RNA - The report confirms that Saudi actions “objectively led to” 683 child casualties, and 38 verified incidents, including attacks on both schools and hospitals within Yemen in the course of 2016. The problem is that the draft includes the Saudi coalition, Al-Qaeda, pro-government militias, and the Ansarullah resistance movement, though the coalition is by far responsible for the most casualties.
So what’s next? Well, when there are multiple parties on the list it will be difficult to hold just one party to account, let alone everyone - and actually do something about it. In fact, the whole idea behind including every party to the conflict on the list might be to ensure that it will not go further; that the UN won’t have to take the next step, which could be any of the following:
- Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in early 2015, with a coalition that includes Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan, Senegal, Sudan, and the United States. US involvement has included targeting support for Saudi warplanes, in-air refueling for Saudi bombers, and naval participation in the illegal blockade of Yemen. As the first step, the UN could simply exert pressure on these partners in crime to withdraw from this unnecessary and shameful conflict.
- At the very least, the UN can force members at the Security Council to debate what the US and others have been helping the Saudi-led coalition do to Yemen, and it can put them all on record regarding their willingness to enable an atrocious war against a country whose people have done nothing to them. If the UN passes a resolution, that would bring greater attention to the disgraceful policy that the Obama and Trump administrations have been conducting. It is an important first step in reasserting Security Council’s role in matters of war and in trying to end this despicable conflict.
- The “name-and-shame” blacklist on children’s rights violation is released annually by the UN. Saudi Arabia and its coalition were also included on the list last year upon release. That list only lasted a couple of days before the UN announced it was “temporarily” removing the Saudis because the Saudi government was complaining. Despite the removal being done pending review, there is no sign serious review ever happened. Under the current circumstances, it will be a disaster for the UN to repeat the same mistake it made last year.
- This year’s report is due to be submitted to the UN Security Council this month, and it is likely to be the latest in a long line of reports related to the Yemen War that the Saudis will try to bury. As with a recent effort by the UN General Assembly to investigate war crimes in Yemen, the Saudis shouldn’t be allowed to get their way, such as presenting moves that bury the worst of the war’s excesses as “compromise” resolutions.
- Without Western arms and diplomatic support at the UN, the Saudis cannot continue their despicable war crimes in Yemen. The UN could do much more to alleviate the suffering of Yemeni children if it calls for an arms embargo at the Security Council against Saudi Arabia. Several Western countries are also complicit in Saudi war crimes by providing weapons and intelligence. They must suspend these activities until sufficient accountability measures are in place at the UN.
There are several other reasons to immediately end this shameful war: Involvement in the Saudi-led war serves no national security interests, and it has nothing to do with combating threats to the United States, NATO or their allies. On the contrary, the war has greatly strengthened Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the local ISIL affiliate, and as such it has harmed Western and global security interests. The war has destabilized the region and devastated Yemen, and the Western governments’ enabling role has made them complicit in Saudi war crimes.
In short, the war is an indefensible horror that is also undermining UN interests, and the world body should have no part in it. By passing a resolution on the new “name and shame” blacklist, member states at the Security Council could put an end to this disgrace right away, but since some will not, they need to be pressured to do so. The UN is the only institution that can possibly rein in a destructive policy like this one.