Saudi Arabia has British military advisers and continues to bomb Yemeni civilians with British weapons. Yet our government is strangely quiet about it.
If the 26 million Yemenis were being besieged and bombed by an official enemy of the west, we might expect emotive calls to “do something” and militarily intervene. Well, we are intervening: not simply by supplying weapons but even by providing the Saudi-led coalition of Arab dictators with British military advisers. As the SNP’s Angus Robertson put it to the prime minister’s face, Britain is “effectively at war” – and yet few Britons know anything about it.
Since Saudi-led forces intervened in the conflict between President Hadi and Houthi rebels last March, around 6,000 Yemenis have been killed, perhaps half of them civilians. With the country under naval blockade, what the UN was already calling a “humanitarian catastrophe” six months ago has been unleashed. Eight in every 10 Yemenis are now dependent on humanitarian aid, and most do not have “adequate access to clean water or sanitation”, according to the UN.
More than 100 sorties, they believe, relate to “violations of international humanitarian law”. Yes, all sides have been accused of war crimes. But, according to the UN’s high commission for human rights, the Saudi forces are responsible for “a disproportionate amount” of attacks on civilians. No wonder, then, the war is being described as Saudi Arabia’s very own Vietnam.
Full details theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/2