Humanitarian concerns about the Saudi Arabian military intervention in Yemen are creating more pressure on Saudi Arabia (KSA). According to an investigative effort by the US news magazine Foreign Policy, the White House recently decided to put a hold an all cluster munitions exports of the CBU-105 Type, fabricated by Textron, to the KSA.
Thereby the US government indirectly confirms the accusations of international Human Rights organizations like Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI), which have been saying for months that the KSA is deploying cluster munitions near civilians in Yemen.
Up until recently these accusations did not draw much attention onto them. Saudi Arabia, the second largest weapons importer, is an important client of the American, British and French arms industries. The USA delivered the last cluster munitions order for KSA between 2013 and 2015.
According to international law the use of cluster munitions is illegal since the ratification of the convention against cluster munitions in 2010. Cluster munitions consist of a container, which upon activation distributes up tp 2000 sub munitions or bomblets over a large targeted area. Some of these bomblets fail to explode and thereby act as landmines that pose a serious and lasting danger to civilians, notably children.
Although the USA never signed the convention, they passed a law in 2009 that prohibits the use of US-made cluster munitions by the recipient near civilians and that the failure rate (of unexploded bombs) needs to be below 1% to qualify for export. Ken Roth, director of HRW, tweeted recently that even the modern technology of Textron, used in Yemen, shows that even the most evolved cluster munitions have a failure above 1%.
However, more dangerous are those cluster munitions the KSA has acquired over the years (since 1970) from Western arms industries. HRW and AI found a number of duds (unexploded munitions) manufactured in the US or the UK that were distributed by cluster bombs carrying approx. 650 sub munitions each and that have a failure rate of about 20%. HRW and AI were able to identify at least 54 casualties from cluster munitions in about 23 locations.
SFY is organizing a day for Yemen in Paris on May 28th to celebrate Yemen, whose people and heritage are in acute danger, and to raise awareness for a country in need for help and solidarity.
Come and see exhibitions, films, live music and experts debate at the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture on May 28th in Paris.
Your SFY Team
SFY organise une journée pour le Yémen à Paris le 28 mai pour célébrer le Yémen, dont les habitants et le patrimoine sont en danger, et pour sensibiliser les gens car le Yémen a besoin de votre aide et solidarité.
Venez voir des expositions, des films, de la musique et des débats et interventions à l’Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture le 28 mai à Paris.
Votre équipe SFY.
SFY is organizing a day for Yemen in Paris on May 28th to celebrate Yemen, whose people and heritage are in acute danger, and raise awareness for a country in need for help and solidarity.
Come and see exhibitions, films, life music and experts debate at the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture.
We will be happy to see you there.
Your SFY team!
Saturday marks one year since the Saudi-led coalition began carrying out airstrikes on rebel forces in Yemen.
So far all negotiation talks have failed to broker a peace deal and to end the airstrikes and fighting on the ground, as well as restoring life essential supply routes (ports, airports,..).
Average food prices have risen by 44%, fuel prices have risen by 55% and most of Yemens ports and roads are shut down due to the fighting.
Since Saudi Arabia launched its airstrikes on the poorest country of the Arab world, home to Unesco heritage sites, at least 3,200 civilians have been killed and 5,700 wounded, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates.
The majority of the civilian deaths were inflicted by the airstrikes. The Saudi-led coalition has also used cluster bombs, as Human Rights Watch reported, likely to kill civilians and contaminate large areas of agricultural land.
Human Rights Watch suggests that there have been major Human Rights violations and potential breaches of International Humanitarian Law by both sides of the conflict in Yemen.
Apart from NGOs, the worlds leaders have not condemn Saudi actions in Yemen. A rare exception being the EU parliament’s vote for an embargo on arms sales to Saudi Arabia. However this vote does not force European states to halt deals. And one of Saudi Arabia’s most important ally, the United States, has moved forward with weapons deals with Saudi Arabia.
Although some United Nations bodies and panels have called for an international inquiry into widespread attacks on civilian targets by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, no such independent inquiry has been launched yet. A Dutch draft resolution submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council had proposed establishing an international independent inquiry into violations committed by all sides. However, the Netherlands withdrew its draft resolution as a result of pressure from Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners.
Salam For Yemen, a collective calling for peace in Yemen, remains deeply concerned with the assaults on the civilian population in Yemen, as well as with the international silence ignoring the asymmetric, deadly conflict in Yemen. SFY calls on all leaders to committ themselves to finding a peaceful solution and ensuring that food, fuel and medical supplies reach the civilian population in Yemen.
Tonight at midnight a new ceasefire starts in Yemen. It was agreed on by all warring parties. This ceasefire is the fifth attempt to stop hostilities and allow humanitarian aid to reach victims of the war. Salam for Yemen (SFY) calls on all parties to respect the agreement. All previous truces to stop the fighting were breached, either by the Saudi-led coalition or Houthi rebels, sometimes only within hours of the agreement.
Yemeni citizens also fear an intensification of the fighting just before the agreed starting moment of the ceasefire, as this has been the case in the past. SFY calls on all parties to refrain from such actions.
The ceasefire was announced this weekend and is set to coincide with the week-long Geneva peace talks. The peace talks starting tomorrow, December 14th, are the second Geneva peace talks on Yemen since the outbreak of the conflict in March 2015. As opposed to the failed Geneva peace talks in June 2015, that even failed to broker a lasting ceasefire, Houthi leaders have committed to participating in the talks this time.
According to Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the aim of the peace talks is to develop a plan for the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions, including a measure adopted in April 2015 which demanded that all parties, in particular the Houthis, immediately and unconditionally end violence and refrain from further unilateral actions that threatened the political transition based on the GCC.
It remains to be seen whether there will be a consensus around such a proposition. For SFY, in order to ease the immense suffering of the Yemeni people the priority of the peace talks should be:
Agreeing to ceasefire during the talks, which civil society, the Yemeni people, as well as, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon have called for for months, is a promising sign for the upcoming Geneva 2 talks. Yet, to be successful and to give peace a chance in Yemen, the Geneva 2 talks need to lead to an immediate end to hostilities and an end to the de-facto embargo on Yemen for life-essential goods.
SFY president Sadek Alsaar will be in Geneva during the talks to remind leaders of the priorities identified above, and to evaluate the progress of the talks.
Violations of human rights and the rights of law appear to have been carried out both by the Saudi-led international coalition and the rebels in the country. While not all civilian casualties indicate laws-of-war violations, attacks that deliberately target civilians, that do not discriminate between civilians and combatants, or that cause disproportionate loss of civilian life or property, are all unlawful.