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tv   U.S. Policy in Yemen Hearing  CSPAN  April 17, 2018 6:19pm-8:00pm EDT

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i can bring attention to these different causes just because i'm an athlete. and i just continue to do it. i continue to do it through college. i continued to do it in the pros, right here in washington d.c. with the wizards. and it just became a part of me. >> q & a sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span. now a look at u.s. policy in yemen. we'll hear about the status of humanitarian aid efforts and tackling the kol ra outbreak. we'll also get an update on al qaeda in the peninsula. we'll start after the committee finishes up with some other businesses. >> so with love, we thank acting assistant secretary satterfield and mr. jenkins for joining us
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today. we'll examine u.s. policy towards yemen, particularly in light of concern in congress and regarding the civil war in the dire humanitarian consequences. according to the united nations more than 22 million people, roughly three-quarters of the population, need humanitarian aid and protection and 18 million people are food insecure. last year there were over 1 million suspected cases of cholera. while yemen has always faced significant socioeconomic challenges, a civil war armed a takeover of much of the country in 2014 in their overthrow of yemen's government in january 2015 has plunged the country into a humanitarian crises. iran's support of the rebels and the intervention of saudi-led forces to restore the government which began in march of 2015 have been particularly devastating. in over three years of conflict, thousands of civilians have been
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killed. errant air strikes have hit schools, weddings and hospitals. humanitarian groups cannot reliably provide aid due to movement constraints and uncertain poor aspects. saudi arabia is a long time u.s. partner but partners must be con dead with each other so i have raised my concerns regarding as many people here have saudi arabia's conduct in yemen with senior saudi officials including the crown prince on multiple occasions in this last year. i know that many of my colleagues have done the same things as i've mentioned and i urge them to continue doing so as i will. at the same time, saudi arabia has a right to defend itself. for nearly two years they've fired iranian manufactured ballistic missiles into saudi territory and in recent months have aimed these missiles at riyadh. at least hundreds of saudis have
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been killed and millions live under the constant threat of attack. resolving conflict in yemen means addressing security concerns to prevent entrenchment from iranian armed groups on the southern border. as the committee considers ways to support effective u.s. policy on yemen, i look forward to hearing our witnesses provide details on what the u.s. is doing to encourage resolution of the conflict. i also hope our witnesses will explain the nature of u.s. support to the saudi-led coalition, including relevant authorities and what can be done to address the humanitarian situation. with that, i ask ranking member, if he wishes, to make any opening comments. i'm sure he does and i look forward to hearing those. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for convening this important hearing and inviting witnesses from the state and defense department. it's fundamentally necessary that we receive testimony from
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the very administration officials executing that policy and not just outside experts. last month marked the third anniversary of the current conflict in yemen. statistics of the scale of the human suffering defy imagination. 22.2 million yemenis, more than 80% of the entire population, require humanitarian assistance. the loss of more than 50% of yemen's nighttime electricity, a key condition for maintaining hospitals, water supply systems and communications. 8 million yemenis are on the brink of starvation, the largest cholera outbreak in modern history. this hearing is particularly timely given the debate the senate recently held on the u.s. support to the saudi-led coalition. it's also relevant given the visit of the u.n. special envoy to the u.n. security council to brief on yemen as well as reports of a new saudi coalition offensive. as we consider u.s. policy on yemen, we do so in a regional
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context, acknowledging u.s. relations with critical partners. saudi arabia has endured scud and ballistic missile attacks on a scale that no american would ever accept. iranian backed fighters have launched attacks aimed at saudi populations, economic infrastructure and defense installations. there have been attacks aimed at u.s. naval craft. this is unacceptable, dangerous and counter to u.s. interests. the threats coming from yemen did not suddenly appear but after years of brewing tensions between various factions in yemen, iranian fingerprints are all over the escalation in the terrorist activities. to be clear, the terrorist threat in yemen does not excuse the conduct of the saudi coalition which bears significant responsibility for the scale of civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure. but there are other actors and stakeholders in this conflict, including iran, al qaeda, and isis, and all are implicated in violations of the law of armed
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conflict, international humanitarian law and human rights abuses. instead of a comprehensive strategy to push back on iranian interference in yemen and the spoiler role that russia is playing as i've pointed out in other contexts, this administration is actively dismantling the state department and the very entities that play critical roles in addressing the humanitarian crises. last month the senate debated one element of u.s. policy, the provision of limited military support including refuelling intelligence and advice to the saudi coalition. i appreciate the kmiltment of senators lee, sanders and murphy in calling for a debate and vote on that one element. in explaining my vote against dits charging the resolution from the committee, i encourage my colleagues to expand the apt tour of the debate.
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absent a compelling articulation of how continued u.s. military support to the coalition is leveraging movement towards a political tract and negotiation to end the war, it is reasonable to expect that the next vote on u.s. military support may have a different outcome. specifically, what steps is the administration taking diplomatically and politically to end the war? what types of assistance are appropriate in assisting our partners in the legitimate defense needs? what is the administration doing to alleviate the worst humanitarian crises in the world, and what more can the saudi-led coalition do? given the increasing sophistication of iranian support to the hudys and yemen, how does the conflict in yemen factor into the administration's strategy to counter iran? finally, i'd like to hear some clear statements from our witnesses as to whether there is a military solution to this conflict. unless our witnesses are going to surprise us with a new announcement, the answer has
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been for years and continues to be no. finally, mr. chairman, it would be difficult to consider this hearing without addressing the administration's actions in syria over the weekend. in my view, what connects this weekend's military strikes against assad's chemical weapons facilities in this administration's approach to yemen is the alarming absence of a strategy. president trump's overreliance on the military arm of our government, coupled with his antagonizing, defunding and dismantling of our diplomatic and assistance arms will lead to only one dangerous outcome. we will have nothing left other than military force to address conflict and promote our interests. i'm not opposed to the appropriate and authorized use of military force. but before we send our uniformed men and women into battle and ask them to be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, we should be able to tell them what the stakes are and that we have exhausted our diplomatic tools. i'm still waiting for the broad
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articulation of strategy in the region and understanding how u.s. military support to the saudi coalition is helping us in moving towards the ultimate goal of a associated settlement that prioritizes saving lives and ending the suffering of innocent yemen ease civilians. i hope today's hearing can help us understand that. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. our first witness is acting assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, ambassador david satterfield. ambassador satterfield is one of our most distinguished diplomats. he most recently served as director general of the multi-national force and observers in the sinai peninsula and previously served as u.s. ambassador to lebanon. thank you for being here. our second witness is robert jenkins who serves as the deputy assist administrator for humanitarian assistance. he marked 20 years at usaid and previously served as the
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director of office of transition initiatives. thank you for being here. our third witness is assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, robert karam. very protocol, want to make sure our civilian guys are first. priority of senate confirmation last year, mr. karam served as national security staff for vice president cheney and then as national security adviser to the house. majority leaders eric cantor and kevin mccarthy. we thank you all three for being here. if you could summarize in about five minutes, we would appreciate it. if you have any written materials that you would like to be a part of the record, we will make them so. if you would go in the order introduced, we would appreciate it. again, thank you. >> thank you very much, chairman corker, ranking member menendez, members of the committee. i appreciate this opportunity once again to appear to testify
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on this important subject and i would ask that the submitted written remarks be entered into the record. >> without objection. >> defeating isis in yemen, al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, countering iran's maligned activities in that region, and above all reducing the extraordinary suffering and hardship for the yemeni people, all of these goals hinge on the resolution to the yemeni conflict. to that end, the united states firmly believes that the only possible solution to this conflict is a associated political settlement under u.s. auspices. i want to be clear on this point. our military support to the saudi-led coalition advances important u.s. national security and diplomatic objectives. further, iran's support, its sophisticated weaponry both exacerbates its conflict and intended suffering and advances
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iran's regional ambitions. they've repeatedly used cruise missile technology and as we saw as recently as april 11th, have targeted riyadh's airport and red sea shipping lanes. u.s. military support serves a clear and strategic purpose, to reinforce saudi self-defense in the face of intensifying houthi enabled threats and pushing back against iran's regionally destabilizing actions. this provides the united states access and influence to help press for a political solution to the conflict. should we curtail u.s. military support, the saudis could well pursue defense relationships with countries that have no interest in either ending the humanitarian crises, minimizing civilian casualties or assisting in facilitating progress towards a political solution.
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critical u.s. access to support for our own campaign against violent extremists could be placed in jeopardy. through diplomatic and military to military engagements, we regularly emphasize the strategic importance and legal obligations to comply with the law of conflict, including the obligation to take all reasonable precautions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians. we assess that progress has been made as a result of our engagement and efforts over the past six months. during his meeting with president trump, saudi crown prince agreed that a political resolution to this conflict is ultimately necessary to bring greater stability to the region and meet the needs of the yemeni people. the new u.n. special envoy to yemen, martin griffiths, has completed initial consultation with key parties to the conflict and we are welcoming him to the state department shortly and we'll be meeting hwith him.
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our goal collectively is to create a framework before entering into comprehensive negotiations which the u.n. would then convene. when those formal negotiations do begin, it's important to note saudi arabia does have vital national security concerns that have to be addressed by the houthis. the saudis will have to make compromises of their own and we've been quite clear on this point. the houthis will likely retain a political role in yemen. that is a fact and it has to be reflected in any negotiating process. and a durable commitment to peace will have to involve the buy-in of all key yemeni parties. we all agree the humanitarian crises in yemen is unacceptable. the u.s. and its allies have worked over the past six months to lead the coalition led by the saudis to take positive steps on this subject. last month the saudis provided nearly $1 billion to yemen's
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humanitarian response appeal. on january 22nd, the saudi-led coalition announced elements of a plan that envisions the use of other ports and over land points of entry to broaden options for importing humanitarian assistance and commercial goods into yemen. we support this. more has to be done, and we are pressing the saudis and the coalition to take additional steps to facilitate and expedite access to the port of hugh day ta. we will do all in our power to assure humanitarian and commercial needs are met in yemen so that this crises from its humanitarian standpoint can be alleviated to the maximum extent possible. i thank you again for the opportunity to respond to your questions. >> thank you. mr. jenkins. >> chairman corker, ranking member menendez, members of the committee, thank you for the
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opportunity to speak here today alongside my distinguished colleagues from state and the department of defense. i'd ask that our written comments be submitted for the record. administrator green likes to paraphrase your fellow senator john mccain when he asks our agency, the world is on fire, what are we going to do about it? at usaid we strive to put out those fires. unfortunately right now, yemen is the single largest humanitarian crises in the world and we're working hard to put the fires out there. along with our interagency colleagues, other donors and our partners on the ground. the humanitarian crises in yemen is man made. the current conflict has been ongoing for more than three years. violence between the houthis and the yemeni government, both backed by military support from regional powers, has evolved into a civil war among multiple factions. meanwhile, more than 75% of the country or more than 22 million
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people need humanitarian assistance. to put that in perspective, that's more than the combined populations of tennessee, new jersey, and indiana. for nearly four years, yemen has wavered on the edge of famine. 17.8 million yemenis are food insecure, including more than 460,000 children who are severely malnourished. inside it's prohibitively expensive. as over half the population is unemployed, this dramatically affects what basics people can afford, such as food and water. many must resort to increasingly severe coping mechanisms such as child marriage just to get by. this food crises is made worse by the fact that yemen is currently facing the world's largest cholera outbreak with more than 1 million suspected
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cases due to contaminated drinking water, unsafe hygiene practices, a lack of sanitation services, and a crippled health care system. the conflict has also led to the collapse of the economy which was already one of the poorest in the region. the government hasn't been able to regularly fund the operating budgets of key ministries like the ministry of health, degrading basic services like medical care, sanitation, and education. in the face of these needs, the united states continues to mount a robust humanitarian response. working with our partners to reach millions with life-saving aid. over the last six months, our partner, wfp, has reached an average of 7 million people each month with emergency food assistance. we also work to deliver four u.s.-funded cranes to the poort of hugh day ta which was badly damaged by the conflict. usaid is supporting medical services to people in need.
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we're 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 conflict can have lasting effects. our mobile protection teams provide treatment to children throughout the country. usaid is also providing technical assistance to the central bank of yemen to help restore basic functionality of core services. we're also rehabilitating water systems, getting children back to school, and providing school supplies. in addition, the u.s. coordinates closely with other donors including the united kingdom, the european union, and we particularly welcome the recent pledges from saudi arabia, the united arab emirates and kuwait with more than $1 billion towards humanitarian response in yemen. despite our best efforts, access
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remains a major challenge in yemen. to reach people in need, relief workers must navigate active conflict zones, check points, bureaucratic impediments and heavily damaged infrastructure. the vast majority of goods come through yemen's ports so their operations are critical for both humanitarian and commercial goods. we continue to call on all parties in the conflict to allow free and unfettered access for humanitarian goods into and throughout yemen in order to save lives and reduce suffering. while the united states remains committed to relieving the suffering of the yemeni people, humanitarian alone cannot solve this conflict. this will only come through a comprehensive political agreement. we look forward to a day when 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.
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addressing the complex crises in yemen requires all of our government's tools -- humanitarian assistance and the three ds of development, diplomacy and defense. that's why i'm grateful you've called all of us here today, and i'm happy to take your questions. thank you. >> thank you very much. secretary karam. >> chairman koork corker and distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify here today. as a former senate and house staffer, it's a particular honor to get to appear before you, although i must say it's somewhat more nerve racking to appear on this side of the dais. i would ask that my prepared opening statement be introduced for the record. as secretary mattis has said many times, our goal in yemen is an end to the conflict.
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the con flibt affects regional security across the middle east and threatens u.s. national security interests, including the free throw of commerce in the red sea. just this month, the houthis attacked a saudi oil tanker in the red sea, threatening commercial shipping and freedom of navigation in the world's fourth busiest maritime choke point. this conflict has unleashed a humanitarian toll on yemeni civilians, as my colleagues from the state department have already mentioned. this is why secretary mattis believes strongly that the efforts of the special envoy, martin griffiths, to bring all sides of the conflict to the negotiating table are so important. we need a stable inclusive government in yemen to provide security to the yemeni people and reduce and ultimately eliminate terrorist safe havens being used by al qaeda in the arabian peninsula and isis in yemen. a political solution to the yemen conflict will also reduce the chaos that iran has
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exploited to advance its maligned agenda. the houthis have launched more than 100 ballistic missiles and rockets into saudi arabia directed at major population centers, international airports, military installations, and oil infrastructure. in the last month alone, the houthis have launched more than 13 ballistic missiles and long range rockets into saudi arabia. mr. chairman, i would invite you and all of the members of the committee to visit the iranian material display at joint base bowling to see firsthand the iranian manufactured ballistic missile launched at riyadh international airport in november 2017 as well as other evidence of iran's support to the houthis and its efforts to destabilize the region. yemen has become a test bed for iran's malign activities. mr. chairman, the defense department is currently engaged in two lines of effort in yemen. our first line of effort and our
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priority is the fight against al qaeda and the arabian peninsula and isis in yemen. two terrorist organizations that directly threaten the united states, our allies and our partners. to combat aqap and isis, u.s. forces in coordination with the u.n. recognized government of yemen are supporting our regional counter-terrorism partners in ongoing operations to disrupt and degrade their ability to coordinate, plot and recruit for external terrorist operations. additionally, u.s. military forces are conducting air strikes against isis in yemen, pursuant to the 2001 authorization for military force to disrupt and destroy terrorist networks. our second line is the provision of limited, noncombat support to the saudi coalition in support of the u.n. recognized government of yemen. this support began in 2015 under president obama and in 2017 president trump reaffirmed america's commitment to our
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partners in these efforts. fewer than 50 u.s. military personnel work in aud saudi arabia advising and assisting with the saudi territory, sharing intelligence and providing logistical support, including aerial refueling. the objective is to build our partners' capacity and enable them to defend themselves and maintain their own security. as i noted before, houthi missile attacks pose a very real threat to saudi arabia and the uae and to freedom of navigation in the red sea. the houthi rebellion also exacerbates the civil conduct and exploit the deliveries of aid for their own financial purposes. u.s. military support to our partners is always geared towards mitigating noncombat casualties. u.s. advisers provide best
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practices on avoiding critical damage and usa.s. aerial fuelin give our partners time to practice tactical patients and reduce the risk of casualties. we encourage to allow full access to humanitarian and commercial goods and are encouraged by recent steps that our partners have taken to provide $1 billion in relief. thank you for the opportunity to testify. >> thank you. i'll defer for interest jerks. >> thank you. i want to thank you for your work. you have outlined goals for the united states including ending the civil war through diplomacy, because as you point out, that's the only way we're going to have a lasting peace in yemen. the security of our partners,
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particularly the security of the kingdom of saudi arabia and to recognize the maligned influence in dealing with that and addressing humanitarian crises including civilian casualties and the response to the civilian population. mr. karam, i'm going to start with you in regards to the u.s. military assistance that we give to the kingdom. you said that is to embolden their capacity and to reduce noncombatant casualties. last march the sitcom commander stated that the united states government does not track the end results of the coalition missions it refuels and supports with targeting assistance. so my question to you is how do you determine that we are effectively reducing the
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noncombatant casualties if we don't, in fact, track the results of the kingdom's military actions? >> senator, thank you. it's correct that we do not monitor and track all of the saudi aircraft aloft over yemen. we have limited personnel and assets in order to do that and the focus has obviously been on our own operations in afghanistan, in iraq and in syria. >> i understand that. my question is, our stated mission is to reduce noncombatant casualties. if we don't track, how do we de determine that? >> one of our state admissions is precisely that. there are multiple ways we have insight into saudi targeting behavior. we have helped them with their processes. we have seen them implement a no strike list, and we have seen
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their capabilities. >> so the information is based upon what the saudis tell you how they're conducting the mission rather than the after impact of the mission? >> i think our military officers who are resident in saudi arabia are seeing how the saudis 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? >> we do see a difference in how the saudis have operated in yemen -- >> i understand how they operate but we don't know whether, in fact, that's been effective. the united nations security council concluded recent reports that the cumulative effect of these air strikes demonstrates that even with precautionary measures, they were largely inadequate and ineffective. do you have any information that disagrees with that assessment? >> senator, i think the assessment of our central
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command is that the saudi targeting efforts have improved with the steps that they have taken. we do not have perfect understanding because we're not using all of our assets to monitor the aircraft but we do get reporting from the ground on what is taking place inside yemen. >> i understand that. i would just caution you to be reserved as to how effective you are in that if you don't have direct information about it. this is the u.s. reputation on the line and we expect you to know if you report something. if you can't report it, fine, but don't make statements that you can't back up. that's my caution to the way you advertise it. i want to ask one other question if i might on iran's influence. how effective have we been in stopping the iranian influence in that region? it seems like they're extremely active. >> i think it's extraordinarily
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difficult given the breadth of iran's access throughout the region and how aggressive the iranians have been over many, many years to put in place surrogates and access and influence. and -- >> so we're not effective. >> i think we're increasingly effective. the united states cannot do it alone, and in the case of yemen we're trying to help our partners better combat -- >> we think the iran rans are less effective in supporting the houthis today than they were three or sick months ago or a year ago? >> i think we are getting better at mobilizing an international effort to put pressure on iran. >> are we better today than a year ago with the iranians? >> i think the iranians are under more pressure today, but their ability to operate remains a significant point of concern for the united states. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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>> thank you, senator. >> thank you for your testimony. ambassador, i guess some people when they think about our strategy might question the idea of our strategy. you know, if your son was shooting off his pistol in the backyard and doing it endangering the neighbors, would you give him more bullets or less? we saw the saudis acting in an indiscriminate manner. they've killed a lot of civilians. our strategy is to give them more bombs, not less. we say if we don't give it to them, someone else will. that's a global strategy that many have. we have to always be involved. we always have to provide weapons or someone else will. but i guess there's a lot of examples that it doesn't seem to be improving their behavior. you can argue it's marginally better but i seems the opposite of logic. you would think you might withhold aid or assistance to get them to behave. but we do the opposite. we give them more aid.
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what would your response be to that? >> senator, when i noted in my remarks that progress had been made on the issue of targeting minimizing or mitigating civilian casualties, that was carefully chosen. to expand on the remarks, we work with the saudis and have over the last six to nine months worked intensivety on the types of munitions the saudis are using, how they are using, how to discriminate target sets, how to assure through increased loiter time by aircraft that the targets sought are clear of collateral or civilian damage. this is new. this is not the type of interaction -- >> and yet, the overall -- >> the saudis -- >> and yet the overall situation in yemen is a disaster. >> the overall situation is extremely bad, senator. >> i guess that's really my question. we ought to rethink, and i think from a common sense point of view, a lot of people would
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question giving people who misbehave more weapons instead of less. another question, a broad one about what we're doing in the middle east in general, you admitted there's not really a military solution in yemen. most people say it's going to be a political solution. the houthis will remain. we're not going to have hiroshima or unconditional surrender and the good guys win and the bad guys are vang kwished. same for syria. the administrations, the situation will probably be a political solution. they will no longer -- it's not going to be complete vanquishment of the enemy. we're saying that in afghanistan. my point is i think about the recruiter at the station in omaha, nebraska trying to get somebody to sign up for the military saying please join. we're going to send you to three wars where there's no military solution. we're hoping to make it a little better. i think back to vietnam, if we take one more village, they're
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going to negotiate, and we get a better negotiation. i can't see send ourg young men and women to die for that, for one more village. the taliban has 40 % of afghanistan. at 30% they negotiate and it's worth it for the people who have to die? i don't think it's worth one more time. the war in yemen isn't ours. the iranians have launched hundreds of missiles. yeah, and the saudis have launched 16,000 attacks. no who started it? it's a little murky back and forth. the houthis may have started taking over their government. that was a civil war. now we're involved in it. who are the good guys? the saudis? the others? thousands of civilians are dying. i think we need to rethink whether or not military intersengs supplying the saudis with weapons, whether all of this makes any sense at all or whether we've made the situation worse. i mean, humanitarian crisis, we're talking act giving money. the saudis are giving them
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money. i'm like we bomb the crap out of them and the saudis give them $1 million. maybe we bomb less. maybe part of the humanitarian answer is supplying less weapons to a war. there's a huge arms race going on. why do the iranians do what they do? they're evil. or maybe they're responding to the saudis. who responded first? who started it? where did the arms race start? if we sell 3 billion of weapons to saudi arabia, the iranians react. it's action and reaction. we paint the iranians as these evil monsters and we have to correct evil monster. the world is more complicated back and forth, and all i would ask is that we try the get outside our mind set that we -- what we're doing is working. i think what we're doing hasn't worked and we've made a lot of things worse and we're partly responsible for the humanitarian crisis in yemen. a small speech.
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>> that was very small, by senate standards, but thank you. senator menendez. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary, after hearing your answers to senator cardin's line of questioning, i've come to the conclusion that we're not measuring success in a way that's meaningful. if you don't know what civilian casualties are, we don't measure it as the general says, and you said yes, we don't track all civilian casualties from saudi operations, but we've seen them improve targeting behavior. that is not a way to define a measurement of how we're succeeding in reducing civilian casualties. so i find that pretty alarming. it's information i wish i had known before. let me ask secretary why has the administration not used
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authority to impose sanctions on iran for the weapons transfers to the houthis? >> we have sanctioned extensively. all of the iranian entities and individuals who are associated with the proliferating behaviors that include the transfer of weaponry -- >> you -- that's a very -- telling me about all the ways we've sanctioned iran, i'm familiar with that. the administration has -- can you cite to me the specific authority that was used to sanction iran for weapons transfers to the houthis? >> they were sanctioned under other extent authorities. >> i'd like for you to submit that for the record for me to see what that is. >> i can do that. >> do you believe u.s. support for coalition bombings in yemen have been an effective way to counter influence in the region? >> i believe the support we provided to the saudi led coalition has advanced the
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saudi's ability to defend themselves against iranian revolutionary guard corps enabled launches into the heartland of saudi arabia, yes, sir. >> so helping the saudis is how we in part counter iranian influence is what you're telling me? >> it is. >> secretary mattis recently said that u.s. policy is to achieve a settlement in yemen. i'd like to understand more about the calibration. there are reports that the saudi coalition will soon start operations to seize a port, the main port for humanitarian and commercial goods into yes, ma'am. would this accelerate prospects -- >> it would not. we have been exceedingly clear with the governments of saudi arabia and the emirates? >> will the administration provide military support to the coalition if it starts operation to seize the port? >> we have made clear the port
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is to be left fully operational. >> other than the rhetorical support for a ghoeshted settlement, what's the administration specifically going to facility a negotiated settlement? >> over the course of the last year, since october of last year, we've worked extensively with the united nations, the saudis, the emirates, as well as with all yemeni parties to try to establish the basis for a resumption of talks, the talks that collapsed in 2016. the political picture on the ground in yemen has changed radically with the killing of the fragmentation of the general people's congress. all of that while trajic has provided a reshuffling of the deck that may help the united nations to be more effective in the efforts. throughout this we underscored to the parties the saudis and emirates in particular, the u.n. must have the ability to conduct negotiations as it chooses with
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those whom it chooses and where it chooses to try to advance political settlement, and we'll provide all possible support for that. >> we're depending upon the u.n. to be the solution to this process? >> the international community has placed its support in the united nations as the best party positioned to try to broker a resolution. >> and the u.n. endorses that process? >> we do. >> it's a new day for the u.n. and the united states. while significant culpability is -- in yemen, the houthis al bear responsibility. do you agree? >> i do. >> in your view what actions have the houthis juundertaken tt violate law? >> the houthis routinely predate support coming through by per dags, i mean a variety of measures.
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looting aid from convoys. taking taxes repeatedly from the drivers and personnel of the convoys. the houthis profit mightily from all commercial as well as humanitarian goods that enter yemen from my sources. the houthis in addition control the telecommunications networks of yemen from which they also extract revenues. they are a predatory body, but they're also part of the political situation and must be part of the political solution. >> finally have the houthis demonstrated commitment or will to proceed with a negotiated settlement of the conflict to your knowledge? >> the houthis have told the united nations and other parties they wish to participant in a political resolution. it's the testing of the pl proposition that's the challenge before the united nations and all of us. >> okay. >> you know they say the most dangerous person in washington is a senator that just returned from a fact finding mission
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overseas? more dangerous is a senator who has a yemeni in the room he's been talking to all morning. a lot of things i ask, i'm going to act like i know what i'm talking atal talking about. i have a woman working in georgia who has been helping me. number one, apparently -- there are about 22 million yemenis in need of aid either medical or nutritional or some type of other assistance and only 26 million people there. it's almost 96% of the p populati population. is that about right? >> yes. all the numbers that we have for yemen are imprecise given the situation. we look at about 29 million people as the full population and over 76 of them need humanitarian assistance. >> the number is big and it's the vast majority of country, and the port is the biggest
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problem of getting things into yes, ma'am, snn. >> we've been calling on all parties to make sure we have free access through all ports and roads but there's a primary port for up to 80% of the cargo into the country. >> i'm told it's getting bigger. >> it's not getting bigger. the worse moment came in november of last year when there was a coalition-led -- enforced closure of the red sea ports. since then we've seen improvements. there's a ways to go but things have been improving as of late. >> at the end of the long speech made by senator paul who i have great respect for, we disagree on some things, but it was a good speech. he didn't have questions. i want to ask a question. he was basically saying we fought -- sent a lot of our soldiers have battling that winning or losing didn't make a difference because we never finished the drill, and that we have in afghanistan and we have
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in yemen and we have other soldiers deployed in battles that we're not going to win but we're going to just at some pont bring to a draw. is that a fair way to say it? is there any other way to get a recalcitrant people or people who are working against political solutions to the table other than the military challenge if you don't have a military challenge to force them to the table? >> i think you have to use all elements of power to bring people to the negotiating table. sometimes that will be predominantly military. sometimes it can be financial. sometimes it can be diplomatic. and the case of yemen i think all of these things probably apply. but i think there's a difference between afghanistan where the united states pass tens of thousands of soldiers supporting the afghan government and yemen where we are not a party to the conflict and are not engaged in hostilities except for our relatively narrow
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counterterrorism efforts. >> but there's no question, at least i'm speaking for myself now, that at some point in time when you get to solving the problems, conflict overseas, that we're in one way or another, or observe one way or another through the u.n., the sum ability for military force to be an effective force helps you get to the table to get a diplomatic solution rather than having a war to solve it or a civil war to solve it? >> i agree, and more importantly, all the parties who are fighting in yemen believe that. >> what is the background of the u.s. special envoy that's just been -- is it american? >> no. it's a uk national, senator. he's been involved throughout his life in international peace work, a variety of institutions most of them in the uk who bring together negotiators, work on international solutions to problems like this. >> we need to give him and the u.n. the help and encouragement we can to get that done.
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ultimately that's -- special envoys usually are an alternative to solving problem. they just say we did something. but i hope we'll work to -- in every way possible to move them toward with the u.n. and help to bring it to a conclusion. >> that's our intent j sir. >> and on behalf of the carry usa people and my friends from atlanta, care was a tremendous mission all over the world and lots of places. they're doing a tremendous one in yemen. it's horrible when you get a situation where they can't given get well intended aid and medical supplies to the people who need it because we don't have enough security to get them that access. i've been to darfur. it's horrible. i hope we can get everything we can to get the aid of the yemenis in deep trouble in their health as quickly as possible.
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thank you. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman for holding this hearing and thank you to our witnesses for being here to testify and for your efforts to address the crisis in yemen. it has truly taken a horrific toll on millions of innocent men and women there and particularly children. i'm disappointed that the senate has not yet made a decisive statement about the need to influence saudi-led operations own to protect the -- and to protect the snent civilians. i think it's long past time we send a message that we have high expectations for our allies, particularly those receiving military support. so ambassador, do you believe that the saudi led coalition is engaged in urgent and good faith
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efforts to negotiate an end to the civil war in yemen? >>. >> ply marly saudi arabia and united states emirates accept at the highest levels the proposition that there is only you would ultimately a -- that was confirmed in washington. we operationally tried to implement that rhetorical understanding in terms of the active support which the u.n. needs from both the emirates and the saudis. for their mission to be successful. now, over the course of the past six months, from a crisis point in october and november when things looked dark indeed, we have indeed seen a more receptive approach by the saudis and emirates, certainly, to this concept of supporting genuinely supporting and facilitating the mediating efforts, yes. >> thank you. that's good to hear.
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mr. jenkins, you talked about pledges. i think you said from the uae and the saudis. did you mention anyone else of a billion dollars in aid? has any of that aid actually been forthcoming to date? >> yes. thank you for the question. so on april 3rd in geneva was a pledging conference where over $2 billion was pledged against the $3 billion that the united nations is looking for for this year. of that, saudi arabia and uae pledged $920 million and as of this week all of that has arrived within the bank accounts of the united nations which we're happy to see. kuwait also pledged a significant amount as well as the uk and the eu. all of this is 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 long into the year, that's
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heartening. however, there's going to be continue to be great need and need for more assistance. >> and how long is it going to take to get that aid out into the field so it's helping people? >> so we're thankful, particularly because the saudis and the emirates have provided all of this money to the united nations office of the coordinator of the humanitarian as assistance. they are going to disperse it among the various u.n. agencies which they'll be very quickly. >> i think you all talked about the importance of a political 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
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40 years seen many complex 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 internal divisions, the south, the north, the legacy of the 93 forced reunification. all of them in one way or another are going to need to have a voice or need to be represented. the houthis are but one in the north a very significant one, but but one of those parties. >> mr. jenkins, secretary, who else do you think should be at the table in addition to the houthis and the yemen people? >> i would echo what u.n. secretary general gutierrez said. what's necessary right now is a dialogue across yemen an intrayemen dialogue that can
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help support a larger peace negotiation. >> and who's going to lead that dialogue? >> we're looking -- we're happy martin griffith started his work. we think he needs time and space to show results. we want to be supportive across the interagency of his efforts. >> i agree with secretary satterfield and mr. jenkins that you are going to need to bring a number of parties, resident inside yemen together, and then there are also the external players who i think are already in touch. >> does that include iran as being one of the players at the table to negotiate? >> i've seen precious little evidence that iran is interested in a negotiated solution in yemen or in syria or elsewhere. >> and do we think that the houthis will actually negotiate in good faith if they continue to believe iran is going to support them in their
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activities? >> senator? our policy has been premised on two things. the first creating that all encompassing all embracing political process where the houthis have a voice and will participate in the results. the second is to roll back the iranian support being provided to the houthis. it only emboldens a party not to negotiate as effectively as possible. we're working on both these lines at once. >> thank you. >> senator young and before going to him, since you brought up this hearing is in resfons requests by members. we will mark up before the memorial day holiday. we will mark up the bill you all put forth. thank you for your leadership on that, and on the method itself, and know that from my perspective, it's getting in a
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very good place working for both of us and for taking leadership while making sure we speak strongly as we mentioned. senator young. >> secretary satterfield, i'd like to pick up on senator menendez' line of questioning about the administration's support for the coalition. should an attack occur on the port of hodada, you didn't respond directly to that answer. you indicated you repeatedly encouraged the united states as repeatedly encourages the members of the coalition not to strike the port of hodada. is our support conditional upon a nonattack on the port hodada? >> i'll be explicit. we have told the emirates and the saudis there is to be no action undertaken that could threaten the ports of -- >> that sounds like encouragement to me.
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>> or any routs to or from -- >> will our support continue should the saudis or emirates bomb the port of hodada? >> we would not view such an action as consistent with our own policy upon which our support is based. >> will our support continue should the saudis or emirates or another member of the coalition bomb the port? >> you are pose, with all due respect a hypothetical. we would have to see the circumstances in order to give a response to that question beyond what i have already told you. >> 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 back in the dark days of october and early november.
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when we told the saudis explicitly that if there was not an immediate lifting and a sustained lifting of any constraints on access through the ports, not just to humanitarian goods but commercial goods as well, that it would be exceedingly difficult to maintain the type of support for the coalition that had existed. and that view has not changed. >> i'll continue. mr. jenkins, your testimony is compelling. you put forward a number of facts and figures which i'd like you to underscore. this will go quickly. i think it's very important for all listeners to fully appreciate the gravity of this situation in yemen. approximately how many people, mr. jenkins, require humanitarian assistance in yes, ma'am, snn. >> 22 million people. 57%. >> was the number of people increased from last year? >> it increased by -- we're
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estimating 3.5 million people. >> how much has it increased? >> about 3.5 million people. >> okay. how many are severely food insecure? >> 17.8 million. >> how many children are severely mall nourished? >> 406,000. >> how many people lack access to clean water and working toilets? >> around 16 million people. >> does yemen face the largest cholera outbreak in the world? >> yes. >> how many cholera cases if we seen in yes, ma'am, snn. >> a suspected over 1 million cases. >> how many lives has that claimed? >> almost 2300. >> and ambassador satterfield, do you agree with the assessment, the humanitarian crisis in yemen? >> absolutely, sir. >> so when we confront such horrible suffering, i think we feel a moral imperative to act. i certainly do. mr. jenkins, in your statement you go further than that echoing testimony from others you write we have a national security
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imperative to do all we can to stop the suffering in yemen. briefly, what do you believe we have a national imperative to alleviate the crisis? >> we are projecting a generosity and also what our government and 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. the deaths are kept at a minimum and that suffering is alleviated. >> on march 14th, acon seened a sub committee hearing on why food security matters. i encouraged anyone interested in the yemen and food security issues to review the transcript of that hearing or the video of that hearing. the hearing made clear there's a strong evidence and scholarly basis that it's in the america's best interest to address food
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security. a general testified at the hearing that food crises grow terrorists. do you agree we should expect all parties to the conflict to undertake measures to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in yemen by increasing access for yemen people to food and medicine including through the red sea ports and external border crosses? >> absolutely. >> and to be clear, does that include the saudis? >> absolutely. >> ambassador satterfield, you write in your prepared statement the administration shares your belief that ending the conflict in yemen is in our national security interest. mr. ambassador, based on this administration position, do you believe we should expect all parties of the conflict to undertake an urgent and good faith effort to conduct diplomatic negotiations to end the civil war in yes, ma'am, snn. >> we do. >> and should that include the saudis? >> absolutely, it should. >> and lastly, ambassador satterfield, in your repaired statement you emphasize the
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importance of adhering to the law of our own conflict including taking all feasible actions. do you agree it's important and appropriate for the u.s. to continue to press the saudi leg coalition to take the demonstrable action to reduce the risk of harm to civilians in civilian infrastructure resulting from the military operations in yes, ma'am, snn. >> i do. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you, chairman corker. ranking member menendez for holding this important hearing on the world's greatest humanitarian crisis caused by the ongoing conflict in yemen. i'd like to thank our three witnesses both for appearing before the committee and for your service in this difficult challenge confronting us with so many other pressing challenges in the middle east. not just this crisis in yemen but also our military action against syria over the weekend. i'm just going to echo what the senator said at the outset. it's more important than ever that the administration
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formulate and deliver a comprehensive strategy to the congress and the american people so we can better engage with and judge what's the path forward in terms of confronting and restraining iran's aggressive behavior which i think is a central cause of this ongoing conflict in yemen. and as a critical driver of bashar al assad's bar barrism. we need to hear more from the president and his team by way of a comprehensive strategy in the future. let's continue to drill down in the specifics in this particular conflict. human access first. senator young asked a number of questions. he's been engaged on the issue of humanitarian access through ports. let me add a question about the closure of sanoz airport airport. it's been closed to relief and assistance and those who might
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seek to leave for military -- 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 houthi-controlled areas to get medical care and food and clean water? >> senator, you singled out exactly the reasons why the airport should be fully opened for movements in and out. not just for humanitarian so labeled purposes. but general purposes as well. how best to assure that the genuine concerns of saudi arabia are met? there are a variety of regimes that have been put successfully in place to -- for lack of a better word -- staerilize that people and cargo moving through the airport are what they ought to be without significantly diminishing the ability of the airport to function.
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we, the united nations, have repeatedly proposed such regimes. some have worked partially. the airport has a greater level of operation today than it did if we go back to early in mid november. but more needs to be done. and we believe the mechanisms are out there. the u.n. is willing to participate in them, and we think they can be made to work. >> thank you for that answer. let me talk just a little bit more about water shortages as several of you have spoken to. both the houthis and saudis have blocked deliveries of water and destroyed water infrastructure. it's contributed to water scarcity to the world's largest cholera outbreak. do you believe the access to water is a driver of the crisis, and how does it drive it? and what can we do to tackle the access to clean water challenges? >> in yemen control over water resources is not one of the main
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drivers of the conflict. the problem with water, and i'll refer to my colleague from aid is the elimination of reliable electric supplies to purify water, appropriate sewage disposal. it's a basic phenomenon, but it seems from restrictions on e lick tristy delivery which are the turn of some damage but most importantly lack of consistent supplies of affordable fuel. >> the ambassador nailed it on that one. basically when you see or hear in yemen about fuel not getting to where it needs to go, that immediately correlates itself to people not being able to pump the water they need. not being able to fuel the generators that keep the lights on in hospitals. and water is a critical, critical problem for the humanitarian situation. >> let me ask if i might one last question. al qaeda has been cited as one
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of the more lethal terrorist organizations in the world. do you think aqap is a greater threat to the united states now than it was at the beginning of the conflict back in september of 2015? have we had any successes in degrading their capabilities and most importantly, given the quote senator young shared with us that food crises grow terrorists, what about our alignment, our strategy, our engagement, might make us less secure today as a result of the conduct of the last three years? >> senator, as you know we had a relatively sizable presence in yemen prior to the conflict focussed with the legitimate government of yemen in going after aqap because of the threat to the homeland. that presence in our activities were significantly undermined by the collapse of the government and the outbreak of civil war in 2014 and 2015. we have made strides in reconstituting our efforts through our local partnerships.
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first with the legitimate government of yemen as well as with other partner forces who were on the ground. but aqap remains a significant threat. they've benefitted from the civil war that is created open territory and safe areas for them. but as the emirates in particular have made progress in helping the government of yemen maintain control in certain areas, it's denied more area to aqap. we nevertheless have continued to have to take a number of strikes against this very significant terrorist threat, and so it remains a challenge, but we are make progress gresz. >> thank you. in conclusion, it's clearly both in the humanitarian interest and our national security interest to reach a resolution to this conflict as soon as possible. thank you. thank you. thank you to the witnesses for the testimony. in the briefing documents we were giving for the hearing today, the comment was made as the war continues the risk of it
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spreading appears to be growing. you would agree with that? >> only in the sense that iranian proliferation which is taking advantage of the conflict is a broader threat than just in yemen. >> tech tear, do you agree? >> i agree with the ambassador. >> in a letter from i think general counsel william castle acting -- department of defense acting general counsel to senator schumer and mcconnell, it was talk act the extent of u.s. involvement. to quote the letter, the united states provides the defense articles and services including air to air refueling, certain intelligence support military advice including advice regarding best practices for reducing the risk of civilian casualties. is this the extent of our involvement? >> it's the extent of our involvement with respect to the support of the coalition's efforts in the civil war. we obviously have provided different support.
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>> we provide political support and engagement. yes, it's an accurate accounting of the military support and intel support for the coalition. >> what's a ballpark personnel figure we have right now involved with the yemen? >> i believe we have roughly 50 personnel in saudi arabia but they're conducting a variety of activities including i think largely helping on the ballistic missile threat. >> thank you. >> ambassador, i was late to the hearing. we schedule hearings here at the same time. i had a couple of other hearings to attend. you may have done this already. could you lay out quickly our administration's goals as it relates to the conflict in yemen? >> our goals are to facilitate through our own direct engagement with key yemeni parties with the saudis and emirates, a comprehensive political resolution, or a process which has the prospect
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of producing such a resolution and in that process reduces the level of conflict. it's also a policy goal to limit, roll back, iranian influence and projection of iranian force through the revolutionary guard, particularly in the form of support for houthi challenges to saudi sovereignty. >> secretary, i think you made a comment. i want to get it right. correct me if i'm wrong. you said there's precious little evidence that iran is interested in any kind of a settlement. >> yes. although i would really say iran benefits from continuing the conflict. they're fuelling the conflict as they are in syria and elsewhere. >> so ambassador, satter nooeld, given what he's said and our objectives, 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.
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special envoy to work in. we see a greater degree of emirate and saudi support, genuine support proffers for him than was the case a year ago with his predecessor. on the iranian side we're working to address the ability of the iranians to pr pro live rate missiles into houthi hands. that's an ongoing process we hope can bear fruit. >> a report recently said it eroded to the point it's doubtful if it will ever be able to reunite yemen as a single country. do you agree? >> the future of yemen, single country, two states as it was prior to 19 93 is a matter for yemen people to decide. it's one of the issues which the u.n. has been grappling with. but more fundamentally is the simple issue of how do you
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construct a political process that brings and keeps all the parties including the houthis in the game, offers them a stake in the outcome of the game and sees through the process a diminishing of the level of violence and disruption to civilian life. that's the challenge. >> you mentioned proliferation. could you describe for me the entities inside iran -- have they been designated or sanctions under the yellen executive order? >> they have. it's the associated entities working through and with the corps. >> a report reported german company -- is there a risk of iran proliferating this kind of attack in yemen or saudi arabia? >> i'm not sure in this forum we could go into significant
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details about iran's potential chemical weapons capabilities. we are obviously very concerned that they have taken the step they have to provide a long-range ballistic missile capabilities for the houthis to fire at civilian populations. >> have we seen evidence of chemical agents in yes, ma'am, snn. >> we'd have to brief you in a closed session, i think. >> thank you. senator murphy. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. admitting that you made a mistake is a difficult thing. and america's biggest foreign policy mistakes come when we make a decision for military engagement and we don't allow for facts on the ground to educate us about a mistake that we have made. the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different set of results and i feel like that's where we are five years into a conflict where nothing as changed except for the worst. the houthis control effectively the same amount of the country that they did at the outset, the humanitarian nightmare has gotten worse, and yet, we're still sitting here today talking
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about a peace process blossoming out of a reality on the ground that looks very different. it does not look very different than it did a year or two years ago. and so let me pose this theory of the case to you. i have great respect for you, but i really do think that this impression that you're 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 that we are asking you questions about reports of an assault on hudada is the saudis made it clear to everyone that's asked them that they are not going to come to the table until the military battle lines on the ground inside yemen change. and that until they get the houthis back on their heels, militarily, they aren't going to come to the negotiating table. and yet you're telling us that you think that they are going to -- the saudis are going to
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engage even if after five years of trying to get the battle lines to be different they have no success. so why are the saudis going to come to the table today if for five years they've been trying to move the battle lines without success? the reason we're asking you these questions about the port is they've communicated to us that they are planning on assaults on the port as a means of trying to change the dynamics in anticipation of a negotiation. >> senator, the last three years that this conflict has endured have not just shown a status quo. it's been a worsening of the situation with respect to the military picture. the posture of the houthis has strengthened today in comparison to what it was three years ago. the presence of opposing nonhouthi people is significantly more diminished or
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fragme fragmented. the presence of other elements, other actors in this conflict, have less influence to bring to bear. that may appear to be more of a chaotic mix and more difficult to bring to a resolution, perhaps out of some sense of optimism, i choose to see it differently. it is a situation in which the hope that somehow military force alone could compel the houthis as a unique party to come to the table on reduced terms, is e loose ri, and we use those terms with the saudi -- >> but that that be saudi position for five years. military d continued military pressure, an average of 15 air strikes a day for three years consecutive is going to bring the houthis to the table. that has been the theory of the case from the saudi's coalition perspective. correct? >> and we have been -- it is the saudi position that military
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force needs to be continued to apply. our response to the saudis a@highest levels has been that application of force has not been and is not predictically likely to be successful. >> and we've been unsuccessful in changing their mind for five years and we expect things to change. mr. jenkins, we're comparing the current state of humanitarian relief to a moment in time last fall when virtually no relief was getting through. that's not the proper comparison. or at least a useful comparison. so let me just quote from a recent u.n. report that suggests that today half has many vessels are getting into the port as before the blockade, and that on average the saudi inspection process is adding 100 days to relief supplies getting in to these ports despite the fact that we have a u.n. verification process that's taking a look at
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the ships as well. why do the saudis need to continue to look at every single ship that comes in, chilling the interest in humanitarian supply ybs adding additional time when we have a u.n. process that so far has shown no evidence of not being able to conduct the inspections? >> senator, it's true that the port has not yet gotten back to the level we saw before, the throughput, through the october, november enclosure, and there has been a chilling effect on shippers, playarticularly shipp using containers. they don't know how long it will go through clearance. we've been working carefully, state department, usaid, other donors to reduce the times the e hawk process, the coalition's evacuations operations cell in the month of april 3rd we got
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that down to about three to four days. so it's not 100 days. there's been a lot of work done getting the communication between that process and the u.n. verification and inspection america schism -- america schism process together. the u.n. gets back within 48 hours in a determination of whether or not a vessel needs to be searched and then it goes through the e hawk process. we have seen significant progress on that. and we're looking forward to reducing the times even more. we need shippers in the region to know how long it will take, and how long -- and that will hopefully get more shipping back into the port. particularly compartmentalized cargo. >> thank you. >> senator flake. >> thank you. thank you mr. chairman for holding the hearing. thank you for the testimony. following up on senator's questions with regard to aqap,
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it strikes me as difficult. we are working kind of cross purposes there. can somebody give me an assessment of aqap and their position relative to their ability to project force toward the homeland as was mentioned now versus two years ago? what position are they? >> senator, i can't give you a good indication of their current strength know versus two years ago. i think we did see at the beginning of the conflict and in the early years of the conflict a diminution of the pressure we 'plied. in the last year we've applied more pressure as the general testified just last month, we took over 100 strikes in coordination with our partners against aqap in yemen last year. so we're putting significant pressure on them, but as i said, they continue to plot and plan
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to conduct terrorist attacks? >> we've been able to do that still without impacting the effort against the houthis? >> there is some geographical separation in where the threats are based, and so my understanding is that they're 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 the longer this civil war rages, the harder it will be to establish the conditions for us to bring it an end to the threat that aqap poses. >> thank you. as you know the senate has taken votes in recent history that would impact our ability to work with our saudi partners on this issue. most recently we voted on a
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resolution that would have required the president to withdraw all forces deployed in support of the saudi coalition, the chairman just mentioned new legislation that we'll be considering that looks to certain certifications that will be met. what is your view on this legislation? is it -- will it help? is it a hindrance? how is it viewed by the administration? >> senator, i've just seen the text of the proposed resolution, and we'll be reviewing that and responding. >> any other thoughts on these type of certifications? sometimes some say it's easy to have a certification list 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 i think there are some concerns that we have had
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with hard conditions. i think we're happy to come up here to talk about the progress we're making and the kinds of pressure and conversations we're having with our partners to improve their targeting and their application of the law of armed conflict. but worry that hard conditions in part because the houthis get a vote could be -- could negatively effect our efforts to influence their behavior. >> if we were asked to certify right now from saudi arabia was working earnestly to achieve a political settlement allowing humanitarian aid to pass into yemen, and protecting 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 that to that hypothetical, were that a condition of assistance, the
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administration would carefully consider on all bases how best to respond, but i'm not able to do so now. >> all right. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary karm, general votel, the commander of the u.s. central command recently called iran's arming of the yemeni rebels with ballistic missiles a, quote, growing threat which i think poses a significant danger, not just to saudis and emirates, but poses a risk to us. can you explain why we should accept dod's circular logic that once the administration at the political level inserts itself into a conflict, american service members are exposed to risks which then justifies continued u.s. participation in the conflict in it's a never-ending circle.
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>> senator, i think that even if the united states was not involved in helping our partners in yemen, even if we weren't involved in conducting efforts against aqap in yemen, iran's development of ballistic missile capabilities transferring of the ballistic missile capabilities would pose a threat to the united states. not just because it poses a threat to partners in the region. be that the saudi arabia or uae or israel, but because there are hundreds of thousands of americans who live in the middle east. i believe there are nearly 100,000 americans who live in saudi arabia. so the iranian-backed houthis willingness to fire ballistic missiles in popular areas in the middle east poses a threat not just to our partners but us. >> but when we provide refueling
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service to saudi coalition aircraft, do we have any say in the operation that those aircraft are conducting? in other words, do we know for a fact or can we assert the aircraft we refuel are engaging only in counterterrorism strikes and not in anti-houthi operations? >> senator, i believe we know they are conducting counterhouthi operations as i mentioned earlier and as i think the general testified. we don't monitor every flight. we don't have the personnel or assets tooed that given our other obligations. i would want to correct the impression that we don't follow and don't track civilian casualties in yemen. we rely on reporting from ngos on the ground and intelligence reporting. and it's a range of information we have that leads us to believe that our coalition -- that our partners have improved their
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capacity in limiting civilian casualties. >> yes. but the more we're involved, the more at risk that -- as the general says, it poses a risk to us. so we're getting in deeper and deeper here, and we, again, haven't had the decision made by congress in terms of the level of our intervention. does the united states in any way provide advice on what targets saudi aircraft dartarge? >> we provide advice on how to target, but not specific targets. >> it's your understanding when the planes take off after being refuelled by the u.s. and that you're helping them make general targeting decisions that you don't think the united states has any idea where the planes are going and what they're going
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to hit? is that what you're saying? >> we don't monitor and track individual aircrafts. we have a general idea, obviously, that -- >> do we have a policy which we express to the saudis with regard to the targets that we do not want to have hit? do we tell them expressly? >> i think we have been very clear with our partners about their obligations under the law of armed conflict to avoid noncombatant casualties? >> 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 intention services who i believe -- >> high confidence they don't do it, is that what you're saying? >> i think we have a high degree of confidence that their targeting processes have improved? >> no. is it a high level of confidence that they are not hitting
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civilian targets? you have a high level of confidence that they're not hitting civilian targets? >> unfortunately our experience is it is impossible to have 100% record at avoiding civilian casualties. >> so you think it's -- there's only a 1% chance that they're hitting civilians? is that what you're saying? because it's not 100%, but 99% confidence? >> i'm saying they've made improvements in their efforts to avoid civilian casualties in large part because of the support we've provided. in the absence of u.s. support, i would not be confident that level of assurance would continue. >> do you have any evidence to support that assertion? >> yeah, 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. >> so that's quantitatively
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determined and available to this committee? >> i'm sure in closed session that there are materials that are available. >> materials that go to the quantitative evidence? >> i believe so, yes, sir. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you all for your service. an estimated 10,000 yemeni civilians have been killed by saudi air strikes. last year saudi arabia claimed it would engage in a 750 million multi-year training program through the american military to help prevent the accidental killing of civilians in the saudi-led air campaign against the houthi. when the saudis say multi-year, how long is it going to take to get the saudi military to stop accidentally killing civilians?
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>> senator, as i said, i think we've seen clear indications that they are making progress. but war is incredibly difficult. and it is impossible for any military to promise it can to p operations without any risk to civilian casualties, our belief is that continued partnership with the saudis, we can help improve their capabilities. if we do not provide that kind of support, there are others who will who do not care about civilian casualties. the russians don't similarly provide the kind of training and advice that the united states does. >> thank you. do any of you -- the other panelists want to comment on that? >> senator, yes. building on secretary karen's remarked. two challenges, one is
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collateral civilian casualties. we have worked over this past year in a matter from both an anecdote l and qualitative fashion that have achieved progress. and there is in another setting summary information available on why we make that statement. there is another aspect addressed by many of the members of this committee which is the military campaign against the houthi targets. whether that is an effective means of producing a peace resolution, we do all in our power as a partner of the saudis in mitigating civilian casualties and counsel the sa saudis, that the military campaign against houthi military targets is not in our view, an effective way to bring about a peace settlement.
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they are two different issues but combine to the same place which is political resolution and military resolution is necessary here. >> thank you. mr the lack of access to clean water is the lack of fuel or energy to pump the water. how much would the international community need to fission the problem and restore access to clean water and meet basic nutrition and sanitation needs? >> thank you. not being able to put an amount on it, the issue is the access. if access is free and unfedered through support and road networks inside and out, shortages of fuel shouldn't exist. >> are there currently requests in the foreign operations budget to help provide these resources to do what i was asking about?
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>> there's no request specifically. we use contingency funding in the international disaster account and don't specify by country leaving maximum flexibility to respond to needs globally and within yemen. >> specifically for the importation of fuel through port for the use of -- by humanitarian actors on the ground. >> let us know if additional resources are needed. there have been considerable reports from the watchdogs and press that the detainees have been tortured. and implicated in these allegations, what is your assessment of the uae involvement and the torture of the detainees and what steps have been taken?
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>> we are -- with respect to what may or may not have occurred or what steps need to be taken to provide a satisfactory level of assurance that there is no such practice going on. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. >> thank you senator. senator menendez for follow up questions. >> the countering american adversaries through sanctions act directed them to impose sanction on iran for the violation of international arms in bar go. in the past year, informing the security council of iran violating the arms embargo. has the administration imposed additional sanctions as required? >> i will respond to your question in writing. >> okay. is that because you don't know the answer -- >> i do not know the specific
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answer. we will respond in detail. >> your earlier answer is unsatisfactory in so far as in my review since you gave me the answer, there have been no specific mandatory sanctions placed on iran as a result of the violations of arms embargo, this being one element of it. i'm, you know, i'm of the view that when we pass something here in the senate, 98-2 and over wemingwe over wemingly in the house that that is the law of the land. i look forward that that response. >> the food that goes into the country of yemen, has come in from the outside. it is imported into the country
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and a significant amount of their fuel and medicine is as well. 70% to 80 come in from the port. what are the humanitarian complications of an attack? >> with the closure back in september and november we saw that an extended closure of the port would be cat catastrophic. >> can you throw some numbers? over a certain period of time, the impact it would have on the number of people who would succumb to disease and hunger? >> i don't have numbers offhand. the but the majority of people in need in the 22 million number
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live in the northern part of the country and accessible best by the port. there is no way to take them out of the equation and get anywhere near the amount of humanitarian and most importantly, commercial goods into the country. >> a related question to both you mr. generjenkins and ambass what more can the united states senate do to be helpful in ensuring that there's a more expeditious delivery of food, fuel and medicine through ports? >> the efforts of your colleague on this body and committee have been exceedingly helpful in allowing the administration to send a message from whole of government regarding the concerns we have, limitations, constrictions and restraints on the ability of humanitarian and
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commercial goods specifically to include fuel. to have unrestricted and expeditious entry into yemen. and that messaging which comes from us the executive branch and from this body is extremely important. >> i want to thank you. you did reference our previous conversations and work on this. i'm blade you're on t i'm glad you are on this and you represent our country well in this difficult situation. i would like to summarize some things from my earlier round of questioning. to under take measures and alleviate the humanitarian crisis in yemen. conduct diplomatic negotiations to end the civil war and the ambassador said we are right to
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press the coalition to take the action to reduce risk to civilians and infrastructure resolving from the military operations in yemen. for my colleagues as they review the transcript of this hearing, i think it is important that they note all three of those statements reflect the certification requirements in senate joint resolution 58, where the senator collins and kuhns helped me. >> thank you for your time and testimony. for the information of senators, the record will remain open until the close of business on thursday for members to submit questions for the records and i would ask witnesses to return answers as quickly as possible. and with the thanks of this committee. this hearing is now adjourned.


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