Part 2 “America is killing the Yemeni people.”
Graffiti on walls across the Yemen capital of Sana reads: “America is killing the Yemeni people.” Why is the US being singled out? Could this be a cry of desperation? If it is the world is choosing not to listen. The graffiti is directed at the major supplier of the military arms to Saudi Arabia. There is no mistaken the United States is embroiled in another protracted War, this time in Yemen.
The United Nations human rights office reports that that air strikes by the Saudis coalition are responsible for an estimated 60 percent of the deaths in Yemen. A UN panel in January found 119 air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition potentially breached human rights law. Both the UN and human rights groups have discussed the possibility that the Saudi offensive constitutes war crimes.
To further exacerbating the growing humanitarian crisis, the Saudis coalition blockade of Yemen’s ports has prevented food and fuel aid into Yemen putting 80% of the country’s civilian population in need of humanitarian aid.
Publicly, the United States has kept its distance from the war, but its decades-old alliance with Saudi Arabia, underpinned by billions of dollars in weapons sales, has left American fingerprints on the air campaign.
Although U.S. forces are not “directly” involved in the fighting in Yemen, the U.S. has supplied weapons to Saudi Arabia. It is the weapons that have made the Saudi bombing campaign possible. The United States has been providing the Saudis with bombs, intelligence, and aerial refueling for its jets. The US Military advisers are often present in the Saudi-led campaign’s control room.
Since spring 2015, U.S. planes have flown more than 1,000 refueling sorties and offloaded tens of millions of pounds of fuel to Saudi aircraft. US officials have also provided advice on target development and training for the Saudi pilots.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest importer of arms. They spent $9.3 billion in 2015. Saudi Arabia in the past year has purchased Eurofighter Typhoon jets, F-15 warplanes and Apache helicopters, as well as precision-guided weapons, drones and surveillance equipment.
U.S. is the world’s top arms exporter. The U.S. is the supplier of approximately one third of all the arms on this planet. In 2015 the US exported almost $23 billion worth of arms. Saudi Arabia is arguable it’s best customers. The business of producing and selling arms is solid.
One example of the world’s increasing demand for arms is Lockheed Martin. The company has recently signed several multi-billion deals with Saudi Arabia. The company’s sales revenue was $46.1 billion in 2015, up by around $500 million on 2014 sales.
The United States’ Department of Defense deals with Saudi Arabia since March of 2015.
- May 2015 MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopters — $1.900 billion,
- July 2015 Ammunition RSLF $0.500 billion
- July 2015 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missiles — $5.400 billion,
- October 2015 Black Hawk Helicopters RSLF Aviation Command $0.495 billion
- October 2015 Multi-Mission Surface Combatant Ships $11.250 billion
- November 2015 Air-to-Ground Munitions RSAF $1.290 billion
- February 2016 MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons Systems $0.154 billion
- February 2016 USMTM Technical Assistance Field Teams Support $0.200 billion
- August 2016 M1A2S Tanks and Related Equipment $1.150 billion
- 8, 2016 Chinook Cargo Helicopters and related equipment, training, and support. The estimated cost is $3.51 billion.
Marine General Smedley Butler published a book in the 1930’s called “War is a Racket”. In his book, General Butler, a two-time Medal of Honor recipient, discussed how warfare provided profiteering opportunities to business.
Another prominent US General, President Dwight Eisenhower, in his 1961 farewell warned the US citizens about the “unwarranted influence”, of the business, that he called the “military industrial complex”.
U.S. in Violation of International Law?
A report by Amnesty International identifies three of the bomb types in the U.S. arms sale as having been used in Saudi Arabia’s unlawful airstrikes. Yemenis often find the remains of American-made munitions, as they did in the ruins after a strike that killed more than 100 mourners at a funeral earlier this year. Remember the graffiti?
The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was the first global treaty to regulate the conventional military arms trade. As of 1 July 2016, eighty-six (86) States had ratified or acceded to the ATT including the US. The ATT declares that “states are not allowed to sell weapons to a party engaged in armed conflict, if it knows the arms could be used “in attacks directed against civilians or other war crimes as defined by international law.”
In January 2016 the ATT concluded that some signatory States are in direct violation of the legally binding Treaty obligations when they supply arms to Saudi Arabia. The ATT concluded that there is clear risk that the arms sold to Saudi Arabia will be used in breach of international law in Yemen.
The UN Security Council on Yemen identified 119 coalition air sorties relating to violations of *International humanitarian law (IHL). The report states that airstrikes have targeted civilians and civilian objects, including residential areas, markets, schools, mosques, factories and food warehouses, and gatherings such as weddings. reports and stress to need for urgent action and the immediate halt of arms transfers to the Saudi-led coalition.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have produced evidence that US and UK munitions have been used in Saudi-led coalition airstrikes against several residential neighborhoods in Yemen.
In spite of this information the current administration has offered Saudi Arabia more than $115 billion in weapons, military equipment and training. The agreements included everything from small arms and ammunition to tanks, attack helicopters, air-to-ground missiles, missile defense ships, and warships. Washington also provides maintenance and training to Saudi security forces.
Just maybe President-elect Trump should make General Smedley Butler’s “War is a Racket” and President (General) Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1961 Farewell Address required readings for the Generals he has nominated for positions in his cabinet.
* This is the law that regulates “Conduct of War”. It seeks to limit the effects of armed conflict by protecting persons who are not participating in hostilities, the civilians and children.