by Waseem Shehzad (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 45, No. 5, Ramadan, 1437)
The Bani Saud are guilty of egregious crimes in Yemen, particularly against children. When the UN confirmed this in a report, the Najdi Bedouins kicked up a storm threatening to cut off funding to various UN agencies including those supporting the Palestinians. The UN caved in to Saudi blackmail.
Bani Saud have never performed any meritorious act in their entire miserable existence. Their history is littered with tales of treachery against Muslims, starting with their backstabbing of the Ottoman Turks when they sided with the British colonialists to partition the Muslim East (aka the Middle East). They have imposed a monarchy in the Arabian Peninsula in violation of Islamic principles, and capping it all, they have named the holy land “Saudi” Arabia.
The list of their crimes is long. The Najdi Bedouins have been in the forefront of supporting the takfiri terrorists in Syria, and since March 2015, they have launched a murderous bombing campaign against the defenceless people of Yemen, the poorest country in the region.
So egregious have been their crimes in Yemen that even a toothless body like the United Nations was forced to issue a report last month condemning the Saudi-led coalition of killing children. With Saudis in the forefront, coalition planes, artillery, and missiles have bombed residential neighborhoods, schools, factories, and historical sites killing thousands of innocent people. This is a war crime and if carried to its logical conclusion could result in the Saudi rulers being hauled before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Far from rectifying their un-Islamic behavior, the Saudis started to ratchet up pressure on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to remove Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners — equally unsavory characters — from the blacklist.
Unfortunately, Ban caved into Saudi arm-twisting in what one diplomat quoted by Reuters said was “Bullying, threats, and pressure.” He added that the reaction to the blacklisting of the Saudi-led coalition bombing Yemen and killing children was “real blackmail.” The UN had announced the blacklisting earlier last month after its own report on children and armed conflict found the coalition was responsible for 60% of child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year, killing 510 and wounding 667. No sooner was the announcement made, then the Saudis and their allies started exerting pressure on Ban. The UN Secretary General, in the last year of his second term, could not withstand the pressure. He is regarded as a weak character who in the past has been bullied into toeing not only the American line but also that of the illegal Zionist entity in Occupied Palestine.
On June 6, the UN announced that it had removed the Saudi-led coalition from the blacklist on violations of child rights. The world body offered the excuse that it would jointly review with members of the Saudi-led coalition complaints about child deaths and injuries of Yemeni children during 2015. This was an attempt by the UN at saving face out of a situation where it failed to uphold its own principles or stand behind its own report.
Human rights groups expressed dismay at this turn of events. It was bad enough for the Saudis and their allies to exert pressure on the UN on an issue of human rights, especially one involving children; it was infinitely worse for the UN to cave in so easily. They said that Ban risked harming his legacy as UN secretary-general. Philippe Bolopion, Human Rights Watch’s deputy director for global advocacy, called this action “naked politicization.”
The main Saudi complaint was that the UN had not based its report on information supplied by the Saudi-backed Yemeni regime led by the fugitive ‘Abd Rabbou Mansour Hadi currently ensconced in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis and their allies accused the UN of not consulting them, an allegation dismissed by UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric. He was emphatic and reiterated this on June 7 that the Saudis had been consulted.
So what kind of pressure was exerted on the UN? The Saudis and their Arabian allies threatened that unless their names were removed from the blacklist, they would withdraw funding from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). True, between them, the Saudis and their allies provide about $150 million to the fund annually. But don’t think that the Saudis have some kind of a philanthropic or altruistic gene. This is hush money, pure and simple, on deposit with the UN for precisely these types of situations. They’ve been paying attention to how their American and Israeli masters do business: get people to become dependent on your largesse and when they get high and mighty on principle, cut them down at the knees by threatening to withdraw your “contributions.” While not the largest donors — the US, the European Union, and Britain provide more — the withdrawal of funds would add to the suffering of Palestinian refugees but should the right to life of Yemeni children be sacrificed at the altar of Saudi arrogance?
There was no comment or reaction from the Palestinian leadership about such blackmail or even a reiteration of the principle that the lives of Yemeni children are as precious as those of Palestinians. It is sad. Palestinians rightly expect that people worldwide should speak out on their behalf and expose the crimes of the Zionist regime. Why then does Palestinian leadership remain silent when villainous characters like the Saudis use their name to justify crimes against Yemeni children?
In addition to the financial blackmail of Ban Ki-moon, Saudi allies (most of them puppets like Jordan and basket case Bangladesh) as well as the tribal monarchies in the Gulf that oppress their own people in terrible ways also piled on. Others that complained to Ban’s office at the UN included Egypt (its dictator’s hand still dripping from the blood of innocent Egyptians murdered in August 2013), Kuwait, and Qatar.
Bangladesh’s mission in New York said their foreign minister had contacted Ban’s office while on an official visit to Saudi Arabia. No doubt the Bangladeshi foreign minister had gone with a begging bowl in hand and in return for a few riyals, he called the UN secretary-general to express his displeasure at the inclusion of Saudi Arabia in the blacklist. He was being a nice puppet wagging his tail in anticipation and running to fetch the ball in return for a bone. There must be a better way to make a living.
The Saudi-led coalition includes Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Senegal, and Sudan. Interestingly, the International Criminal Court has a warrant against Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes. The Saudis have bought his loyalty for a fistful of dollars and he can travel, at least to the countries in the Saudi-led coalition. This freedom may not last too long and it would not come as a surprise if al-Bashir were to find himself in the dock at the Hague in the not too distant future.
The Najdi Bedouins’ name may have been removed from the blacklist but this does not mean they are not guilty of such crimes. The Saudis have not denied that hundreds of children have been killed in Yemen. At least 22 million of its 24 million people are facing serious food deficiency because of the Saudi blockade in the manner of the Zionist blockade of Gaza. List or no list, a crime is a crime and the Saudis are guilty. This reality is likely to catch up with them sooner rather than later.
This entire affair also sheds light on the manner in which the UN operates. In the past it was known to kowtow to US demands and those of its illegitimate ally, Zionist Israel. The world body has fallen so low that even the Saudi clowns can push it around. What hope can the oppressed people of the world have for justice from such a body? It just goes to show that when money talks, principle walks.