US rubber stamps Saudi slaughter in Yemen

The remains of a bus targeted by a Saudi air strike in Hodeidah on September 12.

As Yemeni journalists reported that at least 15 civilians were killed in Saudi airstrikes in the port city of Hodeidah on September 12, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially certified that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), whose three-year assault on the country has been made possible by US support, are doing all they can to avoid civilian casualties.

Pompeo said: “The governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from military operations of these governments.”

The certification was met with anger by those who have demanded for months that the US stop providing the Saudis and UAE with fuel, weapons, and tactical support in the war. US Senator Bernie Sanders declared Pompeo’s statement “outrageous”.

“The Saudi-led war on Yemen is killing thousands of people, including a school bus full of children last month,” tweeted Sanders. “America’s role should not simply be to help our Saudi clients manage the slaughter more responsibly; we need to stop supporting it altogether.”

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren called the certification a “rubber stamp” for a coalition whose attacks the US has steadfastedly backed, even as it targeted a school bus in a strike that killed 40 children last month. 

In an op-ed for Common Dreams following Pompeo’s announcement, Peace Action’s Kevin Martin denounced the decision. He called for Americans to divest from US government contractors that have sold weapons to the Saudis.

“The United States is the number one weapons dealer in the world, and Saudi Arabia is our biggest customer, having purchased over [US]$100 billion in armaments since 2010,” said Martin. He added that the bombs in several recent deadly attacks “were built by Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest weapons manufacturer and the largest US government contractor of any kind, with net sales of over $13 billion in just the second quarter of this year.

“It’s not hyperbole to state Lockheed makes a killing, in more ways than one.”

The war in Yemen has created what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The country is at risk of its third cholera epidemic in recent years; the disease has killed more than 2300 people since April last year.

About 8.4 million people are facing starvation, and more than 2 million are displaced. More than 16,000 people have been killed and injured since the Saudis began their military campaign in 2015.    

In light of the Trump administration’s clear refusal to confront the affects its support of the Saudis has had on Yemen's population, Democratic Represenative Ro Khanna, as well as the Yemen Peace Project, called on Congress to pass legislation to end US involvement.

“The ball’s in your court, Congress,” wrote Stephen Miles, director of Win Without War, on social media. “Secretary Pompeo and the Trump administration once again prove that they will lie through their teeth and completely ignore all factual evidence to do whatever they want.”

Yemeni reporter Shuaib M Almosawa, based in the capital of Sanaa, noted that as Pompeo was making his statement, more Yemeni civilians were reported killed in the latest airstrikes in Hodeidah.

[Abridged from Common Dreams.]