It will come as no surprise that the Trump administration has certified that the Saudi coalition is meeting the requirements imposed by Congress in the NDAA. The evidence clearly shows that the Saudi coalition doesn’t meet any of them, so Pompeo just lied and said that they did. When given the choice between telling the truth and ending refueling of coalition planes or lying to keep that refueling going, the administration was always going to choose the latter. They have defended U.S. support for the war with dishonest and misleading claims before, and they have done so again. The Trump administration is lying to Congress in order to continue support for the war on Yemen, and Congress has to hold them accountable for that. Oxfam responded to Pompeo’s certification this morning:
With Secretary Pompeo’s certification, the State Department demonstrated that it is blindly supporting military operations in Yemen without any allegiance to facts, moral code or humanitarian law [bold mine-DL]. As Oxfam earlier reported, August was the bloodiest month so far in 2018 for civilians in Yemen. There were brutal attacks from both sides, but the majority of civilian casualties were caused by Saudi Arabia-led coalition attacks. The coalition even dropped a US bomb on a school bus killing 40, including dozens of children. Rather than take “demonstrable steps” to curtail these atrocities as Secretary Pompeo certified, the coalition defended them, [calling] the bus a “legitimate military target.” Now, this administration is doubling down on its failed policy of literally fueling the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
The Trump administration is openly defying and lying to Congress. Members of Congress must act to end the United States’ complicity in this war.
Rep. Ro Khanna, one of the leading critics of the war in the House, had this to say:
Pompeo’s ‘certification’ is a farce. The Saudis deliberately bombed a bus full of children. There is only one moral answer, and that is to end our support for their intervention in Yemen.
If this executive will not do it, then Congress must pass a War Powers Resolution. https://t.co/VlYVMChrjA
— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) September 12, 2018
We know that the administration and the president are not concerned with evidence or expert opinion, and they were always going to do what they wanted to do. Gregg Carlstrom made a good observation about this earlier today:
If you’re keeping score at home, the US refuses to certify that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal, which the IAEA says it is, and certifies that the Saudi-led coalition is protecting civilians in Yemen, which the UN says it is not.
— Gregg Carlstrom (@glcarlstrom) September 12, 2018
Trump and the Iran hawks around him were determined to renege on the deal no matter what, and it didn’t matter to them that Iran was in compliance with it. Likewise, they are determined to keep fueling the world’s worst humanitarian crisis by backing the Saudi coalition to the hilt, and they aren’t going to be dissuaded from this no matter how many atrocities the coalition carries out against innocent Yemenis with our help.
Leaving an opening for the administration to continue support for the war was the flaw in the Young-Shaheen approach from the start. That is why the war powers challenge back in the spring sponsored by Sens. Sanders and Lee was the best and only effective way to halt our involvement in the war. This is what I said in March:
The conditions that the Young-Shaheen resolution would impose on U.S. support for the war are a woefully insufficient response to the disaster engulfing Yemen, and we have to assume that the incoming Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will always find in favor of the Saudis and their allies [bold mine-DL]. We already know that the coalition isn’t engaging in an “urgent and good faith effort” to negotiate an end to the war, and their “aid” efforts are poorly-disguised efforts to perpetuate a blockade aimed at starving Yemen into submission. Instead of constraining executive overreach and reasserting Congress’ proper role in matters of war, Young-Shaheen would once again defer to the executive and leave it to the administration to decide how long support for the war goes on. Three years of uncritical backing for the Saudi-led war on Yemen proves that the executive won’t do anything meaningful to rein in the coalition or pressure them to end the war.
Pompeo’s phony certification is an insult and shows contempt for the law, but it should also cause more members of Congress to oppose our indefensible policy in Yemen. The administration won’t agree to stop enabling Saudi coalition war crimes, so Congress will have to stop them.