Human Rights Watch has encouraged the United Nations (UN) to place sanctions on Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over severe and immense human rights abuses in the Riyadh-led coalition’s war on Yemen. In an op-ed published in the Washington Post on Tuesday, the Human Rights Watch’s Deputy UN Director, Akshaya Kumar, explained that Salman was guilty “for the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in neighbouring Yemen.”
Since being appointed to the Saudi throne in June, bin Salman has implemented a variety of radical economic and social projects. Despite reforms of allowing women to drive, opening movies theatres, and permitting girls to take part in physical education, these radical projects have been interpreted to be more about consolidating his power. While some praised the young prince’s plans, Kumar advised against overlooking the bin Salman’s dismal human rights record in other areas.
Widely considered to be the architect of the Saudi’s intervention in Yemen, Prince Bin Salman continues to restrict imperative imports that are pushing millions of Yeminis into further famine and disease. Human rights groups and charities have been raising the alarm over the deteriorating situation for Yemenis, with the UN stating that Yemen is experiencing “the world’s largest humanitarian crisis” and the “worst cholera epidemic” as a result of the Saudi-led war. Kumar argued that “there has been nothing bold or transformative about his coalition’s relentless bombing of Yemen’s civilians while denying to hold any of his own forces accountable for their war crimes.”
This is while the prince won Time Magazine’s readers’ poll for Person of the Year over his “reforms” in Saudi Arabia.
Recently branded the “land of blood and bombs,” the Yemeni civil war began in March 2015, when Houthi rebels loyal to Iran took control of large areas of south Yemen, making the Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi flee to exile in Riyadh. The prince commenced raids and severe controls on land, air, and seaports into the state, which have all greatly contributed to the war’s fatality toll of more than 12,000 deaths.
2017 has witnessed Yemen’s capital falling to an unsecured coalition of Houthi rebels and forces loyal to Yemen’s previous President Ali Abdullah Saleh. This alliance disintegrated in early December, with the Houthi’s killing Saleh after the late president switched to the Saudi side of the conflict.
Continuing to praise Prince bin Salman allows the Yemenis to suffer through further human rights abuses, misery, and death. The young prince should not be able to enjoy this praise at home while continuing to thrash Yemen.