November 9, 2018

Young and Shaheen Call for Immediate Steps in Yemen, Including Ending U.S. Air Refueling of Saudi Coalition Aircraft in Yemen

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) issued the following statement calling for the administration to take immediate steps toward Saudi Arabia, including ending U.S. air refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft operating in Yemen:

Senators Young and Shaheen said, “As a first step, we call on the Trump administration to immediately end U.S. air refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft in Yemen. If the administration does not take immediate steps, including ending U.S. refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft, we are prepared to take additional action when the Senate comes back into session.”

The Senators continued, “We must send an unambiguous, immediate, and tangible message that we expect Riyadh to engage in good faith and urgent negotiations to end the civil war. Riyadh must also understand that we will not tolerate the continued indiscriminate airstrikes against civilians and civilian infrastructure that have helped put 14 million Yemenis on the verge of starvation.  The failure to submit a credible Section 1290 certification and the inability to answer our subsequent questions underscore the need to take a number of steps toward Saudi Arabia, including ending U.S. air refueling immediately.”  

Senators Young and Shaheen worked successfully to include Section 1290 in the annual defense bill, which requires the Secretary of State to submit written, detailed, and unclassified certifications related to the efforts of the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to end the civil war, alleviate the humanitarian crisis, and protect civilians. If the Secretary of State cannot make these certifications, the law prohibits the U.S. from refueling Saudi coalition aircraft conducting missions exclusively focused on the civil war. The statute includes a national security waiver the administration could utilize.

However, that waiver can only be utilized after the administration first identifies, in writing, why the certification cannot be made and what steps the administration plans to take to bring the Saudi and UAE governments into compliance. Secretary Pompeo submitted the first certification in September, deciding not to utilize a national security waiver. The statute requires two more certifications from the Secretary of State that could be submitted at any time. On October 10, Senators Young and Shaheen again teamed-up to lead a bipartisan letter to Secretary Pompeo asking him to reconcile known facts with his September certification.  

Earlier this year, the two senators wrote a Washington Post op-ed on Yemen and their legislation. Both Senators have supported suspending arms sales to Saudi Arabia.