Human Rights Watch claims to have credible evidence that the Saudi-led coalition used cluster munitions against Houthi rebels in bombings in Yemen as part of Operation Decisive Storm.
Cluster bombs release small bomblets over a wide area and pose risks to civilians during attacks and long afterwards:Human Rights Watch has collected photographs, video, and other evidence since the middle of April 2015 showing that the munitions have been used in recent weeks. The attacks have been in areas that are traditional strongholds of the Houthis in the north of Yemen. Through satellite imagery it appears the bombs landed within 600 meters of several dozen buildings in four to six villages. Some of the photographs and other evidence can be found here. Steve Goose, of HRW said:The cluster bombs are likely provided to Saudi Arabia by the United States:This is not the first time that Saudi Arabia has used cluster munitions in Yemen. In 2009 Saudi planes dropped cluster bombs on Houthis in Saada, their home province. In the same year US naval forces fired one or more cruise missiles that contained cluster munitions on what was supposed to be an Al-Qaeda training campIn 2009, the United States naval forces fired one or more cruise missiles on Al Majalah camp in Abyan province Yemen. Originally the attack was attributed to Yemeni forces but a Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Shaye visited the site and found fragments of a US Tomahawk missile and cluster munitions showing that the Yemeni government was lying to cover up US involvement:
During attacks, the weapons are prone to indiscriminate effects, especially in populated areas. Unexploded bomblets can kill or maim civilians and/or unintended targets long after a conflict has ended, and are costly to locate and remove.A 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions bans, their use, production or distribution. Although 116 countries have signed the treaty Saudi Arabia and Yemen have not signed the treaty. Neither have the United States, China, Russia or Israel. Canada has.
"Saudi-led cluster munition airstrikes have been hitting areas near villages, putting local people in danger. These weapons should never be used under any circumstances. Saudi Arabia and other coalition members – and the supplier, the US – are flouting the global standard that rejects cluster munitions because of their long-term threat to civilians.”
"In August 2013, the US Department of Defense concluded a contract for the manufacture of 1,300 CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons for Saudi Arabia by Textron. The contract stipulated that delivery of the weapons should be completed by December 2015. Human Rights Watch does not know when deliveries began, or if they have finished Additionally, the UAE received an unknown number of CBU-105 from Textron Defense Systems in June 2010, fulfilling a contract announced in November 2007:"Stephen Goose has been instrumental in pushing for the 2008 treaty banning cluster munitions. Even though a number of the big powers refused to sign on to the treaty, Goose and others thought that the very fact so many countries agreed to ban them would limit their use. The United States maintains that cluster bombs are a legal weapon and have a "clear military utility in combat."
Shaye also reported that 21 children and 14 women had been killed in the attack. On August 16, 2010, Shaye was arrested by the Yemeni government. After 34 days of confinement, he was convicted of "terrorism-related charges" in a trial regarded by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Committee to Protect Journalists, and the International Federation of Journalists as a sham trial and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. After a public outcry from tribal leaders in Yemen over Shaye's imprisonment, Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh was prepared to release Shaye, but he was swayed otherwise by a call from U.S. President Barack Obama on February 2, 2011 citing his "concern" over Shaye's imminent release.On July 13 Shaye was finally released from prison and allowed to serve out the remaining 2 years of his sentence under a house arrest.