Documenting the Saudi led war on Yemen

This blog serves as repository for reports on the effects of the bombing raids and blockade on Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition since the spring of 2015. Material will be made available in English and Arabic whenever possible in the hope that the voices of those in Yemen trying to document the effect of the Coalition attacks will reach the wider world directly.

هذا الموقع يهدف جمع وحفظ ونشر التقارير والشهادات الميدانية التي ينتجها الزملاء اليمنيين (وغيرهم ) عن اثار الضربات الجوية والحصار المفروض علي اليمن من قبل “التحالف” الذي تقوده المملكة العربية السعودية والولايات المتحدة الامريكية وغيرها من الدول منذ شهر اذار/مارس 2015. المواد هنا متوفرة بالغتين العربية والإنجليزية وذلك علي امل ايصال اصوات اليمنيين الذين يحاولون توثيق آثار هجوم التحالف وحصاره الى العالم بلا حذف او تعديل.

 

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Cluster Bombs made in the UK used in Yemen?

British-made cluster bomb found in Yemeni village targeted by Saudi-led coalition (The Independent)

A British-manufactured cluster bomb has been found in a Yemeni village, all but confirming the banned weapons are being used by Saudi-led coalition forces in theYemeni civil war. The BL-755 cluster bomb is designed to be dropped by UK-manufacturedTornado jets used by the Saudi Arabian Air Force, though the highly controversial weapons werebanned in conflict decades ago. Amnesty International discovered the unexploded munition during an inspection of a village in northern Yemen. The weapon, originally manufactured in the 1970s by a Bedfordshire company called Hunting Engineering, contains 147 ‘bomblets’ which scatter across a wide area, but often do not detonate until they are disturbed at later date, often by unsuspecting civilians picking them up. One man, who herds goats in a village in Hajjah governorate approximately six miles from the Saudi Arabia border, told Amnesty: “In the area next to us, there are bombs hanging off the
trees.”http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/british-made-cluster-bomb-found-in-yemeni-village-targeted-by-saudi-led-coalition-a7042626.html

Amnesty film on cluster bombs in Yemen
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUwmvAG4neQ&feature=youtu.be

The UK demands KSA to confirm it never used UK made cluster bombs

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36370728?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=New%20Campaign&utm_term=%2AMideast%20Brief

Multiple Media:

An earthquake hit a number of the Yemeni governorates on Tuesday as residents of Sana’a, Ibb, Taiz, Al-Bayda, Aden, Abyan Shabwah and al-Dale’a could feel a tremor. The epicentre of the 4.8 MD earthquake is reported to be in Abyan. A few houses were damaged in Ibb, al-Bayda’a, and Yafi’e. In Shabwa, three houses got demolished and the tenants were killed.

However: Yemen’s National Centre for Seismology, based in Dhamar, is no longer operational as the Saudi-led coalition pounded it last year.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/05/27/exclusive-white-house-blocks-transfer-of-cluster-bombs-to-saudi-arabia/

The U.S. is quietly helping Saudi Arabia wage a devastating aerial campaign in Yemen

la-oe-0330-whitson-yemen-strikes-20160330-001

One week before the Brussels terrorist attacks, a Saudi-led coalition bombed a market in Mastaba, Yemen. Although more people died in Mastaba than in Brussels — 106 versus 34 — the media and the international community in general ignored that earlier atrocity, as they’ve ignored most of the 150 indiscriminate aerial attacks reported by the United Nations and Human Rights Watch in the last year.

The problem, however, is worse than inattention; the West is actually supporting — by way of arms and military assistance — this all-but-invisible war.

Saudi Arabia has stated that its goal in Yemen is to restore to power President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, who fled the capital, Sana, in the wake of a coup by Houthi militia forces, and to preempt Iranian designs to control the country. Whatever one makes of those ambitions, it’s undeniable that the Saudis are violating international law as they carry out attacks with no apparent military target and use banned weapons, such as cluster bombs. Aerial strikes have hit schools, hospitals, markets and homes. According to the U.N., they account for 60% of the 3,200 civilians killed in the conflict.

It’s relatively well known that the U.S. and Britain are contributing to the war effort as the lead providers of the Saudi coalition’s arsenal. Saudi Arabia has been on a global arms shopping spree and is now the world’s largest purchaser of weapons. It contracted for at least $20 billion in weapons from the U.S. and almost $4.3 billion in weapons from Britain in 2015. The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia’s main partner in the Yemen war, is not far behind, as the world’s fourth-largest purchaser of weapons, acquiring $1.07 billion from the US and $65.5 million from Britain last year.

The brutal reality is that some of these bombs have landed on innocent Yemeni men, women and children. This is why many human rights and humanitarian organizations, as well as the European Parliament, have called for an embargo on arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

What remains unknown is the exact nature of the U.S. and British military role in the Saudi campaign. The U.S. Defense Department has vaguely stated that it is providing “targeting assistance,” which as a matter of law means it is liable for unlawful strikes in which it takes part. So what, exactly, does this targeting assistance looks like? Did it assist with the strike on the market? Did it help target the Doctors Without Borders medical clinic that the coalition struck repeatedly last October? What about the cluster bomb attack on Sana University in January?

Britain, for its part, has said it is providing “military training on compliance with the laws of war” — operating out of the Riyadh Command Center — with estimates ranging widely from six to 150 trainers. But what exactly are these people doing? If they are assisting with the targeting, this could make them a party to the conflict. If they are merely offering advice, it is patently clear that the Saudis are disregarding it.

One appropriate way for the Saudis — and the U.S. and Britain — to address the streams of evidence about unlawful airstrikes in Yemen would be to support an independent, international investigation into the conduct of both the coalition and the Houthi armed group, Ansar Allah, which is currently in power in much of the country.

Member states of the U.N. Human Rights Council attempted to pursue just such an investigation, but the Saudi-U.S.-Britain trifecta effectively quashed it. Instead, they backed a “domestic investigation” in Yemen led by the quasi-exiled, Saudi-supported President Hadi. It is no surprise that the body he announced last September has made no progress The coalition also hastily announced the creation of a committee to “promote compliance with the law” but made clear that it would not investigate any alleged violations.

So even as the U.S. leads the charge for international justice against the Assad government in Syria, it turns a blind eye to or actually stymies international inquiries into abuses by Saudi Arabia.

President Obama has repeatedly connected the dots between the proliferation of violent extremism and abuses by the authoritarian, unaccountable governments of the Arab world. He has had less to say about the risks created to American citizens by U.S. alliances with and military support for these governments.

But in this day and age, when it takes little training or equipment to wreak terrorist havoc in Western capitals, Obama should be very worried about the boomerang effect of such alliances. Unlawful strikes and large-scale civilian casualties are certain to foster further instability and extremism, whose effects may be felt not just in the region but closer to home too. The age of secret wars is not entirely over, but the shield of national boundaries has certainly expired.

Sarah Leah Whitson is the executive director of the Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa Division.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion andFacebook

After 10 years of war, are Yemenis hopeless?

People look at the site of a suicide bombing in Yemen's southern port city of Aden

People look at the site of a suicide bombing in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden March 26, 2016. REUTERS/Fawaz Salman – RTSCBIP

SANAA, Yemen — Adam Radman Hadaj, a Yemeni man in his mid-30s, decided to flee the violence of war in Saada province, in northern Yemen, in the hope that Hajjah province, on the border with Saudi Arabia, would be a safe haven for him and his 25-member family. Hajjah province is as far from the war as he could afford to migrate. Hadaj, a dark-skinned man with the frail body common among refugees, spoke about his situation as a displaced person.

Having lived at a relatives’ home for the past 11 months, Hadaj told Al-Monitor, “I did not expect life to be so harsh. I’ve encountered numerous difficulties in my life, but never have I had such a hard time. We do not have enough food. We are surrounded by disease and threatened by war. Each time I leave the house, I feel I will not be coming back.”

The situation of other internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Yemen is no different. Being displaced in a poor country ravaged by war, in this case between the Houthis and the government, is the definition of real suffering.

“More than 2 million internal refugees were displaced from their areas, fleeing the violence,” Adnan Hizam, media officer for the Red Cross in Yemen, told Al-Monitor. “There are invisible displacement destinations as numerous people seek refuge with their relatives in quiet areas, while others, who are affluent, rent houses.” In past months, Sanaa, Ibb, Amran, Hajjah, Marib and Hodeida provinces have provided sanctuary for the hundreds of thousands of displaced persons from areas in the central and northern parts of the country.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), many of the refugees are living in unhealthy living conditions. In shelter schools, for example, some of which host hundreds of IDPs, only two bathrooms are available, one for each gender. Ahmed Chadol, a doctor and WHO representative in Yemen, told the UN News Center, “The health situation in the shelters that host internally displaced people is disturbing.”

In Hajjah province, Abdullah Idris directs the Baddah medical dispensary, which is supposed to provide medical services to the displaced. He told Al-Monitor, “There are nearly 12,000 displaced people seeking medical services, but I cannot give them anything. We have nothing at the dispensary.”

The dispensary is situated between the towns of Abes and Mastaba in an obsolete, single-story government building. It has two rooms packed with patients, a room allocated for medical exams and a dusty storeroom with a couple of boxes of medical solutions. Crowds of people flock to the facility in search of services.

A female volunteer who is also displaced from the province of Saada, the Houthis’ stronghold, is in charge of exams for women. She works with two male physicians, including Idris, who spoke for nearly half an hour about the dire situation at the dispensary and the distress the workers feel from being unable to help patients. Ali Mohammed, deputy director of the dispensary, told Al-Monitor, “We received over the past three months hundreds of cases of dengue fever and malaria, as well as cases of acute diarrhea, usually caused by the lack of access to potable water.”

Yemen’s deteriorating health system is exposing internally displaced persons to health risks that are a threat to their survival. In Aden, Abyan, Hodeidah, Amran and Sanaa provinces, the living conditions in shelters are exacerbating an already bad situation, especially for people suffering from such chronic diseases as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and ailing kidneys.

Benyan Jamal, a human rights activist, told Al-Monitor, “Yemen does not have a story like the drowning of the Syrian boy Aylan, whose photo from the Turkish beach shook the humanitarian conscience, to focus the world’s attention on the human suffering and agony in another Middle Eastern country ravaged by war. The Yemenis’ displacement options are limited, so drawing the world’s attention to their misery is difficult.”

Jamal noted that most of the IDPs are poor and do not have passports, or enough money, to leave the country. Their options for escaping violence are very limited.

On the road between al-Marzak camp and the town of Mastaba, in Hajjah province, dozens of IDPs walk under the blazing sun. They do not seem concerned about the hazards of being in a border region witnessing clashes between government-allied Saudi forces and the Houthis, who are backed by military forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Zakaria al-Mouayad, 50, a refugee in the town of Mastaba wearing a torn garment that covered only half his body, told Al-Monitor, “Life no longer has value for us. Nothing here encourages us to take heed.”

Al-Marzak hosts thousands of Yemenis displaced by the conflict between the Houthis and the state that has plagued the country for a decade. The camp also includes hundreds of newly displaced persons fleeing the Saudi airstrikes supporting the Saudi-led military intervention, Operation Decisive Storm, launched March 26, 2015, to back President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, Yemen’s internationally recognized leader.

In October 2015, with the school year about to begin, dozens of families — some having registered in IDP camps while others fled to relatives without being registered — were moved to special camps. They had originally fled the neighboring provinces of Taiz and Dalea for shelter schools in Ibb province.

Hajjah officials built al-Salam Camp, a small camp not built to last. “The camp contains 72 brick rooms and accommodates 423 displaced people comprising 80 families, but we lack numerous capacities,” Said Malhi, deputy director of al-Salam, told Al-Monitor. “We need medicines, blankets and food. NGOs have given us nothing, except for UNICEF, which provided some aid.”

For the hundreds of thousands of Yemenis who have fled their homes to escape the violence of war, their situation seems bleaker with each passing day. They all wonder if they will ever return home.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/03/yemen-war-displaced-refugee-camps.html#ixzz44qsFxVgb

Looking Back at a Year of Bloodshed in Yemen

We’ve traveled to Yemen twice in the last two years. Once in 2014, prior to the Houthi takeover, and again in September and October of 2015 after Saudi airstrikes had decimated much of the country. Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the beginning of the Saudi military campaign in the country. The UN special envoy has said that the warring parties have agreed to a ceasefire starting April 10th, and a new round of peace talks beginning in Kuwait on April 18. The below is an account of our time reporting from Yemen in 2015—the people we met and the destruction we witnessed firsthand.

We were walking down a street in the center of Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, feeling relaxed for the first time since we had arrived two weeks earlier. Most of the city was dark, except for a few windows, gently lit by candles, or the headlights of cars driven fast by nervous men with a reason to risk being out at night.

We’d celebrated making it to the end of a tense and often terrifying shoot by visiting the old city for kebabs. The young men cooking the skewers of minced meat on glowing charcoals smiled at us, waving their hands dismissively as anti-aircraft tracer s lit up the sky and the now-familiar thud and boom of airstrikes followed. The missile strikes in Sanaa weren’t as frightening as the ones we had seen in the north, mostly because they came in predictable batches and hit generally the same areas, which people in the capital knew to avoid. There would be about half a dozen late at night , then another half a dozen or so just before dawn.

As we walked back to our hotel, our bellies full, a fighter jet flew in low and seemed to suck the air from around us. A terrific whooshing sound instantly filled the street, like a scream as loud as thunder. Suddenly, the earth seemed to tilt sideways . Something exploded just ahead of us. The other silhouettes on the street vanished and we staggered into a nearby shop as broken glass fell to the floor. I was carrying a friend’sfour year-old nephew on my shoulders and struggl ing to stay on my feet.

We ran back to the hotel and everyone took cover in the stairwell. The staff and a few families looked terrified as each blast shook the walls around us. They had been experiencing this for eight months, but hadn’t been able to get used to it.

yemen-body-image-1458934003-size_1000

A plane wreckage at Sanaa’s airport. Photo by Peter Salisbury

You see the results of this bombing campaign as soon as you arrive in Sanaa. At the city’s main airport, several destroyed planes still sit on the tarmac next to the main runway. Nearby, military bases, officer academies , and weapons depots have all been obliterated.

Civilian homes have also been hit, sometimes seemingly at random. Basic infrastructurehas been targeted as if the pilots of the fighter jets or their paymasters are becoming frustrated by the fact they are still far from any kind of victory. Sometimes targets that have already been hit many times are hit again; a house belonging to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s son was hit several times over the course of a few weeks even though it had already been flattened. It seems wrong to call a bombing campaign that has so far involved over 40,000 air strikes petulant, but that it is how it often seems. The morning after we’d been caught out in the open we found out what the target had been: a cemetery.

According to the UN, at least 6,000 people have been killed so far in Yemen’s civil war, roughly half of them civilians. That number only includes those who died in a medical facility so the actual number is certainly much higher. The majority of deaths have been caused by airstrikes launched by the Saudi-led military coalition.

 

Read More: http://www.vice.com/read/yemen-saudi-conflict-anniversary?utm_source=vicetwitterus

Al-Monitor: How much more can Yemen’s heritage sites take?

How much more can Yemen’s heritage sites take?

SANAA, Yemen — One of the oldest civilizations in the world in one of the poorest and most troubled countries of the Middle East is facing a tough cultural crisis. Yemen, which extends over a surface area of 528,000 square kilometers (204,000 square miles), abounds with the antiquities of various cultures, the oldest of which dates back 3,000 years. The civil war that the Arab coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, is participating in, alongside President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s government, is a scar in humanity’s civilization.

Summary⎙ Print The ancient city of Sanaa in conflict-torn Yemen is at risk of complete destruction as its historical landmarks keep taking one blow after the other.
Author

TranslatorPascale el-Khoury

An overview of the Old City of Sanaa that is on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List shows the extent to which the city and its heritage have been tarnished by the missiles of fighters. Over 6,000 historical houses whose renovation dates back to nine centuries have been reduced to remnants and occupy a surface area on which five houses were built before an Arab coalition missile hit them.

In mid-June 2015, Saudi-led military coalition airstrikes bombed the historic al-Qasimi neighborhood in Sanaa’s city center, destroying five historic houses. Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, said in a statement published June 12 that she was distressed by the damage done to the oldest jewels of Islamic civilization and called on all parties to keep the heritage sites out of the circle of conflict.

The neighborhood is one of dozens of historic archaeological sites in Yemen destroyed by the coalition airstrikes and local attacks resulting from the armed conflict between supporters of Hadi, the internationally recognized president, and the armed Houthis and their ally, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The country known historically as “Arabia Felix” (in Latin), meaning happy Arabia, is no longer as fortunate, facing a threat of destruction of its history and heritage.

On Sept. 19, the airstrikes hit al-Falihi neighborhood and killed 10 members of the same family: Hafaz Allah Ahmad al-Ayni, his wife, Houria Saad al-Hadid, and their children Nassim, Ahmad, twins Maria and Maram, Mohammad, Ali, Malak and Yehya. The shelling destroyed yet another historical house and damaged a number of nearby houses.

Amt al-Rzaq Jhaf, the undersecretary of the General Authority to Maintain Historic Sites, told Al-Monitor, “The coalition airstrikes destroyed 52 archaeological sites, notably Asaad al-Kamal cave in Ibb province, the Cairo Citadel in Taiz province, Awam Temple, the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of Bran, Baraqish graveyard, the Great Dam of Marib and the historical walls of the city of Saada.”

Jhaf accused Saudi Arabia of violating the Hague Convention, stressing the need to protect cultural property during armed conflict. “Saudi Arabia is disregarding the feelings of millions of people passionate about Yemeni architecture,” she said.

Amid the raging war in Yemen, and following UNESCO’s calls not to target historical sites, one can only bank on the ethics of the fighting parties.

The Kawkaban fortified citadel, 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of Sanaa, has managed to preserve its strength and beauty for 18 centuries, but on Feb. 14 it was destroyed by the shelling from missiles of the coalition aircraft.

The General Authority to Maintain Historic Sites condemned the destruction of the citadel in a statement published Feb. 15 and said that it targeted history, heritage and human values.

On Nov. 21, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the blast near the archaeological old walled city of Shibam, in eastern Yemen’s Hadramawt province, 990 kilometers (615 miles) from the capital Sanaa. The blast that targeted a military checkpoint of Yemeni troops wreaked havoc in the city that dates to the 16th century and is famous for its fenced mud-brick high-rise buildings that rise up to more than 30 meters (98 feet) in the middle of a vast desert.

Hassan Aideed, director general of the General Authority to Maintain Historic Sites in Hadramawt, told Al-Monitor, “The blast caused the historical city serious harm. The city’s walls and mud houses were damaged.”

Aideed called on the international organizations supporting the Yemeni architectural heritage, such as UNESCO, to intervene quickly to save around 160 damaged houses in Seiyun.

Aideed told Al-Monitor, “Due to the bombing, the historical buildings nearby suffered from cracks and several families have been displaced while they wait for the buildings to be renovated.”

Shibam, known as the “Manhattan of the Desert,” is a haven for desert tourism lovers. Inhabited by 7,000 people, the city includes about 500 buildings from five to 11 stories. It was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1982.

In the southern province of Taiz, two prominent historical landmarks were ravaged by the internal armed conflict, ongoing in the province for nearly a year now.

On Feb. 3, the National Museum in Taiz came under artillery fire. The museum, which includes rare manuscripts and pre-Islamic and traditional artifacts, was almost completely burned.

The Cairo Citadel, built a thousand years ago, was ravaged by the aircraft shelling that targeted it more than once.

The Houthi forces, officially called Ansar Allah, backed by troops loyal to Saleh, seized the historic citadel and its fortified fence in March 2015. They set up cannons to bombard the city and the sites affiliated with the Popular Resistance loyal to Hadi, which turned the city into a target for the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes.

The historical Marib Dam was hit by an air raid on May 31, 2015, which destroyed ancient Sabaean inscriptions carved on its walls. Marib province is located to the east of the capital Sanaa and was the largest ancient city in the south of the Arabian Peninsula.

The city hosts many important cultural landmarks such as Bran Temple, Awam Temple and Cemetery and Marib Dam, which is considered an architectural wonder. These cultural landmarks are all included in the World Heritage Sites in Yemen.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which controls the southern city of Mukalla in Yemen, destroyed on April 2, 2015, a number of Sufi shrines and domes built in 1158, alleging that these shrines promote polytheism.

The destruction of a number of unique cultural heritage landmarks in Yemen caused the country to lose an important part of its civilization and creative legacy.

The monuments that remain standing are struggling to survive. UNESCO in July 2015 included Sanaa and Shibam on its list of endangered World Heritage Sites, thereby sending a message to the warring parties to stop destroying history and sounding the alarm that those areas are under threat of destruction.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/03/yemen-civil-war-saudi-strikes-destroy-historical-buildings.html#ixzz44Bqs3YXK

BBC – UK Report on Saudi Airstrikes (British and US bombs)

Ahmed Sharif stood on top of a mound of rubble, waving a dinner plate. “The Saudis attacked this,” he said. “There was no weapons facility. There was no military site. This was a tourist attraction.”

He descended from the wreckage of a house that had stood for 1,400 years to gave me a tour of Kawkaban – an ancient citadel perched on a cliff top. Locals say this Yemeni treasure was hit by Saudi airstrikes in February, killing seven civilians. Mr. Sharif’s brother-in-law was one of them. He pointed to fragments of clothing in among the rubble. “That’s what’s left of him,” he said.

The dead of Kawkaban are among at least 3,200 civilians killed here in the past year. The United Nations says most were victims of airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition. A UN panel has accused the Saudis and their allies of bombing schools, health facilities, wedding parties and camps for the displaced.

‘The pain is so intense’

Saudi Arabia says it makes every effort to avoid hitting civilian targets, but that’s little consolation to the burn victim we met in hospital in Sanaa.

Abdel Bari Omar survived an airstrike outside the city last month, but only just. The van driver lay in bed, bandaged from the chest down. He was transporting gas cylinders when the fighter jets struck.

“The pain is so intense only God can understand,” he said, through trembling lips. “Whatever way I turn I am in agony. I’m afraid this pain will stop my heart.” His other fear is about the future of his children now their breadwinner has burns on more than 40% of his body.

Abdel Bari Omar
Image captionAbdel Bari Omar was transporting gas cylinders when fighter jets struck

Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign was supposed to reinstate Yemen’s ousted President, Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and contain the Shia Houthi rebels who drove him out.

Riyadh claims they are puppets of its regional rival, Iran. A year on, the president remains out of sight, and the Houthis remain in control of the capital.

“We can keep fighting forever,” said Mohamed Ali Al Houthi, the rebel leader who occupies the Presidency building, and has a traditional dagger in his waistband. “If they continue the war we are ready for that, and if they want peace we want it even more.”

The Houthis too are accused of killing innocent civilians by indiscriminate shelling – something they deny. But the troubling questions here aren’t only for the warring parties.

The British connection

Yemeni businessman Ghalib al-Sawary wants to know why Britain has played a role in ruining his life’s work.

He walked me through the wreckage of Radfan Ceramics, a factory outside Sanaa that employed 350 people before the war. Airstrikes last year – which reportedly killed one man – reduced the factory to a shell.

“We built it over 20 years,” he said, “but to destroy it took only 20 minutes.”

Mr Sawary showed me hunks of mangled metal bearing the label of a British manufacturer – GEC Marconi Dynamics – which he says were recovered after the airstrike. He keeps plenty of them, under lock and key. The campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has identified the remnants are part of a British made cruise missile.

Factory in Matnah, Yemen, allegedly destroyed by Saudi-led coalition using British-made bomb
Image captionThe ceramics factory in Matnah was allegedly destroyed by a British-made bomb

For Mr Sawary the pain of loss was heightened by the origin of the weapon. “I studied in Britain in 1988. We respect the British people and we like them,” he said, “but we are blaming them for supplying this weapon.”

Campaigners say the attack on the factory – which appeared to be producing only civilian goods – was an apparent violation of the laws of war. They believe it may also have violated the UK’s rules on arms exports.

A British government spokesman denied there had been any breach and said the UK had robust controls for arms exports.

At a police station in Sanaa, Yemeni security officials put a US made cluster bomb unit on display. They claim it was dropped in the Western suburbs in January scattering deadly bomb-lets over a civilian area. They produced several from a pink plastic shopping bag. The coalition has denied using the weapons, which have been banned by more than 100 countries.

Cluster bomb allegedly dropped on Yemen by Saudi-led coalition
Image captionThe Saudi-led coalition has denied allegations that it is using cluster bombs in Yemen

Much of the death and destruction here in the past 12 months has gone unseen – one more war in a troubled region.

“Yemen was already forgotten, prior to the escalation of the conflict,” said Johannes van der Klaauw, of the UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR. He believes the crisis has not had the attention it deserves in part because Yemenis aren’t reaching Europe’s shores.

“I am afraid there is a link,” he said. “I see that the international community and particularly Europe has now galvanised more support and also political action because the Syrians and the Iraqis are coming in large numbers to Europe. If the Yemenis would do the same I am sure there would be more attention for Yemen.”

For most Yemenis there is no hope of escape, but more peace talks are planned for next month, to be accompanied by a ceasefire.

Whatever the outcome, UN officials fear that one year of war has set the Arab world’s poorest country back decades.

( http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35901321 )

غارات للتحالف العربي بقيادة السعودية قتلت مئات المدنيين في اليمن

مواطنة: غارات للتحالف العربي بقيادة السعودية قتلت مئات المدنيين في اليمن

قالت منظمة مواطنة لحقوق الانسان ان الغارات الجوية التي تنفذها قوات التحالف العربي بقيادة السعودية قتلت وجرحت مئات المدنيين في اليمن منذ بدء حملتها العسكرية باليمن في 26 مارس الماضي في انتهاك جسيم لحقوق الانسان والقانون الدولي الإنساني والقانون الدولي لحقوق الانسان.

وطالبت مواطنة السعودية وقوات التحالف الكف عن انتهاك القانون الدولي الإنساني وسرعة وقف استهداف المدنيين والبنية التحتية والمنشآت والأعيان المدنية ووضع حد لاستهداف الأماكن التي قد يلحق الهجوم عليها أضراراً بالمدنيين.

جاء ذلك في تقرير أطلقته المنظمة يوثق سقوط المدنيين في اليمن بالضربات الجوية لقوات التحالف العربي منذ بدء حملتها العسكرية في اليمن أواخر مارس الماضي  بطلب من الرئيس عبد ربه منصور هادي وحتى شهر اكتوبر 2015م.

واشتمل التقرير الذي حمل عنوان ” غارات عمياء” على نحو44 ضربة جوية شنتها مقاتلات التحالف العربي في البلاد وحققت فيها مواطنة من خلال البحث الميداني وتنفيذ مقابلات مع 155 شخص من الضحايا الناجين، أهالي الضحايا، شهود عيان ومصادر طبية.

وسلط الضوء على عدد من الوقائع تحققت منها المنظمة منذ بدء العمليات العسكرية الجوية للتحالف في اليمن في تسع محافظات يمنية هي: صنعاء، تعز، لحج، إب، الحديدة، صعدة، حجة، البيضاء وذمار.

وكشف التقرير توصل التحقيقات الى ان هذه الضربات قتلت 615 مدنياً على الأقل، بينهم 120 امرأة و220 طفلاً، وإصابة 678 آخرين، بينهم 125 امرأة و167 طفلاً في تسع محافظات يمنية. وطالت معظم هذه الضربات مناطق بعيدة عن الأهداف العسكرية كالمعسكرات ومناطق تجمع المسلحين.

وقالت رضية المتوكل، رئيسة منظمة مواطنة لحقوق الانسان انه من المؤسف جداً ان تستمر حالة النكران التي يتبناها التحالف تجاه الضحايا المدنيين الذين سقطوا بغارته على اليمن، محملة دول التحالف المسؤولية الجنائية والأخلاقية لهذه الانتهاكات التي ترقى الى جرائم حرب.

وقدم التقرير مصفوفة من التوصيات لأطراف النزاع والفاعلين المحليين والاقليميين والدوليين في الصراع الجاري في اليمن للأخذ بها من اجل الحد من استمرار سقوط الضحايا المدنيين والإضرار بمصالحهم.

ودعا السعودية الى اجراء تحقيق محايد وشفاف في الوقائع الواردة في التقرير وأي وقائع أخرى نتج عنها سقوط ضحايا مدنيين، والإعلان عن نتائج هذا التحقيق، وتقديم المسؤولين عنها للمحاكمة.

وشدد التقرير على المطالبة بإنشاء لجنة دولية للتحقيق في انتهاكات قوات التحالف الجسيمة للقانون الإنساني الدولي والقانون الدولي لحقوق الإنسان.
وشددت المتوكل: ” على المجتمع الدولي الخروج عن دائرة الاحجام المُخزي والتصرف بمسؤولية تجاه الانتهاكات التي تُرتكب يومياً من قوات التحالف والأطراف الأخرى في اليمن ضد المدنيين، على المجتمع الدولي ان يدرك انه يتحول تدريجياً الى عامل في اهدار العدالة ومساندة الجلاد في مواجهة ضحايا انتهاكات حقوق الانسان في اليمن.”

البيان: البيان الصحفي

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Press Release

Mwatana: Airstrikes of Saudi Arabia-led Arab coalition killed

hundreds of civilians in Yemen

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s aerial attacks in Yemen have led to the killing and injury of hundreds of civilians since March 26, 2015, in flagrant violation for International Humanitarian Law, Mwatana Organization for Human Rights said in a report it released today.

The Report, ” Blind Airstrikes”, Civilian victims of Saudi Arabia-led coalition’ air strikes in Yemen, highlights  the details of  44  incidents of  aerial attacks by Saudi Arabia-led coalition that killed 615 civilians including 120 women and 220 children, and injured 678 others among whom at least 125 women and 167 children.

Mwatana Organization for Human Rights has documented the 44 incidents of unlawful airstrikes through carrying out a field research and conducting interviews with 155 persons including surviving victims, families of the victims, eye- witnesses and medical sources in nine Yemeni provinces: Sana’a, Taiz, Lahj, Ibb, Hodeidah, Sa’adah Hajjah, AL-Baidha and Dhamar, from 26 March to October 2015.

Mwatana called on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and all state members of its led coalition to stop  violating International Humanitarian Law and its relevant Instruments particularly and immediately halt targeting civilians, infrastructure and civil institutions and locations the target of which may bring damage to civilians.

The report states that these attacks, which came at the request of Yemeni President Abdraboo Mansoor Hadi to restore his legitimacy, targeted non-military locations and populated areas with no military presence.

The Report calls on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to carry-out an impartial and transparent inquiry on the alleged attacks featured in this report and any other airstrikes led to civilian casualties and to declare findings of investigation for the public and to hold those responsible accountable bringing them into justice.

” It is very regrettable this denial by Saudi Arabia-led Arab coalition to the fact that these aerial attacks did target civilian objects in Yemen and thus resulted in loss of civilian lives and injures.  Said Radhya al-Mutawakel, chairperson of Mwatana Organization for Human Rights

Mrs. al-Mutawakel holds the Saudi Arabia-led coalition the full legal and ethical responsibility for these violations which may tantamount to war crimes.

The Report concludes with a matrix of recommendations directed to all warring parties and to local, regional and international players and actors in the on-going conflict in Yemen, to put an end for the continuous loss of civilians’ lives and  sabotaging their own their interests.

The Report emphatically calls for the formulation of an international commission to investigate all violations attributed to Saudi Arabia-led coalition that breach the International Humanitarian Law.

“International community is has to get out of its discreditable inaction and act responsibly  towards such flagrant war violations against civilians committed by Saudi Arabia-led coalition and other warring parties in Yemen. International community must realize that it is gradually turning into an actor in compromising justice and will, thus, be supportive to perpetrators against victims of human rights violations.”  al-Mutawakel asserted .

Press Release –

Saudi war for Yemen oil pipeline is empowering al-Qaeda, IS

Secret cable and Dutch government official confirm that Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen is partly motivated by an ambitious US-backed pipeline fantasy

Nearly 3,000 civilians have been slaughtered and a million displaced in Saudi Arabia’s noble aerial bombardment of Yemen, which is backed by the United States and Britain.

Over 14 million Yemenis face food insecurity – a jump of 12 percent since June 2015. Out of these, three million children are malnourished. And across the country, an estimated 20 million people cannot safely access clean water.

The Saudi air force has systematically bombed Yemen’s civilian infrastructure in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. An official UN report to the Security Council leaked last month found that the Saudis have “conducted airstrikes targeting civilians and civilian objects … including camps for internally displaced persons and refugees; civilian gatherings, including weddings; civilian vehicles, including buses; civilian residential areas; medical facilities; schools; mosques; markets, factories and food storage warehouses; and other essential civilian infrastructure, such as the airport in Sanaa, the port in Hudaida and domestic transit routes.”

US-made cluster bombs have been dropped on residential areas – an act that even the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon tepidly concedes “may amount to a war crime”.

In other words, Saudi Arabia is a rogue state. But make no mistake. This kingdom is our rogue state.

The US and British governments supplying Saudi Arabia with weapons to be unleashed on Yemeni civilians pretend they are not involved in the war, not responsible for the war crimes of our rogue state ally.

A UK Ministry of Defence spokesperson insisted that British forces were merely advising “on best practice targeting techniques … UK military personnel are not directly involved in Saudi-led coalition operations.”

But these are weasel words, given the recent revelation from the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, that British and American military officials are working “in the command and control centre for Saudi airstrikes on Yemen.”

Presumably taxpayers are not paying them to stand around drinking tea all day.

No – we’re paying them to supervise the air war. According to the Saudi foreign minister: “We have British officials and American officials and officials from other countries in our command and control centre. They know what the target list is and they have a sense of what it is that we are doing and what we are not doing.”

US and UK officials have “been able to scrutinise its air campaign, and were satisfied by its safeguards”.

Back in April 2015, US officials were far more candid about this arrangement. US Deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken told a press conference in Riyadh that the US had increased its intelligence sharing with the Saudis via a “joint coordination planning cell,” involving target selection.

Whatever the case, the civilised leaders of the free world have an insiders’ birds-eye view of the Saudi military’s systemic war crimes in Yemen – and it appears they approve.

Sectarian war?

The goals of the Saudi-led coalition are obscure.

It’s widely recognised that the war has broad geopolitical, sectarian dynamics. The Saudis fear that the rise of the Houthis signals the growing influence of Iran in Yemen.

With Iran active in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, Saudi Arabia sees the Houthi rebellion as yet another component in its strategic encirclement by Iranian proxy forces. This is compounded by the US-backed Iran nuclear deal, which paves the way for Iran’s integration into global markets, the opening up of its underdeveloped oil and gas sectors, and its consolidation as a regional power.

But this narrative is not the whole story. While Iran’s contacts with the Houthis are beyond question, before Saudi’s air campaign, the Houthis had acquired most of their weapons from two sources: the black market and ex-President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

US intelligence officials confirm that Iran had explicitly warned the Houthis not to attack Yemen’s capital last year. “It remains our assessment that Iran does not exert command and control over the Houthis in Yemen,” said Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council.

According to former UN special envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, the Saudi airstrikes scuppered an imminent peace deal that would have led to a power-sharing arrangement between 12 rival political and tribal groups.

“When this campaign started, one thing that was significant but went unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would institute power-sharing with all sides, including the Houthis,” Benomar told the Wall Street Journal.

This was not, then, about Iran. The Saudis, and apparently the US and UK, did not want to see a genuine transition to the semblance of a democratic Yemen.

In fact, the US is explicitly opposed to the democratisation of the entire Gulf region, hell-bent on ‘stabilising’ the flow of Gulf oil to global markets.

In March 2015, US military and NATO consultant Anthony Cordesman of the Washington, DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies explained that: “Yemen is of major strategic importance to the United States, as is the broader stability of Saudi Arabia all of the Arab Gulf states. For all of the talk of US energy ‘independence,’ the reality remains very different. The increase in petroleum and alternative fuels outside the Gulf has not changed its vital strategic importance to the global and US economy … Yemen does not match the strategic importance of the Gulf, but it is still of great strategic importance to the stability of Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula.”

In other words, the war on Yemen is about protecting the West’s principal Gulf rogue state, to keep the oil flowing. Cordesman goes on to note: “Yemen’s territory and islands play a critical role in the security of another global chokepoint at the southeastern end of the Red Sea called the Bab el-Mandab or ‘gate of tears’.”

The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is “a chokepoint between the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, and it is a strategic link between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean,” carrying most exports from the Persian Gulf that transit the Suez Canal and Suez-Mediterranean (SUMED) pipeline.

“Any hostile air or sea presence in Yemen could threaten the entire traffic through the Suez Canal,” adds Cordesman, “as well as a daily flow of oil and petroleum products that the EIA [US Energy Information Administration] estimates increased from 2.9 mmb/d [million barrels per day] in 2009 to 3.8 mmb/d in 2013″.

The Yemen pipeline dream

But there’s a parallel sub-goal here, acknowledged in private by Western officials, but not discussed in public: Yemen has as yet untapped potential to provide an alternative set of oil and gas trans-shipment routes for the export of Saudi oil, bypassing Iran and the Strait of Hormuz.

The reality of the kingdom’s ambitions in this regard are laid bare in a secret 2008 State Department cable obtained by Wikileaks, from the US embassy in Yemen to the Secretary of State:

“A British diplomat based in Yemen told PolOff [US embassy political officer] that Saudi Arabia had an interest to build a pipeline, wholly owned, operated and protected by Saudi Arabia, through Hadramawt to a port on the Gulf of Aden, thereby bypassing the Arabian Gulf/Persian Gulf and the straits of Hormuz.

“Saleh has always opposed this. The diplomat contended that Saudi Arabia, through supporting Yemeni military leadership, paying for the loyalty of sheikhs and other means, was positioning itself to ensure it would, for the right price, obtain the rights for this pipeline from Saleh’s successor.”

Indeed, Yemen’s eastern governorate of Hadramaut has remained curiously free from Saudi bombardment. The province, Yemen’s largest, contains the bulk of Yemen’s remaining oil and gas resources.

“The kingdom’s primary interest in the governorate is the possible construction of an oil pipeline. Such a pipeline has long been a dream of the government of Saudi Arabia,” observes Michael Horton, a senior analyst on Yemen at the Jamestown Foundation. “A pipeline through the Hadramawt would give Saudi Arabia and its Gulf State allies direct access to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean; it would allow them to bypass the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic chokepoint that could be, at least temporarily, blocked by Iran in a future conflict. The prospect of securing a route for a future pipeline through the Hadramawt likely figures in Saudi Arabia’s broader long-term strategy in Yemen.”

Hiding the pipeline connection

Western officials are keen to avoid public consciousness of the energy geopolitics behind the escalating conflict.

Last year, a cutting analysis of these issues was posted on a personal blog on 2 June 2015 by Joke Buringa, a senior advisor on security and rule of law in Yemen at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Fear of an Iranian blockade of the Hormuz Strait, and the possibly disastrous results for the global economy, has existed for years,” she wrote in the article, titled “Divide and Rule: Saudi Arabia, Oil and Yemen.” “The US therefore pressured the Gulf States to develop alternatives. In 2007 Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Oman and Yemen jointly launched the Trans-Arabia Oil Pipeline project. New pipelines were to be constructed from the Saudi Ras Tannurah on the Persian Gulf and the UAE to the Gulf of Oman (one to the Emirate of Fujairah and two lines to Oman) and the Gulf of Aden (two lines to Yemen).”

In 2012, the connection between Abu Dhabi and Fujairah, within the UAE, became operational. Meanwhile, Iran and Oman moved to sign their own pipeline deal. “Distrust about the intentions of Oman increased the attractiveness of the Hadramawt option in Yemen, a longstanding wish of Saudi Arabia,” wrote Buringa.

President Saleh, however, was a major obstacle to Saudi ambitions. According to Buringa, he “opposed the construction of a pipeline under Saudi control over Yemeni territory. For many years the Saudis invested in tribal leaders in the hope to execute this project under Saleh’s successor. The 2011 popular uprisings by demonstrators calling for democracy upset these plans.”

Buringa is the only senior Western government official to have acknowledged this matter publicly. But when I contacted her to request an interview on 1 February, four days later I received a response from Roel van der Meij, a spokesperson for corporate affairs at the Dutch government’s foreign ministry: “Mrs. Joke Buringa asked me to inform you that she is not available for the interview.”

Buringa’s entire blog – previously available at www.jokeburinga.com – had in the meantime been completely removed.

An archived version of her article on the energy geopolitics of the Saudi war in Yemen is available at the Wayback Machine.

I asked both Buringa and van der Meij why Buringa’s blog had been completely deleted so quickly after I had sent my request for an interview, and whether she had been forced to do so under government pressure to protect Dutch ties with Saudi Arabia.

In an email, Buringa denied that she was pressured by the Dutch foreign ministry to delete the blog: “Sorry to disappoint you, but I was not pressured by the ministry. The layout of the blog had bothered me from the beginning and I had been meaning to change it for months … Your question reminded me that I wanted to change my site and rethink what I want to do with it. Don’t read more into it.”

However, the Dutch government corporate affairs spokesperson, van der Meij, did not respond to multiple email and telephone requests for comment regarding the removal of the blog.

Many Dutch firms are active in the kingdom running joint investments, including the Anglo-Dutch oil major Shell. Due to the Netherlands’ position as a gateway to Europe, two Saudi Arabian multinationals – the national oil firm Aramco and the petrochemicals giant SABIC – have their European headquarters in The Hague and Sittard, both in the Netherlands. Dutch exports to Saudi Arabia have also increased dramatically in recent years, rising 25 percent between 2006 and 2010.

In 2013, Saudi Arabia exported just under 34 billion euros ($38.5bn) of mineral fuels to the Netherlands, and imported from the Dutch just over 8 billion euros ($9bn) of machines and transport material, 4.8 billion euros ($5.4bn) of chemical products, and 3.7 billion euros ($4.2bn) of foodstuffs and animals.

The Saudi alliance with al-Qaeda

Among the prime beneficiaries of the Saudi strategy in Yemen is al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the same group that took responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo slaughter in Paris.

“The governorate of Hadramawt is one of the few areas where the Saudi-led coalition did not conduct any air strikes,” noted Buringa. “The port and the international airport of al-Mukalla are in optimal shape and under the control of al-Qaeda. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has been delivering arms to al-Qaeda, (which) is expanding its sphere of influence.”

The Saudi alliance with al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists in Yemen was brought to light last June when the Saudi-backed “transitional” government of Abd Rubbuh Mansour Hadi dispatched a representative to Geneva as an official delegate for UN talks.

It turned out that the representative was none other than Abdulwahab Humayqani, identified as a “specifically designated global terrorist” in 2013 by the US Treasury for recruiting and financing for AQAP. Humayqani was also allegedly behind an al-Qaeda car bombing that killed seven at a Yemeni Republican Guard base in 2012.

Other analysts concur. As Michael Horton comments in the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor: “AQAP may also benefit from the fact that it could well be regarded as a useful proxy by Saudi Arabia in its war against the Houthis. Saudi Arabia and its allies are arming a host of disparate militias across southern Yemen. It is almost certain that some, if not much, of the funding and materiel will make its way to AQAP and quite possibly the Islamic State.”

While trumpeting the war on IS in Iraq and Syria, the West is paving the way for the resurgence of both al-Qaeda and IS in Yemen.

“Saudi Arabia does not want a strong, democratic country on the other side of the more than 1,500 kilometre-long border that separates both countries [Saudi Arabia and Yemen],” Dutch foreign ministry official Joke Buringa had remarked in her now-censored article. Neither, it seems, do the US and UK. She added: “Those pipelines to Mukalla will probably get there eventually.”

Read more: http://www.middleeasteye.net/essays/saudi-war-yemen-oil-pipeline-empowering-al-qaeda-1386143996#sthash.yVByt0Kp.dpuf

Saudi Arabia has warned the UN and other aid agencies to move their staff away from rebel-held areas in Yemen in a letter revealed Thursday.

Saudi Arabia has warned the United Nations and other aid agencies to move aid workers away from rebel-held areas in Yemen, where the Saudi-led coalition is carrying out intense airstrikes, according to a letter revealed on Thursday.

479According to media reports, the Saudi mission in Geneva sent an initial letter to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on 5 February.

The letter asked the UN agency to “notify all the international organisations working in Yemen” to relocate their staff away from Houthi-held areas “in order for the Coalition forces to guarantee the safety and security of the international organisations.”

A similar letter marked urgent was sent out by the Saudi embassy in London.

The United Nations flatly rejected the request and reminded Saudi Arabia of its obligations to allow humanitarian access in Yemen, where coalition warplanes have been pounding Houthi rebels for nearly a year.

UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien said in a letter to Saudi Ambassador to the UN, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi that relief organisations were “delivering life-saving assistance as per internationally recognised principles and will continue to do so.”
Read more: http://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/News/2016/2/12/Saudi-warns-UN-to-leave-rebel-areas-in-Yemen