Saudi Arabia carried yet another airstrike in Yemen, killing more than 100 inmates of a prison in the Dhamar town in the Houthi-controlled region of the country. According to the Red Cross, the prison had a total of 170 inmates at the time of attack on Sunday, September 1.
The United Nations special envoy in the country, Martin Griffith, condemned the attack and asked coalition forces to investigate the incident.
The Saudi-led coalition said that the building was used to store weapons. Houthi officials dismissed the claim, citing the fact that the Red Cross regularly inspected the building. According to them, the building used to be a community college before it was destroyed in a Saudi airstrike. Following that, it was converted into a prison.
The Saudi-led coalition has carried out more than 18,000 such raids in the Houthi-controlled regions since 2015, often targeting basic infrastructures such as schools, colleges, hospitals, marriage processions and killing non-combatants in complete violation of all established international norms of war.
Sunday’s attack comes at a time when Saudi Arabia is facing tremendous pressure. It has been a target of Houthi attacks inside its own territory. Its oil fields and key towns have come under direct Houthi missile and drone attacks in recent times. The coalition it leads in support of the Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi government is also struggling for survival. Two of its major constituents – forces loyal to Hadi government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) – have been fighting to take control of the city of Aden.
The STC is supported by the second most important member of the Saudi coalition, the UAE. The UAE has announced the withdrawal of its forces from Yemen and carried out airstrikes in support of the STC against the Hadi forces last week. On Sunday, they reportedly arrested a large number of pro-Hadi fighters and people. The STC has plans to consolidate its control with the UAE’s support. It wants to reverse the 1990 unification and create an independent Southern Yemen.
The disagreements and rupture of the common understanding between the Saudis and the UAE, rising international pressure, soaring war-related expenditure and threats at home have made the war in Yemen, now in its fifth year, a futile venture for Saudi Arabia.
This war, indirectly aided by the US, has killed hundreds of thousands with over a million displaced and on the verge of starvation.