Jamal Khashoggi’s murder has rightly galvanized the world against Saudi Arabia.
By all available evidence, and in spite of some implausible denials from Riyadh, a Saudi hit squad seized the respected journalist at their consulate in Istanbul, tortured him, killed him and dismembered his body.
The world community has been shocked by such butchery – not least because it was committed with the goal of silencing a peaceful critic of an autocratic regime. The assassins were attacking not just a journalist, but the liberal ideals for which he stood.
With Saudi Arabia in the spotlight, now is a good time to re-examine its other grievous atrocity: the war in Yemen.
Since 2015, the Saudis have led a coalition of mostly Arab states intervening in Yemen’s civil war, backing the ousted government against Houthi rebels, a Shia group with support from Iran.
Both sides have committed war crimes, including atrocities against civilians. But Saudi conduct in Yemen has been particularly egregious.
Coalition aircraft have repeatedly bombed hospitals and ambulances in the country. They have also bombed refugee camps – which are swollen with civilians trapped in a war that has displaced more than two million people.
All told, more than 16,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed or wounded since March, 2015, mostly by coalition air strikes, according to United Nations human-rights officials.
That is all without mentioning the millions at risk of famine and hundreds of thousands infected with cholera, conditions the Saudis have worsened with periodic blockades and bombing sorties against civilian infrastructure.
Canadian complicity in this horror is a real possibility. Our government and private firms have sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of arms to countries in the Saudi coalition. The Liberals will not say if any of these weapons are being used in Yemen, but social media posts by the Saudi military in 2015 suggest Canadian light armoured vehicles have been.
It’s time to re-examine these sales, and whether Canada wants to continue to do business with the butchers of Riyadh.