Originally appeared at The American Conservative.
The Saudi coalition struck and killed dozens of civilians in response to the apparent downing of one of their jets:
Thirty-one people were killed in air strikes on Yemen Saturday, the United Nations said, the victims of an apparent Saudi-led retaliation after Iran-backed Huthi rebels claimed to have shot down one of its jets.
The Tornado aircraft came down Friday in northern Al-Jawf province during an operation to support government forces, a rare shooting down that prompted operations in the area by a Saudi-led military coalition fighting the rebels.
The deadly violence follows an upsurge in fighting in northern Yemen between the warring parties that threatens to worsen the war-battered country’s humanitarian crisis.
“Preliminary field reports indicate that on 15 February as many as 31 civilians were killed and 12 others injured in strikes that hit Al-Hayjah area… in Al-Jawf governorate,” the office of the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen said in a statement.
This latest attack on Yemeni civilians by the Saudi coalition is typical of how they have waged this cruel and atrocious war. Whenever they suffer a setback from a Houthi attack, they take out their frustration on the civilian population. They have made a habit of attacking civilian targets, and ongoing U.S. support and diplomatic cover have enabled them to avoid facing any consequences for their many war crimes.
The report continues:
Lise Grande, the UN coordinator, denounced the “terrible strikes”.
“Under international humanitarian law, parties which resort to force are obligated to protect civilians,” she said.
“Five years into this conflict and belligerents are still failing to uphold this responsibility. It’s shocking.”
For almost five years, the Saudi coalition members have never been made to pay any significant price for committing war crimes against the civilian population in Yemen, and so they continue to do this because they know that they can act with impunity. The Trump administration’s continued indulgence of the Saudis and their allies encourages this. Their determination to keep fueling the war despite Congress’ repeated votes demanding an end to our role in the war helps make massacres like this one possible. Congress had the opportunity last year to force the president’s hand by including amendments in the defense authorization bill that would have required an end to US support for the war, but the House Democratic leadership allowed these to be stripped out as part of their broader surrender on the exorbitant military budget.
Yemen continues to suffer from the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The Post report on the bombing reminds us how many millions of lives are still in jeopardy:
The war has deepened what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, in which nearly 80 percent of Yemen’s 24 million people are in need of assistance and protection. At least 10 million Yemenis are on the edge of famine, with another 7 million suffering from malnourishment, according to U.N. statistics. More than 3.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes.
That summary neglects to mention the ravages of the cholera epidemic that has infected many hundreds of thousands in just the last year, and it leaves out that more than 130,000 people have already died from starvation and disease as a result of the war. The war has already claimed close to a quarter of million lives, and every day that it is allowed to continue that number is likely to go much higher. The US has had the ability to make it practically impossible for Saudi Arabia to continue waging this war all along, but both the Obama and Trump administrations refused to use the leverage that the US has. The next administration must correct that failure as soon as it can.
Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American Conservative with permission.