The Saudi coalition fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen announced Saturday that it had asked the United States to stop refueling and was now able to take care of itself. to fuel.
The Pentagon immediately approved the announcement, which comes as US parliamentarians, both Republicans and Democrats, insist that the United States immediately end their supply operations of Saudi aircraft operating in Yemen.
It is the official Saudi news agency SPA that announced this development. "Recently, the Kingdom and the Coalition have increased their capacity to run independent air-to-air tanker in Yemen," said SPA.
"As a result, the Coalition, in consultation with the United States, has called for the stopping of refueling of fuel during its operations in Yemen", the agency said.
Saudi Arabia and the whole coalition supporting forces loyal to the Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi "are constantly working to improve their military professionalism and self-reliance," said SPA.
The United States reacted quickly.
"We support the decision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to use the Coalition's own military capacities to refuel fuel during the flight to support its operations in Yemen, after consultation with the US government," said a statement. US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.
The Washington Post, citing sources familiar with the case, had said a few hours earlier that the decision to stop the US air tank from the coalition had already been taken by the United States, which put an end to their decision. most concrete support to the Saudi coalition in three years of conflict
– Controversial help –
This help, already criticized in Washington, had become even more controversial since the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, attributed to senior officials of the kingdom and affecting the image of Ryad.
American parliamentarians, both Democratic and Republican, demanded that Washington take "immediate" measures, "including an end to the delivery of Saudi Arabian aircraft", failing which they threatened to implement measures in the Senate.
Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Todd Young gave a statement about this shortly before the article was published in Washington Post. "We are waiting for Riyadh in good faith and urgent to take part in the negotiations to end the civil war," wrote the elected representatives from both sides of the political spectrum.
The Pentagon and the coalition spoke out about the prospect of negotiating a settlement of the conflict.
"The Coalition Command expresses the hope that the forthcoming UN-led negotiations in a third country will lead to a negotiated settlement," said SPA.
– Possible calls –
After the failure of a UN mediation in September, the coalition announced the resumption of the attack on the strategic port of Hodeida, in the west of Yemen, which was intensified from 1 November.
The struggle to recapture Hodeida against the rebels controlling the city threatens the peace efforts of the United States and the UN, which hopes to be able to hold talks by the end of the year.
The coalition, the agency, says: "hopes to put an end to the aggression of Houthi militias backed by Iran against the Yemeni people and against countries in the region, including the threat of ballistic missiles and drones."
The Pentagon also talked about upcoming negotiations. "We are all focused on supporting a resolution of the conflict led by UN Special Envoy Martin Griffith," Jim Mattis said in his statement.
"The United States and the coalition plan are working together to strengthen the legitimate Yemeni forces to defend the Yemeni people, to secure the borders of their country and to counter the efforts of al-Qaeda and ISIS in Yemen and Yemen. "added the US Secretary of Defense, using the acronym for the organization of the jihadist Islamic state (IS).
Fighting for control of Hodeida was particularly deadly on Friday, with strong resistance from Houthi rebels who tried to work by all means to delay the advance of pro-government troops supported by the coalition.