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Saudi Arabia's role in the Yemen war is re-examined following the killing of Khashoggi

Yemeni fighters of Popular Resistance Committees loyal to the Saudi-backed Yemeni government are attending a closing ceremony in the Yemeni city of Taez on October 27. (Ahmad al-Basha / AFP / Getty Images) [1
In Saudi Arabia's war in neighboring Yemen, the coalition led by Saudi Arabia carefully chooses targets for its air strikes. The rapidly rising civilian death toll reported by the United Nations and humanitarian groups is greatly exaggerated. Similarly, the reports of a threatening, caused by the war famine. And the coalition does not interfere in any way with humanitarian aid or support for the beleaguered economy of Yemen.

But now that the narrative is getting thin, critics say.

The assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul on October 2 by Saudi agents – and Saudi Arabia's repeated initial denial of any knowledge of his fate – raises new concerns about the Saudi report on how the kingdom is carrying out its military campaign in Yemen leads.

"The entire Saudi Arabian version of the war in Yemen opened the door to doubt," said Elisabeth Kendall, a Yemeni student at Oxford University. "She can not just tell the world what she wants to think without the world now being suspicious and skeptical."

With increasing doubts, they once again wonder if the Trump government can trust Saudi Arabia to inform US officials about the course of the war in Yemen, in particular its role in civilian casualties and human rights violations. Government officials rely on the Saudi Arabian information by calling on US legislators to allow the sale of more US weapons and other military support for the kingdom.

The United States is supporting Saudi Arabia-led armed forces in their fight against a rebel uprising by refueling their jets and providing information and logistical support in addition to billions of weapons-selling weapons.

Since the beginning of the war in 2015, the coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been trying to oust the Houthi rebels who control the north of Yemen and bring to power the internationally recognized Yemenis. While Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Muslim countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, support the government forces, the Shiite rebels are supported by Shiite Iran.

Yemenis pass historic buildings in the old part of the capital, Sana'a, on 27 October. (Yahya Arhab / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock) Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis
confirmed to Congress that the coalition led by Saudi Arabia "made every one of the white man's US officials Haus, who spoke in Cairo last week, said the two had "consulted with different sources" and were confident in their conclusion.

These "sources" include the Saudis themselves, who are the only ones investigating civilian victims of air strikes. And only in a handful of cases has the Saudi-led coalition established that it has killed civilians, contradicting the information collected by the United Nations and humanitarian groups.

The UN Human Rights Office estimates that more than 16,000 civilians have been killed or injured since the war, most of them by air strikes. The coalition led by Saudi Arabia is the only party involved in the conflict that uses military jets.

The independent Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project says the toll is much higher and estimates that more than 50,000 civilians died during that time.

In most cases of reported civilian deaths, no investigations follow. Saudi officials routinely said civilian casualties were accidental and called them collateral damage on carefully selected military targets.

"It does not look like an accident anymore, as Khashoggi was not an accident," Kendall said.

Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to the Washington Post's Global Opinions column and critic of the Saudi leadership, was killed on October 2 after joining the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. While Saudi officials said for more than two weeks that Khashoggi had left the consulate alive, they later acknowledged that he had died within the mission, but initially attributed it to a fist fight. Saudi officials now say they accept the conclusion of Turkish investigators that his death was a planned murder.

President Trump said last week that the Saudis had participated in "one of the worst [coverups] in the history of the coverup".

Emily Thornberry, a British legislator, told her country's parliament that "the Saudis have seen a recurrent pattern in dealing with the Khashoggi murder and the Yemen campaign."

"When Big Civilian Victims Are Reported First they deny that the reports are true, then they deny the responsibility," said Thornberry, a member of the opposition Labor Party. "And if the evidence becomes irrefutable, they say it is they all blame scoundrel elements, promise that they will be punished, and say that this will not happen again – until the next time this happens. "

In Cairo, White's high-ranking official said House, which traditionally has a very close relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia, could be improved. "I think we generally need more transparency," the official said.

Regarding the Yemen conflict, the official said the government was " confident in the information that Saudi Arabia delivers. "In terms of Yemen, we have a degree of visibility," said the official to a small group of journalists on the condition of anonymity said they would speak freely.

The ongoing conflict also leads to a humanitarian crisis that is steadily worsening this year. US humanitarian leader Mark Lowcock warned the UN Security Council last week that at least 14 million Yemenis – nearly half of the country's population – are facing famine. More than 3 million Yemenis have fled their homes due to a cholera epidemic, while thousands of preventable diseases have died.

Humanitarian organizations have accused the coalition led by Saudi Arabia of contributing to the crisis through an economic war in Yemen. Since the beginning of the war, there have been more than 18,000 air strikes, and a third of them have had civilian sites, including farms, markets, water treatment plants, power plants, hospitals, clinics, and food warehouses, and other deposits, according to the Yemen Data Project.

The coalition has imposed import restrictions, in particular against the rebel-controlled port of Hodeidah, an important gateway for imports of food, fuel, medicines and other goods into the country.

The Consequence The shortage of fuel in turn has increased transport costs and made food unaffordable for most Yemenis. The Houthis are also to blame for imposing high taxes on import companies and checkpoints.

"Yemen has long been bombed with air strikes and has been subjected to stalwart warfare tactics," said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said in a statement. "Mass hunger is a deadly byproduct of the actions of warring parties and Western nations that support them. The manner in which the war is waged has systematically hampered civilians by providing less food for millions of people and is affordable. "

There is no direct American oversight of how planes fueled by the US military are raiding or used like US-supplied bombs. American officials say they rely on the Saudis for this kind of information.

When a high-ranking Trump government official spoke in August, it was "possible" that US-fueled jets had killed civilians, "but we do not know." 19659029] "We would have to get information from Saudis, but they do not give us the normal procedures," the official said.

These comments came after a Saudi Arabian air strike in August killed more than 40 schoolchildren on a bus in northern Yemen. When the United Nations demanded an independent investigation, the Trump administration said that the Saudis would prefer to conduct their own investigation. "Let's give the Saudis an opportunity to do an investigation and see what that does," the official said.

The Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed al-Jaber, arrives in the Yemeni port of Aden to monitor the supply of fuel from Saudi Arabia on 29 October. (Saleh Al-Obeidi / AFP / Getty Images)

The Saudis initially stated that the Houthi rebels were on the bus and the vehicle was a legitimate target because it called the children collateral damage. Only at international pressure, fueled by images of the charred bodies of the children, the Saudis took over the responsibility.

A report by US U.N investigators in August called on countries to stop supplying weapons that could be used in the war. This led Amnesty International to warn in a statement that "by passing weapons to their Saudi allies, the United States could risk turning itself into war crimes," adding to the quality of information the Saudis provide the United States.

Some critics of the Saudi leadership see a similar ruthlessness in the Yemen campaign and in the assassination of Khashoggi, and they increasingly cite what they call the hand of the powerful Saudi crown prince Mohammed Salman in both. These critics also see parallels in the way the Saudis responded to reports of civilian casualties in Yemen and the killing of Khashoggi.

"This is exactly the same pattern we saw here," said British lawmaker Thornberry, referring to Khashoggi's assassination, "which speaks of a crown prince who thinks his allies are fools and relies on the fact that that his lies will be believed, he will be relieved and everyone will return as usual as soon as the advertising has subsided. "

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