US to stop refueling Saudi planes in Yemen

The Trump administration has halted its inflight refueling support for Saudi-led coalition aircraft engaged in Yemen, U.S. and Saudi officials announced Friday.

Saudi Arabia said in a statement that U.S. assistance was no longer needed because of their own advancements in refueling.

Statement in English, #Yemen /#Saudi : pic.twitter.com/EuoYKOD4op

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisUS to stop refueling Saudi planes in Yemen Overnight Defense: Pentagon’s No. 3 resigns | Pompeo presses Beijing on South China Sea | North Korea ‘wasn’t ready’ for talks, Haley says Pompeo presses Beijing on South China Sea policies MORE said in a statement that Saudi Arabia made the decision to stop using U.S. capabilities “after consultations with the U.S. Government.”

“We are all focused on supporting resolution of the conflict, led by UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths. The U.S. and the Coalition are planning to collaborate on building up legitimate Yemeni forces to defend the Yemeni people, secure their country’s borders, and contribute to counter Al Qaeda and ISIS efforts in Yemen and the region,” Mattis said.

“The U.S. will also continue working with the Coalition and Yemen to minimize civilian casualties and expand urgent humanitarian efforts throughout the country,” he added.

Saudi Arabia’s three-year-long war has come under increased scrutiny recently, with refueling among the most tangible and controversial aspects of U.S. support for the kingdom in the conflict.

Lawmakers from both parties have pushed for the U.S. to suspend weapon sales to Riyadh and cut off refueling for the war, which monitoring groups say has resulted in the deaths of thousands of unarmed civilians.

The Trump administration’s move to cut off refueling of Saudi-led coalition aircraft also comes following criticism against the kingdom over the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the country’s consulate in Istanbul last month.

Khashoggi, who worked as a columnist for The Washington Post, was an outspoken critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and his killing inside the consulate has led many to call for the U.S. to penalize the kingdom.

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyUS to stop refueling Saudi planes in Yemen Murphy easily defeats Republican challenger in Connecticut Poll: Democrat Ned Lamont’s lead halves in Connecticut governor race MORE (D-Conn.) on Friday praised the Trump administration’s move to stop refueling Saudi-led coalition planes, calling it “long overdue.” He added in a tweet that “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,” he wrote. 

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.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersUS to stop refueling Saudi planes in Yemen Bernie Sanders: Republicans across US are ‘trying to suppress the vote’ Setting caps on political spending strikes at the heart of free speech MORE (I-Vt.) touted legislation to end “US participation in the Yemen war as a matter of law, not simply as a matter of the president’s discretion.”

This is a positive step. US participation is unauthorized, unconstitutional and must end completely. I will soon bring SJ Res 54 back to the floor, so the Senate can end US participation in the Yemen war as a matter of law, not simply as a matter of the president’s discretion. https://t.co/O86N74b6ME

Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaUS to stop refueling Saudi planes in Yemen Nancy Pelosi starts working on her math problem in Speaker vote Midterms poised to shake up US-Saudi defense ties MORE (D-Calif.) called the decision “a huge victory for human rights.”

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