Sanaa — On Saturday an air strike hit mourners that were gathered at a community hall in Sanaa, Yemen, killing more than 140 people, according to the United Nations.
As soon as the news broke, the White House released a statement in which they made clear they are going to “immediate review” the United States support of the of the military push that began in March 2015. The U.S. government also claimed their support is not “a black check.”
Tensions between the Saudi-U.S. partnership will increase
This statement will raise tensions between the Saudi-U.S. cooperation that have been strained lately by different opinions over the other wars ranging in other parts of the world. The press release indirectly paints Tehran in a good light. Tehran has allied with the Houthi militia and has claimed Saudi Arabia is a “corrupt and domineering influence” on Yemen.
When the incident was first made public, Riyadh denied any involvement in the airstrike. However, after new information surfaced the Saudi-led coalition claimed it was going to investigate alongside U.S. experts the “regrettable and painful” incident.
It is believed that ten thousand people have died in the Yemeni war. The United Nations specifically established that coalition strikes account for sixty percent of almost four thousand civilian deaths since the intervention started in March 2015.
“There will be pressure on the campaign, there will now be pressure to end the whole operation, or to restrict the operation,” claimed Mustafa Alani, a security analyst close to Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry. He also stated the coalition followed “very careful rules and understood human rights concerns,” but it was not enough.
Military targets vs. civilians deaths
A large number of civilians casualties have pushed human rights activists, lawmakers in the U.S. and Great Britain to protest for curbs on the number of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. At the same time, the coalition denies it targets civilians in a deliberated ways, and that it uses calibrated explosives to “limit the risk” of causing damage in parts that are not targeted.
It has also stated that they go to “great lengths” to avoid airstrikes from raiding areas that are not targets. The alliance also claims the Houthis militants place military targets in civilian areas with the aim of using them as human shields, something the militia has denied.
For the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the raid was “utterly unacceptable.” He urged that the responsible were brought to justice after an impartial and prompt investigation. The incident was also described as “obscene and heinous” by U.N. emergency relief coordinator Stephen O’Brien.
The war has turned monstrous
The internationally recognized Yemeni government, the one being defended by the coalition, also expressed “shock” regarding the attack.
The funeral was made in honor of the father of Jalal al-Roweishan, the interior minister of northern Yemen’s Houthi-run administration, who passed away on Friday. The Roweishan family is well respected in Yemen, especially because the good relations it has with many tribes and groups across the country.
“It’s shocking to see that a target like this was hit. It’s the latest in a series of attacks by all sides on civilian targets like homes and public gatherings that are turning this into a dirty war. If anything positive can come from this, it would be increasing the will for a ceasefire that is needed. But incidents like these before have just fueled a desire for revenge,” said a senior official in the Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Peace negotiations are going underway
There have been new peace talks since the last negotiations —which lasted three months— were shut down in August. The administration of President Hadi backed up by the Saudi-U.S. coalition is adamant the Houthis must be compliant with the U.N. Security Council resolution 2216, which urges the militia to withdraw from all cities seized during the past couple of years.
Saudi Arabia has accused Iran of supporting the Houthi militia, with the aim of creating a new “Lebanese army” that will be used against the former. Since June, the U.S. military has stopped its active involvement with the coalition’s targeting decisions by withdrawing personnel from Saudi Arabia and reducing the number of staff that helped with the planning.