The New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs (NYCFPA) is deeply concerned about what is happening in Yemen where American-made weaponry ended up in the hands of terrorists and militia groups funded and loosely managed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
CNN recently revealed that American weapons including heavy armored vehicles and other high end weapons ended up in the hands of terrorist groups like al Qaeda as well as Shia counterparts in the south of Yemen. These weapons are being used to instigate violence between the different warring parties to attack each other and create cases of major instability in Yemen. It is highly destabilizing and rather alarming that staunch American allies are the source of American weapons like MRAPS, which is a violation of American law thereby rendering the “re-supply” of these weapons as unauthorized transfers.
“American regulations are very clear, the United States cannot lawfully export weapons to terrorist groups, but it appears from the CNN report that these weapons—including even American tanks–have ended up in the hands of terrorist groups who regularly target the U.S. and our allies. This scenario generates a highly incendiary situation, a clear and present danger not only for the region but also for core national security interests of the United States.” NYCFPA said. These weapons could be used in the Yemen theater as well as potentially smuggled to and other parts of the Middle East in the hands of not only al Qaeda and ISIS but also Shia extremist groups.
CNN reports that “American-made weaponry has fallen into the hands of rival militia groups in Yemen, some of whom have turned their arms against each other in a bitter and worsening conflict.Fresh evidence shows that military hardware that was supplied to US allies has been distributed in contravention of arms deals to militia groups, including UAE-backed separatists. They are now using it to fight the Saudi-supported forces of the internationally recognized government, who are also armed with US weapons.”
In this respect, treaties with KSA and UAE prohibit arms transfers to other countries if the transfer would violate “obligations under measures adopted by the United Nations Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, in particular arms embargoes” or under other “relevant international obligations” or if the country in question “has knowledge at the time of authorization that the arms or items would be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such, or other war crimes,”
“Contrary to international law and allied treaties weapons manufactured in the U.S. have ended up in the hands of extremist groups in Yemen, in the middle of a highly fraught civil war. Not only MRAPS and tanks are being illegally transferred, but small arms in large volumes including rocket launchers, grenades, and rifles are likewise being proliferated in the Yemeni theater by UAE and KSA,” added NYCFPA.
NYCFPA urges the international community to act promptly and calls on the U.S. administration to cease exporting weapons to repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and UAE in light of persuasive evidence emanating from Yemen, where the UN is making progress on kicking off peace talks between the warring national and regional combatants. The U.S. is already a handmaiden to indiscriminate bombing of civilians by its allies in the region, but now its interests are being grievously harmed by both Saudi and the UAE.
“America must implement strict and fully enforceable rules on the regulations of exporting weapons to the Middle East in general, particularly conflict zones, which in turn will help prevent humanitarian loss of life among the already impoverished population of Yemen,” said NYCFPA.
Additionally, NYCFPA calls on America to suspend specific arms exports to Saudi Arabia and UAE who have been fueling the war in Yemen. It also must stop selling weapons to other actors until it is clear that these weapons will not end up in any terrorist organization hands who are capable of using them against American or allied targets. This would also hinder Saudi Arabia and UAE from committing additional human rights violations with the U.S.-made weaponry and accordingly help alleviate the suffering being unnecessarily inflicted on thousands of innocent civilians in Yemen.
Accordingly, Congress must convene hearings at the soonest possible juncture in order to discuss this issue and fully explore the repercussions and short and long term impact on American interests as well as those of the region. Unfortunately, the longer America continues supplying the KSA and UAE with weapons, the more lives this costly unethical war will continue to threaten.