The Saudis have once again predictably rejected calls for an international inquiry into war crimes by all parties in Yemen. That doesn’t come as a surprise, but it takes real gall for them to justify their position this way:

Alwasil said he again expected the Council to back its stance, adding that a locally formed commission would have better access and connections around the country.

The Saudi envoy said the international community should focus its efforts on gaining access for humanitarian personnel [bold mine-DL].

The Saudis’ preference for a “national” inquiry is linked to their support for the so-called “legitimate” government. Just as they did two years ago, the Saudis don’t want an international inquiry that has at least some chance of being impartial and independent. If they must have an inquiry, they want to have one that they can control. The Saudis and their allies have no interest in an investigation that has “better access and connections” in Yemen, but they are interested in one that will cover for them. That is consistent with their efforts to block access to the country in order to keep journalists and human rights activists from documenting the effects of their war. Independent witnesses and analysts are the last ones that the coalition want reviewing the record, because those people won’t tell the story that the Saudis want told.

The Saudi envoy’s claim that the focus should be on gaining access for humanitarian aid would be a bad a joke if the situation weren’t so dire. The Saudis and their allies impose an air and sea blockade on Yemen, they impede aid deliveries, and they refuse to allow the cranes in Hodeidah that their bombing campaign destroyed to be replaced. The Saudis and their allies are the chief obstacles to ensuring the delivery of aid to the people of Yemen, and still they have the gall to use that to distract from their own crimes. The Saudi-led coalition has it within its power to grant access for aid, but instead deliberately impede aid because they wish to starve and sicken Yemen into submission. If there ever is an independent inquiry into war crimes in Yemen, the coalition’s cruel blockade will be counted among their crimes.

Update: Even China supports an independent inquiry into war crimes in Yemen, which makes Saudi and U.S. opposition to the same look even worse.