Monday, October 17, 2016

YEMEN - The Saudi Airstrike

"Deadly Saudi airstrike in Yemen alters conflict's outlook" PBS NewsHour 10/10/2016


SUMMARY:  Fighting in Yemen struck a new chord over the weekend, when a Saudi Arabian airstrike on a funeral gathering killed more than 140 people.  Saudi forces have been bombing the country for months, with logistical help from the U.S. in fighting Houthi rebels and al-Qaida forces.  Jeffrey Brown speaks with Michael Hanna of The Century Foundation about why this attack is creating a different reaction.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  We turn now to the ongoing civil war in Yemen, where the civilian death toll grew over the weekend.

More than 140 people died after what witnesses say was an airstrike on a funeral on Saturday in the capital city of Sanaa.  The Saudi air force has been bombing the country for months, with logistical assistance from the U.S.  Reports from the scene said it was U.S.-made bombs that were dropped on the funeral.

The Saudi-backed government in Yemen is fighting Houthi rebels, as well as al-Qaida forces.  At least 10,000 people have died over the last 18 months, and more than million have been displaced.  And on Sunday, a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer in the Red Sea was targeted by Houthi missiles fired from the Yemeni coast.  The Navy says the missiles detonated short of the target, leaving the ship untouched.

We begin with this report from Neil Connery of Independent Television News.

NEIL CONNERY, ITN:  They're burying the dead in Sanaa, dozens of burials for those killed in this weekend's funeral attack.

On the streets, thousands came to mourn the capital's governor, his picture looking down on his own procession.  The governor was one of hundreds of people packed into the funeral hall when it was hit by a Saudi-led coalition airstrike.  But even as they pay their respects to the governor's family, the jets are back again, their roar heard overhead.

As Sanaa buries its dead, there is rising anger at the weekend funeral attack, and, with it, calls for revenge.  Hopes for peace here have never seemed so far away.

MAN:  It means to us war.  We need war.  We will kill or be killed.  That's for us, blood for blood, and eye for eye.

NEIL CONNERY:  Yemen's tragedy has a new chapter, the single deadliest attack in its 19-month war.  In the capital, as they cover the graves of its victims, how many more will follow?

HARI SREENIVASAN:  And to Jeffrey Brown.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  Yesterday, Secretary of State Kerry spoke with Saudi officials and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities.  And a National Security Council spokesman said that the U.S. would review its support of the Saudi-led coalition.

For more on the situation, I'm joined by Michael Hanna, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation.

Welcome to you.

There was already so much concern and anger over civilian casualties and deaths in this conflict.  How important is this new incident?

MICHAEL HANNA, The Century Foundation:  Well, it's gotten a lot more attention than this war usually does.

And I think that's partly because of the nature of this attack and the scope of the damage.  This was a really horrific attack.  It happened on a funeral hall with a huge number of senior Yemeni figures, tribal figures and political leaders.  And it does seem like a difference in time, like a red line had been crossed in bombing this kind of funeral gathering.

And for that reason, it's gotten a lot of attention and a lot of negative attention.  And the reaction of the United States has been different.  We have seen horrific bombings in the past, but this has elicited a different kind of response from the United States.

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