Saudi Coalition Asks To End Refueling Deal With US For Yemen War
Saudi Coalition Asks To End Refueling Deal With US For Yemen War
A child injured in the deadly Saudi-led coalition airstrike rests in a hospital in Saada Yemen in August
10 November, 2018, 20:31
Mattis went on to say that the U.S. would continue cooperating with the Saudi-led coalition and Yemen to "minimise civilian casualties and expand urgent humanitarian efforts throughout the country", while it would also support United Nations effort's to solve the crisis.
"We support the decision by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, after consultations with the U.S. Government, to use the Coalition's own military capabilities to conduct in-flight refueling in support of its operations in Yemen", the statement, published on the department's website, read.
The United States effectively gave a green light to the Saudi-led offensive when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on September 12 certified continued American support for the coalition's air campaign against the Houthis.
In a speech in which he looked rather confused, al-Houthi called for general mobilization against an operation launched by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition in Yemen's Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.
Riyadh also has nine KC-130 Hercules aircraft that can be used, it added.
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis confirmed the decision was made in consultation with the US government.
A coordinated decision by Washington and Riyadh to halt the refuelling could be an attempt by both countries to forestall further action by Congress.
Still, a halt to refueling could by itself have little practical effect on the war.
Senator Chris Murphy emphasized that the Trump administration should cut off all forms of support for the Saudi-led coalition, not just refueling.
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The decision by the U.S.to pull out also comes amid outrage by US lawmakers from both political parties over the October 2 killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Human rights groups say the real death toll may be five times higher.
Earlier this year, Mattis had defended USA military support to Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen, when lawmakers weighed forcing the Pentagon to end Washington's involvement.
Houthi rebel fighters have taken up positions on the roof of one of Hodeidah's main civilian hospitals, Amnesty has warned, as fighting in the crucial Yemeni port city intensified despite calls for a ceasefire.
The World Food Programme said on Thursday it planned to double food assistance for Yemen, aiming to reach up to 14 million people "to avert mass starvation".
Saudi strikes have hit public markets, hospitals and other nonmilitary targets, killing scores of civilians.
United Nations special envoy Martin Griffiths hopes to convene Yemen's warring parties for peace talks by the end of the year.
The coalition reiterated its hope that the UN-sponsored negotiations with the Houthi rebels in a third country, touted as Sweden, will "lead to a negotiated settlement" and "end the aggression" of the militias that overran major population centres in Yemen from 2015 onwards.
Mattis said all parties support Griffiths' efforts. "The U.S. will also continue working with the coalition and Yemen to minimize civilian casualties and expand urgent humanitarian efforts throughout the country".
Separately, a Yemeni source said that during a meeting held last Tuesday, the self-proclaimed Houthi Supreme Political Council threatened the remaining council members to blow up their homes in case they try to escape towards government-controlled areas.
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The killing of Khashoggi raises questions about the current thinking of Saudi decision-makers, they said. We gave them to Saudi Arabia, to America, to the Germans, French and the English - we gave them all".
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