Washington Complicit in Massacre of Yemeni Civilians: Ex-US Diplomat

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – An American author and former diplomat from Washington condemned the Saudi-led coalition’s recent attacks on Yemeni civilians as “crimes against humanity” and said the US government, which supplies the Saudis with weapons and targeting information, is a confederate.

Washington Complicit in Massacre of Yemeni Civilians: Ex-US Diplomat

“Of course, the United States, in supplying the Saudis with weapons, targeting information, and providing airstrikes on and commando raids in Yemen, is complicit in these monstrous crimes of violence,” Michael Springmann, the former head of the American visa bureau in Saudi Arabia, said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.

J. Michael Springmann served in the US government as a diplomat with the State Department's Foreign Service, with postings in Germany, India, and Saudi Arabia. He left federal service and currently practices law in the Washington, DC, area. Springmann’s works and interviews have been published in numerous foreign policy publications, including Covert Action Quarterly, Unclassified, Global Outlook, the Public Record, OpEdNews, Global Research and Foreign Policy Journal.

The following is the full text of the interview:

Tasnim: As you know, an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a school bus driving in a busy market in northern Yemen on Thursday, killing at least 50 people mostly children and wounding 77 others. More than three years into Yemen’s civil war, over 16,000 civilians have been killed and injured, the vast majority by airstrikes, the UN human rights office estimates, adding that the figures are likely to be far higher. After the US Senate narrowly approved a $510 million first installment of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia last June, the kingdom said it would launch a training program to reduce accidental targeting of civilians in Yemen. But in the year since that announcement, civilian deaths were 7 percent more than the year prior, UN data shows. In April alone, there were 236 civilians killed and 238 injured — the deadliest month this year so far. A UN report in June found 1,316 Yemeni children were killed or injured last year, and that more than half of the casualties resulted from airstrikes. What is your assessment of the heinous crimes committed by the Riyadh regime and its backers, mainly the US?

Springmann:  My assessment of the outrageous actions done by the Saudis, the Emiratis, and their other confederates is that they are best described as murders, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.  There is no reason to attack Yemen.  The Saudis, the Emiratis, and the rest appear to want to change the balance of power in the region, substituting their political and economic control for those of the individual countries, particularly Yemen.

Moreover, they seek to justify their heinous actions in bombing civilians, destroying infrastructure, and blockading imports of much-needed food and medicine on Iran.  According to their warped thinking, it is Iran that is seeking to control Yemen!  And because Iran is expanding its influence on the Arabian Peninsula, it must be stopped.  They have yet to produce any evidence of Iranian involvement. And they denigrate the Yemenis' own courage and ability to "make do".  The "Iranian" missiles they claim the Yemenis shot at Saudi Arabia were, in reality, the former regime's own weapons, Scuds, which the Houthis cleverly reworked and improved.

Of course, the United States, in supplying the Saudis with weapons, targeting information, and providing airstrikes on and commando raids in Yemen, is complicit in these monstrouscrimes of violence.  The United States, in its attacks on the former Republic of Yugoslavia, claimed it had a responsibility to protect the people there--while killing them. Its efforts in backing the Saudis and others in Yemen is the same--kill while proclaiming it is helping the Yemenis.

Tasnim: The United Nations has made a muted response to the Saudi-led coalition’s crimes in the Arabian Peninsula country. What do you think? What role can the international community play in protecting the lives of the oppressed people of Yemen?

Springmann: The UN has made a muted response to the Saudi crimes in Yemen. It has also made a muted response to apartheid-supporting Israel's crimes against the Palestinians. Unless and until the United Nations wakes up and takes action against the coalition destroying Yemen and its people, it will be up to the international community to become truly and deeply involved in the issue. 

First, governments around the world must openly and forcefully condemn the destruction of Yemen and the starvation of its people.  They must pressure the US and Great Britain to stop supplying weapons and other aid to Saudi Arabia and its allies. 

Second, the international press must bring the disease, hunger, death, and destruction into peoples' living rooms, televise the malnourished children, make newsreels of blown-up hospitals, and conduct TV interviews with the maimed.  This was done to great effect during the Vietnam War. Once middle-class American families saw what was happening in Southeast Asia and that their children were committing atrocities against an innocent people, then great pressure to stop the war arose, forcing President Lyndon Johnson to abandon seeking another term in office. And ultimately ending the war.

Tasnim: Saudi Arabia said it was suspending oil shipments through the Red Sea’s Bab al-Mandeb strait, one of the world’s most important tanker routes, after Yemen’s Houthis attacked two ships in the waterway. Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement - which has joined hands with the country's army against the Saudi-led coalition - says capital cities of the alliance will be “no longer safe" from missiles fired in retaliation for the massive attacks on Yemen. What do you think about the deterrent power of Yemen's Houthis and how do you predict the future of the protracted war?

Springmann: My view of the Houthis' ability to deter Saudi aggression is that it depends on their hardiness, ingenuity, and capacity to engage in unconventional attacks.  They must withstand the great lack of food and limited supply of weapons. They must attack in unusual ways. To date, displaying great originality, they have carried the war to the Saudis, sniping at their soldiers on the Kingdom's borders, firing rockets at Riyadh, and shooting at ships in the Red Sea. While the Saudi government has clamped down on news about Houthi actions, especially the missile attacks, word does get out.      

My prediction on the future of this lengthy war, now going on for almost four years, is grim.  The Saudis, backed by the Americans and British, will continue.  If the Kingdom's forces expend more bullets and bombs than they have, Uncle Sam and John Bull will make good on their losses.  The Saudis and Emiratis are in too deep for too long to back out of their own accord. They must be forced out. And this will occur only in a limited number of ways.

Should the main architect of the conflict, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, be overthrown, things might improve. In the same fashion, were he to be assassinated, there would be a good chance for a positive change.  This would give the Saudis a face-saving reason for ending the conflict.  After all, it's easy to blame the dead for whatever mistakes might have been made.

Finally, strong, concerted international pressure, through government to government contacts, as well as media reporting, could bring about a change. Force the American and British governments to drop their support for the war and the Saudis and Emiratis would no longer be able to conduct it.  You can't make war without weapons. But embarrassing governments is hard and requires great resources.

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