|“Almost one year has passed since Operation Decisive Storm
was launched. The appalling level of human suffering, combined with a
mounting sense of hopelessness, is exacerbating internal divisions and
sectarian animosity. Status quo is clearly not sustainable. The
resilience of people in Yemen has been stretched beyond human limits.”~ Ms Kate Gilmore, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights
On the 26th March 2015, one year ago today, the Saudi led coalition
launched its ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ against the Yemeni people. One
year on, the intensity of the attacks has not subsided and the wholesale
slaughter of civilians and deliberate targeting of civilian
infrastructure continues unabated. Aided and abetted primarily by the US
and the UK, the Saudi regime is destroying Yemen’s cultural heritage,
bombing masjids, schools, hospitals, market places, wedding parties,
fishing boats, telecommunication centres, electrical power plants,
factories, agricultural lands and livestock.
The Saudi regime is doing everything in its power to ensure the
Yemeni people have no means of survival or sustenance under a crippling
blockade that has been in place since the inception of the war of
aggression against Yemen. A blockade that is “lamented, decried and
condemned” by an international community that hides behind familiar
rhetoric while ensuring the flow of arms continues unhindered into Saudi
US Cluster Munitions
|US supplied Cluster Munitions CBU-105 used in Saudi air-strikes in Yemen|
Use of Cluster Munitions
has been recorded 56 times in Yemen by various on-the-ground sources.
Cluster Munitions supplied, primarily, by the US. The US is a non signatory of the that
bans their use, stockpiling and transfer. However the US’ own export
regulations state unequivocally that the munitions must meet a less than
one percent failure rate [unexploded ordnance] and must not be used
against civilian targets.
Both regulations are being flouted by the Saudi-led coalition who are
liberally bombing civilian areas, and leaving behind, a greater than 1%
trail of deadly unexploded bomblets, that can sever limbs and tear
flesh into shreds when detonated in the hands or under the feet of
curious children. These bomblets are recognised as presenting an even
greater threat than land-mines for decades after a conflict ends.
Cluster munitions themselves are a hideous invention. According to US Defence Department contracts,
Saudi Arabia purchased 1,300 CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Cluster Munitions
from Textron Defence Systems, shipment to be completed by December 2015.
According to HRW reports, the UAE had previously received an unknown
number of CBU-105 from Textron in June 2010.
“The Sensor Fuzed Weapon is a marvel of military technology, says
its maker, Textron Defense Systems. An advanced “cluster bomb,” it is
designed to spray 40 individual projectiles of molten copper, destroying
enemy tanks across a 30-acre swath of battlefield.”
Imagine the devastation when these munitions are used in densely
populated civilian areas, the effects of this rain of molten metal and
shrapnel on the human body, projectiles intended to pierce armour
plating will decimate and mutilate human beings over a massive area.
The areas worst hit in Yemen are the Ansarullah strongholds of Saada
and Hajjah in the north of the country, signalling intent by the
Saudi-led coalition to wipe out all opposition to their corrupt and
oppressive neocolonialism in Yemen.
Dr R S Karim of Mona Relief, a Yemen grass roots NGO, told me:
“Saada is completely finished, they have bombed it into oblivion.
The suffering there is indescribable, the worst we have seen in the
whole of Yemen. Access for humanitarian aid is impossible, we are told
if we cross the red line we are dead”
Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri of the Saudi Coalition has declared all
of Saada a military target thus violating all international laws that
dictate civilian targets must be differentiated from military ones.
The US, in supplying these Cluster Munitions is an accessory to war
crimes and in violation of all human rights laws and conventions. The
Saudi-led coalition is using them as a weapon of mass murder, a crime
being investigated by none other than the Sauds themselves, since their appointment
to chair of a key human rights panel within the UNHRC. The
beneficiaries, as always, are the weapons manufacturers who congratulate
themselves on a “clean battlefield operation”.
“It really is an extremely sophisticated weapon. Knowing that we
are in no way, shape or form contributing to [civilian suffering] is
really a very satisfying place to be” ~ Mark D. Rafferty, vice president
of business development for Textron Defense Systems 2009.
Perhaps Mr Rafferty and his White House clients would like to visit
Yemen and survey the mangled remains of men, women, children and
livestock strewn across the “clean battlefield”. Irrefutable evidence
of their cynical involvement in an illegal war of aggression that has
been allowed to continue for 365 days, maintained and endorsed by US
& UK military industrial complex profiteering.
Campaign Against Arms Trade
|Campaign Against Arms Trade|
According to a report by Diane Abbott in The Guardian
on 25th March 2016, the Committee on Arms Exports Controls met for the
first time in two years on Wednesday 23rd March 2016. This was in
response to increasing international condemnation of Britain’s role in
the war crimes being committed against the Yemeni people by the
“Their message was clear, unanimous and withering: the UK is breaking its own laws
and fuelling a humanitarian catastrophe by selling arms to Saudi
Arabia. British law is also clear: it is illegal to sell arms to a state
that is at a “clear risk” of committing international humanitarian
crimes. But over the past year alone, Britain has sold around £6bn worth
of weapons to Saudi Arabia, whose campaign in Yemen is targeting
civilians – 191 such attacks have collectively been reported by the UN, HRW and Amnesty.”
The same report accuses Philip Hammond, UK Foreign Minister, of lying in his statement to the Conservative Middle East Council:
“We have been clear with the coalition partners from the outset
about the importance of compliance with international humanitarian law
and I have said in Parliament, and I will say again here: we have looked
at every allegation of breach of international humanitarian law, and we
have found no evidence of breach of international humanitarian law, and
we urge the coalition to go onto the front foot, to investigate when
there are allegations and be open about what they find. Things happen in
war, mistakes get made and one should be honest about mistakes when
they are made.” ~ Philip Hammond
Diane Abbott points out that David Mepham, UK Director of Human
Rights Watch, said he had personally handed Hammond, a comprehensive
report complete with GPS co-ordinates, detailing all Saudi air-strikes
on Yemeni schools, hospitals and market places.
“[The UK Government] has had that evidence for months, and
therefore it is extraordinary the line can come back that they do not
have the evidence, when that evidence has been shared with them for a
considerable period of time”. ~ David Mepham
Of course the UK Government is lying. The UK represents 36% of Saudi
Arabia’s overall imports. Prime Minister, David Cameron has been
aggressively pushing for trade deals with the totalitarian regime. According to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade,
UK arms sales to Saudi totalled £2.95 billion for the first nine months
of 2015, and about £7bn since Cameron took office, including a contract
for 72 Euro-fighter Typhoon jets.
In January 2016, during Prime Ministers Question Time, Cameron reinforced the double speak:
“We have the strictest rules for arms exports of almost any
country anywhere in the world. And let me remind him [Jeremy Corbyn]
that we are not a member of the Saudi-led coalition, we are not directly
involved in the Saudi-led coalition’s operations, British personnel are
not involved in carrying out strikes.”
However, a report
just one week prior to this extraordinary denial from Cameron, stated
clearly that British and American officials are present in the Riyadh
command and control centre for Saudi air-strikes on Yemen. Saudi
Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, painstakingly clarified that while the
US and UK operatives have full access to the Saudi targets, they
allegedly have no role in choosing them.
So does this mean that UK & US officials are privy to pending war
crimes, not of their choosing, and regardless, stand by while Yemeni
civilians are massacred by the weapons they have supplied, not intended
for civilian targets? Where does responsibility begin and end?
The UK, further obfuscates its supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia by detailing the majority of items sold as “components“.
Components for military training aircraft, components for combat naval
vessels, components for bombs, components for air-to-surface rockets.
Not once, as an example, do they detail the UK Manufactured PGM 500 Hakim Cruise Missiles that
were used to obliterate a Yemeni factory near Sanaa, September 23 2015.
Remains of the missiles were identified at the site of the blast. One
civilian was murdered in this strike and another essential civilian
structure destroyed, but the UK steadfastly denies responsibility on all
counts of accessory to war crimes.
Arms Embargoes and Economic Sanctions
During the UNHRC, 31st Session, Jan Fermon, Secretary General of IADL [International
Association of Democratic Lawyers], made a powerful argument calling
for divestment from Saudi Arabia. He called for economic sanctions and
arms embargoes. He condemned the decision to elect Saudi officials to
the key panel on Human Rights, stating that this gave them the power to
decide Human Rights standards globally, and would enable them to crush
human rights activists under the UNHRC umbrella. He argued that the
UNHRC has thus become a weapon in the hands of the Sauds to be turned
against the very principles they should be protecting.
He described the despotic Saudi regime as one of the worst human
rights violators, consistently violating all rights to peace and
development in the region. Their system of “para judicial” killings to
silence dissenters rendered them purveyors of terror and was ” one step
too far”. He described initiatives under way in Belgium to facilitate
the taking back of control by Muslim communities, infiltrated for years
by Saudi Wahhabi agents.
In February 2016, the EU adopted a non-binding resolution calling for an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia over Yemen.
“The European Parliament’s call for an arms embargo on Saudi
Arabia is unprecedented and reflects growing frustration at the conduct
of war in Yemen by the Saudi Air Force. Saudi Arabia is a top arms
client of the UK and France, and there is evidence that these weapons
have been used in gross violations of international law in Yemen, where
thousands of civilians have been killed since the start of the war in
March 2015,” ~ Alyn Smith, Greens/EFA foreign affairs spokesperson.
For the US and UK however, it appears that the Military Industrial
Complex profits far outweigh the value of human life in Yemen. While the
flow of weapons and finance continues to flourish, they will turn a
blind eye to the universal humanitarian suffering in Yemen. The over
8000 lives lost, of which more than 2000 are children, the tens of
thousands injured and without proper medical care fade into
insignificance when the billion dollar arms deal glistens in front of
The largest absolute monarchy in the world, committing heinous acts
of terror globally, is given precedence over diplomatic mediation and
brokering of a peace deal, a peace deal that was on the verge of being
finalised just as this illegal war of aggression was launched against
the people of Yemen.
Jamal Bennomar, the former UN peace envoy to Yemen, stated very
openly that the warring factions were actually reaching an agreement
before the first bomb hit.
“When this campaign started, one thing that was significant but
went unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would
institute power-sharing with all sides, including the Houthis,”
As Jan Fermon stated categorically at the UNHRC this month.
“If we fail to take direct action against Saudi Arabia, nothing will change”
“Saudi Arabia is Committing Genocide in Yemen”
Last night in his speech to the nation,
Yemen’s Ansarullah movement leader, Sayyed Abdul-Malik-al-Houthi said
Saudi Arabia is committing genocide against the Yemeni people as it
continues with its deadly aggression against the impoverished nation.
He accused the US & UK of assisting in the destruction of Yemen
and the wiping out of an entire generation, including women and children
that are deliberately targeted by the Saudi coalition. He implicated
the UN, whom he said only draw up charters to serve oppressive and
dictatorial regimes and whose silence over human rights abuses in Yemen
has contributed to the suffering of the Yemeni people.
In my conversations with Ibrahim al Dalmy, Director of Al Masirah, Yemen TV, he told me
“Yemen is wounded, severely wounded, but we will never succumb to
the Saudi alliance brutality and oppression. We will resist, we will
heal and we will rebuild without the help of the international community
who think they can profit from the devastation they have sanctioned”
This point was reiterated by Diane Abbott in her article:
“To fund the reconstruction of the civilian infrastructure in
Yemen, largely destroyed by the Saudis with our weapons, the United
Nations has asked international donors such as DFID for £1.8bn, which
approximates to the profits the UK arms industry has made off Saudi’s
intervention in Yemen. We must escape the cycle of selling arms to
dubious regimes to sow destruction and then using the taxes on those
arms sales to finance an aid budget to clean up the mess. To stop this
cycle the government needs to do nothing more than obey the law.”
US and UK lawlessness is the root cause of the bloodshed in Yemen.
When national and international laws are blatantly broken by their own
arbiters, the world descends into a quagmire of chaos in which only the
innocent drown while the criminals benefit. War crimes and grave
violations of Humanitarian law go unpunished because their perpetrators
are the judge and jury. The insanity of this dystopian system is felt
most keenly by the victims of this brutal abuse whose only weapon is
their solidarity and resistance against the powers who would see them
eliminated in their quest for economic and geopolitical supremacy.
“Yemen is far from perfect but no country in this world is
perfect. We did not wage this war, we did not provoke this war. For
the first 40 days of the Saudi offensive, Yemen did not fire one bullet
towards Saudi Arabia. It is rank hypocrisy from Saudi Arabia to label
us the aggressor. It has always been the opposite. Saudi Arabia has
always been sending its filthy elements into my country and attempting
to spread its disgusting Wahabi ideology. Whether Zaydi or Shafi we
will never adopt this distorted, twisted, ugly version of Islam.
I would go so far as to state that Yemen has potential to be a
model for true democracy in the Middle East. There are 25 million
people who call Yemen home. We simply ask to be left in Peace. Is that
too much to ask?” ~ Yemen: A Voice in the Wilderness by Vanessa Beeley
Source: 21st Century Wire