One of the United States’ strongest allies is currently inflicting as much carnage as any other nation in the world. Instead of being vilified for their part in a staggering amount of human rights atrocities, the critics go mute and the bloodshed is rewarded. The news regarding Saudi Arabia this week is too abundant to include in any one headline.
According to UNICEF, the ongoing attacks by a U.S.-backed, Saudi Arabian-led coalition in Yemen have resulted in the deaths of at least 505 children since March 26, 2015. Another 710 have been left injured, and 1.7 million are at risk of malnutrition. As Daniel Johnson with the U.N. pointed out, the grievous numbers are equivalent to eight children killed or maimed in Yemen every day for six months.
On Monday, a missile from a Saudi-led airstrike struck a Yemeni wedding reception in the village of Al-Wahijah, located near the Red Sea. The explosion resulted in 131 deaths, and the incident is being labeled as one of the deadliest attacks on civilians during the six-month conflict.
In total, there have been 7,217 civilian casualties, including 2,355 killed and 4,862 wounded in the six months since the fighting began, according to the United Nations.
Despite these statistics, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia — while addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday evening — had the audacity to scold the international community’s inability to end the bloodshed in Syria. Abdel Ahmed Al-Jubeir hypocritically stated that the world has been “unable to save the Syrian people from the killing machine that is being operated by Bashar al-Assad.”
It gets worse.
Last month, it was announced that Saudi Arabia would head the U.N. Human Rights Council (yes, you read that correctly) — a decision that mirrors unfathomable satire. According to cables released by Wikileaks, Saudi Arabia — along with their despicable human rights record — originally made their way on to the council under very questionable circumstances in 2013. The cables allege that a vote-trading deal was made in secret between Britain and Saudi Arabia to ensure both countries were elected to the council.
Days prior to the announcement that Saudi Arabia would head the UNHRC, the Saudi regime released their decision to deny the final appeal of 20-year-old Ali Mohammed al-Nimr. Aged 17 at the time of his arrest, the pro-democracy activist will be executed for taking part in an anti-government protest in 2012. Despite pleas from human rights organizations around the globe, it has been ruled that the young man will be put to death by way of crucifixion any day now.
Even the U.N. has called for the Saudis to halt the execution. Yes, the same U.N. whose Human Rights Council they now head.
So far in 2015, Saudi Arabia has executed at least 134 people, according to Amnesty International — most of those by beheading.
“It is scandalous that the UN chose a country that has beheaded more people this year than ISIS to be head of a key human rights panel,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. “Petro-dollars and politics have trumped human rights.”
A number of U.S. politicians have recently been asked to weigh-in on Saudi Arabia and their obvious penchant for barbarity by journalist Lee Fang, from The Intercept.
“They may be bombing civilians, which is actually not true,” Senator John McCain said when asked about civilian casualties in Yemen.
“Civilians aren’t dying?” Fang asked.
“No, they’re not,” the senator replied. “Oh, I’m sure civilians die in war. Not nearly as many as the Houthis have executed.”
Fang also approached Sen. Chris Coons, (D-Del) and asked him to comment on the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen.
“As the co-founder of the Human Rights Caucus in the Senate, I do think we need to pay attention to human rights all over the world, regardless of where human rights violations arise,” Coons said.
When the Fang pressed the senator to elaborate on Saudi Arabia specifically, Coons immediately ended the conversation.
“Coons ignored me and continued walking into the building, even though a staff member accompanying him had just informed the senator that he had “plenty of time” before his speech. The staff member offered to exchange contact information for a lengthier comment later. I emailed and did not hear back,” according to Fang.
In case you are left pondering why you hear corporate news outlets harp on about the incivilities of numerous Middle Eastern nations ad nauseum (while the brutalities carried out by Saudi Arabia are never uttered), it is worth mentioning — coincidental or not — that the 2nd largest stockholder in Fox News (21st Century Fox) is a man by the name of Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal. The prince, who just so happens to be a member of the Saudi royal family, is also a prominent stockholder in Citigroup and Twitter.