World Silent on Yemen Destruction as Western Governments and Arms Companies Profit
There is a great destruction that’s going on in Yemen which is claiming lives, homes, hospitals, schools and the country’s infrastructure and heritage sites — and you probably don’t even know about it. And I probably wouldn’t know much about the extent of this destruction if it were not for the horrific images circulating on social media. It may also shock you to find out that this has been going on since March 2015.
In March 2015, Saudi Arabia — with the blessing of its Western allies — led a coalition of Arab countries to wage air strikes on Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country. The mission’s aim was to restore the ousted President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi who’s currently in exile in Saudi Arabia.
Since the military campaign began, over 9,500 people are said to have been slaughtered, most of them civilians, including more than 2,000 children, with thousands more injured. The war has also led to the displacement of nearly 3 million people, mostly within the country, but also with many seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.
So why is the world silent on the destruction of Yemen and its people? The answer is simple: Money — or oil in this case — is very powerful and so are the friends it can purchase. With it, the Saudis have been able to purchase the weapons needed to destroy to Yemen, and the world’s silence.
Right from the beginning those who could profit from the conflict were behind the “intervention”. Britain and America — no surprising — happened to be among the leading supporters. From the start, the then British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond declared Britain will support the Saudi aggression “in every practical way short of engaging in combat”. Earlier this year, Hammond confirmed that British military personnel were working with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, specifically aiding in the choosing of targets for air strikes.
Since the start, the UK government has licensed £2.8 billion of arms to the Saudi regime.
In November 2015, when the issue was brought up on BBC’s Newsnight show, Hammond said: “We’d always like to do more business, more British exports, more British jobs and in this case very high end engineering jobs protected and created by our diplomacy abroad.”
Human rights groups have expressed concerns over Britain’s role. Amnesty International UK’s Head of Policy and Government Affairs Allen Hogarth is quoted by The Independent to have said: “These figures are deeply worrying, showing that the UK continued to despatch huge amounts of weaponry to Saudi Arabia despite overwhelming evidence that the Saudi war machine was laying waste to Yemeni homes, schools and hospitals.”
The US has been supplying weapons to their ally too, including illegal cluster bombs which have been used on civilians. US arms deals with Saudi Arabia was worth $20 billion in 2015, which included $11.25 billion approved in October. The US continues to sell and approve weapons to Saudi Arabia. In its latest announcement, on 9 August, Pentagon said US approved weapon sales worth over $1.15 billion to Saudi Arabia, “which include over 130 tanks, hundreds of machine guns and other military equipment”.
Three months after the start of the conflict, France announced it was going to sign contracts worth $12 billion with the Saudis, which included 23 Airbus H145 helicopters worth $500 million.
In a corrupt world, Saudi Arabia’s money even purchased it a seat on the UN Human Rights Council with the help of its lifetime ally Britain.
In June, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon decided to take action against the Saudi-led coalition by adding it to its annual blacklist of states and armed groups that violate children’s rights during conflict, but realised he was messing with the wrong people and removed it 72 hours later.
If your government — and media — is silent on the slaughter of children and the destruction of Yemen, it is probably because they are complicit and financially benefiting.