Two international civil society organizations for human rights have denounced the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for hiring thousands of mercenaries to carry out high-profile assassinations and targeted killings in the southern part of Yemen.
The International Institute for Rights and Development and the Rights Radar Foundation said in a statement, read during the 45th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in Geneva, that they “are deeply concerned about the escalation of assassination cases in Yemen by the mercenaries.”
The statement explained that the assassinations appear to be part of a deliberate strategy to weaken political institutions and leadership in the country, which has been subjected to a devastating combination of an almost total blockade, prolonged bombardment and invasion by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with the assistance of other countries that have joined the ‘Saudi-led coalition’ against Yemen.
“The UAE hired American mercenaries to carry out high-profile assassinations in Yemen. They conducted several operations in Aden and several cities, resulting in the assassinations of dozens of politicians and public figures during the past five years of conflict in Yemen.”
“Over 80 percent of Yemeni politicians, lawmakers and media professionals have been displaced locally or globally, seeking safety as they become potential targets for assassination.”
Cradling an AK-47 and sucking a lollipop, the former American Green Beret bumped along in the back of an armored SUV as it wound through the darkened streets of Aden. Two other commandos on the mission were former Navy SEALs. As elite US special operations fighters, they had years of specialized training by the US military to protect America. But now they were working for a different master: a private US company that had been hired by the United Arab Emirates, a tiny desert monarchy on the Persian Gulf.
On that night, December 29, 2015, their job was to carry out an assassination.
Their armed attack, described to BuzzFeed News by two of its participants and corroborated by drone surveillance footage, was the first operation in a startling for-profit venture. For months in war-torn Yemen, some of America’s most highly trained soldiers worked on a mercenary mission of murky legality to kill prominent clerics and Islamist political figures.
Their target that night: Anssaf Ali Mayo, the local leader of the Islamist political party Al-Islah. The UAE considers Al-Islah to be the Yemeni branch of the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood, which the UAE calls a terrorist organization. Many experts insist that Al-Islah, one of whose members won the Nobel Peace Prize, is no terror group. They say it’s a legitimate political party that threatens the UAE not through violence but by speaking out against its ambitions in Yemen.
The operation against Mayo — which was reported at the time but until now was not known to have been carried out by American mercenaries — marked a pivot point in the war in Yemen, a brutal conflict that has seen children starved, villages bombed, and epidemics of cholera roll through the civilian population. The bombing was the first salvo in a string of unsolved assassinations that killed more than two dozen of the group’s leaders.
The company that hired the soldiers and carried out the attack is Spear Operations Group, incorporated in Delaware and founded by Abraham Golan, a charismatic Hungarian Israeli security contractor who lives outside of Pittsburgh. He led the team’s strike against Mayo.
“There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen,” he told BuzzFeed News. “I was running it. We did it. It was sanctioned by the UAE within the coalition.”
… The press office of the UAE’s US Embassy, as well as its US public affairs company, Harbour Group, did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails…
The human rights groups informed the UN agency that the UAE has recruited approximately 30,000 mercenaries from four Latin American states, of whom at least 450 mercenaries have been deployed to Yemen after having received training by US trainers.
They also stated to the UN agency that the UAE and its proxy groups are taking advantage of the UN’s lack of action with respect to their persistent and ongoing human rights abuses in Yemen to continue their crimes confident that they will never be punished.
The rights groups warned that “the right to life in Yemen is in extreme danger,” emphasizing that the people of Yemen “needs the UN to offer effective action not just kind words. Enough is enough.”
Aden and other cities in the south of Yemen are controlled by Saudi- or UAE-backed militant groups, which have been engaged in conflicts among themselves for control over communities, territory and resources in the areas that have been invaded and occupied by the ‘Saudi-led coalition’.
Abu Dhabi and Riyadh have repeatedly been denounced for running secret prison facilities in southern Yemen, where grave human rights violations, including torture and sexual abuse of the captives, has been documented and reported on multiple occasions by prominent civil rights organizations.
Militants backed by the UAE have repeatedly been accused of kidnapping people and transferring them to the notorious Abu Dhabi-run jails in southern Yemen under the pretext of detaining people suspected of being associated with al-Qaeda-linked elements.
Following the normalization deal between the UAE and Israel, the two countries are making preparations to establish an Israeli intelligence station on Yemen’s Socotra Island. LINK
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