The Saudi invasion of Yemen is an embarrassment for the US, both because the Saudis are doing pretty poorly and because of the thousands of civilians they are killing with US-made equipment. Defense Secretary James Mattis, however, sees the Saudis as “part of the solution.”
Mattis was said to have emphasized the need for an end to the war, three years after Saudi Arabia started it, in a meeting with the Saudi crown prince. The defense secretary talked up the idea of a “political solution,” and praised the Saudis for backing the “UN-recognized” government of Yemen.
That “government” was ousted from Yemen’s capital in the winter of 2014, and fled the nation in 2015. By then, the president’s term in office had long since expired anyhow, though the Saudis continue to insist he is president, and will rule Yemen once the war is over. This is doubtful, however, as President Hadi is effectively under house arrest in Saudi Arabia.
Mattis told reporters he was also going to bring up the need to reduce civilian casualties when meeting the prince. The Pentagon, however, later conceded that he didn’t do so. The Saudi prince has already objected to such questions from the media during his visit.
The Saudis are having some secret talks with the Shi’ite Houthi movement in neighboring Oman, trying to resolve the situation. It’s an uphill battle, however, as the Hadi government objects to any settlement which involves power sharing.