Mattis: Pulling back United States military support in Yemen would be misguided

Saul Bowman
November 30, 2018

The sanctions target Saudi Arabian nationals who are, in the opinion of the government of Canada, responsible for, or complicit in, Khashoggi's killing, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in the statement.

Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, pauses while testifying at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Capitol Hill, May 9, 2018, in Washington.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, was so vexed by Haspel's absence that he threatened to withhold his vote from the spending bill.

The upper chamber is expected to vote Thursday on whether to cut aid to Saudi Arabia for its war in Yemen.

If Trump takes more aggressive action over the weekend, it could keep senators such as Corker from voting to start a debate on the Yemen resolution. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., introduced the resolution in February. The CIA has concluded Khashoggi's death was ordered by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to reports earlier this month in the Post. "But I may now be willing to get on the [legislative] vehicle, knowing it can be amended, to figure out some way for us to send the appropriate message to Saudi Arabia that appropriately displays American values and American national interest".

After speaking with the White House on Wednesday, Sen.

The US Senate voted 63-37 Wednesday to advance a resolution calling for an end to US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. "They would also like to know about the effects of the humanitarian crisis and whether U.S. military involvement has played a role in worsening that", Otis said. Even top Republicans expressed frustration so strong that some would join Democrats and vote to advance that bill on the USA role in Yemen - with a vote scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday.


Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of IL said the White House made the decision that CIA Director Gina Haspel would not appear at Wednesday's briefing alongside the secretaries of state and defense.

Corker told reporters earlier Wednesday that it was clear Crown Prince Mohammed played a role in the October murder in Turkey of Khashoggi, a US resident and Washington Post columnist, if for no other reason than the crown prince maintains a tight grip on the intelligence agency that carried out the assassination. "Long-standing relationships guide but do not blind us", Mattis said.

Pompeo warned that withdrawing American support from the war could undermine USA efforts to broker a ceasefire.

"There is no smoking gun", Mr Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.

Aside from the motion to pull U.S. military support, some lawmakers want to impose sanctions beyond those that Washington enacted on 17 Saudis allegedly involved in Khashoggi's killing.

"I think the secretaries made a pretty convincing case that, as outrageous as the [Saudi] behavior is, it would be counterproductive to do that [end US involvement in the Yemeni conflict]", Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson said. "We are ending our participation in that horrific war". Pompeo also published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, which said, in part, that "t$3 he Trump administration's effort to rebuild the U.S. -Saudi Arabia partnership isn't popular in the salons of Washington", but that "t$3 he kingdom is a powerful force for stability in the Middle East".

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states have been battling in Yemen since 2015 to restore a government driven out by the Houthis - Shi'ite Muslim fighters that Yemen's neighbours view as agents of Iran.

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