Executive Intelligence Review


Mattis Defensive about U.S. Support to Saudi-Led Coalition Crimes against Yemen

Aug. 28, 2018 (EIRNS)—Secretary of Defense James Mattis, during a joint press conference with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford today, very defensively backed the continuation of U.S. military support of the Saudi-led coalition that is bombing Yemen, while clearly defensive about the overtly genocidal bombing of civilians by the Saudis and allies. During his opening statement, he said that the U.S. supports Saudi Arabia’s “right to self-defense” and that the administration recognizes that the end of the conflict requires a political solution through the efforts of UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths. “We are also working closely with the coalition that is fighting to support the UN recognized government in order to determine what went wrong with errant bombing attacks and prevent their recurrence,” he said.

Perhaps one reason for Mattis’s defensiveness was the release, just a few hours earlier, of the UN Human Rights Council’s Group of Independent Eminent International and Regional Experts who were appointed to examine allegations of war crimes in the conduct of the war in Yemen. While the report takes a sort of “pox on both your houses” approach—blaming the Houthis for war crimes as well—it states at the outset that “Coalition air strikes have caused most of the documented civilian casualties.” These air strikes “have hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities.” The report raises serious concerns about the targetting process used by the coalition, including, among other things, by observing that the use of precision-guided munitions indicates that the object hit was, indeed, the intended target. “If there are errors in the targetting process that effectively remove the protections provided by international humanitarian law, these would amount to violations,” the report states. “These may, depending on the circumstances, amount to war crimes by individuals at all levels in the member states of the coalition and the government, including civilian officials.”