Karabulut: End the hunger in Yemen, end support to Saudi Arabia

30 March 2017

Karabulut: End the hunger in Yemen, end support to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's military intervention against Yemen began precisely two years ago last Saturday. The consequences have been disastrous: some ten thousand dead, millions of refugees and a shortage of almost everything else. Mass hunger threatens.

It's great to see that during the last few days more attention is being paid to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and elsewhere in the region, and that in our country people are donating generously to the action fund set up at Giro555. It's also positive that Foreign Minister Lilianne Ploumen has this week announced that millions are to be made available for aid to a number of countries, including Yemen. Yet however commendable such actions may be, if an end isn't put to the violence it will be no better than mopping the floor without first plugging the leak.

War crimes

In Yemen every armed group has been guilty of war crimes, but there is no doubt that the coalition led by Saudi Arabia is responsible for by far the greatest number of civilian casualties. Human rights organisations including Amnesty International are conducting an investigation into this and state that human rights as well as the rules of war are being subject to large-scale violation. Civilians are emphatically the target of Saudi air raids.

In addition to grave violence the Saudi blockade of Yemen is contributing to the misery because access to food, water, humanitarian aid and medical supplies is being hindered. In 2015 Doctors Without Frontiers were already warning, moreover, that the blockade would create more fatalities than would the bombs being dropped. When you consider that Yemen is dependent on imports for 90% of its food, the gravity of the situation becomes clear.

Crucial to addressing the humanitarian crisis is therefore also that the disastrous Saudi intervention is stopped, and the blockade lifted. Yet the West's approach to this crisis is precisely to support the wealthy oil state. That is bizarre.

The Americans and British, in particular, have in the last two years exported billions' worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. A journalist from the British daily The Independent calculated that these weapon exports were worth at least ten times the value of the aid given to Yemen. That is hypocrisy.

Arms embargo

The Netherlands exports much less military materiel to Saudi Arabia, but it's beyond belief that any at all is sold to the Gulf State. An arms embargo against Saudi and all of the other countries of the coalition would be a more logical reaction to serious war crimes.  

The United States aids the Saudis, furthermore, in the gathering of the kind of information which enables them to specify targets. Their planes also refuel fighter jets in the air, enabling them to spread more death and destruction. Yet the Trump administration is even giving serious consideration to intensifying US involvement in the Saudi intervention.

For the Yemeni people this promises little that's good. They have no need for more bombs, but precisely the opposite: an end to the air raids and the blockade, and the installation of a cease-fire. The West, including the Netherlands, must break with the policy of support for the coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

Hopefully the attention currently being given to these matters in the media can contribute to brining this about.

This article first appeared, in the original Dutch, on 30th March in the national daily newspaper: Trouw       

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