Dozens of Civilians Reportedly Killed as US-Backed Saudi Coalition Pounds Yemen
Reports of hospitals, school being hit as Washington finalizes $1 billion weapons deal to Saudi Arabia
Dozens of civilians were reportedly killed and hospitals and embassies were damaged this weekend as the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition continued to pound supposed Houthi rebel targets.
The Wall Street Journal describes the weekend attacks as
intensifying a retaliatory campaign against the country’s Houthi rebels following the death of 60 coalition soldiers in a rocket attack on Friday.
Local residents and the Houthi-run Saba news agency reported dozens of strikes in San’a, including in residential neighborhoods and at military facilities.
In what the Associated Press reports as "the first public acknowledgment by the Saudis that they have ground troops in Yemen," a military official said Saturday that 10 of its soldiers had been killed by a rebel missile strike.
Iona Craig reported at The Intercept last week that she
discovered evidence of a pattern of Saudi-coalition airstrikes that show indiscriminate bombing of civilians and rescuers, adding further weight to claims made by human rights organizations that some Saudi-led strikes may amount to war crimes and raising vital questions over the U.S. and Britain’s role in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.
The Associated Press reports Sunday that "a school, restaurants and embassies" were also hit when the Saudi-led coalition was target a "rebel encampment."
And according reporting by Reuters on Sunday, hospitals were among the targets of the weekend strikes and over two dozen civilians may have been killed:
The al-Sabeen maternity and children's hospital said it had also sustained damage, with patients trapped inside by the bombardment, and appealed to international organizations to help it evacuate patients.
"The hospital had been badly damaged due to the bombardment of areas around it," the Houthi-run state news agency quoted a hospital statement as saying.
The Saudi-led coalition says it does not target civilian facilities. But on Saturday, at least 27 members of two families were killed in Sanaa by air strikes targeting Houthi positions in the city, according to hospital officials.
The weekend strikes come on the heels of a visit to Washington by Saudi Arabia's King Salman. President Obama said after the meeting, "We share concerns about Yemen and the need to restore a function government that is inclusive and that can relieve the humanitarian situation there."
Administration officials also said Thursday that the Pentagon is finalizing a $1 billion weapons deal to Saudi Arabia.
Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy, spoke to the Real News Network to give his thoughts on the relationship between eh U.S. and Saudi Arabia, and said that selling arms is Washington's status quo and "is how we reward our friends."
The Real News Network's Sharmini Peries: Now Robert, at the heart of this visit is also a billion-dollar weapons deal, when Saudi Arabia is pounding the hell out of Yemen at the moment with those weapons. And this is a situation where one of the richest countries in the region is attacking the poorest country in the region. How does the U.S. justify this kind of arms sales to a nation that's doing this to Yemen?
Naiman: Well, I'm sorry to say that selling arms is so practiced in Washington as a normal currency of U.S. foreign policy that it's rarely controversial. It is considered sort of, this is a thing that we do. This is how we reward our friends, is we sell them U.S. weapon systems. And of course it doesn't hurt that the Pentagon-industrial complex profits handsomely from these relations. We saw it in the case of the military coup in Egypt, when supposedly, according to U.S. law, U.S. aid to the Egyptian government should have been cut off.
The Pentagon contractors screamed and cried [inaud] wait, those are our contract. That's our money. Don't you dare cut that off. So of course, the Pentagon contractors love it that the United States is selling more weapons to Saudi Arabia. And from the point of view of the Obama administration this is something very easy to give. We have the weapons. Nobody's going to--hardly anyone will complain if we sell more weapons to Saudi Arabia.
I don't think the conflict in Yemen is going to end by us blocking the U.S. government from selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. I think what's more likely, I hope, is that there will be political pressure on the administration to use its influence to push for diplomatic and political resolution.