Congress had tried to force Pompeo’s hand by inserting a provision in this year’s congressional defense spending bill that required him to certify by Sept. 12 that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are not taking inappropriate risks as they fight Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis endorsed Pompeo’s certification. “The Saudi-led coalition’s commitment is reflected in their support for these U.N.-led efforts,” Mattis said. “Alongside the Department of State we are actively engaged with Mr. Martin Griffiths, the U.N. special envoy, to achieve a negotiated end to this fighting.”
More than three years of fighting in the region has triggered a humanitarian crisis and claims of war crimes, angering some lawmakers who want the Trump administration to take a more forceful stance against the civilian deaths.
So far thousands of civilians have died and millions more face starvation in Yemen. Last month, a coalition airstrike hit a school bus, reportedly with a U.S.-made missile, killing 40 Yemeni children.
If Pompeo didn’t offer the certification by Sept. 12, the law prohibits the U.S. from refueling Saudi aircraft.
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