Of the many perils Yemen’s civilians have faced during the last six months of war, with starvation looming and their cities crumbling under heavy weapons, none have been as deadly as the coalition airstrikes. What began as a Saudi-led aerial campaign against the Houthis, the rebel militia movement that forced Yemen’s government from power, has become so broad and vicious that critics accuse the coalition of collectively punishing people living in areas under Houthi control.
Errant coalition strikes have ripped through markets, apartment buildings and refugee camps. Other bombs have fallen so far from any military target — like the one that destroyed Mr. Razoom’s factory — that human rights groups say such airstrikes amount to war crimes. More than a thousand civilians are believed to have died in the strikes, the toll rising steadily with little international notice or outrage.
Rather than turning more Yemenis against the Houthis, though, the strikes are crystallizing anger in parts of the country against Saudi Arabia and its partners, including the United States. The Obama administration has provided military intelligence and logistical assistance to the coalition, and American weapons have been widely used in the air campaign. Human Rights Watch has found American-manufactured cluster munitions in the fields of Yemeni farmers. Near the site of airstrikes that killed 11 people in a mosque, researchers with Amnesty International saw an unexploded, 1,000-pound American bomb. The United States is finalizing a deal to provide more weapons to Saudi Arabia, including missiles for its F-15 fighter jets.
Fortunately the Saudis are the good guys, and we're on their side, and oh jeebus is it too early to drink?