Trump Says Saudis Misused U.S. Weapons in ‘Terrible’ Yemen War
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said Saudi Arabia has misused U.S.-supplied weapons in its bombing campaign in Yemen and that his administration is carefully examining the conflict.
“I think it’s a terrible situation,” Trump said in an interview with Axios that aired Sunday on HBO, calling the Saudi bombing of a school bus in August “a horror show.”
His administration, Trump said, is studying the war “very, very carefully.” But he didn’t elaborate, and he declined to say whether he’s reconsidering U.S. arm sales to the Saudis or active support of its Yemen campaign. The U.S. continues to provide intelligence and aerial refueling for the Saudi attacks.
The president criticized Saudi conduct of the aerial campaign, saying the government shouldn’t have people “who don’t know how to use the weapons shooting at buses with children. We teach them how to use the equipment.”
The Saudi campaign, aimed at Iran-supported Houthi rebels in Yemen, has been broadly criticized for resulting in thousands of civilians of deaths and contributing to a worsening famine. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned Friday that Yemen was on the brink of “imminent catastrophe,” and that as many as 14 million people could be at risk of starving.
Saudi Arabia’s conduct of the war also came under new scrutiny after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Many U.S. lawmakers have called for U.S. weapons sales to be cut off in response to Khashoggi’s murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, a step Trump has rejected.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have called for both sides to end the war, but Pompeo said last week that the Houthis must take the first step by stopping missile and unmanned aerial vehicle attacks on Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates territory.
Saudi Arabia, long a key strategic ally of the U.S. in the Middle East, is central to the Trump administration’s efforts to combat Iran’s influence in the region.
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