This is US hypocrisy on full display. Is there a difference between what is happening in Yemen and Syria?
Because John Kirby has trouble answering the question posed by AP’s Matt Lee, I will point out a few key differences between the two conflicts.
- Russia, Iran and Syria are working to take back the east part of Aleppo, and liberate it from an Al Qaeda – ISIS occupation. Saudi Arabia is bombing Yemen in an effort to keep the country under Wahhabi rule.
- Russia is bombing jihadi terrorists funded by Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia are US and UK funded state terrorists bombing civilians.
- Russia has a very professional and capable military that understand the rules of engagement and how to use sophisticated weaponry towards an end goal. Saudi Arabia has a poorly trained military, who have been given expensive and sophisticated US and UK weaponry, without any idea how to properly use their new “toys”.
On Saturday, an air strike in the Yemeni capital killed 140 people at a funeral hall, in one of the worst single incidents of violence in the 18-month-old civil war between the exiled Yemeni government and Houthi rebels who are in control of the capital. Saudi Arabia has opened an investigation into the incident but denied culpability.
During a media briefing in Washington DC on Tuesday, State Department spokesperson John Kirby was asked repeatedly about whether Saudi coalition bombing of Houthi rebels in Sanaa – facilitated by US arms sales to the Gulf state – deliberately targets civilian infrastructure.
“Over the weekend there was this air strike on a funeral by the Saudi-led coalition,” Matt Lee of the Associated Press asked. “I was just wondering: does the administration see any difference between this kind of thing, and what you accuse the Russians, Syrians and the Iranians of doing in Syria, and particularly Aleppo?”
Mr Kirby struggled to answer the question, pointing out that the Kingdom has launched an investigation into how the funeral hall was hit, whereas nothing of the sort has been carried out by the Syrian or Russian governments, which he accused of deliberately causing harm to civilians.
Russia did call for an investigation into the bombing of an aid convoy near Aleppo on September 19th, which contributed to the suspension of talks on Syria between Washington and Moscow.
“What we’re seeing in Aleppo is nothing but a concerted effort in recent days to… subdue that city by force,” he said.
Rebel-held east Aleppo has been targeted by unprecedented air strikes since the collapse of a US and Russian brokered ceasefire last month. At least 330 people have died in the renewed assault, the World Health Organisation says, and activists on the ground put the figure much higher.
Both the Syrian and Russian governments maintain that strikes are targeted at terrorists who use civilians as human shields.
Mr Lee, the AP’s diplomatic correspondent, continued to hold Mr Kirby’s feet to the fire on the Yemeni issue, pressing him for an answer on how “an increasing number of Yemeni civilians are at risk and being killed by weapons that the United States has furnished to the Saudis and their coalition partners.”
“You don’t find any kind of issue with this? Because a lot of people do, including on [Capitol] Hill,” he added.
Mr Kirby said that the situation was very different in Syria and Yemen, pointing out that Iranian-supplied Houthi rockets have killed Saudi citizens in recent months.
“The Saudi-led coalition were invited in by the Yemeni government – now I know what you’re going to say, the Russians were invited by [Syrian President] Assad… but [the Saudis] are under real threat on their side of the border in that war,” he said.