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Yemen

‘It’s caused enormous harm to civilians’: Amnesty condemns US and UK for arming Saudi coalition in Yemen war

Amnesty also slammed the Iran-backed Houthi rebels for potential war crimes, including indiscriminate artillery shelling, enforced disappearances and death sentences against dissidents

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 March, 2018, 11:24am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 March, 2018, 11:06pm

Three years into their war on Yemen’s rebels, Saudi Arabia and its military allies – armed by the US and Britain – could stand guilty of war crimes, Amnesty International said Friday.

While all parties in the Yemen war are accused of neglecting civilian safety, the Saudi-led coalition, which intervened on the side of the government in 2015, is behind “the latest in a long string of potential war crimes” documented by Amnesty, said the London-based rights group.

“There is extensive evidence that irresponsible arms flows to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition have resulted in enormous harm to Yemeni civilians,” said Lynn Maalouf, head of Middle East research at Amnesty.

Irresponsible arms flows to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition have resulted in enormous harm to Yemeni civilians
Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International

“But this has not deterred the USA, the UK and other states, including France, Spain and Italy, from continuing transfers of billions of dollars worth of such arms. As well as devastating civilian lives, this makes a mockery of the global Arms Trade Treaty.”

The United States and Britain are both signatories to the treaty, which regulates the international trade of conventional arms for the purpose of “contributing to international and regional peace, security and stability” and “reducing human suffering”.

Amnesty also slammed the Iran-backed Houthi rebels for potential war crimes, including indiscriminate artillery shelling, enforced disappearances and death sentences against dissidents and members of the Baha’i minority.

On March 26, 2015, Saudi Arabia and its allies launched what would become an extensive military campaign on Yemen, sending aircraft and troops to back the government in its fight against the Houthis and recently slain former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Nearly 10,000 people have since been killed, triggering what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Amnesty said it had analysed video evidence confirming that at least two attacks on civilian targets, in August 2017 and January 2018, used bombs manufactured by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon of the United States.

Overall, Amnesty said it had documented 36 Saudi-led coalition attacks in which 513 civilians were killed, “many of which may amount to war crimes”.

A January 27, 2018 attack on the southern province of Taez hit a family home 3km away from the nearest military site.

The coalition used a GBU-12 laser-guided bomb, weighing 500 pounds, manufactured in the US by Lockheed, according to Amnesty. All six family members were killed or wounded.

An attack in August on a residential neighbourhood in Sanaa, the rebel-controlled capital, killed 16 civilians, most of them children.

Saudi Arabia and members of its military coalition were blacklisted by the United Nations last year for the maiming and killing of children.