Published on June 25, 2020 in News + Media

In an official note released on June 24 by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy condemned the attacks carried out by Houthis in Saudi Arabia against civilians 

More in the detail, according to the official statement, Italy considers those attacks as factors that trigger new tensions in the Middle-Eastern region and threaten Saudi security. Also, Italy urged the parties to restart dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations, aiming at reaching a political solution to the conflict and ceasing hostilities in Yemen. 

On March 22, 2015, a civil war broke out in Yemen and still found no solution. On that date, Houthi rebels launched an offensive to expand their control over Yemenite southern provinces. Groups involved in the conflict are on the one hand the Shia rebels, who control the capital, Sana’a, and are allied with the former president’s, Ali Abdullah Saleh, loyalists, backed by Iran and Hezbollah militias. On the other hand, the conflict involves the supporters of the current president, Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is the only internationally recognized actor. Saudi Arabia started supporting Hadi on March 26, 2015, heading a coalition with United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar and backed by the United States.  

The war in Yemen is considered by Middle Eastern countries as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. However, Houthis always denied they follow Iran’s orders, claiming they are protesting against corruption in the country. 

According to an Armed Conflict Location and Events Dataset report, published in June 2019, from 2015 to 2019 around 91.600 people lost their lives because of the conflict in Yemen, where over 39.700 armed clashes occurred. Of the total number of the victims, around 11.700 are civilians. Also, the Saudi-led coalition caused around 67% of the total number of victims. 

On Feb 17, 2020, Italian dockworkers in Genoa protested against a cargo ship that was accused of carrying weapons to Saudi Arabia and which docked in Italy. On that occasion, more in the detaildockworkers refused to load electricity generators onto the Saudi ship, the Bahri Yanbu, which loaded weapons last month, when it docked in Antwerp, Belgium. The ship was then to dock in France, Le Havre, where it was supposed to load new armaments, but this was avoided by human rights activists, who protested against the supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia. Activists argued that by supplying arms to Saudi Arabia, countries breach a United Nations Treaty since weapons can be used against civilians in Yemen. Thus, after protesters reached their goal in France, human rights activists tried to prevent the Bahri Yanbu from docking in Genoa, but Italian authorities granted its access. In Italy, activists noticed that the cargo ship carrying weapons to Saudi Arabia was also breaching the Italian law 185/1990, which bans arms sales to countries charged of violating human rights, together with the transit of such armaments on its soil and waters 

This article was firstly published on June 25, 2020 

Jasmine Ceremigna