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Media Silent as US and UK Train Saudi Forces Responsible for War Crimes in Yemen

Michaela Whitton
The AntiMedia 
April 15th, 2016

United Kingdom Just over a year since the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen began, an estimated 3,000 civilians have been killed, and 82% of the population needs some form of humanitarian assistance. Water shortages and a fuel blockade — combined with air strikes and sniper attacks — have transformed the region into a humanitarian crisis. Twenty-two of Yemen’s governorates teeter on the edge of famine. Since the assault began, over 31,000 war wounded have been treated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), who claim ordinary people are bearing the brunt of an increasingly brutal conflict. There are no journalists in sight. There is no corporate media attention.

While the Syrian conflict is plastered on the pages of most mainstream news outlets, Yemen has been met with indifference and, until recently, a virtual media blackout. Writing for Stop The War, Nawal Al-Maghafi sums up the reason for the silence of the Western media on the devastation:

Unlike in Syria, the U.K. and U.S. are two of the primary causes of the problem in Yemen. Put simply, a coalition of the wealthiest Arab states have joined forces to bomb and starve one of the poorest, with the assistance of two of the world’s richest and most powerful powers, ” she wrote.

But thanks to campaign groups and humanitarian agencies, some details of the catastrophe began to trickle out towards the end of last year. Here in the U.K., we quickly discovered Britain has licensed £2.8m of arms exports to Saudi Arabia since the war began. In addition — and despite years of ministerial denials — a six-month long Vice investigation recently uncovered British involvement in the covert U.S. programme in Yemen, including secret drone strikes.

The destruction of clinics and hospitals and the growing need for medicine, food, and water have sparked international outcry, especially over civilian casualties — yet further evidence of Britain’s collusion with the Saudi killing machine came to light this week. Despite overwhelming evidence that Saudi forces have broken international humanitarian law, a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by human rights organisation, Reprieve, has uncovered more of Britain’s covert role in the conflict. The latest eye-opening discovery of U.K. complicity and collusion in Yemen has revealed that senior British military officers have been training Saudi forces.

The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has consistently maintained their personnel are not involved in “directing strikes, selecting targets or conducting operations” in Yemen, but the latest revelations demonstrate how close the cooperation has really been.

The Guardian reports that over the last year, a variety of courses have been provided for Saudi pilots and soldiers, including three courses in “international targeting” for members of the Royal Saudi air force. In addition, a seven-strong army artillery detachment from Britain visited Saudi Arabia to advise land forces on targeting and the use of weapons-locating radar.

Omran Belhadi, a case worker at Reprieve, said the claims by ministers that Britain is helping the Saudi government to abide by the law are disingenuous.

“Extensive British ‘targeting training’ has done nothing to prevent the bombing of schools, hospitals and weddings, and the deaths of thousands of Yemeni civilians. The U.K. claims its support to the Saudi-led campaign is necessary to combat terrorism – but killing innocents doesn’t make us safer. Ministers must urgently reconsider the U.K.’s support for these abuses,” Belhadi said.

This article (Media Silent as US and UK Train Saudi Forces Responsible for War Crimes in Yemen) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Michaela Whitton and theAntiMedia.org.

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