Will the Arab League Suspend Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Coalition War in Yemen

On August 9, 2018, US-backed Saudi-led coalition carried out yet another airstrike, that hit a school bus. 54 Yemenis were killed, 44 of whom were children. Trying to justify their latest act of monstrosity, Saudis borrowed from the Hasbara and argued that the terrorists had used children as a human shield.

As reports coming in from Yemen decimated the Saudi narrative, the Saudi government announced that it would conduct an investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice. The prospects for a legitimate and a transparent investigation remain bleak. Saudi apologists in the American media who had exhausted themselves trying to justify the US-backed coalition and paint Muhammad Bin Salman as a reformist expressed hope that the incident of August 9th would be a turning point for the war in Yemen.

Merely a couple of weeks later, the coalition has carried out another airstrike killing a further 26 children and four women in the province of Hudaydah. Clearly not the turning point that the intellectuals had hope for. If every instance when civilians are killed in an airstrike counts as a potential turning point, then there have been so many turning points that we have made a full circle. We are back at the point where we expect Saudis to show some humanity even though they have proven themselves utterly devoid of it.

If anything positive has come out of this war of aggression on the poorest nation on earth, it’s that it has exposed the Arab League as the toothless body it is. In 2011, the western media consistently called upon the Arab League to take action against Syria for the ‘killings of innocent civilians.’ Bowing to the calls from the West, Arab League not only suspended Syria but also expressed its’ desire for Assad’s removal from the office.

One of the main charges they levied against Assad was that he denied his people the right to protest. The irony that the charge came from the most repressive regimes on earth went largely unnoticed by the media intellectuals.

Where are they now? Why is no one calling on the Arab League to take similar actions over killings of innocent Yemeni civilians? Could it be because the perpetrator is Saudi Arabia, a staunch US ally? Or is it because the UK and US are actively involved in the killings of Yemeni civilians themselves?

When in 2011, the Arab League suspended Syria’s membership for ‘killings of innocent civilians,’ many expressed hope that the Arab League would become the avenue for resolving Middle-Eastern issues going forward. But what Syria’s Arab League representative, Yousef Ahmad, pointed out then stays true today:

“It’s obvious that they’re following the U.S. agenda.”

Ahmad’s comments are convincing when you ask why didn’t the Arab League suspend Iraq when Saddam Hussein carried out chemical attacks against the Iranians? Saddam faced no hostility at the Arab League because what he did was supported by the United States just like Saudi atrocities in Yemen today enjoy the US support.

The only other nation that the Arab League suspended to force a regime change was Gaddafi’s Libya. In 2011, when NATO was seeking authorization from the UN to carry out airstrikes on Libya to oust Gaddafi, Arab League expedited the process by suspending Libya.

NATO officials later thanked the Arab League saying that they would not have gotten UN authorization were it not for Libya’s suspension from the league.

Rather than becoming an avenue for resolving middle-eastern disputes as intellectuals had hoped, Arab League remains a puppet body of the United States as Yousef Ahmad described it.

Back when the Arab League suspended Syria, President Obama called the suspension an “increasing diplomatic isolation of a regime that has systematically violated human rights.”

Four years later, President Obama backed the Saudi-led coalition that unleashed a war of aggression on a people with no army, air force or navy. Imposing a total embargo that led to malnourishment of 7 million Yemenis and starvation of over 8 million. According to the UN, a Yemeni child dies every 10-minutes from war-linked causes.

President Obama did not think that that was violating the human rights of Yemenis neither did the prominent media intellectuals of NYTimes and Washington Post.

The bias that the newspapers in the United States express for Saudi Arabia has been most noticeable in recent weeks. As the tensions between Canada and Saudi Arabia escalated, columnists in the Washington Post and NYTimes poked holes in Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy rather than confront Saudis for their despicable human rights situation.

Neither of the newspapers praised Trudeau’s stance against the imprisonment and possible death penalty of women rights activists nor did they highlight the repression in Saudi Arabia. The only criticism they did engage in was on Trudeau’s embattled foreign policy.

While the Arab League is quick to act against elements that threaten American interests in the region, the issues that matter the most to middle-easterners are swept under the rug, which makes it all the more likely that any opposition to Saudi war crimes won’t come from leadership of any of the countries currently on the Arab League.


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