US: Saudis, UAE cutting Yemen civilian risks

Washington- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has “certified” that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are working to reduce risks to civilian life in Yemen – a key step to ensuring continued US support to the coalition.

Under new rules, Congress requires the certification to continue allowing US air tankers to refuel Saudi and UAE warplanes.

In a statement, Pompeo noted that both Saudi Arabia and UAE “are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from military operations of these governments.”

On September 1, the coalition admitted that “mistakes” had been made in an August air strike that killed 40 children.

In an unclassified report, obtained by AFP, Pompeo said civilian casualties must be reduced “for both strategic and moral reasons.”

The document points to multiple ways the coalition is trying to do this, including by avoiding hitting civilian infrastructure, keeping a “no-strike” list, and by updating rules of engagement.

The Royal Saudi Air Force has also pledged to fund $750 million in US-provided training.

The report notes the coalition is engaged in an “urgent and good-faith effort” to support diplomatic efforts to end the war.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis issued a separate statement endorsing the certification, saying the UAE and Saudis are making “every effort” to reduce the risk of civilian casualties and collateral damage.