Defense Secretary James Mattis is said to be pushing for the White House to remove all restrictions, placed during the waning months of President Obama’s presidency, on US military support for the Saudi invasion of Yemen, seeking deeper direct US involvement in fighting the Yemeni Shi’ites.
Mattis is said to be pushing National Security Adviser HR McMaster to agree that US support would combat the “common threat” the US and Saudi Arabia face in Yemen, which appears to be continued Shi’ite autonomy in the northern half of the country.
The US, of course, has already been directly involved in the Saudi war in Yemen from the beginning, providing in-air refueling for Saudi warplanes and participating in a naval blockade that has caused massive food shortages across northern Yemen.
The huge civilian death toll of the Saudi strikes, which involved US-made planes, US-made bombs, and the Pentagon directly refueling them, convinced the Obama Administration to slightly reduce its involvement, fearing legal culpability for the war crimes committed in Yemen. Mattis appears to be hoping that he can reverse this trend, irrespective of the legal concerns.