It wasn’t the first time a Raytheon weapon had killed innocents in Yemen, writes Patrick Wilcken, a researcher for Amnesty International, in Medium:
“ the bulk of this war’s civilian casualties have come from the Saudi-led coalition’s technological superiority and exclusive domination of the air. In the process, coalition airstrikes have left a trail of material evidence in their wake, including the remains of many Raytheon-manufactured systems.”
But the war that has been terrible for Yemen’s civilians has been lucrative for the shareholders of the defense contracting giant, headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts. The Saudi coalition’s indiscriminate attacks have coincided with the sharp rise in Raytheon’s share price, prompting human rights lawyers to ask: Is the $55 billion firm “aiding and abetting” war crimes?
Since Saudi Arabia launched its war on Yemen in March 2015, at least 212 civilians have been killed in attacks involving Raytheon’s missiles, according to confirmed news reports.
As of March Amnesty International had documented 36 coalition airstrikes “that appear to have violated international humanitarian law, many of which may amount to war crimes. These have resulted in 513 civilian deaths (including at least 157 children) and 379 civilian injuries.”
At the same time, the war in Yemen has been very good to Raytheon shareholders. When the war started in March 2015 the company’s stock was selling at $108.44 per share. By June 2018 share price had risen to $210.70, a 94 percent increase in three years.
Washington’s alliance the Saudi monarchy is fuel for the company’s growth engine.
In 2015, five months after the Saudis first intervened in what had been a civil war, the Obama administration approved the sale of 4,020 GBU-12 Paveway II guided bombs to Saudi Arabia, according to the Pentagon.
During President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in June 2017, he reportedly offered to sell “over 104,000 air-to-ground munitions,” which includes GBU-12 bombs, along with four other U.S.-made guided bombs. In November Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia had agreed to buy $7 billion worth of precision-guided munitions from Raytheon and Boeing in coming years.
In short, business is brisk for Raytheon’s bomb division. Sales rose from just over $7 billion in 2016 to around $7.8 billion in 2017, driven in part by sales of Paveway laser-guided bombs.
Now Raytheon is a hot stock. Four days after the April 22 attack on the wedding party, the company reported quarterly earnings had risen to $633 million for $2.20 per share. Financial tip sheet The Street says Raytheon is a better investment than its chief competitor, Lockheed Martin. …
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen and pattern of indiscriminate attacks have prompted human rights activists and legal scholars to ask if the allies and suppliers of the Saudi coalition are complicit in war crimes.
In Italy a coalition of human rights organizations filed a criminal complaintin April against the managers of RWM, an Italian arms manufacturer, and senior officials of Italy’s National Authority for the Export of Armament. The plaintiffs argue the company managers and the Italian authorities sent weapons used in a lethal attack that killed six civilians in October 2016 with full knowledge that they might be used to violate international human rights and humanitarian law.
In an article for the Just Security blog, Yale Law School Professor Oona Hathaway and four of her students note that the Alien Torts Statute (ATS) allows non-U.S. citizens to sue in federal district court for violations of international law.
“Although sovereign immunity protects officials and States involved in the Saudi-led coalition from suit under the ATS,” Hathaway writes, “U.S. corporations that manufacture and supply weapons to the coalition could potentially be liable for aiding and abetting violations committed using those weapons.”