Exclusive Interview with Richard A. Falk, Chandra Muzaffar and May El Khansa About Crimes Saudi Arabia in Yemen

The air strikes also destroyed public and residential areas, historical and religious monuments, schools, hospitals, and many economic infrastructures. Even the food consignments have been attacked by Saudi fighters. As you are already aware, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has added the Saudi-led coalition to an annual blacklist of countries and armed groups that have violated children's rights in conflict for “killing and maiming” children in Yemen. According to a UN report, the Saudi-led military coalition is responsible for 60 percent of the total number of children killed or wounded in Yemen during the current year. During the attacks of the coalition forces 510 children have been killed and 67 maimed. According to the same report, the Saudi-led coalition is responsible for half of the attacks on schools and hospitals in Yemen.

The Islamic World Peace Forum (IWPF) has always endeavored to preserve human values, peace and justice in the region and the world. , Dr. Davoud Ameri, the Secretary General of the IWPF All global humanitarian organizations are earnestly asked to collectively support the rights of the people of Yemen against the Saudi Arabia’s aggressions and war crimes to really safeguard world peace and security.

The Islamic World Peace Forum (IWPF) takes an exclusive interview with Professor Richard Falk of International Law at Princeton University and the UN Human Rights Council Special Reporter on the situation of human rights in Palestine in 2008 and 2014 and Professor Chandra Muzaffar Head of the International Movement for a Just Peace and Dr. May El Khansa PHD in International Law, human rights activist the Islamic world.

Flowing is the text of this interview:

IWPF: Why the United Nations, despite slamming Saudi Arabia for its war crimes, does not take a serious action to prevent their war crimes?

Richard A Falk: The UN can pass judgment on a powerful member such as Saudi Arabia, but it lacks the geopolitical capability to impose its will on the behavior of such a state, which is an important Western ally, protected by the United States and influential as a source of UN funding and a leading energy producer and supplier. Except for the Secretary General the UN has not condemned the Saudi intervention in Yemen or the crimes against humanity committed during these military operations.

In essence, the UN is important for purposes of symbolic approval or disapproval, but not to reshape the behavior of a resisting state.  The pattern with respect to Israel is very much the same. Condemnation of policies and practices, but no capacity or political will to challenge behavior in accordance with UN consensus. Here the people of Yemen suffer while the UN is silent on the abuses being endured.

Chandra Muzaffar:  The UN seldom acts even on the issues raised by its own agencies and outfits. This is mainly because it cannot ignore the interests of the nation-states that comprise the UN. The more powerful a state, the greater its ability to thwart a report that may go against its interests. This is why the UN often appears to be impotent.

 

May El Khansa:  It must be reminded that the beginning of the UN headquarters is inside the United States and is considered a hostage or less modified under house arrest and is therefore subject to the policy of the United States.

As for the great crime that the United Nations committed against human rights, and led to the write-off  (Saudi Arabia's )name from the black list for states committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, it  is not the first crime committed  by UN under its blue flag,  through staying  silent about the massacres committed against humanity, such as crimes against Palestinian people, and the crimes that occur in African countries, Syria and Iraq ... and even un is blind sometimes so it does not see the great countries who participates in the crimes, but major powers sometimes be the decision maker.

IWPF: Isn’t it time for the UN Security Council to send the Saudi Arabian case to the International Criminal Court?

Richard A Falk: It is time from the perspective of a well functioning legal order committed to promoting justice. The UN Security Council, subject to the veto by any one of the P-5, is a geopolitical actor that can only reach a decision if these states support such a referral to the International Criminal Court. Up to this point, the United States, in particular, has ‘a special relationship’ with Saudi Arabia that protects it against adverse action in the UN, and especially in the Security Council. As a practical matter, it would require a state that is a member of the ICC to submit evidence to the Office of the Prosecutor that Saudi Arabia’s alleged criminal conduct should be investigated with an eye toward prosecution.

To overlook the Saudi crimes in Yemen, especially toward children, civilians, medical facilities, is to weaken the authority of international criminal law.

Chandra Muzaffar: I agree that there must be bold action against nations and institutions that oppress the people, especially if they are children. One cannot expect the UN Security Council to act in the case of Saudi Arabia because veto wielding members of the Council such as the US and Britain, who are 'protectors' of Saudi Arabia will kill any such move. What this means is that there is no chance of Saudi Arabia being hauled up to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

 

May El Khansa: The UN scandal was a loud this time, and this thing came clear from the Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, who stressed that the international organization had bowed to pressure and financial threats that dangled by Saudi Arabia, which led to write-off ( Saudi Arabia )from the list of committed countries to crimes against humanity, especially in the Yemen, the killing of children.

Thus, because Saudi Arabia has the money, it was able to impose a "veto" or the right of veto against all who dared demanded he held them accountable.  And that we are already at a sensitive and critical situation because how can any longer resort to the United Nations to protect innocent people, especially children, and we know that money is the master of the decision and not the law or international agreements, and of course UN under the pressure of money will not send Saudi Arabian to ICC COURT.

IWPF: Why are the Western countries, particularly the United States, silent vis-à-vis the Saudi crimes and even support this country by sending weapons to them?

Richard AFalk: As indicated, the West, and especially the United States, has developed a multi-dimensional special relationship with Saudi Arabia that accords the Kingdom impunity for its criminal practices and policies. Part of this relationship is based on arms sales, which bring both profits and dependency, and Saudi Arabia has long been a valued customer. For this reason and others the West turns a blind eye toward both violation of fundamental human rights in Saudi Arabia, and even more surprisingly, major Saudi financial and diplomatic support for extremist versions of Islam that produce political violence in Western countries.

It should be appreciated that in the sectarian struggles in the Middle East, the West has sided with the Saudis, and this alignment applies to Yemen. It is regarded geopolitically in the Middle East as a war justified for the purpose of containing the spread of Iranian influence. Thus, the West supports the political goals of the Saudi intervention, and supplying weapons and engaging in arms sales is consistent with both the political and economic interests of the West.

Chandra Muzaffar:  Saudi leaders are allied and aligned to Washington DC. This is why Western leaders as a whole are silent when it comes to Saudi crimes. For protecting the Saudi elite, the rulers of the US, Britain and other such countries are guaranteed control over Saudi oil. They are also in control of the strategic sea- routes in the vicinity of Saudi Arabia and some of the other states in that region. Besides, the Saudi and some of the other elites in West Asia and North Africa (WANA) also purchase a lot of sophisticated weapons from the US, Britain and other Western states. How can we expect Western leaders to speak up against Saudi crimes when there is such an incestuous relationship between the Saudi elite and some Western leaders?

 

May El Khansa: The reasons is Saudi is paying money so that the US arms aids the Saudi-led coalition, against Yemen, also a coalition of Western allies and traditional imperial powers — including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey, armed by the US and UK — is carrying out a brutal war on the poorest country in the Middle East.

IWPF: How can the Islamic Cooperation Organization (OIC) and other Islamic organizations help the settlement of this crisis?

Richard AFalk: The OIC can give greater weight to Saudi wrongdoing, both from perspective of law and morality and from the viewpoint of upholding the reality of Islam as a foundation of peace and tolerance. The OIC has the authority and stature to establish for world public opinion the contrast between Islamic values and Saudi behavior, which suggests that condemnation by the UN should be reinforced by effective actions. Whether the impact on world public opinion is sufficient to alter the approach taken by the West is uncertain, but it is worth the effort.

The OIC could produce an influential report on the Saudi intervention in Yemen giving specific information on the means of warfare that violate international criminal law.

Chandra Muzaffar: The OIC as an organization will not take action against Saudi Arabia since the OIC is actually under the sway of the Saudi elite. Other Islamic organizations have neither the clout nor the resources to help settle the crisis.

May El Khansa: The OIC can do a lot if it was united, but as some Islamic countries are funding this organization it will not be able to be effective and helpful.

IWPF: Why the United Nations Saudi Arabia to immediately be removed from the black list?

Richard A Falk: "I was not familiar with this development, but it is consistent with earlier answer. The UN to survive must accommodate member states that possess relevant geopolitical leverage. Saudi Arabia is one of those states, and although it has lost some of its influence due to the falling price of oil, it is still important to the West as an ally, as a purchaser of arms, and in relation to the regional balance of forces." Ban Kimonos shocking admission that Saudi Arabia was removed from the blacklist after it threatened to deprive the UN of funding for emergency humanitarian assistance to Palestinians trapped in Gaza tells the world both that he is unfit to serve as Secretary General, and quite literally that Saudi Arabia getsa way with murder at the UN. For the world and its peoples it is sad to realize that the UN to survive must accommodate member states that possess relevant geopolitical leverage no matter how far their behavior falls beneath thresholds of minimal decency. Saudi Arabia is one of those states, and although it has recently lost some of its influence due to the falling price of oil, it is still accorded impunity by the West and even much of Islamic world because of its status as an ally, as a purchaser of arms, and in relation to the regional balance of forces in the Middle East."

Chandra Muzaffar: It is alleged by diplomats in New York that “Muslim allies of Saudi Arabia piled pressure on UN chief Ban Ki-Moon over the black-listing of a Saudi-led coalition for killing children in Yemen , with Riyadh threatening to cut Palestinian aid and funds to other UN programs."  This is why the UN Secretary-General removed the coalition from the black-list "pending a joint review by the world body and the coalition of cases of child deaths and injuries during the war in Yemen."

Apart from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Jordan, Egypt and Bangladesh also complained to Ban, according to various sources. They threatened the UN Secretary-General that if the Saudi-led coalition was not removed from the black-list, aid from Saudi Arabia and its allies for Palestinian refugees channeled through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) would cease. Saudi Arabia is a big donor to UNWRA, providing it with almost 100 million US dollars in 2015. Kuwait and UAE together supplied 50 million to UNWRA last year.

By threatening the UN in this manner, Saudi Arabia and its allies were actually blackmailing the UN. This is despicable.  It is immoral to force the UN to alter its well-researched report on the killing of Yemeni children by exploiting the vulnerable position of Palestinian refugees. It is a travesty of justice.

It is worth recalling that the UN decided not to blacklist Israel in 2015 over the massacre of children in Gaza largely because of pressure from Israel and the United States. Now a number of Arab and Muslim states have also joined them in the “Hall of Shame."The least the world can do is to condemn Saudi Arabia and its allies for attempting to erase the truth about an immoral act through blackmail. At the same time, global citizens should express deep disappointment over Ban's succumbing to such blackmail.

May El Khansa: The international organization had bowed to pressure and financial threats that dangled by Saudi Arabia, which led to write-off (Saudi Arabia) from the list of committed countries to crimes against humanity, especially in the Yemen, the killing of children.

IWPF: What role should the Muslim elites and ulama (scholars) play regarding this crisis?

Richard A Falk: I would suppose that Muslim elites and ulama have a strong interest in setting the record straight as to the nature of and limits on acceptable behavior from an Islamic point of view, and questioning Saudi Arabia on the basis of such an assessment.

Chandra Muzaffar: Muslim elites and ulama should raise the awareness of Muslims and non-Muslims everywhere about what is happening in Yemen  and other countries The UN's report on children could serve as a trigger for organized, systematic awareness raising, networking and campaigning. Awareness raising and campaigning will be effective only if those who are leading the process are perceived as women and men of integrity. They should not be biased against one side or the other. Unfortunately, there are very few such individuals in the Muslim world today.

 

May El Khansa: True hope to solve the problems is the Muslim Elites, by union of Muslims (Sunni and Shia) they must work in earnest to fight fanaticism and terrorism and to stop corruption and waste of money the Islamic countries, and put an end to the rulers of the Muslims who use the money for sectarian incitement and terrorism feed.

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