SAUDI ARABIA’S recent fierce denunciation of Canada’s mild criticism of its atrocious human rights record confirms that Riyadh sees no cause to alter its ways.
Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman may project himself to simpering allies in Washington, London and Tel Aviv as the face of change, but domestic repression and war crimes in Yemen persist.
The Saudi military coalition, engaged in erasing all resistance in its southern neighbour, obliterated a bus in Saada province today, killing up to 39 people – the majority infants – and wounding another 43.
It justified its “legitimate” action as conforming to international and humanitarian laws by claiming that the bus was carrying missile launchers for the Houthi forces who overthrew Riyadh’s ally President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
It asserted implausibly that the Houthi were using their children as human shields.
This massacre is merely the latest in a long list by the Saudi coalition, seeking to impose its will by terror bombing since its ground troops have failed so far to achieve its aim.
To improve its chances, Saudi Arabia and its coalition of corrupt Gulf kingdoms spend freely on weapons of mass destruction from Western powers, especially the US and Britain.
Britain’s Campaign Against the Arms Trade estimates that our Tory government has licensed £4.7 billion of arms to Saudi forces since the bombing campaign began in 2015, during which period 10,000 people have been killed.
RAF personnel have also been seconded to the Saudis, ostensibly to teach them to operate new British warplanes, but there are allegations of closer involvement.
Theresa May welcomed the Saudi crown prince to Britain earlier this year, signing new trade deals worth around £65bn and clearly judging that business takes precedence over concerns about mass civilian casualties.
Jeremy Corbyn took a stand against May’s blood-soaked commerce during the state visit, accusing her of “colluding” with Riyadh to commit war crimes against Yemen’s women and children and asserting that ministers should be held “accountable” for the “very large numbers of children” killed and injured by Saudi air strikes.
The Labour leader said that “British military advisers are directing war” in Yemen, citing direct advice given in operations rooms by British military personnel to Saudi air crews about aerial targeting.
Nor are warplanes the main scourge of the poorest and weakest in Yemen, with cholera spreading and already affecting over 600,000 children and, most criminal of all, Riyadh blockading the port of Hudaydah to prevent urgently needed medical supplies — once again on the pretext that Iran is supplying weaponry to the Houthis through Hudaydah.
There can be little doubt that a Corbyn-led government would cease sending arms and military advisers to Saudi Arabia.
Germany has clean hands, having opted to end its arms sales to Riyadh, but Britain, in common with other Nato powers, regards armaments industry shareholders’ dividends as of greater importance than ending the dirty war in Yemen.
Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt rejects calls for a UN inquiry into the Saudi-led war in Yemen, asserting that the people carrying out the war crimes “have the best insight into their own military procedures and will be able to conduct the most thorough and conclusive investigations.”
Burt’s plan is brilliant in its simplicity.
War criminals self-investigate, find no reason to reprimand themselves, so nothing to see here, move along please and, if you’re an arms industry shareholder, carry on picking up your dividends.
And all the while the corpses of innocent Yemenis pile up, which is a human tragedy. But we’re not to blame.
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