World in View: Blood on Saudi Arabia’s hands

September 13, 2023

by Eugene Walker

We were fired on repeatedly. I saw people killed in a way I have never imagined. I saw 30 people killed on the spot. I pushed myself under a rock and slept there. I could feel people sleeping around me. I realized what I thought were people sleeping around me were actually dead bodies. I woke up and I was alone.

14-year-old migrant girl

“Eastern route” to Yemen and Saudi Arabia, CC-BY-SA-3.0

A new report from Human Rights Watch documents that Saudi border guards at the Saudi-Yemen border have used explosive weapons and shot hundreds and perhaps thousands of Ethiopian migrants seeking to cross into Saudi Arabia.

The report goes into horrifying detail as to the murders, rapes, and the loss of limbs inflicted on immigrants, including many children and women. Human Rights Watch had already reported on the horrendous situation faced by the migrants in Yemen itself, both from the government and the Houthi rebels—including extortion, torture and rape. The new report on Saudi Arabia’s already bloody hands is based on interviews with survivors, videos and photographs, as well as satellite images.

In addition to migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa as well as through Turkey, there is also a little discussed or investigated “Eastern route” that migrants from the Horn of Africa have been taking to escape the war conditions in Ethiopia and their difficult living conditions. It is this route that crosses Yemen and lands in Saudi Arabia.


“The U.S. was told last year that Saudi security forces were shooting, shelling and abusing groups of migrants, but it chose not to raise the issue publicly,” reported The New York Times. This is not surprising given the U.S.’s long-term support for many things:

  1. From the Obama presidency, through Trump’s and into Biden’s administration, the U.S. has provided logistical and intelligence aid in support of the Saudi coalition’s war on Yemen.
  2. Even the horrific 2018 assassination and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi—a U.S. as well as Saudi citizen—by Saudi operatives under the direction of Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, did not halt U.S. officials’ continuing relationship with the Saudi government.

And right now the Biden administration is seeking to work out a grand bargain between Israel—under Netanyahu’s right-wing extremist government—and Saudi Arabia—ruled by the bloody hands of Mohammed bin Salman. All this in the name of stability and security. But stability and security for whom? Hardly the Arab, Israeli and other masses in the Middle East.

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