Saudi Propaganda and the Starvation of Yemen
Samuel Oakford reports that a U.N. panel finds no evidence to support the Saudi-led coalition’s claims about missile transfers to the Houthis and questions the justification for tightening the blockade:
A U.N. panel of experts found Saudi Arabia is purposefully obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid into Yemen and called into question its public rationale for a blockade that could push millions into famine. In the assessment, made in a confidential brief and sent to diplomats on November 10, members of the Security-Council appointed panel said they had seen no evidence to support Saudi Arabia’s claims that short-range ballistic missiles have been transferred to Yemeni rebels in violation of Security Council resolutions [bold mine-DL].
The coalition would have no right to inflict collective punishment on the civilian population even if their claim about the missile fired at Riyadh were true. Starving the population in retribution would be a criminal and disproportionate response to a missile launch in any case, but it is all the more outrageous when the pretext for doing so is so shaky. According to this panel, there is also no evidence to support the coalition’s missile claim. Since the Saudis and their allies have been exaggerating the extent of Iran’s involvement in Yemen from the start, the claim that the missile was of Iranian origin was always very questionable. It is a measure of how reflexively the U.S. supports the coalition that our government endorsed their story without question.
Coalition governments have lied so often about so many incidents in which their forces attacked civilian targets that their credibility has been destroyed, so it isn’t possible or desirable to take their self-serving assertions at face value. The Saudi government’s propaganda in particular has been a shameless exercise in blame-shifting and denial of the obvious. Last month, the Saudi ambassador to the U.N. wrote an op-ed full of preposterous and easily debunked claims. The same ambassador has gone so far as to claim that there is no embargo imposed on Yemen. Every aid agency in the country and the U.N. are warning that the blockade threatens the lives of millions of people, but as usual the Saudis tell everyone not to worry.
We already know that the coalition delays or diverts ships that have already been approved by the U.N. verification mechanism, so we can understand that the real purpose of the blockade is not interdicting weapons but depriving the civilian population of essential goods. After the tightening of the blockade over the last two weeks, that has become undeniable. Starving the people of Yemen is an inexcusable outrage, and all of the governments that are making this mass atrocity possible should be held accountable.