Childers protesting in Yemen

UAE & War Crimes: The Forgotten War Crimes That Must Be Remembered

The forgotten war crimes of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have had dramatic implications for those affected. The United Arab Emirates has been accused of committing war crimes, primarily in Yemen, Libya, and Syria, though with some activity in Iraq, Somalia, and Afghanistan as well. In particular, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has reported evidence of “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment” perpetrated by the UAE as part of its interventions in these regions.

War Crimes In Yemen Ongoing Civil War

In Yemen, the UAE has become embroiled in an ongoing civil war in which an estimated 12,000 civilians have been killed since 2015. The HRW report from late 2018 indicates several war crimes specific to the UAE’s actions. These include “indiscriminate and disproportionate” airstrikes against civilians and civilian infrastructure, as well as the unlawful recruitment of child combatants. The UN Panel of Experts on Yemen also reported international laws being violated which included the criminalizing of elements of the war, and misuse of weapons purchased by the UAE.

Torture And Killings In Libya

In Libya, reports of UAE involvement have centered around several issues, notably the perpetration of torture, extrajudicial killings, and the occupation of Sirte. Again, HRW has reported violations of international law, in the form of torture and use of force against captured combatants and civilians. The HRW has raised the possibility of the UAE and its allies using torture as an operational technique, and as punishment for those suspected of working with the enemy.

UAE-Backed Mercenaries Committing War Crimes In Syria

In Syria, little is known of the extent of the UAE’s involvement, though leaks from British intelligence documents indicating UAE-backed mercenaries committing war crimes have been concerning. These reports include the shedding of civilian blood and the targeting of civilians. Furthermore, it has come to light that the UAE’s involvement has been in the form of providing on-the-ground troop support and training when battles have reached a stalemate.

Accusations Of Creating War Economies In Middle Eastern Countries 

The UAE has also been accused of war crimes in seven other Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq and Somalia. Apart from accusations of forming proxy forces and creating war economies, there have been reports of the UAE using military forces to try and suppress regimes it is opposed to, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

The United Arab Emirates has been accused of a range of war crimes and human rights abuses in both Yemen and Somalia. This ranges from the unlawful killing of civilians to torture, and arbitrary detention. The actions of the UAE are a clear breach of international law and put the global community on notice for their abhorrent behavior.

A Major Player In The Yemen War

The UAE is a major player in the Yemeni war, supporting various sides from the Saudi-backed coalition to local fighters. This support has come in many forms, ranging from financial aid to military arms. Unfortunately, this backing has often been deployed in ways that have resulted in grave human rights violations. These include incidents such as airstrikes targeting civilians when schools and hospitals have been hit. Inadvertent civilian deaths due to the aerial bombardment have pushed the death toll to as high as 50,000 people. 

For example, in 2015 an attack on a market near Taiz left 117 dead and many more injured. Further to these sad events, it has come to light that mercenaries have been sent by the UAE to fight in the war, an allegation that the UAE has denied.

Involvement In A Series Of Human Rights Abuses

In addition to the crimes committed in Yemen, the evidence that has now come to light about the area of the UAE’s involvement in Somalia is damning. The UAE has been accused of taking part in a series of human rights abuses, from arbitrary detention, to torture and targeted killings. 

In the lawless Galgudud region of Somalia, two secret prisons were revealed to have been created and run by the UAE. It was in these prisons that journalists, academics, and preachers were subjected to horrific acts of torture. In the same area, local authorities are said to have carried out extrajudicial executions, a clear violation of international law.