Yemen after Saudi strikes: It only got worse

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Yemen is all set to become another Syria and the situation on the ground today has gone from bad to worse.

Making matters worse is the Al-Qaeda in Yemen which has taken advantage of the situation and gone on to free nearly 300 of its fighters from a prison in the Hadramout province.

Yemen crisis

There appears to be no coordination what so ever and the incident in which a Saudi led coalition hit a camp of displaced persons in the northern part of Yemen four days back has only raised concerns whether there is any intelligence sharing.

On March 30th an airstrike by the Saudi led coalition hit a camp in which 29 civilians which included 14 children were killed.

The hit which was a case of mistaken identity brought down a medical facility, local market and a bridge in which civilians were killed.

The strikes were meant to hit at the Houthi rebel camps instead.

Need to avoid harming civilians:

The deaths of so many civilians in a camp with no apparent military target heightens concerns about laws-of-war violations," Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch says.

In a report by the HRW, he also says that all sides in Yemen's conflict need to do what they can to avoid harming civilians.

All government forces participating in the attack should impartially investigate whether there were violations of the laws of war and take appropriate action.

The United States, by providing intelligence to the Saudi-led air campaign, shares the obligation to minimize harm to civilians and civilian property in the fighting.

Khaled Mareh, one of the camp managers, told Human Rights Watch that at 10:50 am, as he was standing at the camp gate, an explosion knocked him back, "I first heard the sound of a distant plane, then the deafening explosion."

"I saw body parts scattered in front of me, charred bodies, torn tents, and a large amount of shrapnel that hit the gate and charred the cars," he added.

He said he saw a second explosion hit a section of the camp about 500 meters away, which he later learned killed several children from the camp who were walking to school.

From a distance, he saw a third explosion at the western gate of the camp, and a fourth that hit the market.

The Saudi response:

Saudi military official, Brig. Gen. Ahmad al-Assiri, said, It could have been that the fighter jets replied to fire, and we cannot confirm that it was a refugee camp.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, and Sudan said that their aircraft are participating in the airstrikes.

Pakistan and Egypt said they are providing naval support. The United States has confirmed it is sharing intelligence and providing targeting assistance as well as logistical support, including air refuelling of warplanes.

Human Rights Watch earlier raised concerns about Saudi Arabia's possible use of cluster bombs in the operation, given credible evidence of past use of cluster bombs by Saudi Arabia in Yemen in 2009.

At a news conference in Riyadh on March 29, Brig. Gen. al-Assiri responded to a media question about the issue, saying, "We are not using cluster bombs at all."

Saudi Arabia should make clear that it will not use cluster munitions under any circumstances."

Al Qaeda benefits the most:

The Al-Qaeda which has been fighting in Yemen appears to be the biggest beneficiary of the ongoing conflict.

Yesterday the terrorist group stormed a prison in Yemen and freed almost 300 of the inmates owing allegiance to them.

The Yemen authorities expressed concern particularly over the release of an operative by the name Batarfi who is a leading figure of the Al-Qaeda.

He had led a battle against the Yemen government in the year 2011 and had managed great success in seizing lot of territory.

Analysts would say that following the Saudi led airstrikes the situation has only gone from bad to worse.

The country has descended into chaos and there appears to be a mindless pattern involved in which the strikes are taking place.

Once the Saudis launched the air strikes and the situation worsened further it gave the Al-Qaeda which goes by the name Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula a further boost.

It has been exploiting the situation and strengthening its base further in Yemen.

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