UN’s Shameful Reversal On Saudi Atrocities – OpEd
Without doubt, the UN’s inaction vis-à-vis the 15-month old Saudi atrocities in Yemen marks a dark chapter for the world organization responsible for international peace and security. Despite the irrefutable evidence of serious war crimes perpetrated by the Saudi “coalition,” and strong condemnations by the various human rights organizations, the UN remains hostage to the manipulations of the archaic, yet aggressive, kingdom and its assortments of supporters in western capitals, who have turned a complete blind eye to the humanitarian catastrophe wrought by the indiscriminate bombings, targeting markets, hospitals, schools, homes, etc., in Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world.
Under increasing international pressure, finally the UN’s Secretary General summoned the courage to put the Saudis in the ‘shame list’ of countries that murder innocent children, only to back down and reverse himself as a direct result of the Saudis’ threat to stop funding the UN if they are not removed from the list, a move decried by the world’s rights organizations in their letter to Ban demanding that the Saudi-led coalition be immediately returned to the list for their on-going human rights atrocities in Yemen; the matter is now delegated to a “joint review” of the June 2nd report by the Secretary General — that cites hundreds of indiscriminate attacks by the Saudi-led coalition on Yemeni schools and hospitals, resulting in the death and injury of hundreds of children in 2015 alone.
Lest we forget, the Secretary General’s report was not issued in a vacuum, but rather based on the findings of a UN Panel of Experts that carefully scrutinized the Yemeni warfare and determined that many of the Saudi-led sorties were unlawful and violated international humanitarian laws. The following is an excerpt from a February 2016 report by the UN’s humanitarian chief, who was conspicuously silent at the recent world humanitarian summit held in Istanbul in late May, 2016:
“The UN humanitarian chief has said a “humanitarian catastrophe” is unfolding in Yemen with more than 21 million Yemenis in need of some form of aid. Stephen O’Brien said on Tuesday that the situation was exacerbated by increased restrictions on efforts to respond to what he called the “staggering needs” of millions of people, including the diversion of a UN aid ship by Saudi-led coalition forces. O’Brien said that more than 6,000 people had been killed since the beginning of coalition strikes against Houthi rebels in March 2015, of which about half were civilians. He said more than 700 children had been killed and some 1,000 injured. At least 7.6 million people were now “severely food-insecure” and more than 3.4 million children were out of school, the official said.”
The big question is, of course, where is the western condemnation of the genocidal atrocities in Yemen? Isn’t the US’s envoy to UN, Samantha Power, a supposed authority on humanitarian laws, so why is she silent and, in fact, discretely helping the Saudis get their wish granted at the Security Council, which is paralyzed with inexcusable inaction?
As this author noted in London’s Guardian 5 years ago, the West’s silence on Saudi Arabia’s other, and somewhat similar, gambit in Bahrain, smacks of double standards.(1) Unfortunately, there has not been one iota of improvement in the hypocritical western governments’ inaction on Bahrain or Yemen since then and, in fact, some have turned into direct accomplices, by continuing to furnish arms to the murderous coalition and even providing logistical support. Case in point, in his recent tour of the region, US President Obama refrained from any criticisms of the Saudi-led war on Yemen and, instead, pledged American cooperation in interdicting arms to Yemen. The grave violations of Yemen’s sovereignty and human rights of the Yemeni population simply has escaped the attention of the “constitutional lawyer” who is the lame duck president in the White House today, bound to be followed by equally, if not worse, indifferent presidents, given the Obama-like record of the Democratic presidential contender, Hillary Clinton, and the atrocious militaristic stance of her Republican opponent, Donald Trump.
Still, no matter the unprincipled and shameful self-reversal by Mr. Ban cited above, the world community is fully aware of the reserved place of the Saudis and their partners in crime in the “shame list” and, therefore, one can only hope that strong international condemnations of the Saudi child-killers will soon follow.
(1) The west’s silence over Bahrain smacks of double standards | Hooshang Amirahmadi and Kaveh Afrasiabi