Trump says Saudis misused US weapons in 'terrible' Yemen war

Yemeni government forces take part in battles at the port city of Hodeidah, Yemen, on Nov 4, 2018.
Yemeni government forces take part in battles at the port city of Hodeidah, Yemen, on Nov 4, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - President Donald Trump says Saudi Arabia has misused US-supplied weapons in its bombing campaign in Yemen and that his administration is carefully examining the conflict.

"I think it's a terrible situation," Mr Trump said in an interview with Axios that aired on Sunday (Nov 4) on HBO, calling the Saudi bombing of a school bus in August "a horror show".

His administration, Mr Trump said, is studying the war "very, very carefully".

But he didn't elaborate, and he declined to say whether he's reconsidering US arm sales to the Saudis or active support of its Yemen campaign.

The US continues to provide intelligence and aerial refuelling for the Saudi attacks.

The President criticised Saudi conduct of the aerial campaign, saying the government shouldn't have people "who don't know how to use the weapons shooting at buses with children. We teach them how to use the equipment."

The Saudi campaign, aimed at Iran-supported Houthi rebels in Yemen, has been broadly criticised for resulting in thousands of civilians of deaths and contributing to a worsening famine.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned on Friday that Yemen was on the brink of "imminent catastrophe", and that as many as 14 million people could be at risk of starving.

 
 
 

Saudi Arabia's conduct of the war also came under new scrutiny after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Many US lawmakers have called for US weapons sales to be cut off in response to Mr Khashoggi's murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, a step Mr Trump has rejected.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have called for both sides to end the war, but Mr Pompeo said last week that the Houthis must take the first step by stopping missile and unmanned aerial vehicle attacks on Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates territory.

Saudi Arabia, long a key strategic ally of the US in the Middle East, is central to the Trump administration's efforts to combat Iran's influence in the region.