Report of a Big Crime in Yemen

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Ardeshir Zarei Ghanavati
Expert on International Relations & Foreign Policy

Since its beginning following the developments, which came to be known as the Arab Spring that led to the overthrow of Yemen’s former ruler, Ali Abdullah Saleh, the crisis in this country has been influenced by ethnic disputes and geopolitical rivalries.

Since its onset, this crisis has been under the influence of democracy seeking movement and people’s demand for social justice. However, according to the model, which was applied to the Arab region in order to control the crisis and marginalize people’s demands by conservative governments in the region and their international allies, it finally led to a civil war, which has been going on up to the present time. Inside the country, the confrontation between the alliance of the followers of Saleh and Yemeni Houthis’ Ansarullah movement, on the one hand, and the interim government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who had failed to form a national unity government according to an original schedule, one the other hand, changed course from a political phase to military conflict.

Since Hadi lacked legitimacy and his interim government lacked popular support, when Houthis attacked Yemen’s capital, Sana'a, along with Saleh’s supporters, he had to flee to southern Yemen and then take refuge in Saudi Arabia. Since that time, some form of internal dissociation was evident in Yemen, which gradually turned into a chronic crisis due to failure of political solutions and breakout of a full-fledged war after the situation was tied to geopolitical rivalries that have their roots in sectarian tendencies. Frequent failures of Mansur Hadi’s supporters, who lacked remarkable popular support among Yemeni tribes, opened the way for the alliance between Houthis and Saleh’s supporters to dominate the country.

However, this change in balance of powers in Yemen and major geopolitical developments in region were not tolerable for Riyadh and its Arab allies, and direct foreign intervention was their last resort to curb these changes. Therefore, the Saudi government formed an Arab military alliance, which had the support of Western states, and threw its full weight behind Hadi. From the time that the Saudi-led coalition attacked Yemen and the positions of Saleh’s supporters and Houthis, the reality of crimes committed in this war were deliberately ignored due to the influence of Arab conservative axis and the overlap between its interests and the interests of the Western states. On the other hand, the situation in Yemen was overshadowed by the crisis in Syria, which has been described as a small world war and, as such, went largely unnoticed by international community and global media.

In this stage of the Yemen’s crisis, all news and developments related to it were reported in a unilateral and partial manner due to the impact of other sectarian conflicts in the region and the support offered by European government and the United States for the conservative axis in the region. At the same time, the war in Yemen, has been one of the most catastrophic conflicts in contemporary times in the hectic region of the Middle East in which foreign criminal actors have had full maneuvering room to do what they wanted.

It is obvious that all international principles and regulations related to a country’s sovereignty and human rights have been violated in the war on Yemen and the most serious damage has been done to civilians in comparison with military groups. In an official report released by the Secretary general of the United Nations on May 2 about the crisis in Yemen, the role of the Arab military alliance, especially the government in Riyadh, in killing children in Yemen has been clearly specified, and this is only part of the realities, which have been unfortunately deliberately ignored thus far. In this report, Ban Ki-moon has taken the Saudi-led coalition to task by accusing it of targeted killing of children and Riyadh’s name has been put on the “blacklist” of violators of children’s rights by the UN.

The UN secretary general has specified in his report that the Saudi-led coalition is “responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries [in Yemen] last year, killing 510 and wounding 667.” Although the report has leveled similar charges against the alliance between Saleh and Houthis as well as the Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda, there are two important points, however, which cannot be easily ignored. Firstly, this report by the United Nations has held the Saudi-led coalition responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen, which is important in that it reflects the profoundness of Saudi Arabia’s crimes and its direct responsibility within framework of international law and regulations. It also shows that a foreign government has committed such crimes against Yemeni children, which put it even above terrorist groups like al-Qaeda in this regard.

The second point, which is more important in terms of international law and global responsibility of allied governments under conditions of war, is the obvious support offered to this military alliance – which has been introduced as committing crimes against children – by those governments in Europe and the United States, which have claimed to be advocating democracy. Unfortunately, in the anarchic world of today, even international laws and conventions are ignored by governments, which claim to have responsibility in international system, though this cannot be kept hidden in the case of Yemen in view of the UN secretary general’s recent report. If we assume that before this report, the Western governments were not aware of the profoundness of the catastrophe in Yemen, after its official release, there will be no excuse for the Western governments to continue supporting the Saudi-led coalition.

Of course, Washington, which was previously aware of the catastrophe going on in the Yemen war, has recently banned sending cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia due to excessive use of these bombs by Riyadh in its war on Yemen. However, from now on, this issue will go beyond individual actions and “quantitative” restrictions. From now on, on the basis of international law and legal treaties, any form of support for and cooperation with the Arab coalition involved in Yemen war by any force or government would be tantamount to complicity in proven crimes and would be legally prosecutable. Of course, this international responsibility has been so far ignored under the influence of the hegemonic power that governs the international system, and even now there is not much hope that the European governments and Washington, would follow suit with the official report of the United Nations as the highest international authority, to cut their support for Riyadh in its war on Yemen.

This is while U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon publicly acknowledged, that he removed the Saudi-led coalition currently bombing Yemen from a blacklist of child killers — 72 hours after it was published — due to a financial threat to defund United Nations programs.

That's because Saudi Arabia made a threat of a "total rupture" in relations between the Kingdom and the U.N., placing in doubt hundreds of millions of dollars in financial contributions to U.N. humanitarian agencies and causes, the U.N. official said.

There were also suggestions clerics in Saudi Arabia could meet to issue an anti-U.N. fatwa, declaring the organization "anti-Muslim." Despite the U.N.'s apparent capitulation, it remained adamant its report on the parlous situation in Yemen was accurate.

In a bid to cool tensions, Saudi Arabia and the U.N. agreed to discuss the conclusions of the report. But an agreement seems unlikely as of now.  Saudi Arabia said the de-listing is final, irreversible and unconditional. Meanwhile, Ban characterized the removal of Saudia Arabia from the blacklist as temporary. The Secretary-General said the facts in the report stand, though there will be a review.

Key WordsBig Crime, Yemen, Arab Spring, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Crisis, Ethnic Disputes, Geopolitical Rivalries, Civil War, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Houthis, Saudi Arabia, Report, United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, Saudi-led Coalition, Children, Blacklist, Violators, Removal, Zarei Ghanavati

Source: Shargh Daily
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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