The Saudi-led coalition that fights Houthi rebels in Yemen has announced today that it has asked the United States to stop refueling its aircraft and now be able to take care of itself. refueling.
The Pentagon immediately approved the announcement, which comes as US MPs, both Republicans and Democrats, insisting that the United States immediately stop their supply operations of Saudi-owned airplanes operating in Yemen.
It is the official Saudi SPA agency that announced this development. "Recently, the Kingdom and the Coalition have increased their capacity to autonomously conduct air-to-air refueling in Yemen," said SPA.
"As a result, in consultation with the United States, the Coalition has requested the cessation of in-flight refueling support for its operations in Yemen," the agency said.
Saudi Arabia and the entire coalition of support forces loyal to Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi "are continually trying to improve their military professionalism and self-sufficiency," said SPA.
The United States responded quickly.
"We support the decision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, after consultations with the US government, to use the Coalition's military capabilities to refuel in support of its operations in Yemen," he said in a statement. . American Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
The Washington Post, citing sources aware of the matter, had said a few hours before the decision to stop the US coalition's air supply had already been taken by the United States, which was putting an end to their decision. the most concrete support for the Saudi coalition in three years of conflict
– Controversial aid –
This aid, already criticized in Washington, had become even more controversial by the assassination of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, attributed to the high officials of the kingdom and clouded the image of Ryad.
US MPs, both Democratic and Republican, demanded that Washington take "immediate" measures, including the end of the supply of Saudi Arabia aircraft, failing which they threatened to approve measures in the Senate.
Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Todd Young issued a statement to that effect just before the Washington Post article came out. "We are waiting for Riyadh to commit itself in good faith and urgently to the negotiations to end the civil war," wrote those elected on both sides of the political spectrum.
The Pentagon and the coalition talked about the prospect of negotiations for a solution to the conflict.
"The Coalition Command expresses the hope that the next negotiations conducted by the UN in a third country will lead to a negotiated solution," said SPA.
– Possible speeches –
Following the failure of a UN mediation last September, the coalition announced the resumption of the assault on the strategic port of Hodeida, western Yemen, which has intensified since 1 November.
The battle to reconquer Hodeida from the rebels who control the city threatens the peace efforts of the United States and the United Nations, which hopes to be able to convene the talks by the end of the year.
The coalition, says the agency, "hopes to see the end of the aggression of Houthi militias supported by Iran against the Yemeni people and against the countries of the region, including the threat of ballistic missiles and drones" .
The Pentagon also talked about the upcoming negotiations. "We are all focused on supporting a resolution of the conflict, led by United Nations Special Envoy Martin Griffith," said Jim Mattis in his statement.
"The US and coalition plan will work together to strengthen the legitimate Yemeni forces to defend the Yemeni people, protect their country's borders and help counter the efforts of al-Qaeda and ISIS in Yemen and Yemen." added the Secretary of Defense of the United States, using the acronym of the jihadist organization of the Islamic State (IS).
The fight for control of Hodeida was particularly deadly on Friday, with strong resistance from the Houthi rebels who try by every means to slow down the pro-government forces advocated by the coalition.