For years, Yemeni families and organizations have been trying to undermine the direct and indirect sponsors of the war that has been ravaging their country since March 2015. Nine years ago, they sued then-President Obama and CIA chief Petraeus in a U.S. court for having two Yemeni civilians killed in one of the countless drone strikes that were supposed to target Al-Qaeda.
In 2018, they tried to bring Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the shadow author of the nearly decade-long operation against the Shiite Houthi movement, before a court. Then they tried to sue the United Arab Emirates, the second force in the Sunni coalition that intervened in Yemen eight years ago.
Now it’s the turn of the largest U.S. military companies, giants that are filling up every corner of the world with weapons: Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics stand accused, by the Yemeni families who have filed the legal complaint, of “aiding and abetting war crimes and extrajudicial killings” through the supply of war equipment to the Saudi-led coalition.
The complaint was filed in a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., naming the two leaders of the war, the Saudi Mohammed bin Salman and UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed, but also U.S. Secretary of State Blinken and Pentagon chief Austin, who have been responsible for approving arms purchase contracts for the three companies.
Two of the cases cited (a massacre at a wedding in 2015 and one at a funeral the following year, with 43 and 100 dead respectively) fall under the purview of the 1991 U.S. Torture Victim Protection Act, which allows victims of crimes to receive compensation if the perpetrators are in the United States.
“Year after year,” the complaint reads, “the bombs fell — on wedding tents, funeral halls, fishing boats and a school bus — killing thousands of civilians and helping turn Yemen into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”
The latest figures on the toll of the war were given a few days ago by the UN: 375,000 dead (60 percent from indirect causes, i.e. hunger and disease), 21 million people in need of food aid, 17 million below the poverty line, 4.5 million internally displaced.
After this tragic bottom line, the UN denounced the scarce international generosity: from the $4.3 billion in aid that were needed to dampen the effects of the crisis in 2023, only $1.2 billion came in. In 2022, it was only $2.3 billion.
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