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HRW Report

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The Human Rights Watch (HRW) should be lauded for slamming Saudi Arabia in a new report for targeting civilians in Yemen. However, the report is never enough; Yemen needs more than condemnation.

In its latest report, the HRW says the Saudi attacks against civilians have been deliberate and indiscriminate. “Human Rights Watch found either no evident military target or that the attack failed to distinguish civilians from military objectives,” the report says, adding that Saudi warplanes target residential areas. The typical problem with this latest report is that it doesn’t go any further.
This is while for nine months, Saudi Arabia has been targeting residential areas across Yemen in a purported bid to block the advance of the ruling Ansarullah movement. What’s more, the United States continues to support the deadly attacks, offering logistical support, airborne refuelling, with a specialist Pentagon-approved team providing intelligence on targeting.
The HRW report, however, is a brutal reminder of a US-backed conflict that has exacted a terrible toll on civilians and that puts the United States on the defensive. It leads us to the conclusion that Riyadh and Washington are complicit in war crimes and that they should be held to account in The Hague.
It is the same conclusion that a UN panel of experts responsible for tracking human rights violations in Yemen reached just recently. The panel singled out the Saudi-led coalition for committing “grave violations” of civilians’ rights, citing indiscriminate airstrikes, as well as the targeting of markets, aid warehouses, and camps for displaced Yemenis. The panel further raised concern that coalition forces may have intentionally obstructed the delivery of humanitarian aid to needy civilians.
So it is evident that the genocidal war needs more than just a new report or condemnation. Riyadh could not have carried out the ongoing genocidal war without the green light from Washington, or the knowledge, acquiescence and encouragement of the United Nations and the Global West.
Which means the United Nations and the Human Rights Watch can only win back the trust of the world community if they can also hold the House of Saud to account. The US and its cronies should be prosecuted for war crimes too, because of growing evidence that their bombs and missiles sold to Saudi Arabia are being used against civilian targets. There is no doubt that the sale of specialist missiles breaches International Humanitarian Law. Such sales are not within international arms treaty rules.
Put differently, US support for a military campaign that is inflicting extreme hardship on civilians provides an awkward counterpoint to the Obama administration’s stated commitment to stand up for the region’s oppressed people. It serves as further proof that the US is a hypocritical power that lectures its Syrian adversaries on human rights abuses while furnishing its allies with cluster bombs and precision rockets.
As it all stands, the latest HRW report is certainly blowback to Washington’s reputation: It is “prima facie evidence” that members of the Saudi-led coalition have committed war crimes; it directly, or indirectly, implicates the US government for the ongoing humanitarian crisis; it makes clear any suggestion that Washington is ever committed to the democracy movement in Yemen is silly at best; it also offers serious misgivings about the prospects of a Saudi military victory over the long term.

Date:November 30, 2015

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