US certifies Saudi, UAE efforts to protect civilians in Yemen
WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday he has told Congress that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are doing enough to protect civilians in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is battling Iran-aligned rebels in a civil war.
Pompeo said in a statement that he had certified that the Saudi and Emirati governments “are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure.” Ending the war is “a national security priority” for the Trump administration, he said.
The United States will work to ensure the coalition’s support for UN-led efforts to end the war, allow the delivery of humanitarian support and lessen the war’s impact on civilians and infrastructure, Pompeo said.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued a separate statement endorsing the certification, which he said has been illustrated by coalition support for United Nations-led efforts to end the conflict.
Long-awaited, UN-brokered peace talks between the Saudi-backed government and the Houthi rebels failed to take place as planned last week in Geneva.
Yemen’s civil war, pitting the Saudi-led coalition against Iran-aligned Houthi rebels who ousted Yemen’s internationally recognised government, has raged since March 2015. The coalition backs the government of Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and aims to restore it to power.
Saudi Arabia announced in 2015 that it would lead a coalition of countries against the Houthis.
In the years since then, the United Nations says, the conflict has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22 million people in desperate need in what is already the Arab world’s poorest country.
(Arab Weekly staff and news agencies)