US President Joe Biden claimed credit for the ceasefire in Yemen in a weekend op-ed defending his upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia. He did not comment on the recent report by the government watchdog GAO, which said that the State Department and the Pentagon stopped holding Riyadh accountable for how it used the US-supplied weapons against civilians, a prominent critic pointed out on Monday.
Biden had promised to “completely disengage” the US from the Saudi-led war on Yemen, but failed to do so, argued Juan Cole, professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan.
The US has provided $54.6 billion in military aid to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since they began bombing Yemen in March 2015, Cole pointed out. US law requires recipients of American military aid to avoid harming civilian non-combatants, but Cole said the Saudi-led coalition has flouted that requirement – and pointed to last month’s report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showing that the US government did not bother enforcing it, either.
The State Department certified in 2018 that the Saudi and Emirati governments “had made efforts to reduce harm to civilians in Yemen, but did not submit two subsequent, required certifications,” said the GAO. Foggy Bottom also “could not provide” evidence that they investigated “incidents of potential unauthorized use of equipment” transferred to Saudi Arabia or the UAE, while the Pentagon “has not reported” any investigations, the watchdog added.