Ken Roth, the director of Human Rights Watch, spoke exclusively with the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) network earlier this week about the ongoing conflict in Yemen, blaming the United States for Saudi Arabia’s alleged use of cluster munitions.
The state broadcasting network’s Director-General is appointed by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.
“HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth told IRIB that Saudi Arabia has no justifications for using cluster bombs on Yemen’s residential areas,” the report read.
“The body’s executive director further expressed deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen and warned that lack of food and fuel would cause many health problems for the Yemeni people. He stressed the importance of finding ways to dispatch basic humanitarian aid to people in war-wracked Yemen,” the interview concluded.
Unsurprisingly, many state-controlled Iranian media outlets have used Roth’s comments to portray America as evil and its backing of the Saudi-led effort in Yemen as unjust.
While the Saudis favor the reinstallation of Yemen’s internationally-recognized government, Iran has been accused of aiding and arming a Shiite Houthi insurgency in the country, who seek to gain power and legitimacy through force.
Roth’s NGO, Human Rights Watch, has been accused of holding a fierce anti-Israel bias. Earlier this month, he condemned Israel for its humanitarian efforts in helping victims of a deadly earthquake in Nepal, saying that the Israelis should instead be focusing on the situation in Gaza.
The founder of Human Rights Watch, Robert L. Bernstein, who is no longer associated with the NGO, has said of the organization’s current mission:
The region [Middle East] is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records. Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region.
Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel.
Roth has taken a particularly pro-Tehran stance when it comes to engaging the theocratic Islamic Republic. He has previously suggested that former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is an open Holocaust denier and pledged to wipe Israel “off the map,” is a man who is simply misunderstood. Roth has claimed that those who describe the Iranian regime as genocidal are “part of an effort to beat the war drums against Iran.”