US top general in Middle East expresses support for Saudi coalition in Yemen

Regardless of evidence uncovered by a CNN investigation that reveals arms deal violations, the top US military commander in the Middle East suggested that America would continue to back its allies waging war in Yemen.

Commander of United States Central Joseph Leonard

By Sohaila Barghash

On Monday, CNN published a report revealing the transfer of US weapons from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to al Qaeda-linked fighters and other groups on the ground.

Additionally, the report unveiled information that US weapons reached Iranian-backed rebels, exposing US sensitive military technology to Tehran, which may endanger the lives of US troops in other war zones.

According to the Department of Defence, this is specifically why Saudi has violated the terms of the arms deal with the US, as they handed military equipment to third parties.

The report was accepted by many US senators, some of whom said America must take it as a “wake up call” and cut ties with the Saudi led coalition in Yemen.

On the other hand, Joseph Votel, the head of Central Command (CENTCOM), said on Tuesday that cutting US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen would remove the “leverage we have to continue to influence them” as it may lead to endangering Americans in the region.

Additionally, in response to CNN’s report, Votel said: “We have not authorized Saudi Arabia or the Emirates to retransfer any of this equipment to other parties on the ground in Yemen.”

Adding: “And as you are well aware, when we do provide equipment, whether it comes government-to-government or commercially provided … the recipients do have to agree to certain stipulations on the use of those and that we do have monitoring and enforcement mechanisms”.

Questions have been raised since the release of the CNN report on whether Saudi Arabia is responsible enough to hold the sophisticated arms and fighting hardware.

Especially that reports reveal US-made weapons were used in deadly attacks in Yemen, killing dozens of civilians, many of whom were children.

Chris Murphy, a Democratic Senator said CNN’s “bombshell” report is more proof of the need to “get us out of the war in Yemen that has gone horribly wrong.”

Yet General Votel continue to claim Saudi did not misplace the weapons intentionally saying: “As we’ve seen in Iraq in the past, where we saw our partners overrun, we have seen American equipment provided to them lost in the course of a fight end up in the hands of our adversaries out there. So I think we have to, we will have to examine that better”.

Those developments come amid Congress outrage with Riyadh over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Therefore, considering whether to pressure an end to the Trump administration’s support for the Saudi coalition.

Saturday is the deadline for US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to provide Congress with proof that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are taking the necessary measures to avoid harming civilians, which is the only condition to allowing US-provided aerial refuelling services to the coalition.

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