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Saudi War Crimes and the Lies They Tell About Them

Ryan Goodman describes Saudi efforts to cover up for their attack on a cholera treatment center run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF):

What’s also mind-boggling about this particular instance of Saudi efforts to mislead is not just the attempt to shift blame to MSF but also the quasi-denial that the coalition even struck the medical facility. It’s difficult to understand how one can hold both thoughts at the same time. But that is the nature of disinformation.

It is typical that the Saudi coalition first denies any involvement in their crimes, and then attempts to blame the victim to avoid taking any responsibility for their illegal acts. “We never did it, and if we did it’s not our fault” might as well be their motto. It is also usually the case that the coalition didn’t attack the target by accident, and knew perfectly well that they were attacking civilian targets when they struck. In this case, MSF previously informed the coalition of the coordinates of the treatment center 12 times, and yet they still tried lying to Congress that they had never been given that information:

In reality, MSF had notified the Saudi Coalition 12 times of the coordinates of the cholera treatment center. Twelve. For its part, the Coalition had acknowledged these coordinates at least nine times in writing. The Kingdom omitted that information in its email to Congress.

The Saudi government also tried spreading its misinformation on social media at the time, and I called them on it:

While no one was killed in this bombing of the cholera treatment center, the attack has meant that MSF won’t operate in that area for some time, and that puts many lives in jeopardy:

MSF reported that “the airstrike has now rendered the [cholera treatment center] non-functional. In keeping with security protocol, MSF has temporarily frozen its activities” in this area of the country. It is clear that more people will die because of the strike, just not people readily visible to the Saudis or individually identifiable to any of us.

Continued U.S. military assistance to the Saudi coalition enables war crimes. We see another one of these in the bombing of a civilian neighborhood in Amran earlier this week that killed eight people. There was also an attack on a bus full of displaced people fleeing the fighting in Hodeidah. Nine were killed in that attack. The coalition forces Yemeni civilians to flee from Hodeidah, and then kills some of them on the road.

Our government is aiding the coalition in carrying out these attacks with arms and refueling. That support just makes it easier for the coalition to bomb civilian targets that they deliberately want to destroy. Congress had opportunities to halt U.S. support for this war and failed to end it. It is imperative that Congress cut off support to the coalition at once.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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