According to a recent UN report, the Saudi-led bombing campaign against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen has deliberately targeted civilians, making Riyadh and its allies guilty of war crimes. To Richard Kemp and Jasper Reid, however, this sounds like the same sort of UN manipulation routinely employed against Israel:
The UN has produced no actual evidence of war crimes. None of the allegations is based on investigation on the ground. [Its] experts have not been to Yemen, depending instead on hearsay evidence and analysis of photographs.
The UN has a pattern of unsubstantiated allegations of war crimes against the armed forces of sovereign states. . . . . There is no doubt that thousands are dying in Yemen in horrific circumstances. But we cannot just accept the UN’s figures and its attribution of [responsibility for] the proportion of deaths being inflicted [to] the Saudi coalition. Most of the data come from the Houthi insurgents, either directly or via non-governmental organizations, and are simply accepted as fact.
The Houthis have learned many lessons from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, groups also supported by Iran. Those lessons include the falsification and distortion of civilian casualty figures and their causes. The UN swallowed the fake Gaza figures hook, line, and sinker, and is now making the same error in Yemen. . . .
[T]he coalition faces the same tough challenges that we face on battlefields everywhere. Its Houthi adversaries fight according to the well-developed doctrine of their backers, the Iranian Quds Force. Like Hizballah, Hamas, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and Islamic State, their techniques include deliberately killing civilians, fighting from within the population, and forcing innocents to become human shields.
Completely ignoring the laws of war, they exploit their enemies’ adherence to them. They lure their opponents to attack and kill civilians. They exploit gullible or compliant reporters, international organizations, and human-rights groups to facilitate their propaganda, [which includes] false testimony and systematic fabrication of imagery. The aim is to instigate international condemnation in order to constrain their militarily superior enemies.