After the U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition issued a statement on Saturday calling its deadly bombing of a Yemeni school bus "unjustified" and claiming it was the result of mere "mistakes," human rights groups and progressive lawmakers ramped up calls for the U.S. to immediately halt all arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which has been viciously bombing Yemen for years.
"We must end U.S. support for this disastrous war in Yemen," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) declared on Twitter Saturday evening. "It is also long past time that we begin to take a very hard look at our relationship with Saudi Arabia."
We must end U.S. support for this disastrous war in Yemen. It is also long past time that we begin to take a very hard look at our relationship with Saudi Arabia. https://t.co/uJJEHhFw5N
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 2, 2018
While the Pentagon and much of the corporate media bought at face value the Saudi-led coalition's statement expressing "regret" over the school bus bombing last month that killed 40 children, Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher noted that "if you look at the actual wording [of the statement]... they are not saying that there was a problem with killing children."
"The Saudi-led coalition's attack on a bus full of young boys adds to its already gruesome track record of killing civilians at weddings, funerals, hospitals, and schools in Yemen."
—Bill Van Esveld, Human Rights Watch
"What they are saying is that this attack shouldn't have taken place when it did because they were targeting Houthi leaders," Fisher added, "and they say... their intelligence pointed in that direction but those Houthi leaders at that stage did not present a threat to Saudi-led coalition forces and therefore that operation shouldn't have happened."
In an interview with Al-Jazeera on Saturday, Hussain al-Bukhaiti—who is described as a "pro-Houthi activist"—said the Saudi-led coalition's statement hardly counts as an "apology."
"It is actually adding insult to injury," al-Bukhaiti argued. "Since the beginning of this war, they have committed many crimes and they only regret or release such a statement only if that crime has been covered widely on the media."
The Saudis' statement—which insists the coalition carried out last month's strike because it believed the school bus was full of Houthi rebels—comes amid growing international outrage over what one human rights advocate called their "reckless disregard for human life" in Yemen.
Yet even amid these atrocities, the Pentagon is reportedly preparing to train Saudi military pilots on U.S. soil.
The #Saudi-led coalition now admits that it deliberately targeted the bus carrying innocent #Yemeni kids. The killers claims they thought it was full of Houthi officials-- an obvious lie. The #Pentagon brass know they have innocent blood on their hands.https://t.co/hJP559a2cF
— Gareth Porter (@GarethPorter) September 2, 2018
— CODEPINK (@codepink) September 1, 2018
In a damning report issued last week, the United Nations echoed the assessment of human rights organizations and concluded that the Saudi-led coalition—often with bombs manufactured in the U.S.—has likely "perpetrated, and continue[s] to perpetrate, violations and crimes under international law."
Just hours after the Saudi-led coalition released its statement on Saturday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a detailed analysis of the Saudis' years-long assault on Yemen and called on all nations to cease providing arms to the kingdom.
"The Saudi-led coalition's attack on a bus full of young boys adds to its already gruesome track record of killing civilians at weddings, funerals, hospitals, and schools in Yemen," concluded Bill Van Esveld, senior children's rights researcher at HRW. "Countries with knowledge of this record that are supplying more bombs to the Saudis will be complicit in future deadly attacks on civilians."