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29 Sep, 2015 12:28

Yemeni wedding attack: ‘Houthis don’t have fighter jets!’

Yemeni wedding attack: ‘Houthis don’t have fighter jets!’
  • ‘UN, international community should directly condemn Saudis for attacks’...
  • ‘It’s a massacre, whether we like it or not’...
  • Attack site –‘closest point to the most strategic Red Sea strait’...

An airstrike allegedly carried out by Saudi Arabian forces has killed at least 135 people at a wedding party in Yemen. Who is to blame for the ongoing bloodshed and what should be done to stop it?

The Saudi-led coalition denied it’s responsible for the assault on the wedding celebration and blamed local militia for the firing.

‘Nobody is conducting airstrikes but the Saudis..’

To prevent more civilian deaths, the international community should first of all condemn “the Saudis directly” rather than water down the situation by saying that “all parties are responsible,” political analyst Hisham Omeisy in Sana’a told RT.

“The Houthis don’t have fighter jets,” he said. “[The Saudis] keep saying that it’s somebody else... the Saudis yesterday, for instance, denied it was them, that it must have been the Houthis. For god sake, the Houthis don’t have fighter jets. Nobody is conducting airstrikes but the Saudis...  The UN and the international community need to directly condemn the Saudis for these attacks, they need to take harder line.”

Wedding attack – ‘a massacre’

“Actually, this is a daily routine now that Saudi-led coalition warplanes are bombing civilians in Yemen under the pretext of shelling the Houthis and Ali Abdullah Saleh opposition,” says Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of London-based 'al-Quds al-Arabi', an independent pan-Arab daily newspaper.


“In fact…they bombed the wedding party, regardless who is the groom and who is the bride. It is actually a massacre, whether we like it or not, whether with agree with this coalition or not. Six months of heavy bombardment, definitely the civilian casualties are escalating day after day. This is the silent war. I am surprised nobody is paying attention to this war where civilian are killed.”

‘Strategic region was repeatedly attacked’

The wedding celebration that got hit by an airstrike took place not far from Mokha, a Yemeni port city on the Red Sea coast. The region of Mokha, has so far “witnessed aerial bombardment on many occasions,” said Muhammad Al-Attab, a Yemeni-based journalist.

“These people got together at the wedding ceremony in the area of Wahija … which is the closest point to the most strategic international strait of Bab-el-Mandeb,” he added. 

“This region has been bombarded by Saudi warplanes, as many human rights activists are saying,” said Al-Attab. The previous time Mokha got hit by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, he noted, “they said they were not behind such an attack that targeted the residential area for a power station where more than 100 people were killed.” 

“But this time Saudi Arabia said it has mistakenly targeted this gathering of people, according to the report I read,” the journalist added.

Repeated attacks on market places in Yemen

The wedding airstrike has become the deadliest single incident since the beginning of the conflict in Yemen. However, crowded places have come under attacks on a number of occasions, said researcher Belkis Wille from Human Rights Watch.

There have been many airstrikes since the beginning of this war that led to large civilian casualty numbers. I’ve documented several strikes since the beginning of the war on market places, because market places are going to be crowded. In one strike you see 60-65 people killed all at once, all civilians,” she said. “By the laws of war you can’t target them, especially when there is no military around,” she added.

Under the laws of war of course there is a key principle of proportionality. So if you got one, let’s say, Houthi fighter going to have lunch at a local restaurant in the middle of the market place, and you, as the Saudi-led coalition decide to bomb the entire market place and kill 65 civilians just to get that Houthi fighter, because he is having his lunch, that doesn’t meet the proportionality requirement...”

Wille said that HRW representatives will visit the site of the deadly attack on Tuesday and examine what they can find on the ground, including ammunition and the size of the craters to determine whether it was an airstrike or the attack was launched from the ground.


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.