Saudi Arabia's humanitarian chief claims Riyadh 'never attacked Yemen'

Saudi Arabia's humanitarian chief claims Riyadh 'never attacked Yemen'
2 min read
19 Apr, 2017
The head of Saudi Arabia's official humanitarian aid organisation has defended Riyadh's military intervention despite the growing death toll from Gulf-led air strikes.
Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen's war in March 2015 [AFP]

Saudi Arabia's chief humanitarian director has claimed that his country "did not... attack Yemen" and that the ongoing military intervention is due to Houthi rebels takeover of the capital in 2014.

Speaking to the Kremlin-backed RT news channel, Dr Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Rabiah, supervisor general of Saudi's government-run aid agency, argued that Riyadh's intervention in Yemen was not an act of aggression.

"I think we should look the truth. Saudi Arabia did not actually attack Yemen, we should look at the history of this conflict," the head of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief group said when questioned about Riyadh's role in the conflict.

Rabiah insists it is the Houthis - who represent "five percent" of the country's population according to his estimations - had "violated the will of the Yemeni people" by rebelling after the country's 2012 presidential election.

He insisted that Saudi-led intervention was necessary due to the failed political process that ensued after the 2012 ballot, which saw Riyadh-backed President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi as the only candidate.

The humanitarian chief's comments comes after the UN and aid groups warned earlier this month that Yemen is on the brink of mass starvation.

Roughly 60 percent of the country - which was already the Middle East's poorest prior to the war - is going hungry while air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition continue to claim civilian lives and destroy infrastructure.

The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people have been killed since then and more than 40,000 were left wounded in the impoverished state.

Saudi Arabia has been accused by rights groups of war crimes of hitting civilian targets in its aerial bombardment campaign, which has seen schools, hospitals, weddings and funerals all destroyed.

Houthi forces have also been accused of firing rockets at civilian areas, blockading rival territories and murdering thousands of political rivals.