On the funeral in Sanaa, again
The coalition’s statement regarding the raid on the al-Roweishan family funeral in Yemen is honest
The coalition’s statement regarding the raid on the al-Roweishan family funeral in Yemen is honest. It was issued right after the explosion occurred and stated that the coalition did not order air raids there, adding that “other causes behind the bombing are to be considered.”
According to an investigation by the Joint Incidents Assessment Team, certain members of the Yemeni command provided incorrect information which the coalition’s command was unaware of. The team’s report said that the center of air operations in Yemen okayed the operation without taking directions from the coalition’s command.
There is no contradiction in the statements made by the coalition. It first said it “did not know” the funeral would be targeted and it did not command such an operation, adding that it will investigate the incident through the investigation team formed of members from the coalition states. What’s more important, as adviser to the Saudi defense minister Major General Ahmed al-Asiri said, is that the coalition’s targets do not include places such as the community hall where the funeral was being held.
This turned out to be true upon realization that incorrect information had been supplied. The investigation is underway to ascertain the source of this bad information, understand how it happened and guarantee it will not happen again.
It is not in the coalition’s interest to stop Operation Decisive Storm now and this is for many reasons related to national securityMshari al-Thaydi
Earlier this month, I spoke of two possibilities behind the explosion. The first one was that it was the result of a “conspiracy” as the al-Roweishan family said in a statement. Jalal al-Roweishan, interior minister in the self-proclaimed Houthi government, was killed in the explosion. The second possibility was that al-Qaeda was behind it.
The Joint Incidents Assessment Team and the coalition revealed that the operation was carried out based on faulty information and that it was carried out without the coalition command’s knowledge. This possibility should have been added to the list as it is in fact logical. But what about how quickly the investigation was carried out, how its results were immediately revealed and how the coalition cooperated in the investigation?
Operation Decisive Storm
There is international opposition against Operation Decisive Storm and it’s not due to fears over civilians’ lives and human rights as we’ve not seen this fear in Aleppo, for example. Russian forces have committed atrocities in Syria, such as shell aid convoys. Such incidents were not investigated and there hasn’t been media uproar or any similar reactions.
Hundreds of civilians have been killed by American drones during Barack Obama’s term. According to estimates by the White House itself, between 2009 and 2014 alone, around 161 civilians were killed by drones. Who was held accountable for that? The Houthis and ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh committed war crimes and there has been no international uproar regarding that.
Perhaps, the member states of the coalition - after displaying moral standards and military and legal commitment - aimed to diffuse the political pressure encapsulated in Washington’s and London’s initiative to get an international decision issued to “immediately” end Operation Decisive Storm.
It is not in the coalition’s interest to stop Operation Decisive Storm now and this is for many reasons related to national security. The issue is much bigger than shelling a funeral hall.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Oct. 17, 2016.
Saudi journalist Mshari Al Thaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Al Thaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists.