One of the most visible aspects of direct US involvement in the Saudi invasion of Yemen, mid-air refueling of Saudi warplanes bombing the country, has come to an end over the weekend. US and Saudi officials both confirmed this program has halted.
Saudi state media claimed that they made the decision to halt the US support, because they can carry out their own in-air refueling missions now and don’t need the US.
US officials suggested that this was part of a “limited punishment” that the Trump Administration intends to impose over the murder of reporter Jamal Khashoggi.
Defense Secretary James Mattis downplayed the news, however, and made no mention of previous demands for a ceasefire. Instead, he said the US will continue to support the Saudi war in Yemen, and “collaborate on building up legitimate Yemeni forces.”
The timing, however, is telling. This comes just two weeks after the US demanded a halt to Saudi strikes against populated parts of Yemen, and after several subsequent attacks on populated areas killing civilians.