Saudi Arabian Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman listens in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, during a meeting between Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and President Barack Obama. The Saudi-led bombing campaign of Yemen appears to be crumbling following the publishing of a U.N. report holding the oil-rich kingdom culpable for the killing of civilians — the latest development being a possible withdrawal of Emirati troops from Saudi Arabia’s coalition. The Emirati withdrawal comes after a helicopter crash on Monday that killed the two Emirati crew members on board. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown
Two weeks ago, Saudi Arabia came under criticism after a U.N. report accused the country of being primarily responsible for youth civilian causalities in Yemen. The U.N. blacklisted Saudi Arabia but quickly recanted the blacklist, leading to heavy lambasting from human rights organizations.
The United States has come under repeated criticism from human rights groups since the Saudi-led coalition began the air campaign in Yemen due to the great amount of U.S. support for the coalition. The United States has assisted the coalition with a significant amount of intelligence, fighter planes, and munitions. In April, Human Rights Watch reported that it found “remnants…of a GBU-31 satellite-guided bomb, which consists of a US-supplied MK-84 2,000-pound bomb mated with a JDAM satellite guidance kit, also US-supplied.”
Last year, human rights groups criticized the State Department-approved sale of $1.29 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia.
Rights groups also attacked the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia over the last year due to the use of cluster munitions in Yemen. Human Rights Watch said using cluster munitions to kill and maim civilians is potentially a war crime.
“The coalition’s repeated use of cluster bombs in the middle of a crowded city suggests an intent to harm civilians, which is a war crime,” said Steve Goose, Arms Director at Human Rights Watch. “These outrageous attacks show that the coalition seems less concerned than ever about sparing civilians from war’s horrors.”
Both sides of the aisle in the Senate have taken aim at Saudi Arabia as of late.
“I have yet to see evidence that the civil war we’re supplying and supporting in Yemen advances our national security,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said in a written statement in April. “The more it drags on, the clearer it becomes that our military involvement on behalf of the Saudi-led coalition is prolonging human suffering in Yemen and aiding the very groups that are intent on attacking us.”
Despite the growing criticism, Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed concerns about the airstrikes earlier this month. “There have been a lot of civilian casualties, and clearly, civilian casualties are a concern,” Kerry told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. “I think the Saudis have expressed in the last weeks their desire to make certain that they’re acting responsibly and not endangering civilians.”