US senators call for new Yemen certification to protect civilians

US Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Todd Young have sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ahead of a Saturday deadline for him to re-certify to Congress that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are taking adequate measures to avoid harming civilians in Yemen.

The bipartisan letter calls for "a certification that better reflects the facts on the ground" in Yemen.

"We remain concerned that the previous Yemen certification submitted to Congress did not accurately reflect known facts on the ground. As such, any follow-on certification should take all evidence into account and succinctly demonstrate to the Saudi-led coalition that the American people and their representatives in Congress will not stand for the continued disregard of the security and humanitarian interests of the US," the two senators wrote.

"We believe it is vital that our security partners be reminded of their commitments to US interests, laws and humanitarian principles."

The letter also cites concern about "the Saudi-led coalition's commitment to adhering to all laws and requirements regulating defense articles purchased or transferred from the United States."

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had transferred US-made weapons to al Qaeda-linked fighters, hardline Salafi militias, and other groups on the ground in apparent violation of US arms deals. It also uncovered evidence that US-made weapons are in the possession of Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
While the bipartisan letter does not directly reference, it highlights "recent reports" that outline that a "broad array of advanced US weaponry" is now in the hands of the Houthis. Shaheen's spokesperson later confirmed that the letter was spurred on by the network's coverage.
The US State Department has not yet responded to inquiries on whether Pompeo intends to meet the certification deadline, thereby allowing US-provided aerial refueling services to the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis to continue.