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End the U.S. Enabling of Saudi War Crimes in Yemen

Zaid Jilani reports [1] that the U.S. military has no idea what missions are carried out in Yemen by the coalition planes that they refuel:

In a surprising admission on Tuesday, the head of U.S. Central Command — which oversees U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia — admitted that the Pentagon doesn’t know a whole lot about the Saudi airstrikes in Yemen that the United States is supporting through intelligence, munitions, and refueling.

U.S. CENTCOM Cmdr. Gen. Joseph Votel made the admission in response to questions from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“General Votel, does CENTCOM track the purpose of the missions it is refueling? In other words, where a U.S.-refueled aircraft is going, what targets it strikes, and the result of the mission?” Warren asked.

“Senator, we do not,” Votel replied.

If the U.S. military doesn’t track what the coalition planes do after they are refueled, it can’t honestly claim that it isn’t aiding and abetting coalition violations of international law. They don’t know what the coalition planes they refuel do later on, and perhaps they don’t want to know. If the U.S. isn’t tracking how our assistance is used, it isn’t credible to say that our government is using that assistance to change the coalition’s conduct of the war for the better. The U.S. is blindly enabling indiscriminate coalition bombing without making any effort to understand the effects of our support.

Gen. Votel also stated that the U.S. is not a party to the conflict. This is the lie that U.S. officials have been hiding behind for the last three years. When our military refuels planes that go on to bomb targets in another country, our military has joined that war on the side of the governments it is aiding. That should be an uncontroversial statement of fact, but supporters of U.S. involvement in the war are desperate to deny it. If the U.S. weren’t a party to the conflict, there would be no need to debate the extensive assistance that the U.S. provides to the governments wrecking and starving Yemen for the last three years.

U.S. support has been essential to the Saudi-led war, and it would be much harder for the Saudis and their allies to continue waging that war without our military assistance. That is why those in favor of continuing the war don’t want to cut off that support. They wish to keep the war going, but they want to dodge the responsibility our government has for aiding and abetting the coalition’s crimes. Americans that want to end U.S. involvement and help bring an end to the war on Yemen should urge their senators to vote for S.J.Res. 54.

2 Comments (Open | Close)

2 Comments To "End the U.S. Enabling of Saudi War Crimes in Yemen"

#1 Comment By b. On March 14, 2018 @ 2:09 pm

“When our military refuels planes that go on to bomb targets in another country, our military has joined that war on the side of the governments it is aiding.”

I would really like to know whether Saudi Arabia and its other “partners” are actually paying for this fuel. Is this a “fill ‘er up” flat rate subscription? If not, is there any accounting that the DoD does not wish to admit to?

Is the fuel a “bonus” add-in for the sales of munitions? Is the DoD at least able to track how many bombs it is providing to Saudi Arabia? That is another “proxy” for the magnitude of US support for Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign. Or are the bombs also delivered “for free” or at a flat rate?

Is the US assistance for Saudi operations paid for from US military aid accounts?

If the DoD does not charge the “coalition” partners for any part of its assistance, does that affect our legal status as co-belligerents?


“‘We have a limited number of folks there, five or six people,” says Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman. ‘They provide targeting advice to avoid civilian casualties. Their [standard operating procedure] is to provide advice – a safety measure – not to help them out in the civil war.'”

I am curious as to what data these military advisors are relying on, if the DoD is going to great lengths to ensure that nobody is actually tracking who bombs what.

#2 Comment By Andrew J DeGraves On March 14, 2018 @ 2:27 pm

I just called my Senator, Debbie Stabenow, to find out her position on SJ 54 and her office could not tell me what it was! A 3 year old brutal military intervention supported by our military and she doesn’t have an on record position?! Disgusting.