As world condemns Khashoggi murder, remember victims of Saudi proxy war in Yemen

  • The US and other Western powers are supplying the Saudis with the weapons they need to massacre the Yemenis
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 October, 2018, 5:03pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 October, 2018, 5:03pm

The cold-blooded killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, however gruesome, pales in comparison to the brutality and gross human rights violations Saudi Arabia is committing in Yemen.

The Saudis are deliberately preventing food and medicine from reaching areas where children are dying from starvation or disease. Their indiscriminate bombings are killing thousands of innocent men, women and children, leaving whole communities in ruin. The saddest part of this unfolding tragedy is that the US and other Western powers are supplying the Saudis with the weapons they need to massacre the Yemenis, who are trapped in this proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran (which neither can win), and the Yemenis will continue to pay the price with their blood.

Inside Yemen’s brutal civil war

Yemen victim of bloody brothers in arms

Since 2015, the Saudis have led a coalition of mostly Arab states in Yemen’s civil war, backing the ousted government against the Houthi rebels – a Shia-affiliated group with the full support of Iran. Out of Yemen’s total population of about 28 million, 22 million need humanitarian aid. Nearly 5.2 million children are starving to death, and nearly 1 million are believed to be infected with cholera. Over 8 million people are facing famine, and 2 million are displaced and deprived of basic needs.

But this proxy war is not winnable. After 3.5 years, neither the Saudis nor the Iranians have made any significant progress, and there are no indications that either could gain the upper hand.

Sunni Saudi Arabia is determined not to allow Iran to have any foothold in the Arabian Peninsula; including in Yemen, which borders Saudi Arabia to the south. Shiite Iran is determined to expand its regional influence, and has seized the opportunity in the conflict between the Houthis and the recognised government to interject itself on behalf of the Houthis.

Sadly and tragically, both governments have badly miscalculated each other’s resolve, except that the Saudis, who have a higher stake in any final outcome, adopted a no-holds-barred strategy in its execution of the merciless war.

Dr Alon Ben-Meir, Centre for Global Affairs, NYU