John Kerry Gives Saudis a Big Pass on Indiscriminate Bombing of Civilians in Yemen
Alex Emmons reports in The Intercept:
Secretary of State John Kerry this week waved off concerns about U.S.-supported Saudi-coalition airstrikes in Yemen that have indiscriminately bombed civilians and rescuers, and instead blamed the Shiite Houthi rebels for the bulk of the civilian casualties.
“There have been a lot of civilian casualties, and clearly, civilian casualties are a concern,” Kerry told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. “I think the Saudis have expressed in the last weeks their desire to make certain that they’re acting responsibly, and not endangering civilians.”
Kerry instead faulted the Shiite Houthis, who are on the receiving end of the airstrikes, saying they “have a pretty good, practiced way of putting civilians into danger.”
According to a report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, 60 percent of the more than 3,200 people killed and 5,700 wounded in the conflict through September 2015 were killed in coalition airstrikes. The Saudi coalition has also intentionally targeted civilian areas, destroyinghospitals, schools, factories, markets, and homes.
The Saudi coalition announced last week that they have “fully complied with international…law,” and that “coalition forces have a robust process to ensure all targets are genuinely military.” The announcement also promised that “avoidable collateral damage” will be referred to an “internal accident investigation team,” and that “compensation for the victims… is pledged.”
But the only public investigation Saudi Arabia has conducted on its military took place in October, after Saudi Arabia bombed an MSF (Doctors without Borders) hospital in Yemen. The kingdom’s ambassador to the U.N. admittedthat the strike was a “mistake,” but blamed the incident on MSF providing incorrect coordinates.
In January, coalition aircraft fired a rocket at another MSF-supported facility, in Saada, near Yemen’s border with Saudi Arabia, killing six people. MSF personnel could not confirm identity of the attackers, but said that “planes were seen flying over the facility at the time.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has tried to dismiss and discredit the work of human rights monitors on the ground in Yemen. . .