The US expects the Saudis to pay the last $17 million for air refueling in the Yemen war

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A Saudi-led military coalition has fully reimbursed the Pentagon for some of America’s involvement in Yemen’s ongoing civil war, but a further $17 million remains more than three years after the US halted some air support to the conflict. unpaid.

Between March 2015 and November 2018, the Pentagon spent about $300 million flying air refueling missions in support of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others involved in the nearly eight-year conflict.

About $261 million of that funded the hourly cost of flying the KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender tankers, and another $38 million went toward jet fuel. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have shared the financial burden.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia settled the debt for flight hour expenses in January 2021 with a $6.3 million payment to U.S. Central Command, Army Lt. D-RI) in a November report. The Air Force Times reviewed the report on Tuesday.

The UAE had already covered around US$104 million in hourly flight costs, leaving the Saudis with an additional US$157 million in hourly fees. Emiratis also reimbursed $15 million for fuel provided by the US in 2015 and 2016, the report said.

After the flight hour costs were settled, Saudi Arabia still had to pay back $23 million for fuel on behalf of the coalition. It shrank that balance to $17.2 million in July 2021, but the Pentagon said in November it had received nothing since the summer.

US Central Command, the Defense Logistics Agency, and the Pentagon’s military training partnership in Saudi Arabia “continue to seek payment from the … Department of Defense for the remaining fuel debt,” Poppas’ November report said.

Iran-linked Houthi rebels in Yemen have been implicated since 2014 in an attempt to overthrow the government backed by the Saudis and other Persian Gulf states. Saudi-Iranian proxy war has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced more than 3 million; 80% of Yemenis are dependent on humanitarian aid.

The US military has provided intelligence and logistical support to the Saudi-led coalition from the start. In 2018, the Pentagon and the Saudis said American aerial refueling would end because the kingdom could handle it on its own. Congress also passed legislation barring US involvement in Yemen, but then-President Donald Trump vetoed the proposal in 2019.

As of early August 2016 – nearly 18 months after the war began – US KC-135s and KC-10s had flown more than 1,100 sorties to pump 40.5 million pounds of fuel into 5,525 receiving aircraft, the Air Force Times reported at the time.

The United States continues to allocate resources to the conflict, such as then-CENTCOM chief General Frank McKenzie’s February pledge to send interceptors to block incoming Houthi missiles. In Yemen, too, the Americans are still waging a parallel battle against the local al-Qaeda offshoot.

The civil war appears to be entering a new phase this week after Yemen’s exiled leader Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi ceded power to a new presidential council and a two-month truce offered brief respite. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have pledged $3 billion to support the transition.

“This is a council of peace, but also a council of defense and strength,” its chairman Rashad al-Alimi said on Friday.

Rachel Cohen joined the Air Force Times in March 2021 as a senior reporter. Her work has been published in Air Force Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), the Washington Post, and others.

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