Reports are emerging of a major atrocity in Yemen.
Dozens of civilians, mostly children, have been killed and others wounded in an airstrike by the US-backed, Saudi-led coalition in Yemen that hit a bus in the rebel-held north of the country.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), one of the few humanitarian institutions helping civilians on the ground in the war-torn country, said a hospital it supported had received dozens of casualties after the strike at a market in Dahyan, in Sa’ada governorate.
“Under international humanitarian law, civilians must be protected during conflict,” the organisation tweeted. Johannes Bruwer, the head of delegation for the ICRC in Yemen, tweeted: “Scores killed, even more injured, most under the age of 10.”
It was not possible to confirm the death toll, but Abdul-Ghani Nayeb, a health department chief in Sa’ada, told Reuters 43 people had been killed and at least 61 injured. Houthi-controlled Almasirah television broadcast unverified footage of dead and bloodied children being transferred to a hospital.
This war is being waged on behalf of the brutal Saudi regime led by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS) and it has issued the usual excuse for war crimes.
In a statement carried by the official Saudi press agency, the Saudi-led coalition called the strike a “legitimate military action” targeting elements responsible for a Houthi missile attack on the Saudi city of Jizan on Wednesday. “[The airstrikes] conformed to international and humanitarian laws,” the statement said. It accused the Iran-aligned Houthis of using children as human shields.
This is not the first such killing of ordinary people. Another one occurred just last week.
The Saudi-led coalition was accused of carrying out airstrikes on 2 August near a fish market and hospital in Hodeidah that killed 55 people and injured 130 more.
The coalition has been criticised for repeatedly targeting civilian areas, including markets and hospitals, during the conflict, which has claimed more than 10,000 lives and left millions of people on the brink of starvation.
The Saudi-UAE coalition carried out 258 airstrikes on Yemen in June alone, nearly a third of which hit residential areas, according to the Yemen Data Project, an independent group collecting data about the conflict.
You can bet that there will be no condemnation by the US or the UK (another accomplice of the Saudis) of this atrocity nor will the US media pay much attention to it. After all, the media in the US fawned over MBS as a great reformer because he is a close pal of Jared Kushner and liberalized a few things such as allowing women in the country to drive and showing some films, things that any civilized society should be able to take for granted. The reality is that far from being a reformer, MBS is a power-hungry, bloodthirsty, mass murderer who should be tried for war crimes.
This would be a good occasion for the Canadian government, already in the middle of a diplomatic row with the Saudis and having tensions with the US, to take the moral high ground, split with the US and UK on the Yemen war, and take the lead in condemning these war crimes and rallying worldwide condemnation of this brutal war. After all, there is not that much non-arms trade between the two countries.
Canada and Saudi Arabia are not major trading partners. Saudi Arabia is Canada’s 19th-largest bilateral trade partner and most important two-way trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa region.
In 2017, Canada exported nearly $1.5-billion of goods to Saudi Arabia, including armoured vehicles, machinery and mineral ores. And Canada imported more than $2.6-billion of goods including oil, ores and aluminum, the Department of Global Affairs said. That year, Canada sold $604-million in services, such as engineering, health care and education, to Saudi Arabia and imported $495-million in services from the kingdom. Canadian direct investment in Saudi Arabia is only $27-million.
But the arms lobby is strong and thus I am not hopeful that Canada will risk future arms sales to the Saudis.
Meanwhile Russia has criticized the Canadian criticisms of Saudi Arabia, saying that Saudi Arabia “should make its own decisions as to how it proceeds on human rights.” Yeah, right. Of course Russia would say this, since their own human rights record is appalling and they would like other countries to not point it out.
Russia’s position is not a surprise. What is shameful is that the US and the UK are not backing their long-time ally.