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Rep. Ted Lieu Leads Charge Against U.S. Arms Sales to Saudis

Aug. 30, 2016 (EIRNS)—The Intercept has published an interview with Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who is a leader of the fight to block the $1.15 billion latest arms sales to the Saudis, and who has been pressing for months for the Obama Administration to abandon its blatant military backing for the Saudi crimes in Yemen. Lieu is a retired Air Force colonel who still serves in the Air Force Reserve.

“I taught the law of war when I was on active duty,” he told The Intercept.

“You can’t kill children, newlyweds, doctors and patients—those are exempt targets under the law of war, and the coalition has been repeatedly striking civilians.”

After the Saudis resumed bombing of civilian targets in Yemen in August, after peace talks broke down, Lieu charged that the Obama Administration was “aiding and abetting what appears to be war crimes in Yemen.” Less than 24 hours after Lieu issued that statement, the Saudi coalition bombed the Doctors Without Borders hospital in northern Yemen. It was the fourth Doctors Without Borders hospital that the Saudi coalition had bombed in Yemen in the past 12 months. Since September of last year, Lieu has written to JCS Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, calling for a full investigation into the “indiscriminate nature” of the coalition operations in Yemen. A Pentagon spokesman wrote back, claiming that the Saudis were "trying harder to comply with the Laws of Armed Conflict."

Lieu warned in his Intercept interview that continuing to back the Saudi war crimes in Yemen is going to backfire against US security:

“By aiding a coalition that is killing civilians, the U.S. is going to create another generation of people who hate the U.S. and who are going to want to do very bad things to us... It’s actually creating more terrorists by killing all these civilians.”

In response to efforts by Congress and human rights groups to expose the crimes of the Saudis in Yemen, the Saudis are doubling down on their lobbying efforts in Washington, particularly since the July 15 release of the 28 pages from the Joint Inquiry into 9/11. Al Monitor reported yesterday that in the past year, the Saudis have hired five new public relations firms to defend them in the US, doubling their lobbying price tag to $9.5 million a year. In May, the Saudis hired DLA Piper, a major Washington lobbying firm, to save the Saudi reputation. The same month, the Saudis also hired former Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour as another lobbyist. Their longstanding chief lobbying firm, Qorvis (now renamed MSLGROUP), has been working for the Saudis for 14 years, hired in the aftermath of 9/11. Qorvis is also the public-relations firm for the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), the Saudi-backed Syrian rebel coalition, largely made up of hardcore Salafist groups.

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