The United Kingdom (UK) is putting forward a proposal in the United National Security Council (UNSC) to praise Saudi Arabi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) for pledging nearly $1 billion to ease Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. But the irony is that same ‘saviours’ are the ‘tormentors’ who had been carrying out catastrophic bombing raids and military blockade in the war-torn country- amounting to war crimes. Furthermore, Britain is also complicit in the fuelling the war crimes. It is providing political, military, technical and logistical support to the United States backed Saudi led international military coalition. The UAE, along with other Sunni majoritarian countries in the region are art of this coalition.
The Britain drafted statement, accessed by Reuters on Thursday, appreciates Saudi Arabia and UAE’s pledge of humanitarian assistance and “a Saudi intention to deposit $2 billion into Yemen’s central bank to shore up a weak Yemeni currency”.
Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Middle East is reeling under severe humanitarian crisis fuelled by the protracted conflict between Houthi rebels and Saudi coalition backed forces. The war has already claimed thousands of lives, and the situation has been further exacerbated by the coalition bombing and military blockade. The recent cholera outbreak, one of the largest in the world, was a result of collapsed health and hygiene infrastructure due to the war.
The targeting of civilian infrastructure and chocking the country of vital and lifesaving supplies by the coalition forces have brought Yemen to the brink of famine. And the aid pledge by Saudi Arabia and UAE is just an act of distraction tactic to divert the international attention from their complicity in the disastrous situation in Yemen.
Britain had been backing coalition with providing arms and logistical support. According to Stop War Coalition, “Britain’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia increased by 11,000 percent in the three months following the start of its [coalition] bombing campaign against Yemen in March 2015. Close to £3.8 billion worth of UK arms have been sold to the Saudi regime since the beginning of the war.”
Also recently in 2017, an ITV news report, exposing the deep collaboration between the UK and international coalition, noted that that UK ‘liaison officers’ are deployed in the Saudi Arabian Air Operation Centre (AOC). The AOC coordinates the bombing raid in Yemen, which highlights the complicity of Britain in the killing of civilians in Yemen.
As reported by Newsclick earlier, without US and UK support, the Saudi led war crimes in Yemen is not possible. A 2015 news release by US Defence Security Corporation Agency speaking about the $1.29 million worth of arms and ammunitions aid to Saudi Arabia, notes that the:
“…. proposed sale augments Saudi Arabia's capability to meet current and future threats from potential adversaries during combat operations [in Yemen]”
Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a 30-year veteran of the CIA, explained last year that "If the United States and the United Kingdom, tonight, told King Salman [of Saudi Arabia], ‘This war has to end,’ it would end tomorrow. The Royal Saudi Air Force cannot operate without American and British support.”
The draft statement only calls out the Houthis by name and blame them for being responsible for the missile attack against Saudi Arabia and UAE.
“The Security Council should be naming and shaming everyone,” said Human Rights Watch U.N. Director Louis Charbonneau. “A statement that condemns one side, the Houthis, but doesn’t even mention the abuses of the other, the Saudi-led coalition, simply nurtures the atmosphere of impunity.”
According to independent U.N. experts monitoring Yemen sanctions in a report to UNSC said that military blockade by the international coalition - “had the effect of using the threat of starvation as an instrument of war.” It further noted the Saudi-led coalition air strikes and indiscriminate use of explosives by the Houthis “disproportionately affected” civilians in Yemen in 2017.
“The panel has seen no evidence to suggest that appropriate measures were taken by any side to mitigate the devastating impact of these attacks on the civilian population,” the report pointed out.