The New Zealand Government led by Prime Minister John Key wishes to establish better trade relations with Saudi Arabia. Some would argue that trade should be with everyone and entangling alliances and commenting on other nations affairs should be stopped. Whilst agreeing so far as the alliances go – the current international framework of alliances in the West in particular is outmoded, and needs either a major overhaul or complete abandonment – the same cannot and should not be said for the cessation of condemning backward/improper acts in the domestic affairs of other nations.
At the start of 2015 Saudi Arabia began a military campaign in Yemen targetting Houthi rebels. Whilst the rebels should not be condoned for their campaign in Saudi Arabia which has killed about 40 Saudi’s, the Saudi Arabia response has been wholly disproportionate and continues to this day with the implicit support of the United States and Britain. both of these nations have been funding and arming Saudi Arabia and turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabian war crimes, which have documented by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Red Cross. The war crimes include, but are not limited to:
- A Saudi led attack on a funeral in Sanaa where over 100 people were killed and 500 were injured
- Multiple airstrikes (according to Human Rights Watch)that failed to distinguish between military and civilian targets in September and October 2015 killing 60 civilians
- Bombing a Medicin Sans Frontieres hospital where 15 people were killed
The New Zealand Government will be aware of the Saudi Arabian bombing campaign through intelligence shared among members of the Five Eyes network of American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand intelligence agencies. It will probably know about the atrocities being committed, and that the United States and Britain are supplying the munitions and delivery systems being used to deliver them to their targets.
So far we have heard nothing from Prime Minister John Key about this. This is quite disturbing for a Prime Minister who thinks the world of the United States and wants to be seen to be in support of “freedom and democracy”, yet turns a blind eye to allies supporting a dodgy mate giving its little neighbour the brutal thrash. It is also quite improper for a country that prides itself on being a country that stands up for the little guy (we stood up to the French and Americans on nuclear weapons in the Pacific, and won the respect of millions).
Making New Zealand great again would be to start standing up to larger nations as we have historically done and say “look, this is not right – we do not support it”. New Zealand should not turn a blind eye to the Saudi Arabian bombing campaign in Yemen. It should be telling Saudi Arabia that this is not okay, that war crimes are not acceptable conduct in the international community. We should be looking long and hard at the evidence Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have obtained and asking the United States and Britain why they support Saudi Arabia committing war crimes.
It is not okay, and you can say so yourself, here.