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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

cluster bombs

Even though almost every country on Earth has banned the use of cluster bombs, neither the United States nor Saudi Arabia has agreed to the ban.

The U.S. recently sold another $600 million worth of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia. Evidence is overwhelming that the Saudis are using those cluster bombs to attack Yemen, where al-Queda is rather well-established.

So while the U.S. eschews the use of military force around the world, we have no qualms about selling weapons of war to anyone who will buy them. And then we turn around and criticize those nations who use them, while continuing to sell them.

Can you say hypocrisy?

(link) Human Rights Watch (HR) has criticized the US for selling cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia, urging Riyadh to stop using such banned arms that leave behind unexploded sub-munitions and endanger civilians.

On April 7, 2016, HRW said its investigators traveled to the town in Yemen’s Hajjah province the day after the attack and listed the names of 97 civilians killed in the strike, including 25 children. The team said that another 10 bodies were burned beyond recognition, bringing the total number of victims to 107.
They found fragments of a GBU-31 satellite-guided bomb as well as its guidance equipment supplied by the US, matching an earlier report by British television channel ITV.
The US has backed the Saudi campaign in Yemen. In November last year, Washington approved a $1.29 billion rearming program for Riyadh, including thousands of similar bombs.
Saudi Arabia began its military aggression against Yemen on March 26, 2015.
Nearly 9,400 people, among them over 2,230 children, have been killed and over 16,000 others injured since the onset of the military raids. According to the UN, airstrikes account for 60 percent of the civilians killed so far.

U.S. Selling Cluster Bombs Worth 641 million to Saudi Arabia

(link) WASHINGTON, 23 Aug, 2015 (IPS) - Arms control advocates are decrying a new U.S. Department of Defence announcement that it will be building and selling 1,300 cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, worth some 641 million dollars.

“Both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have recently condemned the use of cluster munitions by the government of Syria – that’s ironic given this new sale, because a cluster munition is a cluster munition, no matter what kind it is,” Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a watchdog group here in Washington, told IPS.

As of 2011, 39 countries were dealing with the after-effects of cluster bomb use, according to the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines, an advocacy group. The group says that list includes Saudi Arabia.

“Cluster munitions stand out as the weapon that poses the gravest dangers to civilians since antipersonnel mines, which were banned in 1997,” the Campaign states on its website.

“Israel’s massive use of the weapon in Lebanon in August 2006 resulted in more than 200 civilian casualties in the year following the ceasefire and served as the catalyst that propelled governments to secure a legally binding international instrument tackling cluster munitions.”

One percent failure

In 2007, 47 governments endorsed a binding agreement, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, to outlaw the production, use or even transfer of cluster bombs. Some 112 countries have now signed the convention, and 83 have ratified it.

Neither the United States nor Saudi Arabia has signed onto the convention, however, which means that the newly announced sale is legal. According to reports, the U.S. has also continued to make irregular sales of cluster munitions to India, South Korea and Taiwan.

“Cluster munitions have been banned by more than half the world’s nations, so any transfer goes against the international rejection of these weapons,” Sarah Blakemore, director of the Cluster Munition Coalition, a London-based advocacy group, said in a statement.

“We are disappointed with the U.S. decision to export cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, as both countries acknowledge the negative humanitarian impact of these weapons on civilians. The U.S. should acknowledge the treaty’s ban on cluster munition exports and re-evaluate the criteria for its export moratorium so that no cluster munitions are transferred.”

What a country. Isn't technology, uh, wonderful?

And here's a recent NYT editorial about the cluster bombs. 

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