Fantasizing belongs in the bedroom, not the newsroom
December 10, 2015 by Thomas Wictor
Today I spent several hours trying to find even one news report about the war in Yemen that didn’t slam the Saudi-led Coalition for its “complete disregard for civilian life” and its “indiscriminate air strikes.” Those are lies. Reporters are fantasizing this alleged ongoing series of war crimes.
As of today, the fake civilian death toll stands at over 2600. We know this number is not real because journalists and “human rights” groups admit that they get their figures from the Houthis.
Are the Houthis fans of a free press? Take a wild guess.
After enduring more than three decades of censorship, Yemen’s press should have flourished after President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced his resignation in November 2011 in the face of months of massive protests. But like in so many other Arab countries after that period, hopes for greater freedoms including for the press were dashed…
The attempted bombing of the Al-Masdar building came as increasing numbers of journalists were kidnapped or received death threats in 2013 and 2014. But when the Houthi movement backed by Saleh loyalists took over Sana’a in September, the group began to consolidate the power diffused after Saleh’s fall and, as a result, sharpen and enforce the red lines. In the months after the fall of Sana’a, CPJ documented a spike in equipment confiscations, temporary detentions, and beatings of journalists covering anti-Houthi protests.
The downward slide quickened on March 25. The Houthi-controlled Ministry of Information warned that outlets may be closed if they fan sectarianism, publish false news, or insult “the revolution of our proud people.”
So we have the Committee to Protect Journalists accusing the Houthis of brutally distorting the news, but reporters then turn around and uncritically repeat Houthi-vetted stories as though they’re true. “Human rights” groups do the same. All the accusations against the Saudi-led Coalition fighting in Yemen are based on eyewitness accounts and physical evidence that wouldn’t stand up in court for three seconds.
I can tell you that the Coalition is using inert, cement-filled BDU-56 bombs in order to spare civilian lives. Only an inert aerial munition could’ve caused these two holes without bringing down the building in Sana’a.
The Israelis pioneered the wartime use of cement training bombs to reduce civilian casualties. They first did it in Lebanon in 1982, when the PLO put antiaircraft artillery on the roofs of apartment buildings and locked the residents inside. What the Israeli pilots did was roar in at rooftop level and skip the cement bomb off the building next door.
Inert bombs weigh exactly the same as their explosive counterparts, so the Palestinian antiaircraft gunners would get one ton (946 kilos) of cement hitting them at 900 miles (1448 kilometers) per hour.
I would love to see a film of that. It would be like spreading jam all over a roof.
Here’s another thing the Israelis did: The Palestinians put combat posts in the second floor of apartment buildings. Since the Israelis had no way to attack them without collapsing the entire structure, they improvised. They drove their self-propelled howitzers right up to where the terrorists were hiding.
These guns are “indirect fire systems.” You use them to hit targets you can’t see. The gunners fire at coordinates on maps, after using math to work out the trajectory. In Lebanon the Israeli howitzer gunners bore-sighted the weapons. They opened the breech and looked through the cannon.
By raising and lowering the gun they made sure it was aimed right at the hapless Palestinian combat post. Then they fired an illumination round at point-blank range, using the muzzle blast to wipe out the terrorists without destroying the apartment.
Didn’t expect that, did you, fellas?
Oops. I’m fantasizing about the hysteria of the PLO leadership as their well-laid plans were defeated one by one. Sorry.
The reporting from Gaza in 2014 was no better than that from Yemen in 2015. Iran-backed and trained terrorist group Hamas threatened journalists routinely. Here’s American freelance photographer Heidi Levine cringing from a Hamas thug who was angry that she didn’t stop taking photos when he demanded.
If you asked Heidi Levine if anyone ever menaced her in Gaza, she’d say, “No,” and she wouldn’t be lying. She’d be fantasizing.
The reason I know that journalists are not lying is that I can prove that nobody is putting even a second of thought into their reports. They’re just stenographers for terrorists and corrupt bureaucracies that have a vested interest in terrorism continuing.
Fantasizing about the “bad guys”
Attacks in which there is no evident military target, that strike indiscriminately, or cause civilian harm disproportionate to the anticipated military gain, are unlawful.
Human Rights Watch investigated several coalition airstrikes in which there was no evident military target in the vicinity, such as strikes on the markets at Muthalith Ahim and Amran. These amount to an unlawfully indiscriminate attack, if not a deliberate attack on civilians. In other cases, bombs struck, sometimes repeatedly, civilian objects a significant distance from any military objective, killing and wounding civilians.
If insufficient precautions were taken to avoid civilian loss—such as not clearly identifying a military target or using weapons with wide area effects in populated neighborhoods—these attacks would also be indiscriminate.
Human Rights Watch has no idea whatsoever what the Coalition was targeting. The locations of the strikes were completely sanitized by Houthis long before some pony-tailed male investigator arrived to take worthless photos and witness statements.
For example the caption to the photo below reads, “
Actually it’s classic damage from a truck bomb.
Hamas claimed that Israel bombed markets too. In reality the only people who bomb markets are terrorists. That’s why terrorists accuse others of doing the things they themselves do. They think everyone else is like them.
I’m positive that the figure of 2600 dead Yemeni civilians is fake, but let’s say it’s real. The Saudi-led Coalition began air operations on March 26, 2015, and the ground war started in earnest on September 12, 2015. So the fighting has been going for on a bit more than eight months. We don’t know how many air strikes the Coalition has carried out. From March 26 to April 12, 2105, the Coalition launched 1200 air strikes. That’s seventy a day.
Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve carried out 8,783 air strikes in Syria and Iraq over 17 months, which works out to 24 a day. Over 26,000 have been killed during Operation Inherent Resolve by air strikes and ground combat.
We can safely say that the Saudi-led Coalition is dropping a minimum of twice as many aerial munitions as Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, but the Coalition monthly death toll is less than half of the butcher’s bill in Iraq and Syria. Journalists say that half of the dead in Yemen are civilians; photos and videos of the injured show that the overwhelming majority are military-aged males.
In eight months of war in Yemen, about 5700 are said to have been killed. Let’s look at other Yemeni conflicts.
The two-month Yemeni civil war of 1994 killed up to 10,000.
The six-month Operation Scorched Earth of August 2009 to February 2010 killed 8000.
Journalists are fantasizing that the Saudi-led Coalition is showing no regard for civilians, but even the fake casualty figure of 5700 dead refutes that notion. The Coalition refuses to treat the press with respect, given how journalists are reporting Houthi propaganda as the truth. Below, however, is the reality of the war, which is what I’ve been telling you.
In an exclusive interview with AFP, the Royal Saudi Air Force brigadier general — who cannot be identified under the military’s security restrictions — accused rights groups and other critics of “looking through one eye only”.
“They are receiving all the information from the adversary,” he said of Yemen’s Huthi rebels supported by forces loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
“We are sticking to the rules, the international rules and Geneva Convention, first, and law of conflict,” said the brigadier.
“We don’t deviate from those standards,” the brigadier told AFP during the first visit by a foreign journalist to the coalition’s planning and operations centre at King Salman Air Base in Riyadh…
He said targeting is verified many times to ensure that civilians will not be killed. The joint forces commander sends targets to the intelligence section which makes sure the objective is in line with the rules of engagement to avoid civilian casualties, the brigadier said.
Intelligence forwards it to the planning section “so they start to study it again”, he said, before it is further reviewed by others. They assign the right type of weapon to the appropriate aircraft as a further measure to avoid killing or injuring civilians, the brigadier said.
The brigadier said that the more than 50 people working around the clock in his planning cell have taken courses in the United States, Britain and France.
“The people here, they are trained very well and they are professional,” he said of the uniformed personnel working at computers outside his office.
“We know where our aircraft are now over Yemen and what they are doing,” the planning chief said. Aircrews also must ensure no civilians are in the area before releasing their bombs, which are guided by GPS or laser for accuracy.
“If we don’t target today we can target tomorrow or after tomorrow. We are not in a hurry,” the brigadier said, adding that with all the precautions “mistakes should not happen” and so far have not.
The coalition records all its actions and if people have doubts about that, “we have the evidence”, the brigadier said. “There is nothing to hide.”
You need to understand how wars are fought in order to report on them. Fantasizing is fun; believe me, I know. But it has its time and place. Human Rights Watch says this.
Under international law, states have an obligation to investigate alleged violations of the laws of war, and appropriately punish those individuals responsible for war crimes.
Read Customary International Humanitarian Law Rule 158 for yourself. It says nothing whatsoever about Human Rights Watch having been granted the power to force states to investigate totally unfounded allegations. After Human Rights Watch’s utterly craptastic performance during and after the Gaza war of 2014, it’s clear why the Saudis are giving them the cold shoulder. As well they should.
Fantasizing during wars just gets lots of people killed.
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