Human Rights Watch has slammed US President’s changing policy on termination of arms sales to countries involved in Yemen war. Biden administration has announced decision to resume weapons sales to the UAE.
A State Department spokesperson revealed details of $23 billion in arms sales a few days earlier. 50 F-35A fighter jets worth $10.4 billion, 18 MQ-9B drones worth $2.97 billion, and different types of munitions totally worth $10 billion comprise the new contract.
HRW condemned the move, claiming that no evidence indicates change in UAE’s stance. HRW also asserted that UAE had continued its destabilising and offensive role in Yemen and other parts of the world: “I am constantly inundated with messages from citizens in southern Yemen informing me of heinous atrocities committed on a daily basis by UAE-backed local forces.”
The announcement came a day after 29 human rights and arms control organizations signed a letter addressed to US lawmakers and the US State Department condemning the $23-billion deal. They said that the weapons sale would cause more damage to civilians and exacerbate humanitarian crises both in Libya and Yemen.
Human Rights Watch has published a report on a Yemeni journalist who was arrested by UAE forces after being harassed by an official from the UAE.
According to the rights group Yemen researcher, there are no protections in place to prevent the use of US arms to commit war crimes as was the case before. “The danger of them being used to commit laws-of-war violations is high,” Nasser said, “particularly given the evidence that the Saudi and UAE-led coalition has already used US weapons in bombings unlawfully harming civilians and civilian sites in Yemen since the war began in 2015,” said Afrah Nasser.
According to reports, the UAE’s war crimes stretch outside Yemen. Abu Dhabi, for example, has carried out illegal attacks and given military assistance to abusive local groups in Libya. HRW discovered an ostensibly illegal drone attack on a factory in November, 2019, which killed eight people and injured 27 others.
Defending the agreement, UAE embassy in Washington, as quoted in Reuters, said “Aligned closely with US interests and values, the UAE’s highly capable military is a forceful deterrent to aggression and an effective response to violent extremism.”
Activists and observers believe that the resumption of past conduct with no safe system in guaranteeing accountability on the side of UAE and Saudi Arabia will lead to the same disastrous condition. The short-term halt has had no result other than proving US new administration’s support for the bellicosity against Yemeni people.
Late in January, Biden briefly halted the sale of weapons to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi in order for some control systems to be applied. Activists and rights organizations have long called on the US and other countries to stop selling arms to Saudi monarchy because of the country’s human rights violation, murder of protesters, and continuing belligerent -year war in Yemen.
The United States has been an active party in Yemen war since it started in 2015. Known as the worst humanitarian crisis ever, Yemen war kicked off when public protests in Yemen, a chain protest that devoured Arab world named as “Arab Spring“, has almost led to the government collapse. Saudi and Emirati leaders, in fear of expansion of protests within their country, started a direful war against Yemen. While hundreds of thousands were killed and millions displaced, the Saudi mission in Yemen has never gone through accomplishment.
Trump administration, interested in inflaming the tensions in the region, lent hand by supporting, funding, arming and directly involving in Yemen war. The new president came to US office promising to end bellicosity against Yemen. The new policy, while not novel for newcomer presidents in the United States, proved frustrating for critics and analysts.