As Saudi Arabia’s jets continue to bomb Yemen for the third year in a row, killing more than 10,000 people, the Saudi Cabinet announced a pay increase of up to 60 percent for air force pilots Monday, state news agency SPA reported.
Saudi Arabia and 12 of its regional allies began a military campaign in support of Yemeni government forces in March 2015 to prevent Ansarullah Houthi rebels — whom it sees as a proxy for Iran — from taking complete control of Yemen after seizing much of the north.
Saudi Arabia and its mostly Gulf Arab allies have launched thousands of airstrikes in an attempt to dislodge the rebels from the capital Sanaa.
Hundreds of those airstrikes have targeted schools, hospitals, wedding parties and funerals where hundreds of civilians were killed in what aid groups, including the United Nations, have said could amount to war crimes.
At least two of the hospitals attacked by jets belonged to the international aid organization Doctors Without Borders, killing dozens of staff and patients.
Last year the U.N. had placed the blacklisted Saudi Arabia-led coalition as a violator of children’s rights over the school attacks but was forced to backtrack on that decision after Saudi Arabia threatened to cut funding for U.N. programs.
The Saudi Cabinet amended laws pertaining to military officers, allowing air force pilots and weapons operators to receive a 35 percent rise on basic salary, according to the official statement.
The increase for officers flying fighter jets and operating their weapons systems will be 60 percent, it added. No reason was given for the move, nor an indication of what their current salaries might be.
But with low oil prices and entering a third year of the Yemen campaign, Saudi Arabia has been struggling for money and using its financial reserves, leaving many questioning the campaign’s ability to achieve the goal of restoring the pro-Saudi government.
The world’s biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia has implemented some austerity measures to wean its citizens off decades of government largesse. It seems that the salary increase is an attempt by the Saudi monarchy to maintain its soldiers’ appetite for bombing civilians in Yemen as the war drags on.
More than 10,000 people have been killed since the war started back in 2015, millions of people have been displaced, and millions others lack access to clean water, food, or medical assistance.