Saudi Arabia’s Air Force pilots to receive pay raises of up to 60% as Yemen war rages on
The country’s cabinet announced in a Monday statement that it had amended laws pertaining to military officers, allowing air force pilots and weapons operators to receive a 35 percent pay raise on their basic salaries, Reuters reported, citing Saudi Press Agency.
Officers responsible for flying fighter jets and operating their weapons systems will experience a bigger pay raise, at 60 percent.
The cabinet did not give a reason for the pay increases, or any indication of what the country’s pilots currently earn.
The move comes as the Saudi-led coalition’s campaign in Yemen enters its third year.
The coalition is allied with Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who fled to Saudi Arabia when the Houthis took power in Yemen. Hadi’s administration continues to be Yemen’s internationally recognized government.
The Saudi-led coalition joined the country’s civil war in March 2015, launching airstrikes in order to stop Houthi advances and reinstate Hadi to power. It later launched a ground operation.
In January, a senior UN official said it is estimated that the death toll in the conflict has surpassed 10,000 people.
Although the coalition has long been accused of inflicting civilian casualties, it continues to deny targeting innocent Yemenis.
Instead, Saudi Arabia accuses the Houthis of using civilian installations to conceal weapons and launch missile attacks against Riyadh with help from Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival. Tehran denies that charge.
October figures provided by the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) state that the conflict has claimed the lives of at least 4,125 civilians and left at least 7,207 wounded, with the majority of casualties caused by coalition airstrikes.
A September report by the Yemen Data Project also concluded that one-third of Saudi airstrikes hit hospitals, schools, and other civilian targets – figures which Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told the Guardian were “vastly exaggerated.”
In a seemingly similar effort to support its military during the Yemeni campaign, Riyadh last year exempted active soldiers from cuts to annual leave and bonuses.