Conflict

BREAKING: Saudi Arabia just bombed a funeral in Yemen, as the UK announces another arms deal

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On Saturday 8 October, Saudi Arabia allegedly bombed a funeral wake in the Yemeni city of Sanaa, reportedly killing and injuring up to 700 people.

The attack occurred at around 2pm BST, as mourners were gathered for the funeral of the father of Yemen’s Interior Minister Jalal al-Rowaishan. Journalists on the ground also reported that the Mayor of Sanaa, Abdulqader Hilal, was killed.

At least 155 people died with local reports putting the number of casualties at around 700; the Yemeni government initially confirmed more than 500. The Yemeni division of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said they had treated over 400 people at local hospitals.

Initial reports via Twitter showed the aftermath of the attack:

And as this unverified amateur footage appears to indicate, the strike was what’s known as a “double tap”:

A double tap air strike is when a plane carries out an initial bombing raid on a target, and then waits for either signs of survivors, or rescue workers to arrive, before executing a second attack. This has become an increasingly common practice by the Saudi air force in Yemen.

Since the conflict began in March 2015, over 4,000 civilians have been killed. But it is Yemen’s children who have bore the brunt of the conflict. 320,000 children are severely malnourished, 10.2 million live without safe drinking water, 2.2 million are in need of urgent aid, 1.2 million have been displaced and 10,000 under the age of five have died unnecessarily, due to the destruction of Yemen’s healthcare systems.

Meanwhile, just this week, the UK government and BAE Systems announced they were in talks with the Saudi Arabian government over a possible five year arms deal. The UK is already a prolific supplier of weapons to the Kingdom, having sold more than £3bn in arms since the Yemeni conflict began.

This includes a £1.7bn deal last May, for Eurofighter Typhoon jets. The same ones which have been responsible for bombing 49 schools and hospitals in Yemen in 2015, and the deaths of 510 children.

The UK government has come under fierce criticism from campaigners, including Amnesty International, who say that war crimes have been carried out, using British-made weapons.

Furthermore, the UK has reportedly deployed special forces and MI6 to Saudi Arabia, to assist in the identifying of targets for drone strikes. The government deny this.

The Saudi-led coalition denied they were responsible for Saturday’s attack in Sanaa, saying there were no operations in the area. But as one Yemen-based journalist put it, if it wasn’t them, then was it “UFO’s [who] did” it?

The British government has so far failed to comment.

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Steve Topple is an independent journalist, and political and social commentator. Covering a varying range of topics from domestic politics, economics and social/ethnological issues to the Middle East, Europe and Russia, via pop culture and music/literary reviews – his opinions have been cited as “ultra-left and sectarian” by Owen Jones, while many consider him a firebrand of the freelance world, with an acerbic tongue and no-nonsense style.

Permanently based at The Canary Says as a contributing writer, he is also UK Political Editor for newly-established Scisco Media and has a weekly Op-Ed column with the CommonSpace.

He frequently contributes for the Independent and openDemocracy, has written for the Morning Star, Red Pepper, Occupy and INSURGEIntel amongst others, and can be seen on television as a regular commentator on Russia Today UK and Al Jazeera and heard on Sputnik International Radio and Talk Radio Europe.

His “home” is at Consented where he is resident, publishing his analysis of Prime Minister’s Questions every Wednesday along with frequent longform and opinion pieces and contributions to their TV channel.

Commissions are welcomed on any subject and in any format.