What’s going on in Yemen?
The United States on Tuesday sponsored a United Nations Security Council session intended to draw attention to the dire consequences of the war in Yemen, but the meeting also raised questions about potential crimes committed by a Saudi-led military offensive that the Pentagon actively supports.The United States refuels military jets and provides intelligence support to the military coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, that is trying to defeat Houthi insurgents in Yemen. Since those airstrikes began in March, more than 2,700 civilians have been killed, dozens of schools and hospitals have been attacked and the United Nations has warned of breaches of international law.But during the session on Tuesday, the United Nations’ top human rights official said that the Saudi-led coalition bore the greatest responsibility for the civilian carnage. The official, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the high commissioner for human rights, said that while both sides in the conflict had engaged in attacks on civilians, “a disproportionate amount appeared to be the result of airstrikes carried out by coalition forces.”
Despite those conversations, the Obama administration has not blocked a $129 million weapons deal with Saudi Arabia. It has also not suggested that it would withdraw its support for the Saudi-led operations, nor said that it would conduct its own investigations into military airstrikes that might amount to serious crimes.
Nine months of war between a Saudi-led military coalition and a Yemeni rebel group have left thousands of civilians dead, a nation gravely polarized and the land strewn with debris, mines and unexploded bombs.The conflict has produced another bitter legacy: a new branch of the Islamic State that has quietly grown in strength and appears determined to distinguish itself as Yemen’s most disruptive and brutal force, carrying out attacks considered too extreme even by the country’s branch of Al Qaeda.…Both the Islamic State and Al Qaeda have profited from a security vacuum while trying to rally Yemen’s Sunnis against the Shiite-led rebels, known as the Houthis, who are from the north, analysts say. Crucially, the groups have both faced little or no resistance from the Saudi-led coalition and its allies, which are focused on defeating the Houthis.