War on Yemen, from a legal perspective, not so legal
The UN Security Council has failed Yemen by facilitating foreign intervention in the country's internal affairs and showing clear bias towards the Saudi-led coalition aggression.
On January 21, the Saudi-led coalition committed a new massacre, targeting Saada's central prison in Yemen, leaving 91 martyrs and 236 wounded.
The demolished prison housed more than 2,000 residents from Yemen and other countries and was a shelter for Africans who cross from Yemen to other regions.
The massacre came after the coalition targeted the telecommunications tower in Al-Hudaydah city, causing an internet blackout in Yemen.
Yemeni Sanaa government Health Minister Taha Al-Mutawakkil revealed that the process of handing over the bodies of the Saada prison massacre victims to their families is underway.
Ahmed Mahat, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Head of Mission in Yemen said, "This is the latest in a long line of unjustifiable airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition on places like schools, hospitals, markets, wedding parties, and prisons."
Al-Mutawakkil also highlighted that the Saudi-led coalition committed a series of crimes during January, which brutally claimed the lives of 150 civilians and wounded 350 others.
Seven years of Saudi-led aggression on Yemen have claimed the lives of 47,000 Yemenis, the latest Health Ministry toll revealed.
The Health Minister declared that the combination of crimes committed by the coalition against the Yemeni people is a "disgrace to the United Nations and its agencies, in addition to the international community."
As usual, the UN said in a statement that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "reminds all parties that attacks directed against civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited by international humanitarian law."
But let's go back in time and observe what encouraged the Saudi-led coalition to exaggerate its massacres on Yemen.
A little bit of history
In the wake of the 2011 uprising that toppled former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, then-Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansur Hadi took power in 2012.
According to the Yemeni Constitution, in case the post of president becomes vacant, the vice president would temporarily take charge for a period that does not exceed 60 days, until presidential elections are held.
In February 2012, Hadi was the sole candidate in the two-year term presidential elections that would lead to dialogue between political parties for a post-Ali Abdullah Saleh peaceful Yemen, free from Saudi Arabian interference.
However, after the two-year period ended, Yemenis had suffered from deteriorating economic and security challenges, which the Hadi government has failed to solve.
In a successful revolution over 2014-2015, led by the Yemeni Ansar Allah movement, Abed Rabbo Mansur Hadi submitted his resignation in 2015, fled to Aden, and then ran away to Riyadh, claiming he was still the "legitimate" President, announcing undoing his resignation.
This plunged Yemen into "the world's worst humanitarian crisis," according to the UN's World Food Programme.
UNSC fails Yemen
According to the Centre for Counter Hegemonic Studies, the UN Security Council has "betrayed" Yemen, by facilitating foreign intervention in the country's internal affairs and showing clear bias toward the Saudi-led coalition aggression against the Yemenis.
Since the 2011 Yemeni uprising, the UNSC has adopted 17 resolutions concerning Yemen.
Studying the war on Yemen from a legal perspective -- in accordance with international law -- the Centre pointed out that the UNSC has encouraged the 2015 aggression through its repressive measures -- such as bans and sanctions -- against Yemeni officials.
On 26 March 2015, Saudi Arabia announced launching the coalition's aggression on Yemen, claiming "to defend and support the legitimate government of Yemen."
The Centre also accused the UNSC of turning a "limited military confrontation into an international conflict in which tens of countries from various continents are involved, turning itself from a protector of international peace and security into a violator of international law.”
With its Resolutions 2014 (2011), 2051 (2012), and 2140 (2014), the UNSC "paved the way for misleading the international community into believing that the situation in Yemen constituted a threat to international peace and security" without even providing evidence, the Centre added.
The UN Charter prohibits countries from interfering in the internal and external affairs of other countries, violating their sovereignty, and seizing the right of their people to self-determination. The irony is that the UNSC has acknowledged back then that the events were internal Yemeni affairs, yet now it continues to misguide the international community, succumbing to pressure exerted from the West and the GCC.
In addition, the UNSC turned a blind eye to the Saudi-led coalition international law violations and massacres against civilians that its own Panel of Experts documented.
In its January 2021 report, the UNSC's Expert Panel indirectly admitted that the Council's arbitrary resolutions have helped in maintaining the war on Yemen.
The Panel's report admitted that "the situation in Yemen has continued to deteriorate, with devastating consequences for the civilian population. Three main factors are contributing to the catastrophe: (a) economic profiteering by all Yemeni parties, affecting human security; (b) continuous and widespread human rights and international humanitarian law violations, with impunity; and (c) escalations in fighting and its impact on civilians, including displacement."
Foreign intervention & arms sales
As a result of the UNSC's resolutions and "concerns" and amid international silence toward the war on Yemen, countries such as the US and France have facilitated the Saudi-led coalition's massacres against Yemenis by selling arms, thus violating signed treaties and conventions.
Data from the US Department of Defense, cited by Mint Press News (MPN), revealed the continued flow of US weapons to Saudi Arabia since the start of its aggression on Yemen.
The investigation showed that weapon contracts worth about $28.4 billion were concluded since March 2015, including about 20 contracts approved by the administration of President Joe Biden this year, amounting to $1.2 billion.
Saudi Arabia spent about $34 billion on weapons from other parties for the same period. Accordingly, Saudi military purchases from US sources and firms are estimated at $63 billion since its aggression on Yemen.
In early December, the investigative French website Disclose revealed that France delivered tens of thousands of arms to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar during President Francois Hollande's reign in 2016, despite knowing that they would be used in the war on Yemen.
The website quoted "secret defense documents" that "since 2016, France has allowed the delivery of about 150,000 shells" to two of its Gulf allies.
Commenting on the recent Saada prison massacre, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, underlined that the “horrific images that have trickled out of Yemen despite the four-day internet blackout are a jarring reminder of who is paying the terrible price for Western states’ lucrative arms sales to Saudi Arabia and its coalition allies."
Maalouf urged the US and other arms-supplying states to immediately halt arms transfers.
“By knowingly supplying the means by which the Saudi-led coalition (SLC) has repeatedly violated international human rights and humanitarian law, the USA — along with the UK and France — share responsibility for these violations," she added.
In light of the war on Yemen, the arms-supplying states have violated Article 6 of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which bans states from transferring arms that will be used to commit crimes against humanity.
For its part, the coalition targeted hospitals and human aid warehouses and imposed an aerial and naval blockade on Yemen, violating Articles 9, 11, 14, and 18 of the Additional Protocol II.
Based on the presented evidence and from a very legal perspective, the ongoing war on Yemen is, by all means, illegal as it violates all international and humanitarian laws and breaches every signed treaty and convention.