US Withdraws Military Staff from Saudi Arabia

Aug 22nd, 2016 | By | Category: News Posts

Following attacks on the Doctors Without Borders (Medicins Sans Frontier) in Yemen last week, the United States military withdrew personnel from Saudi Arabia that were coordinating with the Saudi-led air strike coalition and drastically reduced the number of staff who were helping.

Doctors Without Borders hospital hit by airstrike.

Doctors Without Borders hospital hit by airstrike.

Reuters reports, that there are now less than 5 full time U.S. service people assigned to the “Joint Combined Planning Cell,” which was established in 2015 to “coordinate U.S. support, including air-to-air refueling of coalition jets and limited intelligence-sharing.” Previously, there were about 45 full time staff members on the Joint Combined Planning Cell.

While U.S. officials claim this move was not due to continued civilian casualties related to the civil war, it comes after an annual U.N. report on children and armed conflict stated that the Saudi-led coalition was responsible got 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen in 2015.

On Tuesday, August 15, the coalition air strike hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Yemen, killing 19 people. Since then, Nazarene_Pin_Ad_300pxthe group, also referred to as Medcins Sans Frontier, pulled staff out of six hospitals in Yemen. On its website, the group said “over the last eight months, Medicin Sans Frontier has met with high-ranking Saudi-led coalition officials on two occasions in Riyadh to secure humanitarian and medical assistance for Yemenis, as well as to seek assurances that attacks on hospitals would end.” The article continues on to say “Aerial bombings have, however, continued, despite the fact that MSF has systematically shared the GPS coordinates of hospitals in which we work with the parties involved in the conflict. Coalition officials repeatedly state that they [honor] international humanitarian law, yet this attack shows a failure to control the use of force and to avoid attacks on hospitals full of patients. MSF is neither satisfied nor reassured by the Saudi-led coalition’s statement that this attack was a mistake.”

Democratic U.S. Representative Ted Lieu, from California, commented on the hospital attack, stating h believed the air strikes would gather votes for limiting arms transfers to the Saudi government, “When its repeated air strikes that have now killed children, doctors, newlyweds, patients, at some point you just have to say: Either Saudi Arabia is not listening to the United States or they just don’t care.”

The conflict in Yemen has brought famine and more than $14 billion in damage to both infrastructure and economic loses, as reported by Reuters.

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