The civil war in Yemen continues to get more brutal by the day as Saudi Arabia launches merciless attacks on civilian areas with American-made weapons.
Last year, Human Rights Watch warned that one of the weapons being used by the Saudis is the CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon from Textron Systems of Wilmington, Massachusetts.
Despite 116 countries signing on to the international agreement banning cluster bombs known as the Convention On Cluster Munitions (CCM), the U.S. has continued to sell the CBU-105. Some of the major buyers of the widely-banned bomb are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who, like the U.S., are not party to the CCM.
Each cluster bomb weapon costs $360,000 and the Saudis have spent millions to create a considerable inventory.
Now the Saudis are using the CBU-105 and other weapons in Yemen, leading to horrific civilian casualties. Whether done deliberately or as the consequence of apathy, the Saudis’ attacks are mostly hitting people who are not in the fight. In September, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and British charity Action on Armed Violence estimated that 93% of deaths and injuries in the Yemen civil war are of civilians.
As if the attacks themselves were not bad enough, the U.S.-made CBU-105 also has a propensity to malfunction and not completely detonate all its bombs, leaving unexploded ordinance scattered around the bomb site. Given the metal content of the bombs, scavengers, often children, end up being maimed or killed well after bomb attacks when they inadvertently set off the weapon looking for metal to trade to survive.
The use of these weapons by Saudi Arabia has put the U.S. in a precarious position given the Obama Administration’s claimed commitment to human rights. In December, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power told reporters that the U.S., when speaking with the Saudis on Yemen, has “urged full compliance with international humanitarian law.”
That’s clearly not working. So will the U.S. even consider stopping the sale of the CBU-105 to Saudi Arabia given that the U.S. weapon is clearly being used for war crimes?