tv U.S. Policy in Yemen Hearing CSPAN April 17, 2018 10:55am-11:54am EDT
speech. i enjoyed it. i want to follow-up on what he said. he was basically saying we sent a lot of our soldiers into battles, battles, win, losing, didn't make a difference because we didn't finish the drill. we have in afghanistan and we have in yemen and we have other soldiers deployed who are in battles we are not going to win but something bring to a draw. is that a fairway to say it? is there any other way to get a recalcitrant people or people 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. mr. karem: in 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 has tens of thousands of soldiers who are 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 counterterrorism efforts. senator isakson: there's no question, at least i'm speaking for myself now, at some point in time when you get to solving the problems, conflict overseas, that we are in one way or another, observe one way or another through the u.n., that some ability for 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 you have a war to solve it or worse than that, some kind of civil war to solve it. mr. karem: yes, i agree. senator isakson: who is the background of the special envoy that's been named? is it an american? u.k. national.
he has been involved in peace work. most in the u.k. who bring together negotiators, work on international solutions to problems like this. senator isakson: we need to give him and the help and encouragement to get that done because ultimately -- special envoys are usually an alternative to involving the problem. they are saying we did something like what happened in south sudan and the p.c.a. there. i hope we will work to -- move them forward at the u.n. and help bring that to a conclusion. mr. satterfield: that's our intent, sir. senator eyes arson: to the care people -- senator isakson: to the care people, yes, care does humanitarian, n.g.o. in many places, including yemen. they can't get well-intended aid, medical supplies to the people who need it because we don't have enough security to
even give them that access. i've been to darfur. it's horrible. i hope we will get the n.g.o.'s that are trying to get the aid to the 23 million yemenese who are in trouble to them as quickly and expeditiously as possible. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. senator shaheen. senator shaheen: thank you, chairman, for holding this hearing, and thank you, witnesses, for being here to testifying and for your efforts to address the crisis in yemen which 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 and to protect those innocent civilians in yemen. i think it's long past time we send a message to the leadership of saudi arabia that we have high expectations for our allies, particularly those who are receiving military
support. do mbassador satterfield, you believe the saudi-led coalition is engaged in urgent and good faith efforts to negotiate an end to the civil war in yemen? mr. satterfield: senator, the saudi-led coalition, primarily saudi arabia and united arab emirates accept the highest levels the proposition that there is only ultimately a political solution to this conflict and that was reiterated most recently by the crown prince during his visits in washington. we operationally tried to implement that rhetorical understanding in terms of the active support which the u.n. needs from both the emrates and the saudis for their mission to be successful. now, over the course of the past six months, from a crisis point in october, november,
when things looked very dark, indeed, we have indeed seen a more receptive approach by the saudis, by the imirates to this concept of supporting, generally supporting and facilitating the u.n.'s efforts. senator shaheen: thank you. that's good to hear. mr. jenkins, i think you heard from pledges from the u.a.e. and saudis. did you mention anyone else, a billion collars in aid, has any of that aid actually been forthcoming to date? mr. jenkins: yes. thank you for the question. so on april 3 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 u.a.e. pledged $920 million. 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 u.k. and the e.u. all of this is very heartening for us as we look at the vast with all e that now the pledges that come in, that's 2/3 of the appeal. this long in the year that's heartening. there will continue to be great need and assistance. senator shaheen: how long will it take to get that aid out in the field to help people? mr. jenkins: we're thankful particularly the saudis and the emirates have provided all of this money to the united nations office of the coordinator humanitarian assistance. it is now going to disburse it among the various u.n. agencies, which they'll do very, very quickly. senator shaheen: i think you talked about the importance of a political solution in yemen as being the ultimate goal.
ambassador satterfield, you talked about the meet be to be part of any negotiation. who else needs to be at the table in order for a political solution to really work? ambassador satterfield: senator, i have over the past 40 years seen many complex, whom hob seian crises in the middle east. i have to tell you the yemen situation is one of the most complex in terms of the numbers of parties, subparties, and fundamental internal divisions, the south, north, legacy of 1993 forced reunification. all of them in one way or another are going to need to have a voice, they are going to need to be represented. the huttis are but one in the north a very significant one, but one of those parties. senator shaheen: mr. jenkins, secretary karem, who else do you think should be at the able?
mr. jenkins: i would echo what u.n. secretary said. what's necessary right now is a entra e across yemen, an yemen dialogue that can ep support a larger peace negotiation. senator shaheen: who will lead that? mr. jenkins: we're happy that martin griffith started his work. we think he needs time and space to show results. we want to be as supportive as we can across the interagency of his efforts. mr. karem? een: mr. karem: i agree you need to bring a number of parties inside yemen together. and also the external players who i think are already in touch with mr. griffith. senator shaheen: does that include iran as being one of the players? mr. karem: i have seen precious
little evidence that iran is interested in a negotiated solution in yemen, syria, or elsewhere. senator shaheen: do we think the huttis will negotiate in good faith if they continue to believe iran will support them in their activities? mr. karem: our policy has been premised on two things. the first all encompassing, embracing political process which the huttis do have a voice and participate in the outcome as well. the second is to curtail, constrain, mitigate, roll back the extraordinary iranian support being provided to the huttis directed to saudi arabia. ambassador satterfield: it only emboldens a party not to negotiate as effectively as possible. we're working on both those lines as once. >> senator young. before going to him, since you brought up this hearing is in response to requests by members. we will mark up before the
memorial day holiday, we will mark up the bill you put forth. thank you for your leadership on that. and on the aumf itself. senator corker: know from my perspective it's getting in a good place off working with both of us and for taking leadership on making sure we do speak strongly, as you mentioned. senator young. senator young: secretary satterfield, i'd like to pick up on senator menendez's line of questioning about the administration's support for the coalition. should an attack occur on the port of hodata, you didn't respond directly to that answer. you indicated you repeatedly encourages the -- united nations has repeatedly encouraged the saudis and other members of the coalition not to strike that port. is our support conditional upon a nonattack on the port?
ambassador satterfield: i'll be explicit. we have told the emirates and saudis there is to be no action undertaken that could threaten the ports--or any routes to and from the port for delivery of assistance. senator young: will our support ontinue should the saudis or emirateys bomb the port? ambassador satterfield: we would not view such an action as consistent with our own policy upon which our support is based. mr. young: will our support continue should the saudis or another member of the coalition bomb the port? ambassador satterfield: you are posing, 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. mr. young: 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? ambassador satterfield: senator, you and i have talked on the dark days of october and early november. when we told the saudis explicitly that if there was not an immediate lifting and sustained lifting of any constraints on access through the port, not just humanitarian goods, but commercial goods as well, then it would be exceedingly difficult to maintain the type of support for the coalition that had existed. and that view has not changed. senator young: 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, perhaps i can illicit a few -- elist ate few more, this will go quickly, but i think it's very important for all listeners to fully
appreciate the graphity -- gravity of the situation. how many people require humanitarian assistance in yemen? mr. jenkins: 22 m senator young: what percentage is that? mr. jenkins: 785%. senator young: was that increase interested last year? ambassador satterfield: estimating 3.5 million increase. mr. young: how much has it increased? mr. jenkins: about 3.5 million people. how many severely food insecure? mr. jenkins: 17.8 million. senator young: whom lack access to clean water. mr. jenkins: 17 million people. senator young: how many cholera cases have we seen in yemen? mr. jenkins: over one million. senator young: how many lives has that claimed? mr. jenkins: almost 2,300. senator young: ambassador satterfield, do you agree with his assessment? ambassador satterfield:
absolutely, sir. senator young: when we confront such humanitarian suffering, i think we feel a moral imperative to afpblgt mr. jenkins, in your prepared statement you go further than that. echoing testimony of others, we have a national security imperative to do all we can to alleviate the humanitarian suffering in yemen. mr. jenkins, briefly, why do belief we have a national security imperative to relieve this crisis? mr. jenkins: when usaid provides assistance, we're projecting both the again rossity and also -- again rossity -- generosity and also what our government and people are b we do that because it's the right thing to do. also because it does protect our national security to make sure that these places are stabilized, the depths are kept at a minimum and suffering alleviated. senator young: on march 14 i convened a hearing on why food insecurity matters. i encourage anyone interested in the yemen and food security
issues to review the transcript of that hearing or video. the hearing made clear there is a strong evidentiary and scholarship basis to conclude it's in america's clear national security interest to address food insecurity among other types of -- whether it's -- retired marine corps lieutenant castle law testified at that hearing that food crises grow terrorists. mr. jenkins, do you agree we should expect all parties to the conflict to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in yemen by increasing access to food and medicine, including through yemen's red seaports, the airport in a in a -- sana'a? mr. jenkins: absolutely. senator young: does that include the saudis? mr. jenkins: absolutely. senator young: you write in your statement, the administration shares your believe ending the conflict in yemen is in our national security interests. mr. ambassador, based on this administration position, do you believe we should expect all parties to the conflict to
undertake an urgent and good faith effort to conduct diplomatic negotiations to end the civil war in yemen? ambassador satterfield: we do. senator young: including the saudis? ambassador satterfield: yes. senator young: in the prepared statement you emphasis the importance of a hearing to armed conflict including the obligation to fake all feasible -- to take all feasible measures, do you think it's important for the u.s. to continue to reduce the risk of harm to civilians resulting from its military operations in yemen? ambassador satterfield: i do. senator young: thank you, sir. >> thank you, chairman worker, 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 going to echo with senator menendez said at the outset. it is more important than ever that the administration formulate and deliver a comprehensive strategic -- strategy to the congress and american people so we can engage with and understand what is the path forward in terms of confronting and restraining iran's behavior which i think is a central cause of this ongoing conflict in yemen, and as a critical driver of assad's barbarism in syria. senator coons: i will insist that we need to hear more from the president and his team represented here by way of a comprehensive strategy in the near future. let's today continue to drill down on some of the specifics in this particular conflict if we could. humanitarian access. senator young asked a number of questions admirably. he's been very engaged on the issue of humanitarian access
through ports. let me add if i could a question about the closure of sana'a's airport because of military strikes led by the saudi coalition. the airport has largely been closed to humanitarian relief and assistance and those who might seek to leave for military -- 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 houthi control areas to get medical care, food, clean water. ambassador? ambassador satterfield: you singled out exactly the reasons why sana'a 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, extraneous materialize or assure that cargos -- extraneous materialize or ensure that argue assure that ize or the cargos can move. the united nations has repeatedly proposed such regimes. some have worked partially. the airport has greater level of operation today than it did we go back to early to mid november. more needs to be done. we believe the mechanisms are out there. the u.n. is willing to participate in them. we think they can be made to work. senator coons: thank you for that answer. let me talk more about chatter shortages as several of you have spoken . to both the huttis and saudis have blocked deliveries of water to civilians and destroyed water infrastructure which has in large part contributed to water scarcity to the world's greatest cholera outbreak. do you believe access to and control over water is one of the drivers of the conflict in
yemen? how does that exacerbate the humanitarian crisis, and what can we best to do -- best do to tackle those challenges? ambassador satterfield: control over water resources is not one of the primary drivers of the conflict. yemen is blessed with a variety of water supplies not found elsewhere in the middle east. the problem with water, ail defer to my colleague from a.i.d., is the elimination of reliable elech terroristity supplies, purification water treatment plants, appropriate sewage disposal. it's a very basic phenomenon, but it stems from restrictions on elech terroristity delivery which are the product of some damage to transmittal lines, but more importantly lack of consistent supplies and affordable fuel. senator coons: mr. jenkins? mr. jenkins: the ambassador nailed it. 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. senator coons: one last question. al qaeda in the arabian peninsula has been cited as one of the more lethal terrorist organizations in the world. do you think it 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? most importantly i think from a security perspective, give a quote that senator young shared with us, food crises grow terrorists, what about our alignment, strategy, engagement might make us less secure today as a result of the conduct over he last three years? mr. karem: we had a relatively sizable presence with the legitimatele government in yemen because of the specific threat it poses to the homeland.
that presence and activities were significantly undermined by the collapse of the government and the outbreak of civil war in 2014 and 2015. we made strides in reconstituting our efforts through our local partnerships. first with the legitimate government of yemen as well as with other partner forces who are on the ground. aqap remains a significant threfment they have been fitted from the civil war -- benefited from the civil war that's created open territory and safe areas for thefment but as the emirateys in particular made progress in helping the government of yemen maintain control in certain areas, it has denied more area to aqap. we nevertheless have continued to have to take a number of strikes against this very significant terrorist threat. so it remains a challenge. but we're making progress. senator coons: it's clearly both in our humanitarian interest and in our national security interest to reach a resolution
to this conflict as soon as possible. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to the witnesses for testimony. in the briefing documents we were given for this hearing said a comment is made as the war continues the risk of spreading beyond the territory appears to be growing. you would agree with that ambassador? ambassador satterfield: only in the sense that iranian proliferation which has taken advantage of this conflict is a broader threat thanous in yemen. >> secretary? mr. karem: i agree. >> in a letter from general counsel, acting -- acting general counsel to senator schumer and mcconnell, was talking about the u.s. involvement and to quote the letter, the united states provides the it coalition defense articles and services including air-to-air refueling, and advice regarding advice of law and risk of civilian
casualties. is this the extents of our involvement? >> the extent of our involvement with respect to the support of the coalition's efforts in the civil war we obviously have -- provide different support with respect to c.t. operations using different authorities. senator gardner: ambassador satterfield? ambassador satterfield: we provide a variety of humanitarian and political support and engagement. yes, it's an accurate accounting of our military support and intel support. senator gardner: what's the paup personnel figure we have involved with yemen? ambassador satterfield: i believe we have roughly 15 personnel in saudi arabia. but they are conducting a variety of activities, including largely helping on the ballistic missile threat. senator gardner: ambassador, i was late to the hearing. we schedule hearings around here at the same time. i had a couple other hearings to attend prior to this one. ambassador, you may have done this already. could you lay out quickly our administration's goals as it relates to the conflict in yemen?
ambassador satterfield: our goals are to facilitate primarily through support for the united nations, but also through our own direct engagement, with key enemy parties with the saudis, comprehensive political resolution. or a process which has the prospect of producing such a resolution. in that process reduces level of conflict. it is also a policy goal to limit, roll back, iranian influence and protection of iranian force through the revolutionary guard corps, particularly in the form of support for houthi challenges to saudi sovereignty. senator gardner: secretary karem, you made a comment, you said there is precious little theafed iran is interested in any kind of a settlement. is that paraphrasing what you said? mr. karem: i would really say iran benefits from continuing the conflict. they are fueling the conflict as they are in syria and elsewhere. senator gardner: ambassador satterfield, given what
secretary karem said, we don't seem to be gaining anywhere at this point. ambassador satterfield: we have, in fact, a more promising olitical scene in yemen today. we see a greater degree of emiratey and saudi support, genuine support being proffered for him than was the case a year ago with his predecessor. on the iranian side, we're working actively to address the ability of the iranians to proliferate, particularly missiles, into houthi hands. that is an ongoing process which we hope can bear fruit in the ot distant future. the future of yemen on that macrolevel, single country, two states as it was prior to 1993,
is a matter for them to decide. undoubtedly will be one of the issues addressed in any comprehensive peace process. one of the issues which the u.n. has been gramming with. more -- grappling with. more fundamentally than that question is the simple issue how you conduct 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. senator gardner: you mentioned proliferation, could you describe for me the entities inside iran engaged in weapons proliferation. have they been designated or sanctioned under the may, 2012 yemen executive order? ambassador satterfield: they have. it is the identify rain revolutionary guard corps and associated entities working through and with the corps. senator gardner: jerusalem post reported german company provided iran with dual use goods.
recent chemical weapons attack. is there a risk of iran proliferating this attack in yemen as well, or saudi arabia? ambassador satterfield: i'm not sure in this form we could go into significant details about iran's potential quems capibilities. secretary karem: we're very concerned they have taken the step that they have to provide long range ballistic missile capability for the huttis to fire at civilian population. we have to brief in a closed session. senator corker: senator murfifment senator murphy: thank you very much, mr. chairman. admitting you made a mistake is a very difficult thing. and america's biggest foreign policy mistakes come when we make a decision for military engagement and 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. i feel like that's where we're five years into an could flict in which nothing has changed except for the worse. the huttis control effectively the same amount of the country they did at the outset. the humanitarian nightmare has gotten worse. we're still sitting here today 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 of the case to you. i have great respect for you, but i do think that this impression that you are giving the committee that the iranians don't want to come to the table and the saudis and emirates do, is spin. because the reason that we're asking you questions about reports of an assault on hudata, is the saudis have 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 to the huttis back on their heels, militarily, they aren't going to come to the negotiating table. and yet you are telling us that you think that they are going to the -- 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 if for five years they have been trying to move the battle lines without success? the reason we're asking these questions is they have communicated to us that they are planning on them as a means of trying to change the dynamics in anticipation of a negotiation. ambassador satterfield: 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 huttis is threatened today in comparison to what it was three years ago. the presence of opposing nonhouthi forces, the general people's congress, is significantly more diminished or 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 thus 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 huttis as a unique party to come to the table on reduced terms is illusory. and use exactly those terms with the saudis -- senator murphy: that has been the saudi position for the last five years. military pressure, continued
military pressure, an average of 15 air strikes a day for three years consecutive is going to bring the huttis to the table. that has been the theory of the case from the saudis' coalition sperspective, correct? ambassador satterfield: it is the saudi position that military force needs to be continued to apply. our response to the saudis at the highest levels has been that application of force has not been and is not predictably likely to be successful in achieving that. senator murphy: we have been unsuccessful for five years and 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 is not the proper comparison. at least a useful comparison. let me just quote from a recent u.n. report that suggests that today half as 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 into these ports, despite the fact that we have a u.n. verification process that's taking a look at these ships as well. why do the saudis need to continue to look at every single ship that comes in? chilling the interest in humanitarian supplies, adding additional time when we have a u.n. process that so far has shown no evidence of not actually being able to conduct these inspections? mr. jenkins: it's through that through put that he port is not yet gotten back to the level we saw before the october-november enclosure. there has been a chilling effect on shippers, particularly shippers using container-ized vessels who don't want to take the risk of going there and also because they don't know how long it will go through clearance. however, we have been working
very carefully, state department, usaid, other donors with the coalition to reduce the times that the e-hock process, that's the coalition evacuation humanitarian assistance operations cell, in the month of april 3 we got that down to about three to four days. it's not 100 days. there's been a lot of work done getting the communication between that process and the u.n. verification inspection mechanism process together. the u.n. system gets back within 48 hours on a determination of whether or not a vessel actually needs to be searched or not. and then it goes to the e-hock process. we have seen particularly the last six weeks significant progress on that. and we're looking forward to reducing those times even more. we do need, we need shippers in the region to know how long it will take and how long -- that will hopefully get more shipping back into the port.
particularly cargo. senator flake: thank you, mr. chairman, for holding the hearing. thank you for the testimony. following up on senator coons' estions with regard to aqap, it strikes me -- it is difficult, we're working at 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 in? secretary karem: off the top of my head and i can't give awe good intercase of the current strernt now versus two years ago. we did see at the beginning of the conflict and early years a real diminution of the pressure we were able to apply on them. in the year we have been able to apply 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. we're putting significant pressure on them. as i said, they continue to plot and plan to conduct air strikes. senator flake: we have been able to do that without impacting the effort against the huttis? secretary karem: there is some geographical separation in where these threats are based. and so myunder standing is -- my understanding is 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 the longer this civil war ranges, -- rages, the harder it will be to establish conditions
to bring an end to the threat aqap poses. senator flake: the senate has taken several votes in recent history that would impact our ability to work with our saudi partners on this issue. most recently we voted on a resolution that would have required the president to withdraw all forces deployed in support of the saudi coalition. the chairman mentioned new legislation 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 hen drans? how is it viewed by the administration? ambassador satterfield: i have just seen the text of the proposed resolution and will be reviewing that and responding. senator flake: any other thoughts on these type of certification -- sometimes some say it's easy to have a certification risk depending on
what snapshot in time you look at. you mentioned you wanted to comment. secretary karem: i haven't seen the text of the legislation. i would say i think there were some concerns we have had with hard conditionality. 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 ur partners to improve their targeting and their application of the law of armed conflict. but worry that hard nditionality in part because the huttis get a vote could be -- could negatively affect our efforts to influence their behavior. senator flake: if we were asked to certify right now that 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? ambassador satterfield: senator, you will understand if i respond that -- to that hypothetical, were that a condition of assistance the administration would carefully consider when all basis how best to respond. i am not able to do so now. senator corker: senator markey. senator markey: thank you, mr. chairman. secretary care yem -- karem, the commander of the u.s. central command recently called iran's army of the yemeni rebels with ballistic missiles a, quote, growing threat, which i think poses a significant danger not just to saudis and emirateys, but poses a risk to us. can you explain why we should accept d.o.d.'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. it's a never-ending circle. secretary karem: senator, i think even if the united states was not involved in helping our partners in yemen even if we were involved in conducting efforts against aqap in yemen, iran's development of ballistic missile capabilities transfeerns of these capability -- transferns would podse a threat to the united states. not because it poses a threat to our partners in the region, be that the u.a.e. or saudi arabia 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 audi arabia.
the iranian willingness to fire ballistic missiles at populated areas in the middle east poses a threat not just to our partners, but to us. senator markey: when we provide refueling 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 saudi coalition aircraft we refuel are engaging only in counterterrorism strikes and not in anti-houthi operations? secretary karem: i believe we know that they are conducting -- conducting counter houthi operations, as i mentioned earlier anti-general testified, we don't monitor every flight. we don't have the personnel or assets to do that given our other obligations. i would want to correct the impression that we don't follow and don't track the casualties in yemen.
obviously we have intelligence reporting and rely also on reporting from n.g.o.'s on the ground. it's a range of information we have that leads us to believe that our coalition -- our partners have improved their capacity in limiting civilian casualties. senator markey: the more we're -- as is more at risk the general says, poses a risk to us. we're getting in deeper and deeper here. 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 coalition aircraft target? secretary karem: we provide advice with respect to how to conduct targeting. we don't provide advice on specific targets. senator markey: it's your understanding that when the
planes take off after being refueled by the u.s. and that you are helping them make general targeting decisions that you don't think that the united states has any idea where these planes are going and what they are going to hit? is that what you are saying? secretary karem: we don't monitor and track individual aircraft. we have a general idea obviously -- senator markey: we have a policy which we express to the saudis with regard to the targets we do not want to have hit? do we tell them expressly? secretary karem: i think we have been very clear with our partners about their obligations under the law of armed conflict to avoid noncombatant casualties. senator markey: what level of confidence do you have that they abide by that? secretary karem: a growing level of confidence. i would defer to assessments
from our intelligence services who i believe -- senator markey: a high confidence they don't do it. secretary karem: i think we have a high degree of confidence their targeting process has improved. senator markey: is it a high level of could have dense that they are not hitting civilian -- confidence that they are not hitting civilian targets? secretary karem: unfortunately our experience is that it is impossible to have a 100% record at avoiding civilian casualties. senator markey: you think there is only a 1% chance they are hitting civilians? it's not 100%. 99% confident they are not? secretary karem: i'm saying they have made improvements in their efforts to avoid civilian casualties in large part because of the support we have provided. in the absence of u.s. support, i would not be so confident that that level of assurance would continue. senator markey: do we have any sort of quantitative evidence that would support that
assertion? secretary karem: 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. senator markey: that's quantitatively determined and available to this committee? secretary karem: i'm sure in closed session that there are materials that are veilable. senator markey: materials that go to the quantitative evidence? secretary karem: i believe so, yes, sir. senator corker: senatorue. call. -- senator you call. senator udall: thank you, mr. chairman and thank you for your service. an estimated 10,000 yemeni civilians have been killed by saudi air strikes. the 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-led air campaign against the houthi. when the saudis say multiyear, how long is it going to take to get the saudi military to stop accidentally killing civilians? secretary karem: as i said, i think we have seen clear indications that they are making progress. but war is incredibly difficult. it is impossible for any military to promise and conduct military operations without any risk to civilian casualties. our belief is that by continued partnership with the saudis that 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 do not similarly provide the kind of training and advice with respect to civilian casualties that the united states does. senator udall: do any of you, the other panelists, want to
comment on that? ambassador satterfield: 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 matter that from both an anecdotal and qualitative fashion we believe have achieved demonstrable progress. there is indeed in another setting summary information available on why we make that statement. but there is another aspect which has been addressed by many of the members of this committee as well, which is the military campaign against the huttis. that is against military houthi targets. ether 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.
but we also counsel the saudis and have done so at the highest levels of the government, that the military campaign against houthi military targets is not in our view an effective way of bringing about a peace settlement. there are two different issues, but they combine to the same place which is a political resolution, a military resolution is necessary here. senatorue. call: mr. satterfield and mr. jenkins mentioned the lack of access to clean water is 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 meet basic nutrition and sanitation needs? ambassador satterfield: thank you. mr. jenkins: not being able to put an amount on it, the issue is the access. if access is free and unfettered through both the ports and road
networks and the road networks throughout, shortages of fuel shouldn't exist. senator udall: are there currently requests in the foreign operations budget to help provide these resources to do what i was asking about? mr. jenkins: there is no request specifically. we use contingency funding in the international disaster account and we don't specify even by country, leaving us maximum flexibility to respond whatever needs we can globally and within yemen. there is no specific request for that. there is a fuel mechanism now set up through the ubs -- the united nations specifically for the importation of fuel through the port for the use by humanitarian actors on the ground. senator udall: please let us know if additional resources are needed. there have been considerable reports from human rights watchdogs and associated press that detainees have been tortured. the united arab emities have
been implicated in these allegations. what is your assessment of the u.a.e. involvement and the torture of detainees and what action has the state department taken to address this issue? ambassador satterfield: senator in this session we're engage with the u.a.e. authorities on these obligation was respect to what may or may not have occurred and what steps need to be taken to provide a satisfactory level of assurance that there is no such practice going on. senator udall: thank you very much, mr. chairman. senator corker: thank you. senator menendez for follow-up question. senator menendez: ambassador satterfield, the countering american adversaries through angsts act directed the administration to mandatorily impose sanctions on iran for its violation of international arms embargo. in the past year, the u.n. panel of experts on yemen informed the security council of iran violating the arms embargo.
as a result of the u.n. information, has the administration imposed any additional sanctions as required by catsa? ambassador satterfield: i will respond to your question in writing. senator menendez: is that because you do not know the answer? ambassador satterfield: i do not note specific answer. senator menendez: your earlier answer to me is unsatisfactory insofar as from my vee view since you 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. his being one element of it. i'm of the view that when we pass something here in the senate, 98-2, overwhelmingly in the house, that that is the law of the land. and the law needs to be implemented. especially against an adversary which we're so concerned about in the region. i look forward to that answer.
senator corker: senator young. senator young: mr. jenkins, historically roughly 90% of the food that goes into the country of yemen as come in from the outside. it's imported into the country and significant amount of their fuel and medicine is as well. 70% tole 0% -- to 80% of those come from the port. with that in mind, would would be the implications, humanitarian consequences of an attack on the port by the saudi-led coalition? mr. jenkins: with the temporary closure back in october-november, we saw that an extended closure of the port would be catastrophic to the humanitarian needs in the country. senator young: could you throw some numbers? i don't foe if there is internal projections about over certain period of time the impact that
would have on the number of people would succumb to disease hunger and so forth? mr. jenkins: i don't have numbers off hand. i do know that the vast majority of people within that -- the majority of people in need in that 22 million number live in the northern part of the country . accessible by the port. there is no way to take that out of the equation and get anywhere near the amount of humanitarian and more importantly even commercial goods into the country. senator young: related question to both you, mr. jenkins, and ambassador satterfield, relating to the clearance process, which was discussed a bit earlier. what more can i as a member of the united states senate do to be helpful in ensuring that there is a more expeditious delivery of fuel and medicine? ambassador satterfield: senator, your efforts, the efforts of your colleagues in this body and
committee have been exceedingly helpful in allowing the administration to send a message from whole of government regarding the very specific concerns we have over any limitations, restrictions, constraints or 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 us, the executive branch, also comes from this body is extremely important. senator young: i want to thank you personally, ambassador satterfield, you did reference our previous conversations and work on this. i'm glad you are on the beat. you bring great credit upon yourself and the department of state and represent our country quite well in this difficult situation. i would like to summarize some of the things i illicitted in my earlier round of questioning. mr. generalsins agreed we should expect all parties to the conflict to undertake measures to alleviate the humanitarian
crisis in yemen. ambassador satterfield said we should expect all parties to undertain a good faith effort to conduct diplomatic negotiations to end the civil war there. and ambassador satterfield said we're right to continue to press the saudi-led coalition to take the demonstrable action to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure resulting from its military 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 in senate joint resolution 58 which senator shaheen, collins, and koonce helped me introduce -- coons helped me introduce last week. senator corker: secretary, thank you very much, mr. jenkins thank you for your time and testimony in share your expertise. the record will remain open until the close of business on
thursday including for members to submit questions for the record. would ask the witnesses to return answers to those questions submitted for the record as quickly as possible. thanks to this committee. this hearing is adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. isit ncicap.org]
>> when the house gavels back in in just a few minutes, taking up legislative work today. 10 tax related bills on the calendar. including measures to punish people who he impersonate i.r.s. employees and establishing a sidge point of contact for taxpayers who are victims of identity theft. and members will also take up a bill seeking to protect children from identity theft. the house will be -- also recessing mid afternoon for a
closed door briefing on syria from the defense secretary and the chair of the joint chiefs of staff. today is the first tax day since congress passed the tax overhaul. we took a closer look at that during today's "washington journal." continues. host: on this first tax day the passage of the tax cuts and jobs act, it's a good in with chris edwards, tax policy study director. of the tax overhaul are going to be impacting individuals who are file year?sgiving guest: generally the tax cuts and job act went into effect year, and so his employers across the country are tables. withholding workers on pay stubs should see will see a or 90% tax cut on pay stubs. in terms of filing this year, if filing for tax year 2017, there is no change for are filingeturn they