UN Warns Saudis of War Crimes in Yemen

By Henry Steck, International News Writer

On January 29, United Nations sanctions monitors outlined concerns that some of the attacks carried out by a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition “may amount to war crimes.” It has been almost two years since the start of the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen in support of the Hadi government.

In a report to the Security Council, experts monitoring the conflict issued an annual report warning the coalition’s allies, including veto powers such as the United States, United Kingdom and France that they are obligated to abide by international humanitarian law.

The report analyzed 10 coalition air strikes, conducted between March and October 2016, which led to the deaths of almost 300 civilians.

They stated that “In eight of the ten investigations, the panel found no evidence that the air strikes had targeted legitimate military objectives.” They then continued to state that “For all 10 investigations, the panel considers it almost certain that the coalition did not meet international humanitarian law requirements of proportionality and precautions in attack,” The experts defined the core members of the coalition as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan.

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.N. Abdallah Al-Mouallimi responded to the accusations, describing them as unfounded, saying that the coalition has been “exercising maximum restraint and rigorous rules of engagement,” and that “In some cases errors were acknowledged and responsibility accepted. Corrective measures including compensation to victims were taken.”

U.N. experts also commented on the conduct of the Revolutionary Committee, or the groups opposing the Saudi coalition, stating that it is “highly likely that the Houthi and Saleh forces did not comply with international humanitarian law in at least three incidents when they fired explosives at a market, a house, and a hospital.” Houthis, aligned with forces fighting for former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, vehemently denied any involvement in war crimes. Saudi Arabia and Yemen have both blamed Iran for supplying weapons to the Houthis.

The experts did not find a link to Iran, saying “The panel has not seen sufficient evidence to confirm any direct large-scale supply of arms from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, although there are indicators that anti-tank guided weapons being supplied to the Houthi or Saleh forces are of Iranian manufacture.”

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 7th print edition.

Contact Henry at



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