A high-ranking member of the Saudi royal family has leveled strident criticism at King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the atrocious military campaign against Yemen, which has claimed the lives of thousands of innocent civilians and left the country’s critical infrastructure in ruins.
“What does the Al Saud family have to do with your chants? We have nothing to do with what is happening [in Yemen]. There are people responsible for the state of war in Yemen… such as the king and his heir apparent,” the pan-Arab al-Araby al-Jadeed media outlet quoted Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud as saying in a video posted online and addressed to a group of activists and protesters in the British capital, London, chanting slogans such as “Down, down, the Al Saud” and “Criminal family Al Saud”.
“In Yemen and elsewhere, our hope is that the war ends today before tomorrow,” he added.
Later in the video, Prince Ahmed agreed with the protesters’ condemnation of a recent deadly airstrike by Saudi warplanes on a bus carrying schoolchildren in Yemen’s mountainous northwestern province of Sa’ada.
The airstrike on August 9 hit a bus carrying a group of young schoolchildren attending summer classes of the Holy Qur’an from a camp at a busy market area in the Dhahyan district of Sa’ada province, UN spokesman, Farhan Haq, said in a statement.
According to Yemeni medical sources, over 50 people, including 40 children, were killed and 77 injured in the strike.
The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has censured the attack, calling for “an independent and prompt investigation” into the incident.
The Saudi crown prince has reportedly threatened to target women and children in Yemen irrespective of international criticism of strikes against civilians.
Some 15,000 Yemenis have been killed and thousands more injured since the onset of the Saudi-led aggression on Yemen in March 2015.
The United Nations says a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in need of food aid, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.
A high-ranking UN aid official has warned against the “catastrophic” living conditions in Yemen, stating that there is a growing risk of famine and cholera there.
“The conflict has escalated since November, driving an estimated 100,000 people from their homes,” John Ging, UN director of aid operations, told the UN Security Council earlier this year.
Prince Ahmed also voiced sympathy for detained Shia activists in Bahrain.
Bahrain’s attorney general says 13 dissidents have been charged with terrorism offenses.
“If we could [do something] we would, God willing,” he commented.
The report points to the growing criticism within the ruling House of Saud over the hawkish policies of the kingdom’s monarch and his son – the crown prince.
Prince Ahmed served as Saudi Arabia’s deputy interior minister from 1975 to 2012. He was the country’s interior minister between June and November 2012 under the late King Abdullah, before being replaced with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.
In October 2015, eight of the 12 surviving sons of Saudi Arabia’s founding monarch supported a move to oust King Salman and replace him with his younger brother Prince Ahmed.