NDAA Section 1290 conditions further United States refueling assistance to the Saudi-led coalition’s air raids in Yemen on whether the Secretary of State can certify to Congress that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are undertaking specific steps to support a peace process and reduce civilian harm in Yemen. Drawing from the language of Section 1290, we briefly analyze the extent to which Saudi Arabia and the UAE have undertaken these measures and provide a recommendation for further congressional action.
Concise and insightful analyses of the Saudi-led coalition’s Yemen Comprehensive Humanitarian Operations (YCHO) plan swiftly followed its Monday announcement. Though the top line number -- a pledge of 1.5 billion USD to UN agencies in response to the 2.96 billion requested by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) from the international community -- is commendable, the YCHO’s fine print only underlines the contradictions shaping the plan for the worse: if Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other coalition governments want to be both warring parties in Yemen’s conflict and the country’s humanitarian saviors, the former will always subsume the latter.
Following an attempted Houthi ballistic missile strike on Riyadh, the Saudi government announced today that the coalition would continue “opening Hudaydah port to humanitarian and relief supplies and allowing the entry of commercial ships, including fuel and food vessels, for a period of 30 days to implement the proposals” of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen concerning vessel inspection measures at Hudaydah port. The announcement was intended to elicit relief and praise from the international community. After the Houthis’ last attempted attack on Riyadh, the Saudi government made its partial blockade of Yemeni ports total, closing humanitarian and commercial access to Yemenis bearing the brunt of the nation’s humanitarian catastrophe. It’s tempting to think that the loud and continuous outcry of the international community, with late contributions from the United States and United Kingdom, has checked the Saudi government’s most punitive impulses.
Reuters reports on a statement made by the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The group claims it has not sent any weapons to Yemen and also denies involvement in the firing of a ballistic missile toward Riyadh that originated from Yemen.
In a phone call on Saturday, President Trump and King Salman discussed the attempted Houthi missile attack on the Riyadh airport, and Trump stated that he supported selling more military equipment to Saudi Arabia.
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a report on the situation of human rights in Yemen. The report enumerates the violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen since September 2014, when the Houthi-Saleh coup against the legitimate government began. Civilians face indiscriminate and targeted military attacks, arbitrary and illegal arrest and detention, restricted access to humanitarian aid, and a devastating blockade that smothers the economy. Furthermore, violators throughout Yemen are committing such offenses with total impunity.
James Firebrace, a retired British diplomat, and Sherine El-Taraboulsi, of the Overseas Development Institute, wrote an op-ed outlining recommendations for the UK government regarding its engagement with Saudi Arabia. The UK has the potential to exert influence over peace processes in the Middle East, but its current support of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen undermines its moral standing and dedication to humanitarian principles. In order to maintain credibility as a mediator, Firebrace and El-Taraboulsi recommend that the UK reduce its unconditional military support for Saudi Arabia, pressure Saudi Arabia to allow humanitarian imports, and call for more accountability in human rights violations.