Home/Daniel Larison/Senators Challenge Pompeo on the Bogus Yemen Certification

Senators Challenge Pompeo on the Bogus Yemen Certification

Then-Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-KS, speaking at a rally in 2013. He faces a senate grilling for his secretary of state nomination today.Mark Taylor/Creative Commons

Seven senators are challenging Secretary Pompeo’s bogus Yemen certification and questioning the Trump administration’s support for the Saudi coalition war:

U.S. lawmakers from both parties are challenging the Trump administration’s support for Gulf allies battling Iran-aligned fighters in Yemen, putting new pressure on the U.S. president to scale back ties with Saudi Arabia during an especially sensitive time.

A bipartisan group of senators plan to demand answers on Wednesday from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after he backed Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over the objections of most of his Yemen experts.

In a letter expected to be delivered to Mr. Pompeo on Wednesday, the lawmakers, including Sens. Susan Collins (R., Maine), Chris Murphy (D., Conn.), and Todd Young (R., Ind.), write that they have “significant concerns” with his support for the Gulf allies.

The senators’ letter is a good start in holding Pompeo accountable for lying to Congress about Yemen, but in the meantime Congress should press ahead with blocking arms sales and cutting off military assistance to the Saudis and Emiratis. The letter says that the senators “find it difficult to reconcile known facts” with the decision to certify that the Saudis and Emiratis are seeking to reduce harm to civilians. That’s a diplomatic way of saying that Pompeo’s certification was baseless and unjustified. We know from earlier reporting based on a State Department memo that Pompeo issued the bogus certification in order to protect current and future arms sales, and members of Congress should demand answers from him about that as well.

The Saudi coalition has shown consistent disregard for civilian life in both their bombing campaign and in their use of the blockade to strangle Yemen’s population. The Saudis and Emiratis are not meeting any of Congress’ Yemen requirements, and they are not going to meet them in the future when they know that the administration is prepared to lie on their behalf. Instead of continuing the charade of conditioning support for the war on Yemen on improvements in coalition behavior, members of Congress should vote to end all military assistance as soon as possible. That is the only thing that will get the attention of the Saudi and Emirati governments, and it is the only way to get through to them that the U.S. won’t give them a blank check any longer.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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