tv U.S. Policy in Yemen Hearing CSPAN April 17, 2018 9:01pm-10:53pm EDT
relations committee hearing the state department and pentagon officials discussed the civil war and the u.s. government response. they talked about humanitarian aid and veterans. prevents the spread of cholera. chairman corcoran shares this hearing. >> good morning. senate foreign relations will come to order. thank you for being here. as you know we introduced legislation last night to update and replace a 2001 and 20:02 a.m. in advance of when we
planned. senator menendez and i talked about the best way to make sure members were up to date and i do want to point out just this congress we have a hearing on june 20 about authorization for the use of military force. august 2 we had a closed hearing with the secretary on the same topic august 2 and on october 30 at the authorization fees for the administration's perspective by the secretary and then december 13, we had another hearing with stephen hadley and they then developed the principles i gave to the senate
or the. december 14 with secretary kerry and may fourth 2014 with steve preston and mary mcleod. when we did the bipartisan amf. that's what we propose to do here on wednesday to having all members staff meeting set up in a room and walk through it just like we did last time, which would give people time to write amendments.
having another hearing felt like a stall tactic when the hearings are what develop the principles that cause us to come to this bipartisan agreement so i hear you but i can't imagine a. i'm glad to spend however many hours people want to spend walking through in a closed session so i guess i'm not understanding when we did this dot day and passed it. >> we had have a history of wog collaboratively.
in authorization for the use of military force and the single most significant vote a member can take because it is about defending and committing our sons and daughters into war and actions and risking their lives. so it is a very momentous occasion. i appreciate fisherman's recital of the hearings. the reality is we had hearing specifics on the specified to be marked up. it seems the full implications and details of the text should be publicly vetted before a vote that the congress isn't creating unintended consequences or ways
that they could be misused in the future as some of us we believe in 2001 and 2002 have been used. i think the administration should be heard and take responsibility for executing a and sharing their views but right now we don't have their views at all. we did when we voted on the other ones. the american people deserve the opportunity to hear about the patience of the text if it involves sending their sons and daughters into war for many years to come. i think that our request for the hearing is installing as i said about this privately and i will say publicly i have cast the votes, so i am not fearful of having a determination when it's a correct one.
this is the single most important thing we can do and it's an inordinate amount of time to get some thoughts both from the administration and the non- administration and the members can think of the testimony they've heard on the specifics that were being voted on in having an opportunity to prepare should they believe there should be some. i compliment you and the senator on trying to come to a draft that seeks to move the issue forward but i think that this is a momentous vote and could use the appropriate attention so this isn't about stalling it to a consideration of what a specific size and what it means looking at all the implications, coming to an understanding and then being able to cast a final
that would be a good way to move forward. >> we will see where it goes. i doubt there's ever been asked many hearings in advance to develop the principles to bring people together and in advance there's been so much preparatory work done on this. i think people understand the implications when we talk about all of this publicly but i understand you have members of the caucus that are pushing for that to occur so thank you for the way that you work with us. >> most of the time. [laughter]
assistant secretary and mr. jenkins for joining us today to examine the policy towards yemen in light of the growing concern in congress. more than 22 million people, roughly three quarters of the population need humanitarian aid and protection. the takeover in the rest of the country in 2014 and the overthrow per january the 2015 has plunged the country into a humanitarian crisis. the support of the rebels and intervention of the forces to restore them to post government which began in march of 2015 has
been particularly devastating. >> and over three years of conflict, thousands of civilians have been killed in airstrikes to picschools, weddings and hos. saudi arabia is a partner and partners must be candid with each other. i know many of my colleagues have done the same thing as i've mentioned and i urge them to continue doing so as i will. in the ballistic missiles into the saudi territory and in recent months, they've aimed at
ease that re- audi. hundreds have been killed in fightinthefighting that millionr the constant threat of attacks. if they support the policy on yemen i look forward to hearing the witnesses provide details on what the u.s. is doing diplomatically to encourage resolution of the conflict. and what can be done to address the humanitarian situation. thank you mr. chairman for convening this important heari hearing. given the jurisdiction, before e
foreign policy and state department have what is fu is unrepentantly necessary to receive testimony from the very administration officials executing the policies not just outside experts. 22.2 they require humanitarian assistance. the loss of five and 50%. at this hearing is particularly timing giving the debate on the support of the saudi led coalition. the hearing is also relevant given the special envoy to the un security council yesterday to do a brief as well as the reports of a new saudi coalition
offensive. as we consider u.s. policy, we do so in a regional context acknowledging that relations with critical partners. saudi arabia has endured the ballistic missile attacks from yemen on a scale no americans would ever accept. they've launched attacks aimed at the infrastructure and defense installations and have also been attacks of the naval craft with some acceptable, dangerous and counter u.s. interests. they didn't suddenly appeared after years of tensions, the fingerprints are all over the activities. to be clear come it doesn't excuse the coalition that bears responsibility for the scale of the civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure. there are other actors and stakeholders in the conflict including iran, al qaeda and
isis and all implicated violations of the wall of the le conflict, internationally, humanitarian and human rights abuses. instead of a comprehensive strategy to push back on the interference in yemen and possibly other role that russia is playing as i pointed out in numerous other context is the administration effectively dismantling the state department, underfunding our assistance programs and the very entities that have the potential to play a critical role moving towards the supplement of addressing the crisis and debated one element provision of the limited military support. i appreciate the cooperation for the debates of the one element and explaining my vote against discharging the resolution from the committee, i encourage my colleagues to expand the aperture of the debate. i want to understand the broad
operations and policy objectives before seeking to end or change just one element. absent a compelling articulation of how the continued u.s. military support to the coalition is leveraging movement towards a political track to negotiate. specifically, what steps is the administration taking diplomatically and politically to end the war and what type of assistance is appropriate for the legitimate defense needs and what is the administration doing to alleviate the worst crisis in the world and what more can the saudi led coalition do even in the sophistication of the iranian support how do they factor into the strategy to counter in iran.
to consider the hearing without addressing the action for the over the weekend. the defending and the dismantling of the diplomatic and assistant arms will lead to only one dangerous outcome that we would have nothing left other than military and forced enforct to promote the interest. i'm not opposed to the authorized use of force.
i'm waiting for the broad articulation of strategy in the region and understanding how they support the saudi coalition is helping us in moving towards the ultimate goal of the negotiated settlement. for the force and observers and previously served as the u.s. ambassador to lebanon thank you for being here. for the usaid bureau or democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance
mr. jenkins marked 20 years at usaid and previously served as the director of office of transition initiatives. thank you for being here. the third witness for the international security affairs, robert -- i want you to know that prior to the confirmation last year he serves as the national security staff of vice president cheney and then as the national security adviser to the house, the majority leader and kevin mccarthy. we thank you all for being here. if you would if you could summarize in about five minutes, we would appreciate if you have any written materials you would like to be made a part of the record and if you could go in the order and introduce, we would appreciate it. >> thank you very much, thinking member menendez and members of
the committee. appreciate this opportunity once again to testify on this important subject and i would ask that the write-in remarks be entered into the record. defeating isis and gannon, al qaeda and the arabian peninsula, covering iran and the activities in that region, and above all, reducing the extraordinary suffering and hardship for the yemeni people. i want to be clear on this point, the support of the coalition advances the important u.s. national security and diplomatic objectives.
with its intent on covering it advances the regional ambitions and they are repeatedly used in the ballistic missile and cruise missile technology as we saw as recently as april 11 they targeted the international airport and the facilities shipping lanes. the military support serves a clear and strategic purpose to reinforce the self-defense in the face of intensifying the. in the access and influence to help press for a solution to the conflict. should we curtail the u.s. military support the saudis could pursue the defense relationships with countries that have no interest in either ending the humanitarian crisis, minimizing civilian casualties
or assisting and facilitating the solution? critical access to support for our own campaign against violent extremists can be placed in jeopardy. through diplomatic and military to military engagements, we regularly emphasize the strategic importance on the legal obligation to comply with the law of the conflict including the application to take all reasonable precautions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians. and we assess progress has been made as a result of our engagement in efforts over the past six months. in his meeting with president trump, they agreed that a political resolution to the conflict is also necessary to bring greater stability to the region and to meet the needs of the people. the special envoy has just completed initial consultations and we are welcoming them in the state department very shortly.
i and my colleagues will be meeting for a discussion of where he sees how we assess the next steps for the conflict. our goal collectively is to create a framework before entering into the comprehensive negotiations which the un could then name. when those negotiations began it is important to note saudi arabia has vital national security concerns that have to be addressed. they will have to make compromises of their own and we have been quite clear on this point. they will likely retain a political role an goal and thata fact that has to be reflected in the negotiating process and a durable commitment will have to involve the body and of all of the key parties. we all agree the humanitarian crisis is unacceptable. the u.s. and its allies have worked over the past six months to lead the coalition to take
positive steps on the subject. last month, they provided nearly $1 billion to the humanitarian response appeal. january 22, the coalition announced elements of the plan that expanded the use of other parts beyond the data and over the pardons of entry for the commercial goods into yemen. we support this. more has to be done and we are pressing the coalition to take additional steps to facilitate and expedite access to data. we will do everything in our power to a short humanitarian and commercial needs are met in yemen to the crisis from the standpoint can be alleviated to the maximum extent possible. thank you again for the opportunity to respond to questions.
>> thank you. >> chairman corker, ranking member menendez, members of the committee thank you for the opportunity to speak alongside my distinguished colleagues from the state and department of defense. i would ask write-in comments be submitted for the record. to paraphrase your fellow senator johsenator john mccain s the agency the world is on fire, what are we going to do about it? at the usaid we strive to put out the fires. unfortunately, right now yemen is the single largest humanitarian crisis in the world and we are working hard to pick out the fires along with our inner agency colleagues and our partners on the ground. the humanitarian crisis is man-made. the conflict has been ongoing for more than three years. violence between them have both been backed by military support from the regional powers and has evolved into a civil war among
multiple factions. meanwhile more than 75% of the country or more than 22 million people need humanitarian assistance. to put that in perspective, that is more than the combined populations of tennessee, new jersey and indiana. yemen has wavered on the edge of famine. 17.8 including more than 460,000 children who were severely malnourished. it is expensive and has over half the population on and played in this dramatically affects of the six people can afford, the sixth such as food and water. then he must resort to increasingly severe coping mechanisms such as child marriage just to get by. this is made worse by the fact that it's currently facing the
world's largest cholera outbreak with more than 1 million suspected cases. a lack of sanitation services and crippled healthcare service the conflict has led to the collapse of the economy that is already one of the poorest in the region. they continue to announce a robust humanitarian response and working with partners to reach millions with lifesaving aid in the last six months, our partner has reached an average of 7 million people each month with emergency food assistance. we also worke work to develop fd cranes to the port was badly
damaged by the conflict. they are supporting medical services to people in need and also providing hygiene kits, safe drinking water and improved access to sanitation services to fight malnutrition and stave off disease. for children especially the toll of the conflict can have a lasting effect. our mobile protection teams provide treatment to children throughout the country. you would say these also provide technical assistance to the central bank to help restore basic functionality in the core services are also rehabilitating the systems getting children back to school and providing school supplies in addition it coordinates with others including the united kingdom, the european union, and particularly welcoming the recent pledges from saudi arabia to the united emirates in kuwait of more than 1 billion to the
humanitarian response in yemen. despite the best efforts, access remains a major challenge in yemen. relief workers must navigate conflict zones, checkpoints, bureaucratic impediments and heavily damaged infrastructure. the vast majority of the come through the support of the operations are critical for humanitarian and commercial goods. we continue to call on all parties in the conflict to allow free and unfettered access into and throughout in order to save lives and reduce suffering. while the united states remains committed to relieving the suffering of the people, humanitarian alone cannot solve this conflict. this will only come through a comprehensive agreement and we look forward to the day there's a lasting political solution in yemen that will allow the fighting to end and enable the
country to develop its own path to self-reliance. addressing the crisis requires all of our governments tools, humanitarian assistance and development, diplomacy and the sense. that's why i'm grateful you've called all of us here today and i'm happi am happy to take your questions. thank you. >> is a particular honor to appear before you though it is more nerve-racking to appear on this side of the dais. i would ask that my statement be entered into the record. as the secretary said many times
our goal is an end through the conflict and the broker to supplement and it affects regional security across the middle east and attends u.s. national security interest including the free flow of commerce. just this month they attacked an oil tanker in the red sea is threatening commercial shipping and freedom of navigation in the fourth busiest maritime plant. this has unleashed a humanitarian toll as my colleagues from the state department have already mentioned. this is why the secretary believes strongly that the efforts for the special envoy or to bring all sides of the conflict to the negotiating table are so important and indeed we need a stable and inclusive government to provide security to the people and to reduce and ultimately eliminate the safe havens being used and isis in yemen.
a political solution to the conflict would also reduce the chaos that iran exploited to advance its agenda. with help, they would squash more than 100 ballistic missiles and countless rockets into saudi arabia directed at the major population centers and international airports, military installations and ou infrastructure. in the last month alone, they've launched more than 13 ballistic missiles and long-range rockets into saudi arabia. the joint base to see firsthand the manufacturing of ballistic missiles.
with two lines of effort the first line of effort and our priority is a fight against al qaeda and the arabian peninsula. they are supporting the regional counterterrorism partners and ongoing operations to disrupt their ability to coordinate, plot and recruit for external to the list of nations. to disrupt and destroy the networks. the support began in 2015 and
president trump reaffirmed their commitment to the partners in these efforts. the personnel worked in saudi arabia advising and assisting. it posed a threat to saudi arabia and freedom of navigation in the red sea. exacerbating the conflict child soldiers disrupt and commandeered the distribution of humanitarian aid and commercial goods and exploit the deliveries for their own financial purposes.
to validate the targets and practice tactical patience and reduce the risk of noncombatant casualties. we also continue to urge the com to allow for access to humanitarian and commercial goods and are encouraged to recent steps of the partners to provide more than $1 billion in humanitarian relief. thank you for the opportunity to testify. >> viability for for interjections along the way. >> thank you to the witnesses and the department of defense for your work. you outlined goals for the united states including ending the civil war through the diplomacy because as you pointed out, that's the only way we will have a lasting peace with yemen.
so my question to you is how do you determine that we are reducing the noncombatant casualties if we don't in fact track the results of the kingdom's military actions? spigots correctly dot monitor and track. we have limited personnel and assets to do that and the focus has been on our own operations in afghanistan. >> i understand that. the stated mission is to reduce the noncombatant casualties if we don't track how to determine that. there are multiple ways we do have insight into the targeting behavior.
we helped them with their processes and we've seen them implement a no strike list and we have seen their capabilities improve. >> the information is based upon what they tell them they are conducting the mission rather than the impact of the mission. i think our military officer is seeing how they approach this effort. >> but obviously the proof is in the results and we don't know whether the results are there or not. is that a fair statement? >> i understand how they operate but we don't know if that's been effective in the council they concluded recent reports that the cumulative airstrikes and civilian infrastructure demonstrates that even with precautionary measures taken, they were largely inadequate and ineffective.
>> the assessment of the central command is that the targeting efforts have improved in the steps that they've taken. we do not have a perfect understanding because we are not using all of our assets but we do get reporting from the ground on what is taking place inside of yemen. >> i would caution you to be reserved as to how effective you are in that if you don't have direct information about it.
significant point of concern for the united dates. >> thank you senator. >> thank you for your testimony. >> some people when they think about the strategy might question the idea of the strategy. if your son was shooting off his pistol in the backyard, would you give him more bullets or lesless, and we see the saudis acting in an indiscriminate manner that killed a lot of civilians and so our strategy to a. of a good samples you can argue it's marginally better since we've been getting more weapons.
progress had been made on this issue. that phrase was chosen and to elaborate further on my colleagues remarks, we do work with the saudi's and have particularly over the last six to nine months worked on the type that the saudis were using and how they were using a. this is new this isn't the type of interaction during the time.
you admitted that there isn't a military solution in yemen. at the obama administration and this administration, the situation will probably be a political solution. it's not going to be complete vanquishing of the enemy. i guess my point as i think about that and as i think about the recruiter trying to get someone to sign up for the military and say please join we are going to send you where there is no military solution we are hoping to make it a little
bit better. back to vietnam if we take one more village we will have a little bit better negotiation. i can't see sending our young men and women to die for that. when they get to 30% to negotiate a. of the others bad guys. 17 million live on the edge of starvation. i think that we need to rethink whether the military intervention is supplying them with weapons and whether this makes any sense at all or
whether we made the situation worse. humanitarian crisis, okay so we bomb the crap out of them and give them a billion dollars maybe we could bomb blasts. maybe part of the humanitarian answer is most weapons to the war. there's a huge arms race going on. why do they do that they do? who responded first, where did the arms race start we had a billion dollars in saud saudi aa what are they goinwhen are theyy react. it's action and reaction so we paint them as these evil monsters and i would ask that we try to get outside of the mindset that what we are doing is working and we've made a lot of things worse and we are partly responsible for the humanitarian crisis in yemen.
>> that was a very small speech by senate standards thank you very much. senator dennis. >> secretary, after hearing their answers i come to the conclusion without measuring success in a way that is meaningful if you don't know what civilian casualties are, we don't measure it and then you said yes we don't track all civilian casualties from the obligations that we have seen them improve targeting behavior in and of themselves and that is not a way to define the measurement of how we are succeeding at reducing civilian casualties. so, i find that pretty alarming.
to >> we have made clear. other than the rhetorical support from the negotiated settlement, what are they doing to facilitate a negotiated settlement. we worked extensively with the united nations and the saudi's as well as with all of the parties. with the people's congress, all of that oil tragic in many of its dimensions provided a reshuffling of the back that may allow them to be effective in their efforts but throughout the scuthis, the_to all the partiese
un must have the ability to conduct negotiations as it chooses with who and where it chooses to advance the settlement and we will provide all possible support for the. so we are depending on them to be the solution to the process. >> the international community placed its support in the united nations as the best party position. >> they routinely predated the deliveries coming through the land crossings as well as the
poor. i mean a variety of measures removing aid from convoys and taking taxes repeatedly from the drivers and throws the person now that enter from any sources. they control the telecommunications networks from which they also extract revenues. they are a predatory body is also a part of the political situation it must be part of the political solution. >> have a demonstrated commitment or the will to a negotiated settlement? >> he told the united nations and other authorities that they do wish to participate. it is the testing of the proposition that is the challenge before the united nations.
>> the most dangerous person in washington as a senator that returned from a fact-finding mission over. more dangerous they been talking all morning and all along so i think i'm going to act like they know what i'm talking about and i think i do play the youn but g lady that i worked with headquarters in georgia who's been working with m with beyonds into some of the things i want to bring out to answer some of the questions referred to by these gentlemen and number one apparently, there were about 22 million in need of a become either medical or nutritional or some type of other assistance in only 26 million people do so at about 90% of the population, would you agree with that is that about right? >> all phone numbers are imprecise given the situation and we look at about 29 million people in the population and over 76 of them need humanitarian assistance.
the port is the biggest problem is that not correct? >> we've called on all parties to make sure that we have the access through all roads and ports with up to 80% of the cargo that goes into the country. >> the worst moment came when there was a couple wishing led in the closure of the red sea ports. since then we've seen improvements. there is a way to go, but things have been improving as of late. >> at the end of the long speech made, we agree on certain things that he was making a good speech and i enjoy it. he was basically saying they sent a lot of soldiers into
battle and winning or losing it didn't make doesn't make a diffe never finished drill and in afghanistan and yemen and others they are not going to win but sometime bring to a draw is that a fair statement? >> is there any other way to get people working against political solutions to the table other than the military challenge if you don't have a military challenge to force it to the table? >> you have to use all elements of power to bring people to the negotiating table. sometimes there would be predominantly military, sometimes it can be financial, sometimes it can be a diplomat diplomatic. in the case of jan and i think all of the fees apply, but there is a difference between afghanistan or where the united states has tens of thousands who are supporting the afghan government.
except for the relatively narrow efforts. >> i'm speaking foi am speakingw at some point in time when you get to solving the problems that we are in one way or another were observed one way or another, some ability in the military force to be an effective force to bring about a solution helps you get to the table to get a diplomatic solution rather than an award in the civil war to solve it. >> more importantly all of the parties that were fighting in yemen or the un special envoy. >> a uk national senator involved throughout his life in international peace work, a variety of institutions most of them in the uk who bring together negotiators and work on solutions to problems like this.
we need to give the encouragement that we can because ultimately, that is going to offer an alternative they just say we did something like this and i hope we will move them forward in the special envoy to bring back to a conclusion. >> that is our intent. >> they have a tremendous mission all over the world in lots of places and a tremendous one in yemen. it's horrible when you get a situation they can't even get well intended aid and military supplies to the people who need it because we don't have enough security. i have seen what that can mean so i hope you will do everything we can to get to the 23 million in deep trouble.
thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator shaheen. thanks for holding the hearing and thanks to the witnesses for being here to testify and for your efforts to address the crisis that has taken a perfect i'm disappointed that the senate hasn't made a decisive statement about the need to influence the obligations and to protect the innocent civilians. i think it is long past time we send a message to the leadership in saudi arabia that we have high expectations for our allies particularly those that are seeking the military support. so, ambassador, and do you believe that the coalition is
engaged in urgent and good faith efforts to negotiate an end to the civil war in yemen? >> the coalition accepts that the highest levels of the proposition that there is only ultimately a political solution to the conflict, and that was reiterated most recently by the visit here in washington. we try to implement that rhetorical understanding in terms of the active support which the un needs for their mission to be successful. over the course of the past six months from a crisis point in october, november when things were very dark, we had seen a more receptive approach by the saudis certainly to this concept of supporting the genuinely
supporting and facilitating the efforts. >> that is good to hear to read you talked about pledges. did you mention anyone else, a billion dollars of aid? has any of the then forthcoming two-day? .. followed all of this is very heartening for us as we look at the vast needs to see that now with all the pledges when they
come in that's two-thirds of the appeal. this is long into the year and that's very heartening however there will continue to be great need for more systems. >> and how long is it going to take to get that out into the field so it helps people? >> we are very thankful because the saudis and the emirates have provided all of this money to the united nations office of the coordinator. he is now going to disperse it among the various u.n. agencies for which they will do very quickly. >> i think you all talked about the importance of the clinical solution in yemen as being the ultimate goal and ambassador you talked about the houthis needing to be part of any negotiation. who else needs to be at the table in order for a political solution to really work?
>> senator i have over the past 40 years seen many complex almost hobbesian crises in the middle east and i have to tell you the yemen situation is one of the most complex in terms of the numbers of parties, sub parties and then fundamental divisions of the south, the north and the legacy of the 93 forced reunification. all of them in one way or another are going to need to have that voice. they are going to need to be representative. the houthis are but one in the north a very significant one that one of those parties. >> mr. jenkins and mr.'s mr.'s--mr. karem who else do you think should be there? >> what is necessary right now is a dialogue across yemen and
enter yemen dialogue that can help support a larger peace negotiation. some bay who's some bay dialogue? >> we are happy that mark griffin has started this. he needs time and space to show results and we want to be as supportive as we can across the interagency with his efforts. >> mr. karem. >> i agree with secretary sutterfield and secretary jenkins that you will need to bring a number of parties inside of yemen together and there are the external players who are in touch. >> does that include iran being one of the players at the table to negotiate? >> i have seen precious little evidence that iran is interested in a negotiated solution in yemen, syria or elsewhere. >> do you we think that the houthis will negotiate in good
faith and they continue to believe that iran will support them in their activity is? >> senator that policy is premised on two things. the first creating that all encompassing all embracing political process in which the houthis do have a voice. the second is to curtail constrained and mitigated rollback extraordinary iranian support being provided to the houthis. it only emboldened the party not to negotiate as effectively as possible so we are working on the zero so once. >> banking. >> senator young said this hearing is in response to requests by members. we will mark up for the memorial day holiday the bill put forth. thank you for your leadership on that and on the aumf itself and
know from my perspective it's in a very good place and we thank you all for working with both of us and taking leadership on making sure we do. senator young. >> secretary satterfield is like ask that the administration support for the coalition. should an attack occur on the port, you didn't respond frankly to that answer. you indicated you repeatedly encouraged the united states has repeatedly encouraged the emirates and other members of the coalition to not to strike the portico data. is our support conditional upon a non-attack on the port? yes or no? >> i will be quite explicit. we have told the emirates and the saudis there is to be no action undertaken that could
threaten the ports for any routes to and from the port. >> will our support continue should the saudis are emirates bomb the portico data? >> we would not use such an action as consistent with their own policy upon which our support is based. >> will our support continue should the saudis or emirates or another member of the coalition bombed the port? >> you are posing with all due respect a hypothetical. we would have to see if the circumstances in order to give a response to that question. >> so it's not conditional. our support would not be conditional on the continued allowance of food, fuel, medical supplies and other humanitarian assistance into the primary port of yemen.
>> senator you and i have talked about that. >> in the days of early november when we told the saudis explicitly if there was not an immediate lift thing and the sustained lift teen of any constraints on assets through the port not just humanitarian but commercial goods as well that would exceedingly difficult to do to maintain the type of support for the coalition having existed and that view has not changed. i will continue. mr. jenkins year testimony is compelling and you put together facts and figures that i'd like to use to underscore and perhaps elicit a few more this will go very quick weight but it's very important for all listeners to fully appreciate the gravity of the situation in yemen. approximately how many people require humanitarian assistance in human? >> 22 million people. what% of the population is back?
approximately 75%. was it increase from last year? >> it increase why we are estimating 3.5 million people. >> how much has at increased? >> about 3.5 million people. how many children are severely malnourished? >> four and 60,000. >> how many have access to -- has a yemen face the largest cholera outbreak in the world? how many cholera cases have we seen in human? >> it's suspected over 1 million cases. >> how many lives does that cholera outbreak affects? and ambassador satterfield field rate with mr. jenkins? >> absolutely serve. >> i think we feel moral imperative to act. mr. jenkins in your prepared
statement you go further than that echoing testimony. we have the national security imperative to alleviate humanitarian suffering in yemen. why do you believe we have an imperative to relieve this humanitarian crisis? >> usaid provides humanitarian assistance. we are projecting the generosity and also what our government and the people are all about. we do that because it's the right thing to do but also because it does protect our national security to make sure that these places are stabilized and deaths are kept at a minimum and suffering is alleviated. >> on march the 14th the subcommittee on why putin matters i am sure anyone interested in yemen and the good security issues to review the transcript or the video the hearing. the hearing shows a strong scholarly basis to conclude it's
in america's clear security interest to address food insecurity among other types whether it's medical aid and so forth. barring corley tenet general testified at the hearing that food crises -- mr. jenkins do you agree we should suspect measures to alleviate humanitarian crises in yemen by increasing access for yemenis to food, fuel or medicine including yemen seaports, the airport and some not an border crossings? >> absolutely. >> to be clear does that include the saudi's? >> absolutely. >> ambassador satterfield the right in your statement ending the conflict in yemen is in our national security interests. based on this administrative position do believe we should expect all parties to undertake an urgent effort in diplomatic negotiations to end the civil war in yemen? and should that include the
saudi's? >> absolutely. >> lastly ambassador satterfield in your prepared statement you cited the importance of the law for conflict including the obligation to take off usable precautions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians. mr. ambassador do you believe it's appropriate for the u.s. to continue to press the saudi coalition to take demonstrable action tour reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from its military operations in human? >> i do, sir. >> thank you sir. >> ranking member moran and if and chairman corker for holding this hearing on the world's greatest humanitarian crisis caused by the ongoing conflict in yemen are they like to thank our witnesses for appearing before the committee and for your service in this difficult challenge confronting us. there are so many other pressing challenges in the middle east not just this crisis in yemen that are military action against
tyranny syria over the weekend from going to echo what senator menendez said it's more important than ever that the administration formulate and deliver comprehensive strategy to the congress and the american people so we can better engage with and understand and judge the path forward in terms of confronting and restraining iran's aggressive behavior which i think is the central cause of this ongoing conflict in yemen and a critical driver of bashar al-assad arboretum in syria. i will insist that we need to hear more from the president and the team representative here by way of comprehensive strategy. let's today continue to drill down on the specifics and the humanitarian access. senator young asked a number of questions in admirably he's been engaged on the issue of humanitarian reports. that may have if i could a question about the closure of the sum not airport because of military strikes led by the
saudi coalition. the airport has largely been close to humanitarian relief and those who might seek to leave for medical purposes. how can we address saudi arabia's legitimate security concerns around that airport and its use for the importation of weapons while at the same time making it possible for civilians trapped in these areas to get medical care and to get food and clean water. >> he's singled out exact to the reasons why the airport should be fully opened for movement and a noun not just for soul label purposes the general purposes as well. how best to ensure the genuine concerns of saudi arabia there are a variety of regimes that have put successfully in place for lack of a better word to assure that cargo and people moving in and out of the airport
are what they ought to be without significantly diminishing the ability of the airport to function. we the united nations have repeatedly proposed such regimes. some have worked partially. the airport has an raider level of operations today than it did early in mid-november but more needs to be done. we believe the u.n. is willing to participate in them and we think they can be made to work. >> thank you for the answer. let me talk a little bit more about water shortages and several of the events spoken to it. the saudis have blocked livers of water and civilians water structure which in large part has contribute to water scarcity in the worlds greatest cholera outbreak. keeping control over the water is one of the conflicts in yemen and how does that exacerbate the humanitarian crisis and what can we do to tackle access to the clean water challenge?
>> control of water resources is not one of the primary drivers of conflict. yemen is blessed with a number of water supplies not found in the middle east. i will refer to my colleague from ait. the elimination of reliable electricity supplies to purification of water sugar plants appropriate sewage disposal. it's a very basic a moment on but it stems from restrictions of electricity delivery which in turn are the product of transmittal lines but more importantly consistent supplies of affordable fuel. >> ambassador basically when you see or hear in yemen about fuel not getting too wordy to go that immediately correlates itself to people not being able to pump the water that they need and not being able to fuel the generators that keep the lights on in hospitals and water is a critical problem for the humanitarian situation.
>> let me ask one last question. al qaeda has been cited as one of the more lethal terrorist organizations in the world and a greater threat to united states now than it was in the beginning of the conflict back in september of 2015 and have we had successes integrating the capabilities. most importantly from a security perspective given a quote for senator young shared with us what about our alignment, our strategy and engagement that might make us less secure today as a result of the conduct of the last three years? >> senator as you know would we have a sizable presence in yemen and going after aqag because of the specific threat it posed to the homeland. that presence and our two buddies were significantly undermined by the collapse of government and the outbreak of civil war between 2014 and 2015.
we have made strides in reconstituting our efforts with their liberal partnerships first with the legitimate government of yemen as well as our or some aground. aqap remains a significant threat. they have been offended from the civil war. it's created open territory in safe areas for them but the emirates in particular have made progress in helping the government maintain control in certain areas and denied more area to aqap. we continue to take a number of strikes against this very significant terrorist threat so it remains a challenge but we are making progress. >> the conclusion is clearly both are humanitarian -- and anitere an interest in national security interest to reach this conflict as soon as possible. thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you to the witnesses for your testimony and the documents
we were given for this hearing today the risk of spreading beyond yemeni territory is threatening to grow. >> it is a broader threat than just in yemen. >> secretary karem. >> i agree with secretary sutterfield. >> and i let her from general counsel, excuse me acting general counsel to senator schumer and mcconnell a talk about the u.s. involvement in to quote a letter the united states provides the coalition defense articles and services including air-to-air refueling intelligence with advice regarding best practices for reducing the risk of civilian casualties. this is the extent of our involvement? >> with respect to the support of the coalition's effort and the civil war. we obviously have different
support with respect to operations using different authorities. >> ambassador satterfield. >> we provide humanitarian as well as political support in engagement at the s. it's an accurate accounting of military support in intel's port. >> give us a ballpark personnel figure you have with yemen secretary satterfield. >> roughly 50 personnel in saudi arabia but they are conducting a variety of activities including largely helping on the missile threat. >> ambassador satterfield i was late to the scheduled hearings and i had a couple of other hearings to attend. ambassador satterfield if you would just lay out quickly what are the administrations goals as it relates to the conflict in human? >> or goals are to facilitate primarily through support of united nations but also through our own directing gage with key yemeni parties with the saudis
and the emirates a comprehensive political resolution or a process which has the prospect of producing such a resolution and in that process reduce the level of conflict or it's also a policy goal to roll back iranian influence and projection of force or the revolution a guard corps chiefly in support for houthi. >> secretary karem you make it commented on going to make sure you get it right there's precious little evidence that iran is interested in the settlement. did i paraphrase what you said? >> yes i would say that iran benefits from the continuing conflict as they are in syria and elsewhere. >> ambassador satterfield given what secretary karem said we don't seem to be gaining anywhere at this point. >> we have in fact a more promising political scene in yemen today. we believe it is a better
prospect for the new u.n. special envoy to work in do we see a greater degree of emirate ends genuine support than was the case a year ago with its predecessor. on the iranian side we are working actively to address the ability of the iranians to proliferate particularly missiles into who the hands. that's an ongoing process which we hope can bear fruit in the not-too-distant future. a united nations report recently said the government of yemen has ordered to the point that it's doubtful that we will be able to reunite yemen as a single country. do you agree with that? >> the future of yemen a single country, two states as it was prior to 1993 undoubtedly will be one of the issues addressed in a comprehensive peace process one of the issues which the u.n.
has been grappling with but more fundamentally than that question is the simple issue of how do you construct a political process that brings and keeps all of the parties including the saudis in the game, offers them a stake in the outcome of the game and sees through the process the diminishing of the level of violence and disruption to civilian life. that's the challenge. >> ambassador could you describe the entities inside of iran engaged in and a better question is have they've been sanctioned out of the yemeni executive order? >> to have indeed serve. as the evolutionary guard corps working with the cord. it was supported the german company provided iran with recent serial -- syria weapons attack.
>> i'm not sure in this forum we can go into the details about iran's use of chemical weapons capabilities. we are obviously concerned that they have taken long-range louisville capabilities to use against the civilian population. >> thank you. senator markey. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. admitting that you made a mistake is very difficult thing and america made foreign-policy mistakes when we make a decision for military engagement and we don't allow for facts on the ground to educate us about the mistakes we have made. the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expect to get different set of results and i feel like that's where we are five years into the conflict to which nothing is changed.
they control the same amount of country they did is they -- at the outset and yet today we are talking about a peace process blossoming out of a reality on the ground that looks very different, that does not look very different than it did a year or two years ago. mr. satterfield let me pose this theory to you. i have great respect for you but i really do think the impression you are giving the committee that the iranians don't want to come to the table and the saudis and the emirates do is spin because the reason we are asking these questions about reports of an assault is the saudis have made it. clear to everyone who has asked them but they are not going to come to the table until the military battle lines on the ground inside of yemen change and until they get the houthis back on their heels militarily they aren't going to come to the
negotiating table. yet you are telling us that you think the saudis are going to engage even if after five years of trying to get the battle lines to be different they have no success. why are the saudis going to come to the table today win when for five years they've been trying to move the battle line without success. the reason is they have communicated to us that they are planning on a means to try to change the dynamics in anticipation of the negotiation. >> senator the last three years that this conflict has endured have not just shown a status quo the worsening situation with respect to the military situation. houthis has strengthened in comparison to what it was three years ago. the president's of opposing
forces is a significantly more diminished or fragmented. the presence of other of elements of islam other act jars in this conflict have two bring to bear. that may be more of a chaotic mix and more difficult for resolution. perhaps it offers sense of optimism. i choose to see differently. says situation in which some help military force alone could compel the houthis is a unique party to come to the table on reduced terms is a loser. we use exact with those terms. >> but that has been the saudi position for the last five years. military pressure continued military pressure an average of 15 airstrikes that they are three years consecutive is going to bring the houthis to the table.
that's been the theory from the saudis coalition perspective and it is the saudi position that military force needs to be continued. our response to the saudis the highest levels has been that application of force is not predictably likely to be successful in achieving that. >> and you have not been successful in changing their minds. mr. jenkins where preparing -- comparing the current state of humanitarian relief to a moment in time last fall when virtually no relief is getting through. that's not the proper comparison or useful comparison. let me just quote from a recent u.n. report that suggests that today half as many vessels are getting new relief as before this loc aid and on average the saudis process is adding 100 days to relief supplies getting into these ports despite the
fact that we have the u.n. verification product -- process taking a look at the ships as well. why do the saudis need to continue to look at every single shift that comes in killing the interest in humanitarian supplies at a time when we have the u.n. process is so far has shown no evidence of not being able to get to conduct these sessions? >> senator it's true that the data has not gotten back to the level we saw before the october november closure and there has been a chilling effect on shippers including shippers and vessels because they don't know how long it will go through clearance. the state department usaid and other donors with the coalition to reduce the time that the yeehaw process, that's the
coalition evacuation humanitarian systems operations cell. the month of april 3 week of that down to three to four days so it's not 100 days. there has been a lot of fort done getting the medications between that process and the u.n. verification and inspection mechanism process together. the system gets back within 48 hours on the determination of whether or not the actual vessel needs be searched and automatic goes to the process. we have seen particularly in the last six weeks significant progress and we are looking forward to reducing those times even more. what we do need is winning shippers in the region to know how long it will take and that will hopefully get more shipping back to the airport particularly port of hodeidah cargo. >> thank you. senator flake rates thank you
for holding this hearing. following up on senator coons question regarding aqap, it strikes me it is difficult and we are working, somebody give me an assessment of aqap and their position relative to their ability to project for the homeland as was mentioned now versus two years ago, what position. >> off the top of my head i can't give you a good indication of their current strength now versus two years ago. i think we did see at the beginning of the conflict there'll diminution of the pressure applied on them and the last year were then able to apply much more pressure. we took over 100 strikes in court nation with their partners in aqap in yemen last year so we
are putting significant pressure on them but as i said they continue to plot and plan. >> we been able to do that still without impacting the efforts of the houthis? >> there's a separation and where these threats are made so my understanding is that they are separated but nevertheless because we require support from the government of yemen and other local partners everything is connected and so it's a very complicated situation. it's also why we are worried about how long the civil war which is how hard it will be to establish the conditions do bring it into the threat the aqap poses. >> ambassador satterfield it
would impact her abilities to work with our saudi partners on this issue. most recently we voted on a resolution that required the president to withdraw all forces deployed in support of the saudi coalition. the chair just mention new legislation will be considered that looks to certain certifications. what is your view on this legislation? will it help? is a hindrance and how is it viewed by the administration quite. >> senator i have just seen the text of the proposed resolution and will be reviewing that in responding. >> any other thoughts? >> sometimes it's easy to have a certification depending on what snapshot in time you look at. you mentioned you wanted to comment. >> i haven't seen the text of
the legislation. i would say there would be some concern we have had with conditionality. we are happy to come up here to talk about the progress we are making and the kinds of pressure and conversations we are having with our partners to improve their targeting and their application of that conflict. but worry that hard conditionality in part because it could negatively affect our ability to influence their behavior. >> ambassador satterfield if saudi arabia was working to achieve a credible settlement allowing humanitarian aid to pass through yemen and protect civilians in yemen in order for u.s. support for their efforts could we make that certification now?
>> senator you will understand if i respond to that hypothetical word that a condition of assistance the administration would carefully consider how best to respond that i'm not able to do so now. >> mr. chairman. >> senator markey. >> thank you mr. chairman. secretary karem general votel the commander of the u.s. central command recently called iran's army yemeni rebels with ballistic rebels that quote growing threat which i think poses a significant danger not just to saudis in emirates but poses a risk to us. can you explain why we should accept the dod's circular logic that once the administration at the political level inserts itself into it, plex american servicemembers are exposed to risks which then justifies
continued u.s. participation in the conflict. it's a never ending circle. >> senator i think even if the united states was not involved in helping our partners in yemen even if we weren't involved in conducting efforts in aqap in yemen iran's elements of ballistic metal -- ballistic missile capabilities transferring these ballistic missile capabilities for transfer to the united states not just a threat to our partners in the region be dead aqap or saudi arabia or israel because there are hundreds of thousands of americans in the middle east for that believe their 100,000 americans who live in saudi arabia. the iranian willingness to fire ballistic missiles that populated areas poses a threat not just to our partners but to
us. >> when we provide refueling service to saudi coalition aircraft do we have a say in the operations that the aircraft are conducting. we know for a fact we refuel we are engaging in strikes and not anti-operations. >> senator i believe we know they are conducting counter operations as i mentioned early and general votel we don't monitor every flight. we don't have personnel or ask us to do that given our location. i would want to correct the impression that we don't follow and don't track civilian casualties in yemen. obviously we have intelligence reporting and reporting from ngos who are on the ground. it's a range of information we have that leads us to believe
that our coalition, our partners improve their capacity and limiting civilian casualties. >> of course the more we are involved as general votel says it poses a risk plus though we are getting in deeper and deeper again having had the decision made by congress in terms of the level of our intervention does the united states in any way provide advice? >> we provide advice with respect to how to conduct targeting but we don't provide specific advice on targeting. singh is the understanding you are helping them make general targeting decisions that you
don't think the united states has any idea where these planes are going and what they are owing to hit? is that we are saying? >> we don't monitor and track individual aircraft. we have a general idea. >> do you have a policy which we express to the saudis with regards to the targets that we don't want to have hit? do we tell them expressly? >> i think we have been very clear with our partners about their obligations of armed conflict to avoid noncombatant casualties. >> out what level of confidence do you have that they have abided by that? >> i think we have a growing level of confidence. i would defer to assessments from our intelligence services. >> so a high confidence? >> we have a high degree of confidence that their targeting processes have improved.
>> is a high level of confidence that they are not hitting civilian targets? do you have a high level of confidence? >> unfortunately our experience is that it's impossible to have a 100% or didn't avoiding civilian casualties. >> there's only 1% chance that they are hitting civilians? is that what you are saying? it's not 100% but 99% confidence? >> i think they have made improvements in their efforts to avoid civilian casualties in large part because of the support we have provided. the u.s. absence of support i would not he so confident of that level of insurance continuing. >> you have any evidence to support that assertion? >> i believe that we have reporting about the number of strikes that have been taken and i think there is intelligence reporting and public reporting
about the level of civilian casualties. >> that is quantitatively determined and available to this committee? >> i am sure in closed session there are materials that are available. >> is there quantitative evidence? >> i believe so. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> senator udall. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you all for your service. an estimated 10,000 yemeni civilians have been killed by saudi airstrikes. last year saudi arabia claimed it would engage in a 750 million multiyear training program through the american military to help prevent the accidental killing of civilians in the saudi love air campaign against the houthi. when the saudis a multiyear how
long is it going to take to get the saudi military to stop accidentally killing civilians? >> senator as i said i think we have seen clear indications that they are making progress but war is incredibly difficult and it's impossible for any military to conduct military operations without any risk to civilian casualties. our belief is by continued hardship but the saudis that we can help improve their capabilities. if we do not provide the kind of support there are others who will who do not care about civilian casualties. they do not seminar a provide training and advice for civilian casualties that the united states does. >> do any of the other panelists want to comment on that? >> senator, yes. building on secretary karem's
remarks there are two challenges posed through coalition military activities in yemen. one is collateral civilian casualties. we have worked over this past year in a manner from an attic total and the qualitative fashion we believe have achieved demonstrable progress. there is indeed in another setting information available on why we make that statement. but there's another aspect which has been addressed by many of the members of this committee as well which is the military campaign against the houthis against military who the targets and whether that is an effective means of producing a peaceful resolution. we do all in our power as a partner of the saudis investigating civilian casualties but we also counsel the saudis and the done so at the highest levels of the government. the military campaign against who the targets is not in our
view and effective way of bringing about eight peaceful settlement. they are two different issues but they combined to the same place which is a political resolution by a military resolution is necessary. >> mr. satterfield and mr. jenkins mentioned a lack of access to clean water due to the lack of fuel or energy to pump the water, how much would the international community need to contribute to fix this problem and restore access to clean water and basic nutrition and sanitation needs? >> thank you. not being able to put an amount on it the issue is the access. the access is free and unfettered through the courts and road networks inside in the road networks throughout periods shortage of fuel should not exist. >> are there currently requests
in the foreign operations budget to help provide these resources? >> there is no request specifically. we used -- use contingency funding for international disaster accounts and we don't specify even by country flexibility to respond to whatever needs we can locally and within yemen. there is no specific requests for that. there is a fuel mechanism set up through the united nations specifically for the importation of fuel through ports for use by him in the -- you may obtain actors on the ground. >> please let us know if additional resources are needed to there've been considerable reports from human rights watch dogs and the associated press that detainees have been tortured. the united arab emirates have been implicated in these allegations. what is your assessment of the uae involvement in the torture of detainees and what action has
the state department taken to address this issue? >> senator in this session we are engaged with uae authorities on these allegations with respect to what may or may not have occurred and what steps need to be taken to provide satisfactory level of assurance that there is no such practice going on. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. >> thank you senator udall. senator menendez for a follow-up question. >> ambassador satterfield the sanctions that erected the mr. chen to mandatorily impose sanctions on iran for its violation of international arms embargo. in the past year a panel of experts on yemen informed the security council oven iran violating the arms embargo. as a result of the information has the administration imposed in the -- .
>> senator i will respond to your question writing. >> does that mean you don't know the answer? >> i do not know the specific answer and we will respond in detail -- detail. to make your earlier answer was unsatisfactory. from irish usage he gave me that answer is that there have been no specific mandatory sanctions placed on iran as a result of the violations of arms embargo. this is one element of it so i'm of the view that when we pass something in the senate 98-2 in overwhelmingly in the house that is the law of the land and the laws to be implemented especially if it's an adversary for which we are so concerned about in the region so i looked or two that answer. >> senator udall. >> mr. jenkins roughly 90% of the food that goes into the country of yemen has come in
from the outside into the country and a significant amount of fuel and medicine as well. 70 to 80% of those imports come to the port of hodeidah. with that in mind what would be the implication for the humanitarian consequences of the attack on these port of hodeidah by the saudi coalition? >> with the temporary closure of port of hodeidah we saw in the extended closure of the port would be catastrophic to humanitarian needs in the country. >> can you throw some numbers? i don't know if there are internal projections over certain period of time the impact that would have on the number of people that would succumb to disease and hunger and so forth. >> i don't have numbers offhand
today to know the vast majority people, the majority of people lived in the northern part of the country. there is no way to take port of hodeidah out of the equation and get anywhere near the amount of humanitarian and more importantly commercial into the country. >> a related question to you mr. jenkins and ambassador satterfield referring to the process that was discussed a bit earlier but what more can the ni state senate to be helpful in ensuring there is a more expeditious delivery of food, fuel and medicine to the port's? >> senator your efforts and the efforts of your colleagues and this body and the committee have been exceedingly helpful in allowing the administration to send a message for the whole of government regarding very specific concerns we have over
any limitations or restrictions or constraints on the ability of both humanitarian and commercial goods specifically to include fuel to have unrestricted and expeditious entry into yemen. that messaging which comes from the executive branch also comes from this body and is extremely important. >> i want to thank you personally ambassador satterfield. he did reference our conversation and work on this and i'm glad you are on the beat. you bring credit upon yourself in the department and represent our country quite well in this difficult situation. i would like to summarize some of the things i listed in my earlier line of questioning. is it agree we should expect all parties the conflict to take measures to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in yemen. ambassador satterfield said we should expect all parties undertake a good-faith effort to conduct diplomatic negotiations
to end the civil war there and ambassador satterfield said we are right to continue to press the saudi led coalition to take demonstrable action reduce the risk to civilians and civilian ever structure resulting from the terry operations in yemen. for my colleagues as they review the transcript of this hearing i think it's important that they note that all three of those statements reflect the certification requirements and senate joint resolution 58 which senators shaheen collins and coons help me introduce last week. >> a senator you think you ambassador satterfield and secretary karem and mr. jenkins thank you for your time and sharing your expertise with us. the record will remain open until the close of business on thursday so members can submit questions and submitted to the record as quickly as possible.
>> with that was younger i was always taught about using your voice and using your position of platform for they are talking about muhammad ali in bill russell. those are the athletes that i learned about so you know as i got older with a lightbulb went off and i made the connection of how i can follow in their footsteps. i can bring attention to these different causes because i'm an athlete. i continue to do it in washington d.c. with the wizards and it became a part of me.