Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released its 2017 World Report on the current conflict in Yemen, and the latest update paints a very disturbing picture of the U.S.- and U.K.- backed war of aggression the Saudis are currently waging. The report makes clear the depth of U.S. and U.K. support for the current war in Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East, as well as the potential legal ramifications of this support — something the rights group has previously warned about.
Between the eruption of the Saudi-led bombardment in March 2015 and October of last year, the report explains, the U.N. documented the deaths of at least 4,125 civilians. A majority of those deaths were caused by the coalition. Further, the U.N. recently came forward stating over 10,000 civilians have been killed in the war to date, with 40,000 others wounded. This is a “low estimate,” and the U.N. figure does not include deaths recorded by hospitals and health centers.
The report confirms that the coalition has used internationally banned cluster munitions and deployed countless air strikes that have indiscriminately or disproportionately killed and wounded thousands of civilians.
Most surprising is that although HRW receives a large amount of funding from Saudi Arabia, the HRW report has not bought into the official Saudi-U.S. narrative that Iran is behind the current war in Yemen. Instead, the report fails to so much as even mention Iran. The opening statement reads:
“The Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s aerial and ground campaign against Houthi forces and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh continued in 2016.”
In doing so, HRW has pinpointed the current cause of the conflict besieging Yemen: former president Saleh still retains the loyalty of the armed forces, who fight alongside the Houthi rebels. In essence, the Saudis are attempting to bomb the will of the people into accepting a leader they already ousted.
The HRW report continues:
“Human Rights Watch has documented 58 apparently unlawful coalition airstrikes since the start of the campaign, which have killed nearly 800 civilians and hit homes, markets, hospitals, schools, civilian businesses, and mosques. Some attacks may amount to war crimes. These include airstrikes on a crowded market in northern Yemen on March 15 that killed 97 civilians, including 25 children, and another on a crowded funeral in Sanaa on October that killed over 100 civilians and wounded hundreds more.” [emphasis added]
As Anti-Media previously reported, the U.S.-backed coalition is intentionally starving Yemen’s inhabitants. The HRW report confirms Saudi Arabia’s intentions to destroy the basic livelihood of Yemen’s civilian population:
“Repeated coalition airstrikes on factories and other civilian economic structures raise serious concerns that the coalition deliberately sought to inflict damage to Yemen’s limited production capacity. Human Rights Watch investigated 18 apparently unlawful strikes, some of which used US or UK-supplied weapons, on 14 civilian economic sites. The strikes killed 130 civilians and wounded 173 more. Following the attacks, many of the factories ended production and hundreds of workers lost their livelihoods.”
The report also outlines the use of cluster bombs, indiscriminate attacks, deliberate Saudi air raids on health facilities and avenues for humanitarian access, the Houthis’ use of children in the war, and the key international actors in the conflict (remember, Iran is not even mentioned), to name a few.
Generally speaking, the war in Yemen receives very little media coverage in Western nations. As such, it has hardly been recognized as an issue in the much-anticipated transition from an Obama presidency to a Trump presidency. Under peace prize-winning President Obama, the U.S. made over $115 billion in arms sales to the Saudi regime. It remains unclear what will happen to this war under a bomb-loving Trump administration.
One thing is clear, however. The war in Yemen would be over tomorrow if the U.S. withdrew its support for the brutal Saudi-led campaign.