Is Saudi Arabia violating the US Foreign Assistance Act by impeding the flow of humanitarian aid into Yemen? It’s potentially a very important question, and one which nominee Jennifer Newstead answered with a definitive “maybe.”
Newstead, whose nomination as the State Department’s top legal adviser has been held up in the Senate primarily over questions about the Saudi war’s legality, says that there are “substantial questions” about whether the Saudis hindered US or other aid to Yemeni civilians. She promised a firm answer if she is confirmed.
That’s potentially already a very important answer, as even acknowledging that the law forbidding US military aid to countries that block humanitarian aid shipments is a lot more than anyone else in the administration has offered.
It also seems less a “question” than a certainty, since the Saudis have repeatedly bombed the Sanaa Airport and the UN has repeatedly confirmed that the Saudi-led blockade, which the US is participating in, has stopped aid ships reaching Yemen.
Having a legal adviser admit it’s a potential issue, even if she’s not confirmed yet, is potentially huge for those in Congress looking to limit US participation in Saudi war crimes, and might well improve her confirmation chances.