WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Chris Murphy dismissed as a “farce” a statement that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent to Congress this week certifying that the governments of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are taking steps to avoid civilian casualties in their war with Yemen.
“It is as clear as day that Saudi-led coalition is recklessly — and likely intentionally — killing innocent civilians and children, and they’re doing it with U.S. bombs and so-called targeting assistance. These certifications are a farce and we should all be ashamed that our government is turning a blind eye to likely war crimes,” Murphy said.
Murphy, a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has sought — without success — to block the United States from providing assistance to Saudi Arabia for its war effort.
Congress in August passed a defense bill that required Pompeo to certify that the governments of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from their military operations.
“The Trump Administration has been clear that ending the conflict in Yemen is a national security priority. We will continue to work closely with the Saudi-led coalition to ensure Saudi Arabia and the UAE maintain support for UN-led efforts to end the civil war in Yemen, allow unimpeded access for the delivery of commercial and humanitarian support through as many avenues as possible, and undertake actions that mitigate the impact of the conflict on civilians and civilian infrastructure,” Pompeo said in a statement.
Defense Secretary James Mattis endorsed Pompeo’s certification saying that the governments of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates “are making every effort to reduce the risk of civilian casualties and collateral damage to civilian infrastructure resulting from their military operations to end the civil war in Yemen.”
“U.S. involvement in Yemen will be a black mark on our nation’s history. The facts on the ground all point to the exact opposite conclusions than the ones the Administration certified,” Murphy said. “Civilian deaths are increasing, not decreasing, with nearly every year growing more deadly than the last.”
A Sept. 5 report by the United Nations human rights office found that since March 2015, at least 5,144 civilians have been killed in Yemen and more than 8,749 injured. Children accounted for 1,184 of those killed and 1,592 of the injured, the U.N. report said. Last month, the coalition bombed a school bus, killing 44 children and 10 adults.
“The horrific attack on a school bus was only the latest in a recent list of atrocities. And right now, the coalition is preparing to encircle the port city of Hudaydah, which will cut off vitally needed humanitarian aid to most of the population. The Saudis continue to attack water infrastructure and obstruct humanitarian aid, and a new wave of cholera is sweeping the country. Diplomacy hasn’t gained serious traction mostly because the U.S. continues to provide a virtual blank check to the coalition’s military campaign,” Murphy said.