Yemen victim of bloody brothers in arms

Thanks to US weapons sales, Saudi Arabia and its allies have killed thousands in the impoverished country, which now faces its worst famine in 100 years with 12 million people at risk

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 October, 2018, 7:17pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 October, 2018, 10:23pm

“Yemen on verge of worst famine in 100 years as civil war rages on”, screams the international headline. According to the World Food Programme, a United Nations agency, 12 million people are at risk.

The country is already in the middle of a famine, thanks to a civil war fuelled by an anti-Iranian air-bombing campaign waged by Saudi Arabia and a war on terror by the United States.

The Saudis drop the bombs sold to them by the Americans, who also provide technical and logistical support, share intelligence and deploy special forces. Thousands, mostly civilians, have died in the impoverished country.

At the moment, though, Washington is more preoccupied by the disappearance and possible murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. There is nothing US President Donald Trump wants more than to get Riyadh off the hook over Khashoggi.

In its dealings with Riyadh, how does Washington weigh its priorities when it comes to the life of one man and the lives of millions at stake? Well, the two allies have a US$110 billion arms deal, and Yemen partly explains why it’s so important to both sides.

War-torn Yemen on brink of world's worst famine in 100 years

Bombs dropped by the Saudi air force that were responsible for hundreds of Yemeni deaths have been traced back to American arms giants such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Raytheon.

In a summary report published on, Amnesty International researchers reported tracing such fragments to a Raytheon factory in Tucson, Arizona.

(Raytheon sold Hong Kong the troubled HK$1.56 billion air traffic control system.)

But Washington does more than approve sales of weapons. In his testimony to the Armed Services Committee of the US Senate in March, General Joseph Votel, head of the US Central Command, acknowledged actively sharing intelligence with the Saudis since they launched the coalition war in Yemen in 2015.

In a reply to questions in March by, a website for American soldiers and veterans, Central Command spokeswoman Captain AnnMarie Annicelli provided the following statistics:

US Air Force tankers such as KC-135 Stratotankers and KC-10 Extenders have carried out more than 2,800 refuelling operations over the Horn of Africa.

The aircraft have refuelled “88 million pounds (almost 40 million kg) of fuel, [up to January 1, 2018] in support of US missions and Saudi and Emirate operations against threats throughout the Horn of Africa, [including] Yemen”.

What are allies for, if not to help each other in the bloodletting?