin as its manufacturer and that this particular MK 82 was a Paveway, which is a laser-guided bomb.
The CNN report said some of the bodies were so mutilated that identification was impossible, leaving behind scraps of school textbooks, mangled metal and one backpack. Of the 51 people who died in the attack, 40 were children. Another 79 people were injured, 56 of them also children.
Among the tens of thousands of Saudi airstrikes, another one was documented by CNN – a market strike by a US-supplied MK 84 precision bomb that killed 97 Yemenis. The bomb was very similar to the one that targeted a funeral parlor in October 2016, killing hundreds and injuring innumerable others.
These are just a few of the tens of thousands of similar attacks using American weapons to intimidate the Yemeni people into submission. However, the country’s armed forces, women and children have shown unprecedented resilience in their struggle.
Also during the war in Yemen, Washington’s complete disregard for human rights and its attempts to deprive children of their right to life was demonstrated. This applies not only to Yemen, but to US wars around the world that have resulted in unprecedented suffering for children, from Cuba and Vietnam to Western Asia and beyond. And it is the same United States that claims to be the flag-bearer of human rights and uses this pretext for its own political agenda in attacking numerous other countries.
Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”