US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to explain the approval of military aid to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, seven senators said in a letter.
“We are skeptical a certification that the two Governments have undertaken demonstrable actions to reduce the harm to civilians is warranted when the Saudi coalition has failed to adopt some US recommendations while civilian deaths and casualties due to coalition airstrikes have increased dramatically in recent months,” the letter said on Wednesday. The lawmakers called on Pompeo to hand over data on the increase in civilian casualties, among other requests, by October 31.
Last month, despite a UN report that accused the Saudi-led coalition of being responsible for some 16,000 deaths in Yemen, Pompeo told Congress that the coalition was limiting civilian casualties in the conflict, paving the way for more aid military service.
The letter was signed by Senators Chris Murphy, Todd Young, Jeanne Shaheen, Susan Collins, Chris Coons, Jerry Moran and Jeff Merkley.
Yemen is in a state of war, with the internationally recognized government led by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi fighting against the Houthi-ked Ansarullah movement. The internationally recognized government is backed by the Saudi-led coalition, which has been conducting air strikes in Ansarullah-controlled areas since March 2015.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) expects the US Congress to finally ban the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates because illegal attacks on civilians in Yemen have persisted since the last consideration of a similar measure, deputy director of the Washington organization, Andrea Prasow, said.
“The last time that the Senate voted on stopping arms sales, it came very close to passing,” HRW Deputy Washington Director Andrea Prasow said. “The significant number of unlawful attacks that have occurred since, I think, suggests that if the Senate faces that kind of vote again, it might pass, and the Senate might actually try to ban arms sales to Saudi Arabia and possibly the UAE. It shouldn’t come to that though. The US government should decide on its own that it shouldn’t send this signal to the Saudis that they can continue with unlimited US support.”