Below is the letter that the Saudi Ambassador to the UK Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud wrote to the editor of The Economist regarding an article that it published on the 30th of July entitled “Worse than the Russians”:
Saudi Arabia and Yemen
Curiously, your article on Saudi Arabia’s military involvement in Yemen made no mention that the coalition is operating with the unanimous support of UN Security Council resolution 2216 to thwart an Iranian-supported rebellion against an internationally recognised and legitimate government (“Worse than the Russians”, July 30th). The president of Yemen requested “support…including military intervention to protect Yemen and its people from the continuing aggression by the Houthis”.
Saudi Arabia deeply regrets any civilian deaths during the conflict, but it absolutely denies allegations of deliberately targeting non-combatants. The campaign is in full compliance with international humanitarian law; we have created a committee to investigate any claims that the law has been breached.
You also did not mention the conduct of the Houthis, who are backed by Iran and have committed numerous war crimes. Along with forces of the ousted president they have attacked Saudi Arabia directly, killing Saudi citizens. Houthi fighters have prevented aid groups from delivering urgent medical and food supplies to Taiz, one of Yemen’s largest cities. Aid agencies have warned of a humanitarian disaster. Moreover, Saudi Arabia is the largest donor of humanitarian aid to Yemen. Indeed, Médecins Sans Frontières has acknowledged “the efforts done by the coalition in order to facilitate the work of its teams on the ground”.
Terrorist organisations have been allowed to flourish, a clear threat to Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and the wider international community. We are acting in self-defence. The notion that we would seek to prolong this conflict, giving time for terrorists to solidify their grip in Yemen, is absurd.
Britain and Saudi Arabia have been allies for almost a century. The commitment by the new prime minister, Theresa May, to fight violent extremism and terrorism was welcome. It is only with the support of our friends that Saudi Arabia can continue to restore stability to places like Yemen and to confront the scourge of terror.
MOHAMMED BIN NAWAF AL SAUD
Ambassador of Saudi Arabia