Friday, 22 February, 2019


U.S. lawmaker questions Washington's weapons shipments to Saudi-led coalition in Yemen

Firearms for sale at a weapons shop in the southwestern Yemeni city of Taiz Firearms for sale at a weapons shop in the southwestern Yemeni city of Taiz
Bennie Garza | 09 February, 2019, 11:56

On Monday, CNN reported that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia have supplied US-manufactured armed weapons to fighters and other groups linked to al-Qaeda, and also that several of its weapons have been used by Iranian backed Houthi rebels while exposing sensitive technologies to Iran.

Investigations by the Amman-based Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism and CNN showed that the arms had fallen into the hands of extremist groups like al-Qaida.

On a party-line vote, Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution Wednesday 25-17 effectively calling for the end of all US support for the Saudis in the war with Yemen's Houthi rebels, a conflict observers say has produced massive civilian casualties, displaced 3 million Yemenis and sparked what the aid groups call the world's largest humanitarian crisis.

An investigation into the arms transfers is ongoing, the report said. The department official said, "We are aware of these reports and seeking additional information". "Yemen is quickly becoming a safe haven for UAE-backed militias that are largely unaccountable", said Patrick Wilcken, Arms Control and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International.

Other weapons used by UAE-allied militias in Hodeidah include Serbian-made Zastava MO2 Coyote machine guns and the Agrab armoured-truck-mounted Singaporean 120mm mortar system - the UAE is the only country known to purchase this combined weapon system. Ostensibly targeting Yemen's Shiite rebels, the military campaign has committed "accidents"-schools and hospitals have repeatedly been hit and thousands of civilians-including many children-killed".

President Donald Trump's administration opposed numerous bills, calling the Saudis important regional partners and praising weapons sales as an important source of United States jobs.

The Saudi-led coalition has been under pressure to end its bombing campaign in Yemen, especially after heightened scrutiny was placed on Saudi leaders in the aftermath of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder.

Starting under the Obama administration in 2015, the Pentagon has provided logistical, targeting and intelligence support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

To go into effect, the war powers resolution must pass the full House of Representatives and the Senate, where Trump's fellow Republicans hold a slim majority, and be signed into law by Trump.

Last month, Ro Khanna, a Democratic congressman from California who has been at the forefront of calls to end USA support for the Saudi-led coalition, said the reintroduced bill has the backing of the current House leadership.

"With all due respect I would beg you to vote against this bill", Rep. Adam Kinzinger said during the bill's mark-up.

"There's no complex foreign policy; it's a matter of human decency and this resolution will make it clear that the coalition should stop the bombing campaign and come to the table and negotiate", Khanna said.

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