WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – On Thursday, Human Rights Watch published fresh reports of Saudi Arabia using cluster munitions in residential areas in Yemen, where the country is at war with Houthi rebels. Human Rights Watch tracked the origins of the munitions components, reporting they were made in the United States.
"The use of cluster bombs is radioactive in international public opinion," Just Foreign Policy Director Robert Naiman told Sputnik on Friday.
The United States had many areas where it could rapidly bring pressure on Riyadh to force it to stop using cluster bombs in the Yemeni conflict, but the Obama administration refused to do so, Naiman explained.
"There is no question that the US has leverage over Saudi Arabia. It could cut off arms sales and transfers to Saudi Arabia, it could cut off support for the Saudi intervention in Yemen. It could ramp up the volume of its rhetorical denunciations."
However, the US government was very concerned that Saudi Arabia not blow up the Syria diplomacy, and that was clearly a higher priority for the United States currently than avoiding civilian casualties in Yemen, Naiman pointed out.
"The US was not jazzed about the Saudi intervention in Bahrain and was not jazzed about the Saudi intervention in Yemen. But the top US priority was the Iran nuclear agreement, and keeping the Saudis from screwing that up, so US objections on Bahrain and Yemen were muted."
Instead, the Obama administration had actively collaborated with the Saudis on Yemen, Naiman noted.
Senior US officials were finally starting to realize that their association with the Saudi war in Yemen was doing enormous damage to America’s global standing, University of Pittsburgh Professor of International Affairs Michael Brenner told Sputnik.
"The Obama people finally have awakened to the fact that the public relations disaster they have suffered by serving as hand-maidens to the Saudis has serious practical costs. However, they still will not bring any pressure to bear on Riyadh — much less break with them."
US officials had been trying to distance themselves from the slaughter in Yemen by careful use of phrases in public, but they did not seem to realize that this was a waste of time in the eyes of shocked observers around the world, Brenner insisted.
"Vague references to limiting collateral damage are meaningless in the eyes of all except Washington policymakers. Obama in particular never distinguishes between his words and deeds."
The United Nations estimates that as many as 2,795 civilians have been killed since the conflict began nine months ago.