RNA - Under the Arms Export Control Act, Congress is supposed to get a 30 day notice ahead of any sales, and can then block shipments – not that it will ever do. Concerns about war crimes in Yemen mean Saudi arms should face some effort to block them. But the law has a loophole in it, which allows the president to declare an “emergency” of any sort he wants, with no oversight on that declaration, and then send the arms over without Congressional notification.
This is a notoriously cheap way to circumvent Congress on arms exports. It’s also a perfect excuse to bypass international humanitarian law by declaring Iran as a “threat”. This way US arms could be easily directed toward the ongoing Saudi-led war on Yemen.
Trump claims his “national emergency” is for tensions with Iran, though the US has had nonstop tensions with Iran for decades, and that’s not a reason to suddenly declare a new emergency.
At any rate, experience tells us Iran is just an excuse for the US to sell new arms to Saudis amid international criticism and condemnation regarding the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Yemen. We know how these weapons will be used. Just for the record, on Saturday, US-backed Saudi warplanes attacked the southwestern Yemeni province of Taiz, hitting a gas station in the Maweyah district and causing a major explosion. At least eight civilians were killed, with some reports saying as many as 12 civilians may have died.
The dead included at least four children, and on top of the fatalities, dozens of other civilians were reported wounded. There has been no statement from Saudi Arabia on why this attack was launched. This is common, however, as Saudi airstrikes have tended to kill a lot of civilians, and it’s seemingly random when the Saudis feel like offering an explanation or a denial for the killings.
In general, it suggests that American weapons are being used to indiscriminately slaughter civilians in Yemen which makes the US complicit in Saudi war crimes and crimes committed against humanity. What’s more, the illegal war has reached far beyond the borders of Yemen. It is fought by Saudi pilots, Sudanese soldiers and American-British weapon dealers and armed forces as well. But it is the Yemeni civilians who suffer the most.
Over 22 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, 11 million in need of acute humanitarian aid and people living in 107 out of the 333 districts in Yemen are at risk of famine. Thousands of people have been killed, 2 million people are displaced and there has been a cholera outbreak with 900,000 suspected cases.
Now the war has been carrying on for four years. Since the start of the war, the damage to Yemen has been extensive, including a high and rising death toll among Yemeni civilians. Sadly, the Western consciousness has fallen asleep, too occupied with the spectacle of Donald Trump and the rise and fall of stock prices. It is simply incredibly - and outright sickening - that the suffering of 22 million people could be overlooked, or simply ignored.
According to Fars News Agancy, the world needs to confront the warmongers, point to their crimes and contradictions. How can any European or American politician say that he is in favor of peace when he allows the selling of arms to a nation killing thousands every year? How can any government say that it will fight for what is right when it turns a blind eye to human rights violations and war crimes in Yemen?
Progress has been made. The Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg have succeeded in getting an investigation by the UN Human Rights Council into what is happening in Yemen underway. Some European countries have also stopped sending arms to the Saudis and the UAE. The time is now to stop the weapons sales from all Western countries, and to stop the aid that the US provides to the Saudis in the Yemen war. There have been protests in Europe and at the UN against Saudi-led airstrikes.
But more can be done. The spirit of the anti-war protests and international outcry is still alive, and its power must be wielded again. This time not to stop the dropping of bombs on remote Afghan, Syrian or Iraqi villages and towns, but to stop the Western funding and support of an illegal war, and to stop the biggest humanitarian disaster in the world today.