This 10-Year-Old Girl Wants You to Know What the US Government Is Doing to Yemen
September 19, 2016 | Carey Wedler
(ANTIMEDIA) Though Saudi Arabia often makes headlines for bombing hospitals and killing civilians in their ongoing war against rebels in Yemen, the Western role in these human rights violations is seldom discussed.
But a new video posted to Youtube from a ten-year-old girl living in the rebel capital of Sanaa, Yemen, hopes to challenge the perpetual attacks that have ravaged her country. Following the breakdown of peace talks last month, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly hit Sanaa with air strikes.
In a video she filmed in her bedroom on her mother’s cell phone, the young girl, named Yara, recalls when the war started. In English, she explains how excited she was to attend a concert last March before her mother informed her a war against Yemen had begun, decimating schools, factories, and homes. Many people lost their jobs, she remembers, including her father.
Indeed, the Saudi Arabian coalition has made a habit of bombing areas known to house civilians, including warehouses, markets, and hospitals. Saudi Arabia has bombed Doctors Without Borders hospitals (MSF) four times, most recently last month in an attack that killed eleven people and injured 19. Yara openly doubts Saudi assertions they are bombing the country to achieve “stability.”
“Helping us means destroying our schools, our factories, making children die? And maybe I can be the [next child] to die? My family, all the families, are really maybe going to die?” Yara wonders in her video.
Yara says she is “really sad that I’m just a child to go through this, to live this. I need to feel my freedom like they feel freedoms in other countries.”
UNICEF reported in May that 90% of the Yemeni population is in need of humanitarian assistance, including 9.9 million children. The well-documented Saudi-led atrocities have taken the lives of 3,799 civilians since the war began last year. In June, Reuters reported that according to a U.N. report, the Saudi coalition was responsible for 60% of child deaths and injuries last year, with 510 killed and 667 injured by Saudi attacks.
In spite of these figures, the U.N. allowed Saudi Arabia to be placed on a U.N. human rights panel last year. Wikileaksrevealed this placement was the result of behind-the-scenes deals between the United Kingdom and the Saudi kingdom.
Further, the United Kingdom has played a vital role in supplying weapons to the repressive regime in spite of the fact the deals violate international law because Saudi Arabia is “regularly hitting civilian targets,” the Guardian notes.
Similarly, the United States has played a crucial role in providing weapons of war to the Saudi-led coalition. When Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, she enabled expedited arms deals with nations that donated money — often millions of dollars — to the Clinton Foundation. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco and Qatar, for example, all made donations and received hastened deals as a result. All six countries are now bombing Yemen. Further, the deals took place in 2011 — the same year Clinton’s State Department criticized the Saudis for their human rights record.
“I want America to stop helping [the Saudis] so the war can end,” Yara said in a Skype interview with Public Radio International after she posted her video. “If [Americans] can’t stop the war against Yemen, I’d like them to stop helping Saudis and stop selling them weapons, so the war can stop.”
Prior to Hillary Clinton’s deals, in 2010, the United States sold $60 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, arguably in a proxy attempt to reduce Iranian influence in the region (Iran has been accused of quietly backing the Houthi rebels in Yemen). Since then, the Guardian reports, “the [Obama] administration [has] concluded deals for nearly $48bn in weapons sales – triple the $16bn in sales under the George W Bush administration.”
The latest State Department-approved arms sale to the Saudi regime totals$1.15 billion, a deal four senators, Republican Sen. Rand Paul, Republican Mike Lee, Democrat Chris Murphy, and Democrat Al Franken have attempted to block, citing humanitarian concerns.
Prior to their effort, 60 lawmakers signed a letter urging President Obama to delay further weapons sales to the Saudi monarchy. Similar protests have swept Britain’s parliament.
The ties between the American and British governments and the Saudis war in Yemen run even deeper. As the Guardianreported in January:
“British and American military officials are in the command and control centre for Saudi airstrikes on Yemen, and have access to lists of targets, although they do not play any role in choosing them, [a] Saudi Arabian foreign minister has said.”
In addition, the United States has been waging its own war inside Yemen for years. U.S. drone strikes within the country, which increased under President Obama, have led to the deaths of as many as 18 children and over 160 civilians total,according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Between 26 and 28 have been killed in “other covert operations” since 2002. Though that number may seem relatively ‘small,’ especially compared to rates of casualties in countries like Iraq, similar drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between 172 and 207 children and between 424 and 966 civilians.
“I don’t want it to be my turn to die, as a child,” Yara says in her video.“I want to live all my life, I want to be a doctor, I want to be an engineer,” she tells the camera. “I want to grow up and be something important in this world.”
Westerners would be wise to take heed of the young girl’s pleadings as their governments continue to be complicit in vast human rights atrocities affecting men, women, and children like her.
“I wish they can [sic] stop war against Yemen. I wish they can stop war against Yemen. Please, please, please, stop war against Yemen. Every day, I get really sad that tons of people are dying,” she says as she breaks down in tears. “Please stop war against Yemen.”