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Saudi ambassador laughs off cluster bomb question with 'wife beating' answer

Riyadh's man in US says asking whether his country will end the use of cluster bombs in Yemen is like asking 'Will you stop beating your wife?'
Abdullah al-Saud chuckles after delivering his 'wife-beating' comment (screengrab)

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the US brushed off a question on whether his country will stop using cluster bombs the Yemen war, with the answer: "This is like the question, ‘Will you stop beating your wife?’"

Prince Abdullah al-Saud was asked the question by a reporter at The Intercept during the annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference in Washington last week. 

“This is like the question, ‘Will you stop beating your wife?’” Saud replied while laughing. “You are political operators… I’m not a politician.”

Saud went on to say that his country would continue bombing Houthi rebels in Yemen “no matter what it takes”.

“If anyone attacks human lives, and disturbs the border, in whatever region, we’re going to continue hitting them, no matter what,” he said.

“Anyone who wants to solve the Yemen problem should understand who is making all the problems.” 

Rights groups have accused Saudi Arabia of deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure in Yemen, including hospitals factories and residential areas, and using banned weapons such as cluster bombs.

In a report from northern Yemen, Middle East Eye found evidence of spent cluster bomblets on farmland.

Saud's comments come after a Saudi major general, Ahmed al-Asiri, told London’s Royal United Services Institute on 1 November, that Saudi Arabia had few regrets about its involvement in the Yemen war.

“From day one, there were no attacks on infrastructure, no urban (bombing)," he said.  "We use precision weapons in support of troops on the ground.”

He acknowledged that there has been “collateral damage but war has an ugly face and we have to deal with it”.

The Saudi-led coalition began bombing Houthi rebels in Yemen in March 2015 to support the exiled president, Abd Rabbuh Hadi.

The British government has sold more than $4bn of weapons to Saudi Arabia since it began its intervention.

British MPs last week voted down a motion to suspend support to Saudi Arabia until a full, independent inquiry was held into violations of humanitarian law.

The UN estimates more than 10,000 people have died in the conflict.