US to end refuelling support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen: Reports

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Coalition led by Saudi Arabia has killed tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians and sparked one of world's worst cholera epidemics

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Saturday 10 November 2018 0:29 UTC
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The United States will end refuelling of Saudi-led coalition aircraft fighting in the war in Yemen, media outlets have reported.

Citing unidentified officials familiar with the decision, Reuters and the Washington Post said on Friday that the US may announce the decision in the next few days.

According to Reuters, two unidentified US sources said the decision was taken in part because of Saudi Arabia’s self-sustaining refueling capabilities.

Currently, the US provides targeting assistance and mid-air refueling for Saudi-led coalition warplanes that are conducting air strikes in Yemen, according to Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California.

Both Democratic and Republican members of Congress have previously called on the US to stop participating in the Yemen war, where a Saudi-led coalition has killed tens of thousands of people and sparked one of the world’s worst cholera epidemics.

“This marks the first time that the United States has taken a concrete measure to rein in the Saudi war effort,” Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and scholar at the Brookings Institution, told the Post.

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“Two administrations have basically given the Saudis a blank check to do whatever they wanted. Now it will be harder for the Saudis to carry out airstrikes deep into Yemeni territory, going after the capital for instance,” he added.

US-Saudi relations have become tense since Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

The world has largely condemned Saudi Arabia for its involvement in Khashoggi’s death as the kingdom has changed its story multiple times since his disappearance.

A congressional resolution put forward in late September by Khanna calls for the withdrawal of US military involvement in the war in Yemen, which has not been authorised by Congress.

The resolution builds on a previous motion that was passed in the House last November, but only after it was made non-binding amid opposition from key Republicans and Democrats.

If it passes, the resolution - which has the support of several key lawmakers - would force the US to end its military support for Saudi forces in Yemen within 30 days.

Since the journalist's killing, members of the US Congress, as well as UN experts and several human rights groups, have called on the Trump administration to push for a credible investigation into what happened.

There have also been growing calls for the US to stop supplying the Saudi government with weapons and logistical support in its devastating war in Yemen.

The UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, said that as many as 13 million civilians may be at risk of dying of starvation in the country if the Saudi-led military coalition backing exiled Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi does not halt its campaign.

As many as 56,000 people have been killed as a direct result of armed violence since the war broke out in 2015, according to a recent estimate.