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Related Categories: U.S. | Anti-War
Biggest humanitarian crisis in the world-US government complicit
by Rafael Lutz
Saturday Nov 28th, 2020 3:05 PM
Trump concluded an arms deal worth almost $110 billion with the ultra-conservative kingdom. In total, the deal included arms purchases worth about $350 billion over a ten-year period. Saudi King Salman Abdulaziz then presented the U.S. President with the Kingdom's highest medal as "recognition of his efforts to further deepen the relationship between the two countries.”
Biggest humanitarian crisis in the world - US government complicit
US President Donald Trump has concluded major arms deals with Saudi Arabia
by Rafael Lutz

[This article published on Nov 24, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.infosperber.ch/Artikel/Politik/Grosste-humanitare-Krise-der-Welt--US-Regierung-mitschuldig.]

Saudi Arabia has been at war with Yemen since 2015. This is possible mainly thanks to the US weapons industry.

In Yemen, a bloody proxy war between Saudi Arabia and the Huthi rebels is still going on. Its consequences are catastrophic. According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), more than 112,000 people have fallen victim to the war since 2015, including over 12,600 civilians killed in attacks. "In 2019 more than 25,000 deaths were reported, making it the second deadliest year of the war," writes the ACLED.

The United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF reports: "Yemen is the world's biggest humanitarian crisis. More than 24 million people - about 80 percent of the population - need humanitarian aid, including more than 12 million children". The country has become a "living hell" for children since the war began in 2015. According to the UN Refugee Commission, 3.6 million people have been displaced by the war.

In addition to the already devastating war, diseases have been added. Already in June 2020, UN Secretary General António Guterres spoke of 110,000 people suffering from cholera, to which other diseases such as malaria and dengue fever would be added. Due to lack of donations, the most important UN aid programs are threatened with closure. With the spread of the coronavirus, the situation has worsened further. According to the development organization Handicap International, 7 million people in Yemen are now threatened by hunger. The United Nations World Food Program warns that Yemen and other countries could experience "famines of biblical proportions" next year.

USA is the largest arms exporter
The Western governments, above all the US administration, have also contributed significantly to the humanitarian disaster. For the Saudi coalition, which includes the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Senegal and Sudan, is largely supported by weapons from the West. This is illustrated by data from the Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

"Despite widespread concern in the US and UK about Saudi Arabia's military intervention in Yemen, both the US and the UK continued to export arms to Saudi Arabia between 2015 and 19," writes SIPRI. In total, 73 percent of Saudi Arabia's arms imports came from the US and 13 percent from the UK. The aid organization Oxfam estimates that since 2015 the G-20 countries have exported weapons worth more than 17 billion US dollars to Saudi Arabia. According to its own calculations, this is three times as much as the G-20 provides for humanitarian aid in Yemen, Oxfam writes.

Trump's proximity to the monarchy
The U.S. government's support for Saudi Arabia already began under the Obama administration, but intensified under President Donald Trump. The still incumbent US president did everything possible to accommodate the Sunni monarchy. A few months after the beginning of his term in office, Trump concluded an arms deal worth almost $110 billion with the ultra-conservative kingdom. In total, the deal included arms purchases worth about $350 billion over a ten-year period. Saudi King Salman Abdulaziz then presented the U.S. President with the Kingdom's highest medal as "recognition of his efforts to further deepen the relationship between the two countries.”

Three of Trump's eight vetoes, which the U.S. president has used in his previous term of office against bills in Congress, concerned Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen. Trump twice blocked bans on the sale of arms to the desert state, and once he used his veto to thwart a resolution that wanted to order the withdrawal of US forces from Yemen. The latter provide the Saudi Arabian armed forces with logistical support in identifying air targets and coordinating military and intelligence activities.

Powerful weapons lobby, weak laws
In the USA, arms sales are regulated by the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) and the Arms Export Control Act (AECA). For the arms lobby, however, neither of these laws is a real obstacle. The reason for this is that arms transfers are legal as long as Congress does not ban them. And even then, as has often happened, the president can veto restrictions.

Also, section 36 of the AECA allows the president to bypass Congress. For example, when there is an "emergency" that requires an arms sale "in the interest of the national security of the United States. This was enforced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in May 2019, resulting in twenty-two separate arms transfers of $8.1 billion to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. Despite resistance in Congress, the arms deals could not be stopped.

Arms exports are legal
Fernando C. Saldivar, who works for the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa (JENA), points out that the USA will not face any legal consequences internationally. "For countries like Saudi Arabia, one of the advantages of cooperation with the US arms industry is precisely that America is not legally obliged to consider the humanitarian consequences of transferring arms to a foreign state.”

To date, the US government has not ratified The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). It requires states to refrain from exporting arms if there is evidence that they are being used to commit war crimes. As a non-member of the ATT, the US arms industry can sell weapons abroad with impunity. President Obama submitted the ATT to the Senate for ratification before leaving office in 2016, but President Trump withdrew it from consideration in April 2019. All member states of the European Union have signed the treaty. Even China, which had held back, signed the treaty last July.

Switzerland exports military equipment to Saudi Arabia

After the beginning of the war, Switzerland stopped arms exports to Saudi Arabia in 2015, where there was an increased risk that these could be used in Yemen. However, the Federal Council continued to allow exports of spare parts and ammunition for air defense systems that were of a "defensive nature". The Swiss armaments industry, however, always did business. Between 2015 and 2020 it sold war material to the tune of 28.7 million Swiss francs to the Islamist desert state.

At the end of October 2018, the Federal Council temporarily banned further exports. This came after a special command from Riyadh murdered the Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came under international pressure. In the summer of 2019, however, the Federal Council relaxed the export regulations again. From January to the end of September 2020, Switzerland again supplied Riyadh with armaments worth around CHF 3.8 million.

Among the companies that have exported weapons to Saudi Arabia in the past are the Pilatus Aircraft Works and Rheinmetall Air Defense. The WOZ revealed this in an armaments report. The former company supplied training aircraft; the latter manufactures the Fieldguard fire control system for the Astros ll rocket launcher.

An opinion
The Swiss National Bank, banks, insurance companies and pension funds invested billions in the U.S. arms industry, despite the war in Yemen, the never-ending war against terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., the drone killings, the regime change operations of the U.S. Especially since 9/11 2001 the US armaments industry has been booming. With the blessing of the Federal Council, these investments in the U.S. arms industry have been made, as have Swiss arms exports to all the NATO states that are repeatedly at war and to the feudal regimes in the Middle East. Swiss institutions even invested in companies that produce atomic bombs, cluster bombs and anti-personnel mines. My union of transport workers does not allow criticism of such investments in its newspaper. My SBB AG pension fund invests in the armaments industry, with the blessing of Bern and the union. After all, after the Ukraine conflict, arms exports to Russia were stopped.
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