After Sana’a massacre, Washington’s changing approach toward Riyadh

October 13, The Iran Project – Following the escalation of international community’s pressures on US to halt its supports from the Saudi-led war in Yemen, the American officials are changing their approach toward Riyadh.

And now new signs of changes are being traced in Washington, who is refuelling jets and providing munitions and training for the Saudi-led coalition, toward the regime.

According to a new report revealed recently, the American officials are entirely aware of the civilian nature of Saudi Arabia’s targets in Yemen and yet continue to provide the regime in Riyadh with armaments and intelligence required to hit them.

A Lake of Blood

In a new indication of Riyadh’ atrocities in Yemen, aircraft from the Saudi-led coalition bombed a community hall in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital city last week, where thousands of people had gathered for a funeral for Sheikh Ali al-Rawishan, the father of the interior minister. The Saudi aircraft bombed the hall several times, perishing more than 140 people and wounding 525. One local health official described the aftermath as “a lake of blood.”

According to witness accounts cited by United Nations human rights investigators, two airstrikes struck the Al Kubra community hall in Sana’a, seven to eight minutes apart. It was packed with families attending the funeral, which is battling the Saudi-backed government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi for control of the country. Many prominent military and political leaders associated with the Houthis were in the hall and were killed in the assault, the United Nations said.

The multiple bomb fragments at the scene appear to confirm the use of American-produced MK-82 guided bombs.

Worldwide Censure

The Saudi Arabia hideous move was widely criticized by a large number of leading international figures, UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon and the UN Human Rights Council Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in particular, calling for an investigation into the funeral bombing, denied surprisingly by Riyadh.

“A man made catastrophe is unfolding before our eyes. Impunity has already compounded the pain. Despite the mounting crimes by all parties to the conflict, we have yet to see the results of any credible investigations. This latest horrific incident demands a full inquiry. More broadly there must be accountability for the appalling conduct of this entire war,” Ban said.

The Saudi-led coalition bombed a funeral community in Sana’a, killing more than 140 people and wounding 525.

The Saudi-led coalition bombed a funeral community in Sana’a, killing
more than 140 people and wounding 525.

Ban said he supported demands for an international inquiry into whether the attack was a war crime, adding the reports from the site of the attack indicated that it was carried out by the Saudi-led coalition.

Meanwhile, Al Hussein denounced the airstrike and faulted the Human Rights Council that he is the Chief of for not doing more in the face of climate of impunity in the country.

The Iranian officials also strongly condemned the Riyadh air strike that targeted a packed funeral ceremony in the city. Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, in a message to his Yemeni counterpart Yahya Ali al-Raee, strongly deplored the attack and expressed sympathy with the Yemeni people, officials and families of the victims.

Obama Administration Concerns

According to UN, the full scale civil war between the Western and Saudi-backed government and Houthis started last year. So far, the fighting has claimed more than 10,000 lives and three million people have been displaced from their homes.  Saudi-led air strikes on the Houthi-held city of Sana’a since March 2015 have killed thousands of civilians.

Recently the officials within the Obama administration raised concerns over a 2015 $1.3billion armaments sale to Riyadh, citing worries that the Saudi military did not have the ability to intervene in Yemen without harming civilians. 

Senior American officials also said they were “privately skeptical” before the sale about whether the Saudis’ targeting systems were sophisticated enough to focus on militants without causing unneeded damage to civilian infrastructure or the loss of civilian life.

Since March 2015, the US authorized more than $22.2 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, much of it yet to be delivered. That includes a $1.29 billion sale of precision munitions announced in November 2015 and specifically meant to replenish stocks used in Yemen.

Currently, the US State Department’s Office of the Legal Advisor, backed by government human rights specialists, expressed concern over Washington complicity in possible Saudi violations of the laws of war, a former official said.

In the end, the Saudi Arabia’s move in perishing thousands of civilian has hampered the efforts to establish a ceasefire in Yemen. The bombing of Sana’a, in which senior Houthi officials were among the dead, has complicated matters further by galvanizing Houthi forces into taking retaliatory action.

Now it is expected from the American’s allies that are major suppliers of weapons to Riyadh, to stand alongside the US in pressing for a ceasefire and the deployment of UN-mandated peacekeepers in Yemen.