Lie 1: Saudi-led coalition has not breached international law.
UK Government: ‘We don’t think there are breaches of international humanitarian law’. (22 September 2016)
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch: ‘Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented more than 70 unlawful coalition airstrikes, some of which may amount to war crimes, that have killed at least 930 civilians and deliberately targeted civilians’. (22 September 2016)
Lie 2: The UK Government does not oppose an independent international investigation of IHL breaches by the Saudi-led coalition.
UK Government: ‘The UK Government is not opposing calls for an international independent investigation into the alleged breaches of IHL’ (14 July 2016)
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, asked about an inquiry under UN auspices: ‘I don’t happen to think that is the way forward’ (22 September 2016)
The Independent and Amnesty International: ‘A European Union effort to launch an independent inquiry into Yemen’s civl war has been dumbed down after the UK refused to support it. . . “Blocking attempts to create an international inquiry is a betrayal of the people of Yemen who have suffered so much during this conflict”, Polly Truscott of Amnesty International said’. (26 September 2016)
UK Government: ‘The Government are not opposed to the idea of independent UN-led investigations, as I have said in this Chamber before, but first we want Saudi Arabia to investigate allegations’ (26 October 2016)
UK Government: ‘The Government is not opposing calls for an international independent investigation’ (November 2016)
Lie 3: There is no Saudi blockade.
UK Government: ‘There is no [Saudi] blockade in Yemen’ (28 November 2016)
Yemen expert Sheila Carapico: ‘for more than a year the objective seems to be to starve Yemen into submission. The naval blockade, supplemented by bombing of hospitals, ports, bridges, and other infrastructure, has prevented imports of essential foods, fuels, and medicines and stunted delivery of basic social services like electricity and water’. (19 December 2016)
Yemen expert Martha Mundy: ‘The coalition was and is targeting intentionally food production, not simply agriculture in the fields. . . The blockade of ports by the coalition also greatly affected inputs for agriculture and food imports. . . The bombing and the blockade had conjoined effects’. (27 October 2016)
Senior UN official: ‘You’ve got two levels of a blockade, really . . . The blockade which is the result of the [Saudi-led] coalition, an economic blockade of the country. Inside that blockade, you have some elements of the [Houthi] authorities who are making life so incredibly complicated’. (1 December 2016)
(It may or may not be legalistically true that there is no ‘blockade’, but it’s substantively misleading)
Lie 4: UK cluster bombs have not been used in Yemen
Amnesty International: evidence that UK-manufactured cluster bombs have been used in Yemen. (23 May 2016)
UK Government: ‘There is no evidence yet that Saudi Arabia has used cluster munitions.’ (24 May 2016)
UK Government: ‘Based on all the information available to us, including sensitive coalition operational reporting, we assess that no UK-supplied cluster weapons have been used, and that no UK-supplied aircraft have been involved in the use of UK cluster weapons, in the current conflict in Yemen’ (24 May 2016)
Amnesty International: ‘It is utterly shameful that the British government has sought to evade responsibility, denying the use of UK-supplied cluster munitions in Yemen by the Saudi Arabia–led coalition despite comprehensive and compelling evidence gathered by Amnesty International on the ground. . . . By failing to launch an urgent investigation into the use of British-made cluster munitions the UK government is demonstrating a callous indifference to the lives of civilians in Yemen’. (6 June 2016)
The Guardian: ‘It is understood the government’s own investigations back up media reports that such cluster bombs have been deployed in the war, in which Britain is helping to train Saudi forces. A source told the Guardian that Fallon is among the ministers to have known about the analysis for about a month’. (19 December 2016)