In an interview with pan-Arab news station al-Mayadeen earlier this week, Sharaf Loqman, spokesperson for the Yemeni Army, said the Saudi-led coalition has used chemical weapons in Ma’arib, east of Sana’a. The Saudi decision to use chemical weapons bears political significations as this aggressor becomes more aware of the failure of its campaign.
When hundreds of thousands of people rallied in Yemen in a show of support for the Supreme Political Council, which was recently formed to run the country, the Saudis were disillusioned. Initially aiming to reinstate former President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who answers to Riyadh, the Saudis launched the bloody war and have been pounding Yemen in order to secure their grip on power. The wide public support that this council received following the failure of negotiations between the Saudis and Yemenis dealt a blow to authorities in the kingdom.
This political development in Yemen, where despite all the killings and destruction people still believe that they will triumph against the Saudi-led coalition, has been much of a disappointment to the Saudis whose agenda implementation has been hindered.
Aware of this, Saudi Arabia’s Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh has called for the forced recruitment of young people to participate in the attack on Yemen.
The use of chemical weapons is another sign of an ongoing crisis in the Saudis’ camp. The Saudis believe that the more they hurt the Yemeni people, the easier it will be to defeat them but this strategy has proven to be counter-effective. Nonetheless, they are still following it in a bid to turn the course of the war to their advantage.
Although the use of chemical weapons against civilians is supposed to be a US-drawn red line, Saudi Arabia and its allies are using it freely. Amid international silence and lack of action against the Saudi-led aggression on Yemen, the red lines that are allegedly drawn to protect the innocent during wartime are being crossed blindly simply because there is no world power ready to hold Riyadh accountable for its actions.
There are, however, meagre efforts by organizations to put an end to the Saudi war on Yemen in the form of calls to halt arms sales to Riyadh.
On Monday, Control Arms, a coalition of NGOs, called on France, Britain and the United States to halt sales to Saudi Arabia over its actions in Yemen, saying the trio was guilty of “the worst kind of hypocrisy”. The call was made during the second conference on the UN-backed Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
By continuing to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia the three countries “are violating [the treaty] with impunity”, said Control Arms director Anna Macdonald referring to ATT which “requires states to block arms deals if there are grounds for believing the weapons will be used against civilians.”
Yet it would not be a surprise should these countries continue their arms sales to Saudi Arabia despite the atrocities it is committing against the people of Yemen. The past has shown that such powers don’t always take the side of the oppressed but rather that in which their interests lie.
The Israeli regime for example has carried out numerous wars against the Gaza Strip. The crimes the Israelis have committed have not stopped donations, arms sales, and endorsements.
Tel Aviv possesses weapons of mass destruction and is in fact considered a nuclear-armed country which is not recognized as a Nuclear Weapons State by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
According to the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment, the Israeli regime is reported as having undeclared chemical warfare capabilities and an offensive biological warfare program.
Former US deputy assistant secretary of defense responsible for chemical and biological defense Dr. Bill Richardson said in 1998: "I have no doubt that Israel has worked on both chemical and biological offensive things for a long time... There's no doubt they've had stuff for years.”
We can learn from the West’s stance toward the Israeli regime. We can also see that history repeats itself. What the Israeli have done to Palestinians, the Saudis are doing to Yemenis. All the while, the world stands idly by ranting about human rights and doing nothing about it.