Yemeni scholars, experts condemn Saudi-led attacks

Group of 18 Yemeni scholars in the UK, US claim the war is illegal, while UN chief Ban Ki-moon calls for ceasefire
Yemeni scholars, experts condemn Saudi-led attacks
(AFP/Getty Images)
By Courtney Trenwith
Sun 19 Apr 2015 01:49 PM

A group of 18 Yemeni scholars and experts based in the US and Britain has reportedly published an open letter calling for an end to the Saudi-led military operation in Yemen.

The group, including academics at the prestigious Oxford and Harvard universities, claim the operation is illegal, according to the Washington Post.

“This military campaign is illegal under international law: None of these states has a case for self-defense,” the letter reportedly says.

They argue Saudi Arabia and its backers, including all the GCC states except Oman, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, the UK and the US, are targeting areas that are having a detrimental effect on local Yemenis.

“The targets of the campaign include schools, homes, refugee camps, water systems, grain stores and food industries. This has the potential for appalling harm to ordinary Yemenis as almost no food or medicine can enter,” they wrote in the letter.

“Yemen is the poorest country of the Arab world in per capita income, yet rich in cultural plurality and democratic tradition. Rather than contributing to the destruction of the country, the US and UK should support a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate, unconditional ceasefire and use their diplomatic influence to strengthen the sovereignty and self-government of Yemen.

“As specialists we are more than aware of internal divisions within Yemeni society, but we consider that it is for the Yemenis themselves to be allowed to negotiate a political settlement.”

At least 750 Yemenis have been killed and more than 150,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since the attacks started about three weeks ago, the UN said.

The Washington Post said American officials were believed to be unhappy with the Saudi action, however they have made no public comment condemning the air strikes.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has called for a cease fire from all sides of the conflict. Several GCC states have expressed displeasure with the comment and are expected to meet Ban soon.

Saudi Arabia initiated action in the country more than three weeks ago as Houthi rebels made advancements and the president was forced to retreat.

Saudi Arabia and its Sunni coalition partners accuse Shia Iran of funding the rebels.

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