Wounded Yemenis scared of going to hospitals, as Saudis bomb these

This video from the USA says about itself:

Saudi Arabia Bombed ‘Doctors Without Borders’ & Schools In Yemen

12 January 2016

On Sunday, a hospital in northern Yemen supported by Doctors Without Borders (known by its French acronym, MSF) was bombed, killing at least five people and destroying several buildings that were part of the facility. Ten people were injured in the attack, including three of the group’s staff.

Read more here.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Attacks on hospitals mean people in Yemen are now too scared to go for treatment, MSF says

The international humanitarian-aid charity says hospitals have become ‘targets’ in ongoing conflict

Adam Withnall

People in Yemen have stopped going to hospitals because they are being seen as “targets”, a charity has claimed.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said the latest bombing of the Shiara hospital in Saada, which killed six and injured seven, was part of a “worrying pattern of attacks to essential medical services”.

Juan Prieto, general coordinator for MSF’s projects in Yemen, said more than 100 incidents involving hospitals meant people were scared to visit them for all but the most serious emergencies.

“Medical facilities that should be places of healing for the population, no longer seem to be safe for the patients or for the medical staff operating in them,” he said.

“People still consider hospitals a target and try to avoid them as much as possible. The only cases that we are receiving are emergencies and mass casualties following attacks.”

MSF health workers returned to work at Shiara hospital as soon as it was confirmed the attack was over, Mr Prieto said, in spite of the fact that it has been hit by missiles or air strikes three times in the last year alone.

Staff and patients alike feel “uneasy and threatened” because of the failure to protect medical facilities from the ravages of war, he said.

“Nevertheless, our staff have returned to their positions albeit apprehensively. They are more determined than ever, given the situation in the country and the specific needs in Razeh, to continue working for the population.”

David Cameron defended Britain’s support for Saudi Arabia in its country’s widely-criticised Yemen campaign on Monday. …

Yet even as he spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, reports were coming in that Saudi-led air raids had struck a group of civilian police buildings in Sana’a.

At least 15 police officers were killed and more than 20 were wounded, according to local medics and residents.

British government-Saudi Arabian government relations

This video from the USA says about itself:

As Saudi Arabia Executes Sheikh al-Nimr, Will U.S. Respond by Cutting $50 Billion in Weapons Sales?

4 January 2016

Democracynow.org – After Saudi Arabia executed Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday along with 46 others, protesters in the Iranian capital of Tehran responded by torching part of the Saudi Embassy. On Sunday, Saudi Arabia responded by severing ties with Iran. With Saudi Arabia and Iran backing opposing groups in Syria and Iraq, and on opposite sides of the conflict in Yemen, we examine how this will impact both regional tensions and the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. Under the Obama administration, the United States has entered a record $50 billion in new arms sales agreements with the Saudis.

“If the Obama administration wants to show its displeasure with this execution and try to bring an end to the war in Yemen, there’s got to be a distancing from Saudi Arabia, beginning with cutting off some of these arms supplies,” says William Hartung, senior adviser to the Security Assistance Monitor and director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. We also speak with Toby Jones, an associate professor of history and director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University and author of “Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia,” and with Ali al-Ahmed, the founder and director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs.

By Felicity Arbuthnot in Britain:

Britain and the Saudis: allies in atrocities

Thursday 14th January 2016

PRIME Minister David Cameron’s government can claim absolute consistency in just one policy: towering, jaw-dropping hypocrisy.

They follow in Tony Blair and his tantrum-prone, nail-biting successor, Gordon Brown’s footsteps as they attempt to market potential war crimes and illegal assaults as democracy-bringing, despot-vanquishing acts of mercy.

Recent events have again highlighted their contempt for human life, human rights and international law.

On Saturday January 3 Saudi Arabia announced it had executed 47 people.

Last September Saudi Arabia was elected chair of the UN human rights council panel that appoints independent experts, due (according to the Guardian) to Britain’s “secret vote-trading deals with Saudis to ensure both states were elected to the [council], according to leaked diplomatic cables.”

This was “after Riyadh sanctioned more than a hundred beheadings so far [in 2015] — more, it is claimed, than Islamic State [ISIS].”

So much for the integrity of the British and UN institutions.

According to legal action charity Reprieve, the: “executions took place in 12 cities in Saudi Arabia, four prisons using firing squads and the others beheading. The bodies were then hanged from gibbets in the most severe form of punishment available in the kingdom’s law.”

Amnesty International is specific: “The death penalty breaches two essential human rights: the right to life and the right to live free from torture. Both rights are protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948.”

Reprieve has now updated executions in Saudi Arabia for 2015 to “at least” 158 people. Among 2015 highlights of the country’s justice system include a 19-year-old woman gang-raped by seven men, subjected to 200 lashes and jailed for six months. Moreover, her lawyer Abdul Rahman al-Lahem was banned and had his professional licence revoked.

The response to this barbarism from Britain, which has enjoined in the destruction of the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria in the last two decades in the name of freeing citizens from “regimes” who “kill their own people,” was expressed by Foreign Office Minister Tobias Elwood as “disappointment.”

Invited on the BBC’s Today programme on January 8 to condemn the primitive inhumanity of the executions, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond declined, faithfully echoing Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by stating that those shot, beheaded and hung from gibbets were “terrorists.”

As Reprieve has pointed out, “of those facing execution in Saudi Arabia in 2015, the vast majority — 72 per cent — were convicted of non-lethal offenses … while torture and forced ‘confessions’ were frequently reported.”

Further: “Far from being ‘terrorists,’ at least four of those killed were arrested after protests calling for reform — and were convicted in shockingly unfair trials. The Saudi government is clearly using the death penalty, alongside torture and secret courts, to punish political dissent.

“By refusing to condemn these executions and parroting the Saudis’ propaganda, labeling those killed as ‘terrorists’, Mr Hammond is coming dangerously close to condoning Saudi Arabia’s approach.”

He was not alone. UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon was merely “dismayed,” on the day of the mass murders, however when the Saudi embassy in Tehran was attacked by protesters enraged at the killing of respected cleric Nimr al-Nimr, Ban “deplored the violence.”

Masonry clearly has far higher value than mortality at UN headquarters.

Four days later when the Saudis were accused of an attempt to bomb the Iranian embassy in Yemen and dropping (US-made) cluster munitions in a populated area, Ban ignored the embassy attack and was merely “troubled” and expressed “concern” about the latter, in spite of saying that “use of cluster munitions in populated areas may amount to a war crime due to their indiscriminate nature.” Britain was blind, deaf and mute.

US President Barack Obama’s spokesman referred to a “list of concerns” regarding Saudi Arabia’s shooting and head-chopping rampage, confirming gently that “mass executions would rate highly in that list of concerns.”

For most in the real world it would “rate highly” in horror, outrage and unequivocal condemnation with immediate imposition of draconian trade and travel sanctions and withdrawal of diplomatic missions as has been meted out to countries for considerably lesser outrages, indeed even imagined ones, think Iraq and “weapons of mass destruction.” The White House was though also very exercised by the “violent” attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

Well it would be. Forget concerns about tyrants who “kill their own people.” Last November alone the US administration approved a $1.29 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. This was despite concerns about the country’s interference in Yemen.

Raed Jarrar, government relations manager for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) points out that it is “illegal under US and international law to transfer weapons to human rights abusers, or to forces that will likely use it to commit gross violations of human rights.”

Moreover, “there is documented evidence that such abuses have been committed by almost all US allies in the region.”

According to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), “David Cameron has overseen £5.6bn of military licences” to Saudi Arabia.

CAAT demands that due to the “mass executions and bombing of Yemen, the UK must stop arming Saudi Arabia,” which it says is by far the largest buyer of British arms licences included fighter jets, tear gas, military vehicles and targeting equipment. Sixty-two per cent of British adults oppose the sales.

CAAT’s Andrew Smith states: “The Saudi regime has a history of locking up bloggers, executing critics and cracking down on dissent. Despite this they can always rely on getting almost uncritical support from countries like Britain that prioritise arms company profits over human rights.”

Smith emphasises that British “bombs and fighter jets have been central to the destruction of Yemen. As long as Saudi Arabia enjoys the political and military support of the most powerful Western nations, then it will continue oppressing its own population and those of neighbouring states.”

The British government may though at least finally be held to account, hopefully setting a precedent.

Lawyers working for CAAT have called for a judicial review challenging the government’s decision to export arms to Saudi Arabia.

A letter sent to the government has asked Business Secretary Sajid Javid to comment within 14 days on whether it will:

– Agree to suspend licences for the export of military equipment and technology to Saudi Arabia for possible use in Yemen pending the outcome of a full review.
– Agree not to grant further licences for the export of military equipment to Saudi Arabia pending the completion of such a review.

Rosa Curling of law firm Leigh Day, representing CAAT, said: “The UK government is under a clear legal obligation to ensure any military equipment and/or technology exported from this country to another, is not being used in breach of international humanitarian law.

“Given the widespread and credible evidence that the Saudi authorities are breaching their international obligations in Yemen, we can see no credible basis upon which the UK government can lawfully continue to export arms to them.

“We hope our client’s letter will cause the government to reconsider its position and suspend all licences with immediate effect, pending a proper investigation into the issue.”

Those executed or threatened with death in Saudi jails were not, of course, waging war against Allah. Some were simply availing themselves of the human right to write, blog and protest in the country of a Western ally — a West which, with the UN, shames all in its selective attitude to humanity and human rights.

UK’s soft diplomacy approach to Saudi Arabia is not enough, say families of juveniles still on death row. Exclusive: Families of three juveniles on Saudi death row say nothing has changed and they still have ‘the sword over their necks’, despite apparent UK intervention: here.

What’s the real story behind Saudi Arabia’s execution of Shia cleric al-Nimr? Here.

Saudi Arabian monarchy arrests blogger Badawi’s sister

This video from Germany says about itself:

Amnesty International Germany supporters and Raif Badawi‘s wife Ensaf Haidar in Berlin gathered at the Saudi embassy and called on Saudi Arabia to free the blogger and other prisoners of conscience – May 22, 2015.

From the Canadian Press:

Sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi also detained in Saudi Arabia

Samar Badawi detained for allegedly posting messages on Twitter account of her brother’s lawyer

Jan 12, 2016 10:06 PM ET

A group that is supporting jailed blogger Raif Badawi says his eldest sister has also been arrested in Saudi Arabia.

The Raif Badawi Foundation says Samar Badawi was detained Tuesday for allegedly posting on the Twitter account of her brother’s lawyer, Waleed Abulkhair.

News of the arrest was also announced on Twitter by Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who lives in Sherbrooke with the couple’s three children.

Foundation spokeswoman Evelyne Abitbol said Samar Badawi is being detained at the same prison as her brother and Abulkhair.

Raif Badawi, who is not a Canadian citizen, was arrested in 2012 for his criticism of Saudi clerics and was convicted in 2014.

He was sentenced to 10 years in jail as well as 1,000 lashes. He received the first 50 last January during a public flogging. His imprisonment has drawn widespread condemnation both internationally and in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month he had no “immediate plans” to call Saudi Arabian authorities to ask that Badawi be freed.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion did raise the matter with his Saudi counterpart, Adel Al Jubeir, when they met in Ottawa on Dec. 17.

They discussed the state of human rights in Saudi Arabia as well as Badawi’s case, and Dion reiterated a request for clemency.

Saudi air force attacks their third Doctors Without Borders hospital in Yemen

This video says about itself:

Four killed in attack on Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Yemen

10 January 2016

Dubai: A “projectile” has struck a clinic supported by international medical group Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in north Yemen killing four people, another in a series of attacks on its facilities in the war-torn country. …

In a statement on its Twitter account, MSF did not identify who was killed in the attack but said three of the wounded were staff members, of whom two were in critical condition.

“This is the third severe incident in the last 3 months. Our teams struggle on a daily basis to ensure the respect of health facilities,” MSF wrote.

An earlier tweet by the group described the projectile as a rocket.

Regional MSF operations chief Raquel Ayora said all warring parties are regularly informed of the GPS coordinates of the medical sites where the group works, and that MSF was in constant dialogue with them.

“There is no way that anyone with the capacity to carry out an air strike or launch a rocket would not have known that the Shiara Hospital was a functioning health facility providing critical services and supported by MSF,” she said.

MSF said Saudi-led air strikes hit another of its health facilities elsewhere in the province in October last year, wrecking the building and lightly wounding two staff members.

Dutch NOS TV reports today on the third Doctors Without Borders hospital in Yemen, attacked by the Saudi Arabian royal air force.

It is the Shiara Hospital in Razeh district, a region controlled by Yemeni Houthi rebels, who have no warplanes. So extremely likely, the bloody attack is by their enemies, the coalition of Saudi Arabia and other absolute monarchies.

If a day goes by without the United States air force bombing a hospital in Afghanistan, then their Saudi royal allies will make up for that [sarcasm off].

From MSF/Doctors Without Borders today:

Yemen: Another MSF supported hospital bombed

10 January 2016

Sana’a – A MSF supported hospital has been hit by a projectile in Northern Yemen causing at least four dead and 10 injured and the collapse of several buildings of the medical facility. Three of the injured are MSF staff, two in critical condition.

According to our staff on the ground, at 09:20 one projectile impacted the Shiara Hospital in Razeh district, where MSF has been working since November 2015. MSF cannot confirm the origin of the attack, but planes were seen flying over the facility at the time. At least one more projectile fell near the hospital. The numbers of casualties could rise as there could still be people trapped in the rubble. All staff and patients have evacuated and patients are being transferred to Al Goumoury hospital in Saada, also supported by MSF.

“All warring parties, including the Saudi led coalition (SLC), are regularly informed of the GPS coordinates of the medical sites where MSF works and we are in constant dialogue with them to ensure that they understand the severity of the humanitarian consequences of the conflict and the need to respect the provision of medical services”, says Raquel Ayora Director of Operations. “There is no way that anyone with the capacity to carry out an airstrike or launch a rocket would not have known that the Shiara Hospital was a functioning health facility providing critical services and supported by MSF”.

“We reiterate to all parties to the conflict that patients and medical facilities must be respected and that bombing hospitals is a violation of international humanitarian law”, says Ayora.

The conflict is particularly acute in Razeh District. The population of the area have been severely affected by constant bombings and the cumulative weight of 10 months of war. Shiara Hospital had already been bombed before MSF started supporting it and services were reduced to stabilisation, emergency, maternity and lifesaving activities.

This is the third severe incident in an MSF health facility in the last three months. On 27 October Haydan hospital was destroyed by an airstrike by the SLC and on 3rd December a health centre in Taiz was also hit by the SLC wounding 9 people. MSF teams struggle on a daily basis to ensure the respect of health facilities by all armed groups.

“We strongly condemn this incident that confirms a worrying pattern of attacks to essential medical services and express our strongest outrage as this will leave a very fragile population without healthcare for weeks”, says Ayora. “Once more it is civilians that bear the brunt of this war”.

MSF asks for an immediate end to attacks on medical structures and requests that all parties unequivocally commit to creating the conditions for the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance. MSF also requests that those responsible for this attack investigate the circumstances of the incident.

See also here.

At least five medical workers were killed and 10 others wounded when an explosive projectile slammed into a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)-affiliated medical facility in the Shiara Hospital in Razeh district on Sunday. The attack on the hospital, which led to the destruction of multiple buildings within the MSF-linked center, came amid an ongoing surge of fighting in Yemen’s northern province of Saada. As of Monday afternoon, rescuers continued to work through the rubble, where more medical staff and patients are believed to be trapped: here.

British police trained Saudi executioners

This video is called Saudi juvenile prison beating caught on mobile cam.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Executioners trained by British police

Saturday 9th January 2016

BRITISH police have trained hundreds of Saudi Arabian officers in the last four years despite the regime’s appalling human rights record, it was revealed yesterday.

A Freedom of Information response from the UK College of Policing has revealed that since 2012 some 270 officers have been brought from Saudi Arabia to Britain for “specialist training.”

The £2.7 million deal also saw 26 British police officers deployed to the repressive Middle Eastern kingdom.

Human rights group Reprieve has established that in the past year, while the training was being provided, the number of people executed by the Saudi authorities rose sharply, from some 88 in 2014 to at least 158 last year.

The organisation has previously raised concerns over the government’s “overseas security and justice assistance” policy, which does not require ministers to reveal the details of help provided to foreign security forces.

Britain: HUMAN rights campaigners lambasted Philip Hammond yesterday after he refused condemn the Saudi Arabian execution of 47 people, including political protesters. The Tory Foreign Secretary dismissed the victims as “convicted terrorists” and argued that diplomatic intervention could only be effective in individual cases: here.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Killers who chair UN Human Rights Council

Saturday 9th January 2016

Well, here we are in 2016 and all I can say is so far, so predictable.

Rather than ushering in a new era of peace and reconciliation, as some naive individuals perennially hope, following a brief holiday ceasefire it’s back to the usual business of murder, mayhem and recrimination with, if anything, even greater urgency seemingly in a bid to make up for lost time.

Yes, once again “hate thy neighbour” is very much the order of the day and the usual suspects are doing most of the hating.

First, we had the mass execution of 47 individuals, including a well-known Shi’ite cleric, by the blood-soaked Saudi regime on, ahem, “terrorist charges.”

Also among those killed were, it has been reported, juveniles and the mentally ill.

This would, of course, be the same regime which currently sits on a UN Human Rights Council panel which appoints expert investigators and within hours of taking up tenure declared that anyone opposed to the ruling dynasty in any way was guilty of terrorism.

So I think we can get some idea of exactly what these charges constituted.

The state-sanctioned mass-murder was condemned by right-thinking people around the world for what it patently was, a wholesale slaughter of any form of opposition within the kingdom and a graphic illustration of what will happen to anyone else who steps out of line.

As the legendary wit Voltaire put it in his satirical masterpiece Candide, “pour encourager les autres.”

And let’s face it you would have to be a seriously brave individual to put your head above the parapet in Riyadh these days knowing the likelihood that it will literally get cut off.

The executions led to tit-for-tat ambassadorial expulsions by Iran and Saudi Arabia and protests across the Middle East.

As previously stated all decent people abhorred the killings, but of course that does not include politicians, who were predictably timorous in their response to the outrage.

The Foreign Office described it as “disappointing.”

Disappointing? No, getting socks for Christmas is “disappointing.” A state murdering its opponents with impunity is rather more serious than that.

In the week which marked the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris much political mileage was made out of condemning extremism yet barely a word was spoken in condemnation of Saudi Arabia, which routinely beheads far more people each year than Isis.

Saudi royal air force bombs Iranian embassy in Yemen

This 7 January 2016 video is called Saudi warplanes attack Iranian embassy in Yemen.

After the Saudi royal air force bombed blind people, factory workers, orphans, refugees, markets, Doctors Without Borders hospitals and beautiful ancient homes in Yemen … now they are apparently emulating their NATO allies, who in 1999 bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in Yugoslavia.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Iran accuses Saudi Arabia of missile strike on its embassy in Yemen capital

Tehran says some embassy guards were injured in the alleged attack by warplanes

Adam Withnall

Iran has accused Saudi Arabia of launching an air strike on its embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.

According to Iranian state-run TV channels a number of embassy guards were injured in the alleged missile attack.

The IRIB news channel quoted an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Hossein Jaber Ansari, as saying: “Saudi Arabia is responsible for the damage to the embassy building and the injury to some of its staff.” …

Earlier, Iran accused Saudi Arabia of using cluster bombs in a series of air strikes on Thursday which, it said, killed five people.

The claims come amid escalating tensions between the two Middle East powers, after the execution of a prominent Shia cleric in Saudi Arabia and the subsequent ransacking of the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

IRAN ACCUSES SAUDI ARABIA OF AIRSTRIKE ON EMBASSY “Iran accused Saudi Arabia on Thursday of an aerial attack on its embassy in Sana, the capital of Yemen, in a potential escalation of a sectarian and geopolitical conflict that has put the region on edge.” [NYT]

See also here.

Our memories tend to be so short-lived that we have forgotten entirely that Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran were once close geopolitical collaborators. It was not so long ago. We need not go back to the creation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932 when Iran gave the new state crucial diplomatic recognition, leading to Saudi Arabia’s widespread acceptance in the community of sovereign states. The more interesting period is that of the 1960’s: here.