The Lobbying War for War in Yemen, by Ben Freeman

The Saudi Arabian PR machine has to kick into overdrive to cover up what Saudi Arabia is doing in Yemen. From Ben Freeman at antiwar.com:

“Coalition airstrikes are based on intelligence and extensive monitoring and surveillance, to ensure all targets are military installations…Extensive precautions are taken to avoid civilian areas, especially where women and children are present,” a spokesman for the Saudi coalition in Yemen, announced on December 20.

Six days later, a Saudi coalition air strike ripped through a crowded market in Yemen, killing at least 54 civilians, including eight children. That same day another Saudi coalition air strike killed 14 civilians on a farm in Yemen. All were members of the same family. According to the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, these were in addition to 84 civilians killed in just the previous 10 days in Yemen, and “These incidents prove the complete disregard for human life that all parties, including the Saudi-led Coalition, continue to show in this absurd war.”

A spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition responded, not by consoling the victims’ families, but by questioning the “credibility” of the United Nations, and “the competence of its employees working in Yemen.”

While a seemingly unexpected response, this denial wasn’t a new tactic by the Saudi government. Since the war in Yemen began, and despite the United Nations confirming that more than 10,000 civilian lives have been lost in the conflict, the Saudi government and their lobbyists in D.C. have been working to keep Yemen off most policymakers’ radar and keep U.S. military supportand weapons flowing into Saudi Arabia in record numbers.

In 2017 alone, Saudi Arabia spent more than $16 million on 28 lobbying and public relations firms registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). These efforts appear to have borne fruit quickly as President Trump spoke with Saudi Arabia’s King just days after his inauguration. During the call, “the Kingdom pledged to support safe zones in Syria and Yemen,” according to a Podesta Group press release sent to more than 50 prominent think tank experts.

To continue reading: The Lobbying War for War in Yemen

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