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Congress’ Deadline for Yemen Certification Has Arrived

Tomorrow is the deadline for Secretary Pompeo to determine whether the Saudi coalition has met the requirements laid out by Congress in Section 1290 of the National Defense Authorization Act. If he cannot certify that they have fulfilled all of the conditions [1] listed in that section, the law requires that U.S. stop refueling coalition planes in their operations against the Houthis in Yemen. The Yemen Peace Project has reviewed the evidence and concluded [2] that the coalition completely fails on three counts and only partly meets the requirement on the fourth:

The Secretary of State cannot plausibly certify that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are taking appropriate measures to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, reduce harm to civilians, or respect UNVIM, and can only tenuously certify that the coalition is supporting some diplomatic efforts to end the civil war.

If Secretary Pompeo certifies Saudi and UAE compliance with these requirements, or if he otherwise waives the certification on national security grounds, the Yemen Peace Project urges members of Congress to introduce standalone legislation withholding funds for US refueling of coalition aircraft.

As I said [1] last week, Pompeo cannot honestly review the record and choose to certify that the coalition has met Congress’ conditions. The president has already included this section among those parts of the bill that he intends to ignore [3]. I assume that the Trump administration will do whatever it can to evade the restrictions that Congress is trying to place on U.S. support for the war on Yemen. Members of Congress need to be prepared to fight back when that happens. An op-ed [4] from Sens. Shaheen and Young earlier today suggests that this might happen. The senators write:

For the sake of the United States’ interests and our humanitarian principles, we hope the administration complies with the law and submits a good-faith certification by Wednesday. If that does not happen, support for the coalition in Congress may reach a breaking point as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis deteriorates further.

The administration will either ignore Congress’ conditions entirely, lie about coalition behavior to justify a phony certification, or invoke a waiver to get around the law. Congress cannot count on the administration to withdraw support for the Saudi coalition, and it is up to members of Congress to put an end to that support on their own. That will mean voting to halt all U.S. involvement in the coalition’s war effort, and that means pulling all military assistance and arms sales to the Saudis and Emiratis. The U.S. should never have been involved in this war, and Congress never authorized that involvement. It falls now to Congress to put a stop to this indefensible policy because no one else will.

Update: As I feared, Secretary Pompeo has ignored the evidence and certified that the Saudis and Emiratis are meeting the conditions required by Congress:

This should teach members of Congress that this administration will use any loophole they are given to continue their indefensible support for the war on Yemen. Congress must vote to halt all military assistance and arms sales to the Saudis and the UAE.

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5 Comments To "Congress’ Deadline for Yemen Certification Has Arrived"

#1 Comment By let us praise him On September 12, 2018 @ 1:48 am

“For the sake of the United States’ interests and our humanitarian principles, we hope the administration complies with the law and submits a good-faith certification by Wednesday. “

For Saudi Arabia or Israel Mr. Pompeo would certify a ham sandwich.

Meantime, Pompeo’s staff are busily trying to track down the origin and meaning of these unfamiliar terms “United States’ interests” and “humanitarian principles”. They are familiar with phrases like “oops we seem to have blown another bus filled with kids to smithereens” and “oops we accidentally shot the legs off over a thousand unarmed protesters”, but this “humanitarian principles” business has them stumped.

#2 Comment By Christian Chuba On September 12, 2018 @ 1:52 am

Pompeo is doing a valuable service. As a former Director of the CIA he confirms that our CIA is untrustworthy and lies in public.

If he claims that the Saudi coalition is committed to the peace process when they will not even guarantee the safe passage of the Houthi coalition then why should we believe any of the CIA’s claims?

Pompeo has already proven them to be liars. They have Intelligence that Saddam (I mean Assad) is planning a WMD attack; liars. As long as there is no accounting, our govt will lie.

But by all means, let’s start a war with Syria, Iran, and Russia. After all, larger truths about our goodness supersede actual truths. God is pleased with our treachery.

#3 Comment By Fred Bowman On September 12, 2018 @ 9:39 am

I’m not holding my breathe for Congress to do right thing in regards to Yemen. Seriously, has Congress done anything in regards to any Middle East wars except to give the POTUS “carde blanc” to do whatever he wants. I would like to be proven wrong, but I don’t have high hopes of that happening.

#4 Comment By b. On September 12, 2018 @ 12:39 pm

“submits a good-faith certification”

Please, please certify in good faith that the Trump administration believes, in good faith, that Saudi Arabia, in good faith, intends to act in good faith going forward.

“As members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, we have closely studied the situation in Yemen and believe the best way to oppose Iran in Yemen and stop ballistic missile attacks on our partners is to bring all parties to the negotiating table. [..] In fact, the indiscriminate targeting of civilians will only push more Yemenis toward Iran and its proxies — giving Tehran increasing opportunities to threaten Americans, our allies and our interests.”

The utilitarian cowardice of this pair rivals their unwillingness to actually act. This is a plea to preserve and continue the status quo and to avoid hard decisions.

The US will pay a price, in hundreds of billions, and other currency, for ending support for the Saudis and the UAE. Weapon purchases will be cancelled, contract penalties will be do, bases in the UAE might be closed.

The Yemeni are not a national priority. Even the alleged spectre of Iran-On-The-Peninsula or the very real presence of AQAP is not a priority. Shaheen, Young and the lot are caught between the Constitution and billions of dollar bills, and it is very clear where their allegiance lies.

Who is “the Client” here? We have sold our honor for petro dollars. How much more embarrassing does our Mercenary Republic have to become?

#5 Comment By Chili Beans On September 12, 2018 @ 2:01 pm

” God is pleased with our treachery.”

I noticed that too.

Of course we’re also told that God blesses us for helping Israel massacre Palestinian protestors and helping the Saudis kill children in Yemen.

The thing is, my old KJV says that the only deity who goes in for things like killing kids is called “Moloch”. And for the life of me I can’t remember exchanging Christianity for Moloch worship. Anyone here at TAC remember when we did that? Must have been the second Clinton administration.