Human Lives Human Rights: The Saudi-led coalition’s air strike on a detention center in Yemen last week, which killed at least 80 people and injured over 200, used a precision-guided munition made in the United States.
The laser-guided bomb used in the attack, manufactured by US defense company Raytheon, is the latest piece in a wider web of evidence of the use of US-manufactured weapons in incidents that could amount to war crimes.
Over the past week, the Saudi-led coalition has relentlessly pounded northern Yemen with air strikes — including the capital city, Sana’a — that have inflicted dozens of civilian casualties and destroyed infrastructure and services.
The escalation followed Houthi strikes on 17 January that targeted an oil facility in Abu Dhabi, which killed three civilians.
Horrific images that have trickled out of Yemen despite the four-day internet blackout are a jarring reminder of who is paying the terrible price for Western states’ lucrative arms sales to Saudi Arabia and its coalition allies.
Rights groups call on the United States and other arms-supplying states to immediately halt transfers of arms, equipment, and military assistance to all parties involved in the conflict in Yemen.
Meanwhile, the international community has a responsibility to close the gates to all arms sales that are fueling the needless suffering of civilians in the armed conflict.
The Saudi led coalition has repeatedly violated international human rights and humanitarian law, the USA — along with the UK and France — share responsibility for these violations, who knowing everything still sell arms to Saudi.
The remnants of the weapon used in the attack on the detention center and identified the bomb as a GBU-12, a 500lb laser-guided bomb manufactured by Raytheon.
Since March 2015, researchers have investigated dozens of air strikes and repeatedly found and identified remnants of US-manufactured munitions.
US President Joe Biden has not fulfilled his promises made after first taking office in early 2021 to end US support for offensive operations in Yemen, including arms sales, and to “center human rights in foreign policy” and ensure rights abusers “are held accountable.”
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are apparent exceptions. Since November 2021, the Biden administration has approved sales of — and awarded US firms contracts for — missiles, aircraft, and an anti-ballistic defense system to Saudi Arabia, including a $28 million deal for US maintenance of Saudi aircraft in mid-January.
In December, the administration stated it “remains committed” to the proposed sales of $23 billion in F-35 aircraft, MQ-9B, and munitions to the UAE — despite strong human rights concerns.
Continuing to arm Saudi Arabia not only fails to meet the US’s obligations under international law, it also violates US law.
On 20 January, the Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes on the port city of Hudaydah, killing at least three children, according to Save the Children.
Air strikes have also targeted a telecommunication building in Hudaydah, causing a nationwide internet blackout.
Yemen was largely without internet access for four days, leaving friends and families out of touch and restricting people’s ability to access or share information on the situation.
Under international humanitarian law, the deliberate targeting of civilian objects and extensive, unjustified destruction of property are war crimes.
The coalition hit the detention center in Sa’adah on 21 January. The United Nations described the attack as the “worst civilian-casualty incident in the last three years in Yemen”.
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