Law

U.S. Lawyers Fret as the Saudis Bomb

Americans could be held liable for war crimes in Yemen because of arms sales.

The destruction.

Photographer: Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images

A Saudi airstrike that destroyed a funeral hall and killed 140 people Saturday in Yemen is a scenario U.S. lawyers have been worried about under international law. Documents obtained by Reuters reveal that State Department lawyers were concerned that arms sales to the Saudis might make the U.S. liable for war crimes the Saudis might commit. The U.S. hasn’t been giving targets to the Saudis but, problematically, it has provided a no-strike list including critical infrastructure. In effect, that may make the U.S. complicit in targeting decisions like the one that tragically hit the funeral hall. Worse, the U.S. has been refueling Saudi warplanes for strikes in Yemen.

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