– Michael Fallon
UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has defended the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing of Yemen. The British government’s official position has always been to support the two-year campaign to oust Houthi rebels in Yemen, despite numerous human rights atrocities, including those committed against civilian children, as well as the use of banned weapons.
Yemen is collapsing under the combined burden of a protracted civil war and a public health famine crisis.
UNICEF estimates that a child dies every 10 minutes from preventable causes.
The Saudi-led coalition is blockading Yemeni ports, preventing the import of vital aid supplies, and forces loyal to both sides have been accused of bombing and firing on hospitals and schools.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says there have been more than 160 attacks against medical facilities and personnel in the past two years.
However, despite this growing evidence of Saudi-backed atrocities, British Defense Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has called Saudi Arabia’s Yemen intervention justified.
According to Mr. Fallon, Saudi Arabia is “just defending itself.”
“Saudi Arabia is fully entitled to defend itself and its fully entitled to call on its friends in so doing. Saudi Arabia is being attacked by Houthi rebels across its Southern border with Yemen. It’s had its towns and villages shelled by the Houthis,” Sir Michael said on the BBC Today program.
The brazen simplification of a complex conflict, with multiple international powers engaged by proxy — including Saudi Arabia, Iran, the US and the UK — will unlikely deter human rights organizations who have been highly critical of the conflict.
The civil war began in February 2015, when Zaidi Shia rebels known as Houthis, ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.
Saudi Arabia quickly intervened with a coalition of nine Arab states, backed by the UK and US.
Meanwhile, the Saudis have labeled the Houthis as Iranian proxies, an accusation Tehran continues to vehemently denied.
In April 2017, two human rights groups — Save the Children and Watchlist — called on the UN to put Saudi Arabia back on a list of violators of children’s rights.
However, with weeks to go until the 2017 UK election, Sir Michael re-stressed the Conservative government’s position that Saudi Arabia is an “enormously important trading partner,” and refused to clarify whether his party will halt arms sales to the Saudis.
“We share intelligence with Saudi Arabia about terrorism. We gain from that relationship. Every arms export application is very carefully looked at and judged by our criteria — some of the toughest in the world. But Saudi Arabia, equally, is entitled to defend itself,” he said.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is believed to be in favor of banning arms sales to regimes the party deems repressive, including Saudi Arabia.
The issue has exposed the UK to accusations of hypocrisy.
Since 2010, the UK has sold arms to 39 of the 51 countries ranked “not free” on the Freedom House “Freedom in the world” report. Freedom House is a US-based human rights organization.
And in December 2016, Sir Michael confirmed that British-made cluster bombs, which are illegal under international law, have been used by Saudi Arabian forces in Yemen.
The bombs were manufactured before the UN’s Convention on Cluster Munitions was adopted in 2008.
According to Human Rights Watch, cluster bombs “pose a threat post-conflict by leaving remnants, including submunitions that fail to explode upon impact becoming de facto landmines.”
The UK government has said that the UK no longer manufacturers or sells cluster bombs.
According to UK Trade and Investment, Britain is the second biggest arms exporter in the world, worth billions of pounds every year.
Theresa May – A Role Model For Women In Saudi Arabia
21st Century Wire says…
As British Prime Minister Theresa May continues her ‘damage control’ visit to the Middle East, including a visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday which fell on the second anniversary of the war on Yemen, May speaking from Jordan said “[but] I hope also that people see me as a woman leader, will see what women can achieve and how women can be in significant positions.”
Maybe Ms. May felt somewhat safer opining from Jordan than from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
On the role of female ministers and how Saudi women play a role in their society, Ms May said, “I’ve talked to the Saudis on a number of occasions now and I raise issues of this sort. I think we have already seen some changes.”
It is possible Theresa May wasn’t aware of or discussed the growing number of women attempting to flee the Kingdom on an annual basis or the Qassim council on female issues such as equality that contained an all male panel.
More on this report from The Independent…
Theresa May has said she hopes to be an inspiration to oppressed women in Saudi Arabia by showing people there “what women can achieve”.
Defending a visit to the kingdom on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said she hoped to embody the fact that women can hold “significant positions”.
The country has faced international criticism over its system of male guardianship, which prevents women from carrying out some activities their counterparts in the West would take for granted.
Speaking in Jordan, Ms May said: “It’s important for me as a woman leader and as leader of the government of the United Kingdom to maintain the relationships that are important to us as a country, for our security, and our trade for the future..
“But I hope also that people see me as a woman leader, will see what women can achieve and how women can be in significant positions.”
The Prime Minister added that there had “already been some changes” as a result of her raising such issues, and highlighted that during her trip she would be meeting a female minister who she would talk to about the role she and other Saudi women play in society.
“I’ve talked to the Saudis on a number of occasions now and I raise issues of this sort. I think we have already seen some changes,” Ms May said.
”One of the meetings I’m going to be having when I’m in Saudi will be with a female, they have a minister who is a female minister. I’ll be meeting with her and talking to her about the role that she plays, and generally we do encourage people to look at a woman’s role in society.”
The Prime Minister, whose trips to Jordan and then Saudi Arabia this week mark her first international visits since triggering Article 50, said she hoped to “herald a further intensification” in relations between the UK and those two countries.
But the visit has been deemed controversial as it falls on the second anniversary of the Saudi-led bombardment campaign in Yemen. The UK remains a key player in the conflict, with over £3 billion worth of military equipment having been licensed to the Saudi regime since the bombing began.
More than 10,000 people have been killed and 17 million left food-insecure and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in Yemen since the current period of fighting began in 22 March 2015. Research by Unicef shows that the conflict has created a situation in which a child is dying of preventable causes every 10 minutes…
READ MORE MIDDLE EAST NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire MIDDLE EAST Files
YEMEN: “Saudis, Emiratis and USA are Inflicting a War of Genocide Against the Houthis ~ Prof. Francis Boyle
“In a nutshell the Saudis, Emiratis and the USA are inflicting a war of genocide against the Houthis,” University of Illinois Professor of International Law Francis Boyle said on Thursday.
Any increase in US military support for the Saudi-led coalition conducting air strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemeni would aid a military campaign amounting to genocide against the Houthis and their Zaidi allies in Yemen, analysts told Sputnik.
The US Department of Defense is considering increasing its support for Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies in their support for the government of Yemen seeking to suppress Houthi rebel forces, according to US media reports this week.
Accounting for 700 days of a US/UK/EU/UN supported Saudi Coalition war of aggression against the Yemeni people. (Photo: Legal Centre for Rights & Development)
Boyle explained that the Saudis and their allies in the Gulf Arab Emirates wanted to establish full control over the entire Arabian peninsula and also of the choke point region at the head of the Persian, or Arabian Gulf through which all oil exports, including those of Iran and Iraq were shipped by sea.
“They want to control the entire Saudi Peninsula, all its resources, and the Bab Al-Mandeb Strait through which all the oil and gas to Europe must pass,” he said.
Yemeni child injured in Saudi Coalition airstrike. (Photo: Arwa Rights)
Political commentator John Walsh told Sputnik the United States supported the Saudis and the current Yemeni government against the Houthi rebels, but it ignored the fact that the Saudis and their Gulf allies also backed Islamist extremists whom Washington also fights.
“They [the Saudis] are fighting the Houthis on the excuse that they are ‘agents of Iran’, part of the fairy tale narrative fed us,” he said.
US support of the Saudis and their allies in the Yemen civil war was ultimately motivated by a determination to maintain and extend Washington’s military and economic dominance in the entire region, Walsh stated.
“The United States is the last great Western Empire desperate to maintain its dominant position and striking out in every direction to do so. Its every warlike move is to be resisted. Time to end this madness before the neo-liberal-con imperialists blow us all up,” he warned.
Claims that the Houthis are “agents of Iran’ are a “fairy tale myth” are propagated by the Washington political establishment, Walsh said.
Read 21st Century Wire’s article also: UN Whitewashing Saudi Coalition War Crimes and International Human Rights Violations.
READ MORE YEMEN NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Yemen Files