WASHINGTON – Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on Thursday said Saudi Arabia was “a part of the solution” in Yemen, where the saudis are leading a U.S.-backed military campaign against the Houthi rebels, which has been heavily criticised for inflicting civilian casualties.
Mattis spoke at the beginning of a Pentagon meeting with the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is on a three-week of the V. S. to visit. Earlier this week, the Senate debated and then shelved a resolution calling for an end to the AMERICAN support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Mattis was against the measure, saying it would be counterproductive due to the increase of civilian casualties, the danger for co-operation on counter-terrorism and emboldening Iran to increase its support for the Houthi rebels.
During a photo-taking session with the crown prince, Mattis was asked by a journalist whether he would raise concerns about the civilian casualties in Yemen. Mattis said the U. S is working with the U. N. the new un envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths of great Britain, in the pursuit of a political solution to the civil war, which killed more than 10,000 civilians since the start in March 2015.
“We believe that Saudi Arabia is a part of the solution,” Mattis said. He added: “They have through the United Nations recognized government, and we are going to put an end to this war. That is the bottom line. And we’re going to end it on positive terms for the people of Yemen, but also the safety for the people in the peninsula.”
In prepared remarks, Mattis said the U.S. has a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia in the fight against extremists, and deterring malicious activities by Iran. He said that a political solution in Yemen would protect Saudi Arabia and deny safe haven for terrorists.
“You have large quantities of humanitarian aid is essential to help the innocent caught in this conflict (and) we thank you for that,” he said to the prince.