Uncle Sam enables Saudi Arabia's human rights violations in Yemen

There is a genocide going on in Yemen. Over 18,000 Saudi-led airstrikes, bombing markets, funerals, mosques, hospitals and school buses have plagued the country since the start of the conflict leading to the deaths of more than 57,000 people according to a report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, known as ACLED.

Saudi blockades have prevented food and medicine from reaching those in need. This is not some unintentional effect of the blockades, but a weapon of war. Before the crisis, Yemen imported somewhere between 80 to 90 percent of its food. An estimated 7 million are malnourished, while at least another 8 million are close to starvation in Yemen.

Since April 2017, the total of suspected cholera cases through September 2018 reached over 1.2 million, which is staggering considering it’s a very preventable and, if untreated, fatal disease. UNICEF’s most recent report showed that over 22 million are in need of humanitarian assistance as of September 2018. Yemen’s population is about 28.5 million.

The Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi rebels in Yemen has been going on for three years. Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Middle East and yet it has been caught in the middle of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

While there is no doubt that the Saudis are responsible for their indiscriminate bombings of Yemen, they do have a weapon that happens to be the strongest military on the planet. The United States is supplying the Saudis with more than just the planes and bombs that say “Made in the United States,” used to massacre the Yemenites. Training, intelligence, logistics and mid-air refueling are just some of the ways the United States is actively facilitating this genocide. The military-industrial complex that former President Dwight Eisenhower warned us about is showing its ugly face. The saddest part is that the Trump administration is the only global player that can actually put an end to this conflict, and it doesn’t appear all that interested.

We could easily put a stop to the greatest humanitarian conflict on the planet if we stopped sending repair parts to the Saudis. The Royal Saudi Air Force is completely reliant on U.S. parts as its fleet consists  of mostly U.S.-made F-15s fighter jets, Apache helicopters and Tornado aircraft. The RSAF would be grounded instantly if we stopped repairing and maintaining its aerial fleet.

Here’s a radical idea — immediately cut off all arms sales to the Saudis and place sanctions on them for human rights violations. This is the only leverage that the United States needs to resolve this conflict. Germany has already announced that it will suspend arms sales to the Saudi kingdom until further notice but its dent will barely be felt.

If the United States followed suit, this would instantly have tangible effects on the war. Despite Trump claiming that the Saudis would just turn around and buy weapons from China or Russia, it truly is not that simple. The fact that we have been sending weapons to Saudi Arabia for years actually puts us in a much stronger position than advertised. You cannot simply put Chinese parts into American F-15. Bombs bought from Russian to continue this onslaught are not compatible with U.S. aircrafts. This actually gives us a chance to grab the Saudis by the ear and halt all further bombings of Yemen without directly threatening Saudi Arabia.

Sanctions against Iran are deemed reasonable, sanctions against North Korea seem to be no cause for concern, sanctions against Russia are not even debated, but sanctions against Saudi Arabia seem to always be off the table. With the Royal family being worth well over a trillion dollars, it’s obvious why Trump is so cozy with them. Money is the motive, but money cannot excuse the Saudis from the atrocities that they are participating in or the U.S. for endorsing them.

If the United States were serious about human rights, it would take at least one of these steps. Instead, it seems more likely that corporate profits of the military-industrial complex and Saudi lobbies have taken priority and are the main culprits of pursuing, supporting, endorsing and sponsoring the slaughter in Yemen.

This is yet another reason why money needs to be removed from U.S. politics, but that appears to be a longshot. For now, vote Saudi Arabia off the U.N. council of human rights to send a message and suspend all arms shipping and force the Saudis to a sit-down. If not, sanctions must be set. There are ways to end this senseless proxy war, but the United States has refused to even try.

-Pat Sikora

Journalism 22