Almost three years have passed since Saudi Arabia announced it was intervening militarily, with its allies, in Yemen, to remove the Houthis (officially called Ansar Allah) from power after they had taken over the capital. Western analysts saw it as a bold move from recently-empowered (deputy) crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS), weapons manufacturers and their political representatives were delighted. But what had been predicted as a swift military operation has turned into a humiliating stalemate. Unable to impose its will by force, Saudi Arabia and its bold prince have resorted to war crimes and collective punishment, imposing a humanitarian catastrophe on the Yemeni people.
by Ricardo Vaz
Part 2 - Western outrage and responsibility
As the Syrian army moved to re-take eastern Aleppo, a monumental PR campaign saw people who had never bothered before rise up from their Starbucks couches to proclaim that humanity had lost its ways. One day, hopefully, people will wonder how large swaths of western public opinion were manipulated into working in a propaganda stunt to defend a city held by al-Qaida. Months earlier we were bombarded by the media about the siege of Madaya, where 40.000 people were being starved to death. Yet now, with an entire country on the brink of famine, the media silence is telling.
Anyone can voice their horror at a hospital being bombed in Syria. The issue here is not one of comparing tragedies and demanding proportional levels of outrage. The issue is that the West is directly responsible for the tragedy in Yemen. Western companies supply the weapons, western military advisors are involved in the intelligence work and the selection of targets, US airplanes are refuelling Saudi (and coalition) jets as they carry out their savage bombings in Yemen. The supposed outrage is not connected to any concern for human rights, it is merely a foreign policy propaganda trick. And the main priority for people in the west should be to stop the crimes being committed, or abetted, by their own governments.
There is no point in invoking this or that convention, because all western governments and weapons manufacturers will claim that they do not sell weapons if they end up being used to commit human rights violations. But there is overwhelming evidence that war crimes are being committed left and right, from double-tap strikes to bombings of hospitals, schools, or even funerals, and nobody has suggested putting the brakes on this money train of weapons sales. Evidence of war crimes will be either ignored or, as British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested, left to the Saudis themselves to investigate!
Some media outlets could even be mistaken for Saudi propaganda pieces. The media coverage of MbS is nothing less than fawning in outlets such as the Guardian, not to mention the ineffable Thomas Friedman. And Saudi officials always get to voice their positions and denials through western outlets. One recurring example has a Saudi official denying that a given airstrike has been carried out by the Saudis, and the western media are happy to publish this without reminding their readers that nobody else is flying over Yemen. It is as if wayward bombs just wander into Yemen.
Even the United Nations has all but sidestepped its responsibilities. Its role is reduced to calling on Saudi Arabia to stop blocking the ports of a foreign country. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, a western puppet par excellence, is his latest report, mentions the horrific suffering in Yemen. But while the usual suspects (North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, etc) had all sorts of claims – real, exaggerated or fabricated – amplified in the report, Saudi Arabia is not even named as responsible for this situation, only “coalition airstrikes” are mentioned.