JEDDAH: Three days after the Arab coalition admitted it had mistakenly bombed a civilian bus in Yemen, anti-Gulf and anti-Saudi campaigners in other countries continue to make capital out of the incident, say analysts.
The US welcomed the statement from the Arab coalition that it will review its rules of engagement, compensate the victims of last month’s strike, which targeted a bus in Saada province, and hold those at fault accountable.
“The United States regards the Saudi-led coalition’s announcement … as an important first step toward full transparency and accountability,” said Heather Nauert, spokeswoman for the US State Department.
However, in other countries anti-Saudi and anti-Gulf lobbies continue to turn a blind eye to the atrocities being committed by the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen.
“First and foremost, we need to remind everyone as to why the Arab coalition is engaged in Yemen,” said Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Riyadh-based Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar. “What are its objectives? And why is it there in the first place?
“The Arab coalition went there to restore legitimacy. The coalition was invited by the internationally recognized Yemeni government, led by Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The Yemeni government was deposed at the point of a gun by the Houthis. They effected a coup. They took the Yemeni people hostage. The Houthis went on a rampage flouting all international norms.”
Al-Shehri said anti-Saudi and anti-Gulf lobbies have tried to portray the Arab coalition as the aggressor but that this is not the case.
“It (the Arab coalition) is trying to secure Yemen,” he said. “It is trying to build Yemen. It is trying to restore order in Yemen. It is trying to restore the country’s legitimate government — the government that is recognized by the global community. And, more importantly, Saudi Arabia and its regional allies are trying to protect the region from the sinister designs of Iran.
“Unfortunately some countries, such as Spain, and international rights groups have fallen prey to this campaign of calumny, lies and deceit. No country in the world would like to see a militia — which is armed to its teeth with rocket launchers, land mines and missiles — holding sway in a neighboring country. Let us not forget how many missiles they (the Houthis) have launched toward the densely populated cities of Riyadh, Najran, Jeddah, Makkah and Taif. These are terrorists who want to kill with impunity and cause maximum damage.
“The Houthis are the real destroyers of Yemen, just as all the Iranian-allied militias are. Take the case of Lebanon, where Hezbollah is destroying everything, holding the government to ransom. Look at Iraq and see how the pro-Iran militias have wreaked havoc there. They have turned everything upside down. Wherever Iran is, there is death and destruction. The world needs to see this.”
On Tuesday, Spain announced that it had canceled the delivery of 400 laser-guided bombs purchased by Saudi Arabia, “amid fears that the weapons could be used against Iran-aligned Houthis in Yemen.” The arms deal was signed in 2015 under Spain’s former conservative government, but the new center-left administration of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez plans to return the 9.2 million euros ($10.6 million) already paid by the Saudis, Cadena SER radio reported.
A Defense Ministry spokeswoman confirmed the report, but declined to comment further.