WASHINGTON —The Pentagon will cease assisting Saudi Arabia with air refueling in its war in Yemen, but will continue to provide intelligence and other support to the war effort that has produced what independent organizations say is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
The Pentagon made the announcement in a late Friday night statement sent to reporters.
“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,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said in the statement.
The Pentagon was facing increasing resistance from a bipartisan group of House and Senate members about its support of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. Multiple International aid groups and humanitarian organizations have called the four-year war a humanitarian nightmare, with an estimated 14 million people — half of that nation’s population — facing “pre-famine conditions” as a result of the civil war.
Saudi Arabia said in a later statement that “in consultation with the United States” it requested the end the in-flight refueling. Mattis has said the U.S. conducts about 20 percent of the refueling used by the Saudis in the air efforts in Yemen.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the member countries of the Coalition to Support legitimacy in Yemen, continually pursue improvements to military professionalism and self-sufficiency,” the Saudi statement said.
The Pentagon will continue to supply intelligence, training, and munitions to the Saudi war effort as well as other undefined support, Pentagon officials have said.
The refueling decision was first reported by The Washington Post.
The Administration announced today they are stopping refueling of Saudi jets over Yemen. This is long overdue, but if refueling is a bad idea, then why still sell the Saudis the bombs and help them pick targets? Time to get ALL THE WAY OUT of this moral and strategic catastrophe.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) November 10, 2018