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Mike Pompeo warns Senate that Yemen vote could harm U.S. security, boost Iran

November 28, 2018

A congressional push to limit U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen would do “immense damage” to U.S. interests in the region, leave Iran in a stronger position, and do nothing to alleviate the humanitarian crisis generated by the war, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is warning lawmakers Wednesday.

Mr. Pompeo and Defense Secretary James N. Mattis were up on Capitol Hill ahead of an expected Senate vote on a resolution to curtail U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition, a resolution that has picked up support in the wake of the Oct. 2 killing of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi government hit team.

The State Department Wednesday morning released excerpts of Mr. Pompeo’s pitch in a briefing for senators, saying the U.S. and United Nations have embarked on a diplomatic push to end the war, and “abandoning” Yemen “would do immense damage to U.S. national security interests and those of our Middle Eastern allies and partners.”

The Obama and Trump administrations have provided logistical and intelligence support for a Saudi-organized coalition battling Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen’s brutal three-year civil war, a war that have produced tens of thousands of deaths and generated a massive humanitarian crisis in the region’s poorest country.

Mr. Pompeo argues that the war in not “optional” for Saudi Arabia and that the suffering in Yemen would be “a hell of a lot worse” if the U.S. was barred from the conflict.

“All we would achieve from an American drawdown is a stronger Iran and a reinvigorated [Islamic State] and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” Mr. Pompeo told lawmakers, according to the State Department excerpts. “Try defending that outcome back home.”

The Senate rejected a similar measure in March by a 55-44 vote, but a number of lawmakers say they are inclined to support the new resolution.

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