Saudi Arabia

The US Government Has Failed The World On The Ubiquitous Use of Cluster Bombs

In conflict zones spanning the globe, several factions are utilizing various types of “cluster munitions”.

Unlike ordinary explosives, which are a one and done affair, cluster munitions are a type of warhead that is far more insidious. They disperses bomblets, thus peppering an area with the loaded munitions.

This is problematic due to the tendency of some of the bomblets to not detonate immediately.

These unexploded ordinance can later detonate, and shred civilians in their wake.

Laos for instance has suffered heavily from unexploded cluster bombs in the decades since the American war in Vietnam.

As a result the UN passed a resolution banning the use of cluster munitions in 2008.

As is often the case, the United States is not a signatory to the convention, but has desisted from using cluster munitions, and the White House has blocked the sale of cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia, who has been using them in the war in Yemen.

This was after damning accusations by Human Rights Watch, claiming that Riyadh was even using cluster bombs in urban areas.

However, Saudi Arabia is joined by: Russia and Ukraine, the Libyan National Army, Sudan, and Russia and Al-Assad in Syria, who are potentially field testing a new variety of cluster bomb, according to War is Boring.

The American Government, has been largely silent on the use of cluster munitions.

While the sale of cluster munitions blocked by the President was nearly unnecessary due to a close fight in the House, this slight reaction was only triggered following Saudi airstrikes on urban centers.

A slap on the wrist for a customer and ally, but no condemnation for the many other actors who use cluster munitions on civilian centers.

Whilst the United States is not a signatory to the Convention on Cluster Bombs, this would not be the first time the United States has acted to enforce international law it is not a de jure party to.

The dispute in the South China Sea is one largely over the arcane minutia of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), of which the United States is not party to, due to vague arguments regarding sovereignty.

Nevertheless, the United States largely abides by the conditions of UNCLOS, and has demonstrated its determination to not recognize China’s maritime claims, based on the text of UNCLOS.

In the words of the late International Law scholar Lewis Henkin;

“Almost all nations observe almost all principles of international law and almost all of their obligations almost all of the time.”

If the cost of doing business is to adhere to certain laws and norms, then states will adhere to those laws and norms in all but extraordinary cases.

It then should be surprising that the United States has not used either the Convention on Cluster Munitions, or its own invented doctrine of no use in civilian areas, as a rhetorical stick to hit its adversaries hard and often.

Fear of hypocrisy has not deterred the American Government from criticizing bad actors before, and even more so when decades of damage to civilian populations is guaranteed by inaction.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Photo Credit: Mario Micklisch/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Militarism Is Back In Vogue Around The World And It Should Scare The Shit Out Of Us

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, published its most recent report on world wide military expenditures earlier this week.

Two headlines of the report pop out as significant.

The first is that Saudi Arabia has overtaken Russia in military spending, with $87.2 billion to Russia’s $66.4 billion, being behind only the United States and China, at $596 billion and $215 billion respectively.  The second is that, beyond the Western Hemisphere and Africa, worldwide military spending is on the rise.

These figures can be paired with known geopolitical trends and instances in order to project what particular actors may be thinking, as well as what is the world’s security zeitgeist.

First, the somewhat surprising figure of Saudi Arabia overtaking Russia in defense spending.

Russia has been working to modernize its armed forces through: professionalization, doctrinal evolution, and working to achieve technological parity with the West (particularly, but not exclusively, in electronic warfare, unmanned vehicles, and force projection).

Indeed, Moscow has been consistently increasing its defense spending since the 2000’s, into the current year.

However, in real terms, the Russian military budget has remained largely stable.  This is due to the fact that the Ruble is approximately half its value at the onset of the Ukrainian adventure.

A Ruble just isn’t worth what it used to be.

As a result, Russia’s modernization efforts are slowed for the foreseeable future, perhaps to be completed in the 2020s.

This is in contrast with Saudi Arabia’s large scale investment in weaponry to balance against Iran.

This is most noble in the three year old Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force, first displaying this deterrent power in 2014, as well as procuring nearly $1.3 billion in American munitions.

These purchases seem to indicate that Saudi intends to keep Iran at arms length in the event of hostilities, utilizing its overwhelming number of missiles.

Iran in turn, due to the lifting of EU and US sanctions, will likely attempt to counter these Saudi gains.

Of course, Saudi and Russia are not the only ones preparing for conflict.

Asia leads the way in new defense spending, with $436 billion in new spending region wide.

This is driven in large part China’s need to deter American intervention in its periphery.  Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam also increased their spending in response to China’s bellicose enforcement of its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Afghan National Army soldiers drill in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, November of 2008. Photo Credit: Afghanistan Matter/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Afghan National Army soldiers drill in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, November of 2008. Photo Credit: Afghanistan Matter/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Europe is also continuing its trend of increased spending, in light of the Ukraine Crisis.  NATO’s biggest European spenders, Germany, France, and the UK, did not drive any growth.

But some of the Baltic states have built up their militaries.

This is likely due to the perceived threat of future Russian attempts to secure buffer space against the stronger alliance members, and unease about the Americans honoring their security agreements.

The outliers also a tell a story of the global arms buildup.

The Western Hemisphere is largely conflict free due to an end of the Cold War, and other imperialist interventions into Latin America largely subsiding after the Roosevelt administration’s attempt at being a “good neighbor”.

American hegemony over the region is uncontested.

Africa, despite being rife with conflict in: Libya, the Sinai, the West Coast, Somalia, Sudan, and the Congo, is largely devoid of great power politics.  Thus, large scale trends of regional military investment are not necessary.

These trends seem to indicate that military spending is increasingly becoming an acceptable investment of revenue in light of perceived dangers for nations from activist states.

This is potentially worrying, as periods of militarism tend to precede periods of conflict.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us!

Cover Photo Credit: Quinn Dombrowski/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Religious Tensions Rise In Iran After Saudi Executions

Iranian authorities made several dozen arrests Sunday following violent rioting at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran throughout the weekend. The Saudi execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shiite cleric, sparked outrage throughout the primarily Shiite country of Iran and the Middle East. Al-Nimr was executed Saturday along with 46 other people accused of being… Read More

At Least Eight Women Elected To Public Office In Historic Saudi Arabian Election

Saudi Arabian women have taken another large leap forward in their path to greater equality with at least eight female candidates winning seats in Saturday’s local council elections, according to regional media. The vote marks the first time both men and women could cast their ballot in Saudi Arabia. Counting is still taking place so the… Read More

Women Vote In Saudi Arabia For First Time

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia shed its dubious distinction as the last major country to bar women from participating in elections, as they cast ballots Saturday and ran as candidates in hundreds of local municipal council races. Mai Sharif, 32, was the first person to vote at a women-only polling center in downtown Riyadh. The… Read More

Suicide Bomber Injures At Least Three In Saudi Arabian Attack

Update: 12:25 PM EST

A suicide bomber targeted a mosque in the Saudi Arabian city of Najran.

Multiple reports are indicating at least three injuries in the attack. There are now multiple reports saying that at least two people were killed.

Stay with Rise News as we continue to follow this developing news story.

 

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