DO NOT expect to hear a good word about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on any Western media outlet these days. There is growing evidence of an international-wide campaign built on exaggerations to blacken its reputation in almost every sphere and undermine its regional leadership standing. This serves as a gift to the Iranian media and will embolden our enemies.
US and UK politicians, as well as human rights agencies, are falsely accusing the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen of deliberately targeting civilians in its effort to restore the legitimate government and protect the Kingdom’s territorial integrity. These seemingly orchestrated attacks come on the heels of the UN Secretary General’s disgraceful inclusion of Saudi on a United Nations Child’s rights blacklist, stricken-off days later amid Ban Ki-moon’s fabricated claims that Arab states had used financial blackmail to force his hand.
Human Rights Watch, known as a revolving door for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Department of State, has been in engaged in an anti-Saudi hate fest for years, is now joined by Oxfam that is supposed to be an impartial charity rather than a politically driven entity has got in the bashSaudi act.
One of Oxfam’s senior executives is lobbing the UK government to cease arms sales to the Kingdom asserting the British government is no more an “enthusiastic backer” of the Arms Trade Treaty but “one of the most significant violators”. The UK, which pledged to support the campaign in Yemen “short of engaging in combat”, denies its sales contravene the Treaty’s regulations.
The government’s Minister for Africa Tobias Ellwood told the House of Commons that the UN report’s claims were based on false witness testimony, noting its authors had not carried out their research in-country.
“We are aware that the Houthis, who are very media-savvy in such a situation, are using their own artillery pieces deliberately, targeting individual areas where the people are not loyal to them, to give the impression that there have been air attacks,” he said. Kudos to Mr Ellwood for pinpointing the problem, but he is one of few voices defending truth from vicious propaganda. Conservative Member of Parliament and member of the Defense Committee Colonel Bob Stewart is another.
He says the coalition has made a few mistakes but is doing its utmost to avoid civilian deaths. A UK court has now authorized a judicial review into whether or not UK weapons sales to the Kingdom flout British and EU export laws. There is no such creature as a war in which all civilians are guaranteed safe from bombs as the Americans and their allies understand only too well given that hundreds of thousands were killed in Iraq during the invasion and occupation where white phosphorus was illegally used in built-up areas and depleted uranium was blamed for causing birth defects years later.
The Pentagon knows exactly how many US military personnel died but did not even bother to count the numbers of Iraqi victims. In 2001 untold numbers were bombed in Afghanistan and, since, the Obama administration’s drone attacks have killed more than 2,600 in various countries, according to officially announced statistics, but because every military-age man is designated a combatant without evidence to the contrary, it is impossible to judge how many were civilians. Likewise, Israel has over little more than a decade killed thousands of mostly civilian Palestinians and Lebanese, including a high percentage of children. Just days ago it was bombing Gaza destroying homes and lives. Social media is awash with videos of children being roughed up by Israeli soldiers and dragged away screaming or shot.
Palestinians have no rights let alone human rights, yet criticism of Israel is off-limits, while hurling abuse at Saudi is seen as fair game. Last year, the Pentagon rubber-stamped the supply of $1.9bn worth of arms to Israel without a peep from the United States Congress which invariably defends Israel’s right to defend itself. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia’s right to prevent pro-Iranian Houthi hordes from invading its territory is swept aside.
Worse, some members of Congress led by Senator Rand Paul are pushing hard for a vote to block the sale of automatic weapons, tanks and ammunition to Saudi which Paul characterizes as “an unreliable ally with a poor human rights record.” That move comes on the heels of a vindictive bill, approved by the Senate, designed to free families of 9-11 victims to sue Riyadh, even though the 9-11 Commission Report vindicates the Saudi government from any wrongdoing.
If this scurrilous bill, supported by both presidential candidates, is passed into law, the Kingdom warns it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars in US assets, according to the New York Times. Saudi has denied making any such statements but doing so would make perfect sense. Why would anyone wish to keep assets in any country acting against it with apparent hostile intent? It is time for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the League of Arab States to make a firm stand. These attitudes/strategies are wholly unacceptable from supposed allies and if they continue, they must face repercussions.
For some time now, I have suspected that in its determination to maintain dominance over the Middle East, the West uses covert methods to keep regional states from taking charge of their own destiny. Independence is frowned upon as Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Shah of Iran Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and others discovered to their cost. The Obama administration took Egypt to task for bombing “Islamic State” terrorists who beheaded Coptic Christians and its efforts to revitalize the Israel-Palestine peace process have been belittled or ignored.
The absence of tourists due to the cancellation of flights in reaction to the terrorist downing has forced foreign reserves-strapped Cairo to negotiate a hefty International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan laden with strings. And clearly the new assertiveness of Saudi and its Arab partners in Yemen is not appreciated in the halls of power of certain capitals. In short, I am beginning to believe the underlying message is “Know your limits else we will bring you down.” Seems to me it is beyond time we delivered of a few pertinent messages of our own.
By Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor UAE Businessman