March 13, 2019
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke on the Senate floor today about his amendment to the Yemen resolution that would ensure that, despite the short-sightedness of the Sanders-Lee resolution, the United States could continue efforts to defend against missile and UAV attacks towards civilian population centers.
As prepared for delivery:
Just like last year, I remain deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Yemen, as well as the erratic behavior of Saudi Arabia’s leadership.
However, I oppose the Resolution brought forth by Senators Lee, Murphy, and Sanders, which, if implemented, would end all security cooperation with our partners in Yemen.
First of all, we are not engaged in “hostilities” in Yemen against the Houthis.
Here’s what we are doing in Yemen: We are providing intelligence support that helps construct no-strike lists that enable humanitarian efforts and protect humanitarian aid workers.
Our intelligence support is also vital to assisting our partners in defending themselves against Iranian-supported ballistic missile attacks.
It’s important to emphasize that our partners are the tip of the spear, not us.
Beyond this, our security cooperation provides leverage that we have used with the Saudi-led coalition to advance peace negotiations.
So if we pull that support, here’s what we can expect: Israel loses, Iran wins and the humanitarian situation will get worse.
Our partners will be less capable to confront a lethal ballistic missile threat. And peace efforts will lose a vital line of support.
Moreover, if a ballistic missile hits a population center and kills Americans, because we, due to the resolution, withheld intelligence, it would be unforgiveable. That’s why I introduced an amendment to specifically protect civilian population.
In closing, this vote is not about whether we approve of Saudi Arabia’s behavior. I don’t.
It is about whether we will use our leverage with the Saudi-led coalition to ensure humanitarian access and promote peace in Yemen.
More fundamentally, it is about whether we take seriously our responsibility to keep Americans safe.