The Economic Wreckage
The destruction in Yemen could cripple its economy long into the future, and it is unclear how the country will rebuild.
“They have hit many factories on the basis of suspicion, but we never get the real reasons,” said Abdul-Hakeem Al Manj, a lawyer at the Sana Chamber of Commerce and Industry who is helping businesses document the strikes with an eye toward future prosecution. “Any institution that has a big hangar, they hit it directly.”
Some businesses said they suspected they were targets only because they continued to operate after the Houthi takeover.
“For Saudi Arabia, we are all Houthis,” said Haroon al-Sadi of the state-owned Amran Cement Factory, which once employed 1,500 people before it was bombed twice.
Plant workers showed us the remains of munitions they had collected, including pieces of at least one CBU-105, a cluster bomb unit that contains 10 high-explosive submunitions. They are manufactured by Textron Defense Systems of Rhode Island.
General Asseri, the coalition spokesman, said it had “no interest in damaging any aspect of the Yemeni economy,” and had made great efforts to avoid harming civilians. He declined to provide details about specific sites, but said the coalition had “accurate intelligence” that the sites we visited were “being used by militias to store weapons and ammunition or a command-and-control center.”
The war has left nothing untouched for the Alsonidar brothers, Khalid and Abdullah, who own a group of factories outside Sana.
The family works with an Italian company, Caprari, to produce agricultural water pumps. It also owns a brick factory, which was out of use, and was preparing to open a factory to produce metal pipes to go with the pumps, also with an Italian partner.
Twice in September, the compound was bombed, destroying all three factories.
Saudi news reports said the factories had produced rockets for the rebels, a charge the brothers denied. They and their Italian partners have written to the United Nations to state that the factories could not produce military technology, and to call for an investigation, which is continuing, they said.
“We’re not talking about something useless,” Abdullah Alsonidar said. “We’re talking about infrastructure and people’s lives. Strikes like this can bring a family to the ground.”
Remains of munitions that the brothers found at the site indicate that it was hit with American-made weapons, including one with laser-guidance equipment that was madein October 2015.