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Saudi Lies and the Unjust War on Yemen

The Saudi foreign minister tries [1] to spin the coalition’s war crimes in Yemen by pretending that they aren’t responsible for anything they have done:

“[The protesters] criticise us for a war in Yemen that we did not want, that was imposed on us.

“They criticise us for a war in Yemen that is a just war, that is supported by international law.

“They criticise us for the casualties in Yemen when it was imposed on us by the Houthis.”

Governments that choose to intervene in other countries’ conflicts frequently claim that they have been “forced” to do so, but this is almost never true. In the case of Yemen, the Saudis and their allies launched a military campaign in 2015 that had nothing to do with self-defense. They were not attacked, nor was there much danger that they would be, and the attacks on Saudi territory have been in response to the coalition bombing. These governments intentionally picked the side of a government that had been driven from power, they waged a bombing campaign that has routinely targeted civilian sites, and they imposed a blockade that starves the civilian population of basic necessities. No one forced them to do these things. None of this was “imposed” on them. That is another lie that the Saudi government promotes in an attempt to evade responsibility for what they and their allies have done to Yemen. If the Saudis don’t want this war, they have only to stop fighting it and lift the blockade. They continue to wage the war because they launched it recklessly in the hope of scoring a quick victory and now can’t face up to their failure [2].

The Houthis and their allies are responsible for their own war crimes, as are all parties to this conflict, but their culpability for their actions doesn’t free the Saudis and their allies from theirs. Blaming the people whose country you are invading for supposedly making you attack them is pathetic even by the low standards of hawkish interventionists. There is nothing remotely just about destroying and starving an entire country, and it is all the more outrageous when there was no legitimate need for the Saudis or any of the other coalition governments to join the war. Between its indiscriminate bombing campaign and cruel blockade, the Saudi-led war on Yemen violates international law every day. That war cannot be honestly defended, and so Saudi and other coalition officials have to tell these lies to Western audiences to make sure that support from our governments continues.