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Wednesday, May 25, 2022
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Yemen, double standards with weapons

Comparisons are hateful. But all the more they are such that they lead us to such disparate conclusions in cases with a certain similarity. Russia and Saudi Arabia are without a doubt two powers, each for different reasons, that base much of their power on their military structure and on the performance of their armies in military interventions outside their borders. Both regimes perform equally poorly in The Economist’s Democracy Index, where they clearly fail, indicating the apparent authoritarian nature of their governments. By all appearances, both Russia and Saudi Arabia should be pariahs when it comes to military-political support from European democracies, since, on paper, their demanding legislation regarding arms exports does not allow them to be produced in countries that are in a state of armed conflict. conflict, where human rights are violated and, of course, where international humanitarian law (IHL) is violated. The result could not have been more disjointed. The EU has maintained an arms embargo on Russia since its occupation of Crimea in 2014, and since the start of the war in Yemen, it has exported more than $10 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, according to partial figures provided by the EU itself.

At the very least, it is hopeless that such data and information will have a rebound effect not only on our rulers, but also on the population as a whole. As for the atrocities committed by the Russian army in Ukraine, we know exactly what the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is documenting in its April 13 report. In it, he gives a good account of violations of international humanitarian law, war crimes and crimes against humanity on both sides, although he makes it clear that the violations of IHL committed by the Russian army are more significant in nature and scale. It features the well-known terrorist attacks on March 9 and 16, which Russia carried out in the city of Mariupol. The first was against a maternity hospital with 390 beds, resulting in several deaths and injuries. The second is one of the most infamous bombings of the Ukrainian war, carried out against the Donetsk Regional Academic Theater of Dramatic Arts in Mariupol, which, according to the OSCE itself, killed 300 out of 1,200 people who had taken refuge in the Theater at the time of the attack. According to the report, both attacks constituted clear violations of IHL, and the perpetrators committed war crimes as a result. What happened in Mariupol is probably a small example of what is happening in the rest of Ukrainian territory, which is suffering from attacks by the Russian army.

As for Saudi Arabia, since 2015 there are already many reports proving the atrocities of the Saudi army in the war in Yemen. The UN Panel of Eminent Experts on Yemen, the Panel of Experts on Yemen, as well as several humanitarian NGOs document in their reports violations of international humanitarian law of all kinds, for which all parties involved in the armed conflict in Yemen are responsible. Some of the reported cases involve Saudi aircraft that deliberately attacked several MSF hospitals. And schools, as shown by Mwatana for Human Rights, which says that between 2015 and 2019, there were 153 school bombings. It is noted that as a result of attacks by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, at least 3,827 civilians may die. According to the United Nations and several independent NGOs, these attacks are against the law and may be considered war crimes.

The reaction of most of the international community to the Russian invasion of Ukraine was harsh. The renunciation of violence by the Russian army is understandable and strong, since it has occupied Crimea by military means. Economic sanctions against his government have reached a level that will halt the economic activities of Putin and his oligarchs, a boycott of the Russian economy will lead to high inflation, a significant reduction in GDP and rising unemployment, which is generally the likelihood of the Putin regime in trouble. However, the reaction of the international community towards Saudi Arabia (and its allies in the international coalition participating in the war in Yemen) cannot be called even lukewarm, but rather, especially in the case of Spain, it can be said that he enthusiastically supported the Saudi regime. The Spanish government promotes and advances far-reaching economic agreements, such as the famous high-speed train between Medina and Mecca, the beginning of a relationship that is strengthened and extends to the military sphere. This was realized in April 2018 when Prince Mohammed bin Salman made an official visit to Spain to improve relations between the two “friendly” countries and develop areas of cooperation, with the creation of a joint company between Navantia and Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI). ) for the construction of five corvettes for the Saudi Navy in the amount of € 1,800 million, of which the first was recently delivered.

The different attitude towards Spain (and the countries around us) with two similar political regimes accused of human rights violations and whose armies are suspected of committing war crimes can only be explained not least by the sad logic of double standards. Political double standards, in which million-dollar contracts for some national companies help turn a blind eye to the apparent authoritarianism of the Saudi Arabian government. And cultural double standards, a product of latent racism, through which the victims of the war in Ukraine with blond hair and blue eyes, white skin and the Christian religion awaken a non-existent solidarity with the Yemeni people, most likely killed along with the impunity of weapons production in Europe, as well as in Spain .

No matter what, this reality is not set in stone, and things can change if we, as a civil society, persevere in seeking respect for human rights, peace and, above all, respect for and protection of the most vulnerable people in wars, the civilian population. The first step is to identify those responsible for all this and bring them to justice in court for their alleged complicity in war crimes. This is what the report presented today by the non-governmental organization Delàs Center for Peace Studies, Amnesty International and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights intends to do, condemning the export of Spanish weapons that were allegedly used to commit international crimes during the war in Yemen and where the criminal the responsibility of those who made the decision to sell weapons to the army, the Saudi army, essentially no different from the Russian one.


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