Last Friday, Amnesty International confirmed that a bomb used in an Aug. 25 airstrike in Yemen was made in the United States. The airstrike, conducted by the Saudi-led coalition, killed 16 civilians, seven of which were children.
Since the attack, an image of five-year-old Buthaina, the sole survivor of her family, attempting to pry open one of her bruised eyes in order to see has become a symbol of solidarity with Yemen plight. Many Yemenis and Arabs viewed Buthaina’s iconic image as a symbol of Yemeni children looking the international community in the eye to demand peace and justice.
With Amnesty International’s revelation about the source of the bomb, more people in Yemen and the region may come to see the U.S. role in the region through Buthaina’s eyes.
Thousands of Yemeni civilians have been killed in Yemen since 2015 by the Saudi-led coalition, and the United States continues to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and other countries bombing Yemen. The Trump administration has demonstrated a willingness to sell nearly $110 billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia in the upcoming years. By selling arms to Saudi Arabia, knowing that they may very well be used to kill civilians in Yemen, the U.S. government may be complicit in violating international law, including perpetrating war crimes.
Adding insult to injury, the Trump administration just made the Muslim ban against six majority-Muslim countries – including Yemen – indefinite. So, what the U.S. government is telling the people of Yemen is this: we will fuel the fire that had been destroying your country, and lock the door on our way out. Yemenis are caught between U.S. government’s bombs and Muslim ban.
There is damning evidence that war crimes have been committed by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. The Saudi-led coalition continues to carry out airstrikes that have devastated civilians and ruined homes, hospitals and infrastructure.
Amnesty International is calling on the U.S. government to immediately halt all arms transfers to all parties of conflict in Yemen, and to lift the Muslim ban. Congress can play an important role with both these issues in the upcoming months.
Raed Jarrar is MENA Advocacy Director for Amnesty International USA.