Helping you to #QuestionMore: RT coverage of Yemen destruction
It was President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s flight to Saudi Arabia that laid the foundation for the bloodshed and chaos. The exiled leader has since returned to the southern city of Aden, with word he will oversee the campaign against the rebels, which aims to disrupt Houthi influence and put Hadi back in power.
The assault on the Houthis, who continue to hold the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, is ongoing despite widespread international condemnation of barbaric tactics, the number of civilian casualties, and untold damage caused to the country’s infrastructure that has paralyzed people’s access to the most basic necessities. These circumstances have combined to create an emergency situation, with UN agencies ringing alarms that millions of Yemenis are in mortal danger of starvation.
READ MORE: Yemen on brink of famine following bombing of vital port, UN says
Among the latest of the alleged atrocities was an apparent Saudi airstrike that killed 131 guests at a wedding party in early October. The Saudis, who have air superiority in Yemeni airspace, denied any involvement.
READ MORE: Saudi Arabia sinks UN war crimes probe in Yemen, Washington stays silent
Several attempts at peace talks have failed, while even tentative truces to allow humanitarian aid to pass safely were not fully observed. Russia managed to deliver 46 tons of food in July.
As the bombing intensified, many sought to escape the country, but large numbers of civilians ended up trapped under a Saudi-led, Western-backed barrage due to crippled roads and infrastructure.
When it became clear in April that the fighting between Houthi rebels and government forces would only escalate, many Yemeni-Americans sought to return home to their loved ones in the US, but had no luck in getting any kind of government support to help them escape the chaos: the US State Department’s efforts to help its stranded citizens amounted to little more than a hotline giving tips on how to stay safe.
This is where Russia stepped in with aircraft and transportation. “I really got lucky with Russia. It was a three-hour notice, I was contacted by them and they said they will provide a plane,” Khaled Alamari told RT in the arrivals hall, describing the trauma his children had faced amid the constant fighting and explosions. One of his daughters lost nearly half her body weight, the Yemeni-American said.
READ MORE: ‘We got lucky with Russia’: US citizen’s family to RT after Yemen evacuation
It was thanks to the efforts of RT that the Russian Embassy found out about the plight of Americans trapped in Yemen in time. “We would like to sincerely thank television channel RT for its active technical cooperation and follow-through in this move,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.
Over 300 people were rescued, including foreign and Russian citizens.
Many notable organizations and international humanitarian agencies have struck out at Saudi Arabia, alleging human rights violations of the gravest order. However, getting a response from the “international community” has not been an easy road.
According to Amnesty International, many killings of civilians in Yemen can be considered war crimes. In September, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called for an independent, international inquiry into alleged war crimes in the country. The Netherlands submitted a draft resolution to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) shortly thereafter, which, among other things, called for UN experts to be sent to Yemen to investigate allegations of crimes committed by all parties involved. The proposal was backed by a number of European countries.
The document was opposed by Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which are all members of the council, as well as the Yemeni government in exile. The Saudis allegedly won their place at the HRC through a secret deal with the British government, according to cables exposed by whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
The Saudis proposed an alternative resolution that does not provide for an independent international inquiry and instead calls on the UN to support a probe led by the Hadi government. Human rights groups objected to the Saudi draft resolution, saying it would put a belligerent party in charge of the probe and would ultimately leave Saudi crimes obscured.
While the Saudis kept pushing for their draft resolution to be passed, the US kept mostly silent on the debate, voicing no support for the Dutch proposal. Moreover, the US has just signed off on a $1.29 billion deal to provide the Saudis with so-called smart bombs to be used in the campaign against the Houthi rebels. The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which is in charge of overseeing foreign arms sales, said in a statement that the deal had been approved. The US Congress still has more than a week to block the deal, but is unlikely to do so.
READ MORE: US approves $1.3bn sale of ‘smart’ bombs to Saudi Arabia