Pompeo, Mattis Bless Saudi and UAE’s Brutal War in Yemen

Batting down congressional disquiet on U.S. aid to a war that has become one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, two top Trump Cabinet members vouched for humanitarian progress on the part of their allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis attested Wednesday morning that both U.S.-supported nations “are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure.” Their endorsement, called “farcical” by Human Rights Watch’s Sarah Leah Whitson, attempts to dodge a bipartisan congressional effort to block U.S. tanker aircraft from refueling Saudi and Emirati warplanes for the Yemen conflict. Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE share the Trump administration’s hostility to Iran, which all blame for backing the Houthi movement in Yemen that the war aims to overthrow. In a sign of their closeness, an administration official told The Washington Post that Saudi and Emirati admission of responsibility for an August airstrike on a school bus that killed 40 Yemeni children with a U.S.-supplied bomb was “evidence of progress that they’re continuing to make.” —Spencer Ackerman

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