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UN Report on Yemen: US, UK Accomplices to Atrocities, While Inaction Continues

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GREG WILPERT: I wanted to return to the UN report in a moment, but first, I actually want to address what you just said about the peace talks and the possibility of a settlement. They've been going on for a while and there has been a ceasefire agreement for the port city of Hodeidah to allow in humanitarian aid. What's the status of these talks and do you think that they have any prospects of really resulting in an agreement, given this increasingly complicated moment that we've been talking about?

AS'AD ABUKHALIL: I think that Americans have realized that no matter how many war crimes the Saudis and the UAE are allowed to commit in Yemen, it is not going anywhere and they have not been able to decrease the zone of dominance of the Houthis. It's for that reason the Americans have given up and I think they may be pushing the two sides in order to reach an agreement with the Houthis, and there has been even a Wall Street Journal article about possible talks between the Houthis and the Americans. There is some movement and I think the recent flare-up could be related to the news of a possible settlement and the UAE want to be the dominant factor replacing Saudi Arabia.

This is rather new because UAE and other Gulf countries have ceded the Yemeni zone for the Saudis to do there what they wish, but it seems that UAE is exploiting a moment of weakness for MBS, because he has his own troubles inside the country. He has his reputation, image abroad in the West and so on. He is trying to rise as the new regional hegemon. This is why the Saudis have not been taking kindly to what's happening. For the first time, I would say, in many years, you can read in the Saudi press grumblings and complaints about what the UAE is doing.

GREG WILPERT: Let's turn to the UN HCR report. The report says that war crimes are probably being committed in Yemen and that Western powers- particularly the US, UK, France, and also actually Iran- bare shared responsibility for these crimes. Tens of thousands have been killed since the war began in 2014, with millions facing famine and cholera, as we saw in that brief video clip. The report addresses the governments that are supporting the Saudi war efforts stating, "Considering the prevailing risk that arms provided to parties to the conflict in Yemen may be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, states should prohibit the authorization of transfers and refrain from providing arms that could be used in the conflict to such parties."

As Sanders's tweet stated, Congress has already tried to halt US support for the war, but the Trump administration vetoed the legislation. Just how great do you think is the US, UK, French and Iranian responsibility for what is happening, and why are they continuing to support the Saudi war effort?

AS'AD ABUKHALIL: I think that, two comments on that. First, as usual with all Western human rights organizations, and as usual with the United Nations reports when it comes to war crimes and human rights violation by countries that are loyal to the US, notice the qualified language. If this is Iran or Syria, you would find countries that are not aligned with the US. You would find the categorical language about certain war crimes have occurred in this region and that conflict and so on. We find here a very mild language that is not certified. The second point about that is, as usual in, again, Western human rights organizations as well as UN reports about human rights violations by countries that are allied with the US and Israel, we find that the propensity is always to blame both sides. The victims have to be blamed.

The victims here are the people of Yemen. First of all, if you go to WikiLeaks, the Houthis is an own Indigenous movement in South Yemen. They have their own agenda. They did not have any regional ambitions or even associations. In WikiLeaks, it said that all of the news in Gulf countries regarding this association with Iran are highly exaggerated. It is fair to say that it is the war of aggression by Saudi Arabia and UAE and the US on Yemen, that it has pushed the Houthis into the lap of Iran. They felt they had no choice.

In that context, if you want to argue who has been responsible, first for the ignition of this war, and two, for the prolongation of this war, there is no question why there are two sides fighting and why there have been human rights violations by the Houthis. The responsibility, the bulk of responsibility, should be laid on the blame of those who started the war and who have prolonged the war, and that is Saudi Arabia, UAE and the sponsors in the West, along with Israel on their side.

GREG WILPERT: We're going to leave it there for now. I was speaking to As'ad AbuKhalil, Professor of Political science at Cal State Stanislaus. Thanks again, As'ad, for having joined us today.

AS'AD ABUKHALIL: Thank you very much. Have a good day.

GREG WILPERT: Thank you for joining The Real News Network.

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