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British Defence Secretary: Saudi Arabia in Yemen for ‘self-defence’

A man who lost his relatives in a Saudi-led air strike cries at the site of the air strike in Yemen's capital Sanaa September 21, 2015. More than 4,500 Yemeni have been killed since the Saudi-led alliance began military operations in March, in what they said was an attempt to stop the Iranian-allied Houthi group from expanding in Yemen and to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who had been pushed into exile in Saudi Arabia. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah - RTS252A

Britain’s Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has made an extraordinary claim that Saudi Arabia’s military actions in Yemen which are widely regarded to be war crimes, are acts of self defence.

The claim came as Fallon was questioned about the role of Britain in supplying heavy arms to the Saudi regime.

The war in Yemen is a civil conflict best understood as a four way conflict between Houthi fighters who generally support the rule of Saleh Ali al-Sammad and the ousted government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Adding to this mix is a resurgent Southern Movement, which seeks to reconstitute a sovereign state of South Yemen. On top of this are the presence of fighters from al-Qaeda and ISIS, both of which receive covert support from Saudi Arabia.

READ MORE: The Southern Movement and the ambiguities of the civil war in Yemen

Saudi Arabia could have and should have stayed out of the fray, but instead, the Saudi’s have been involved in fighting the Houthi forces who are now in control of Yemen’s capital Sana’a.

Saudi forces operating in Yemen have killed civilians in a war which may turn into a total humanitarian disaster. Yemen’s’ ports are currently blocked, a phenomenon which could lead to a man-made famine.

It seems that Michael Fallon is living in a parallel universe wherein the Saudis are the victims and Yemen is the aggressor.

He told state-owned British broadcaster BBC,

“Saudi Arabia is being attacked by Houthi rebels across its southern border with Yemen. It’s had its towns and villages shelled by the Houthi”.

He continued,

“Saudi Arabia is fully entitled to defend itself and it’s fully entitled to call on its friends in so doing”.

He then went on to praise Saudi Arabia, a country with one of the worst human rights records in modern history as,

“…an enormously important trading partner, a commercial partner, but also a defence partner”.

He reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s right to defend itself, even though Saudi Arabia is the clear aggressor in Yemen.

Fallon is clearly either too stupid to hold a high office of state or he is too wicked to do so. Either way, his remarks are not remotely related to the realities on the ground in Yemen.

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