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Corker Statement at Hearing on U.S. Policy in Yemen

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today made the following statement during a hearing on U.S. policy in Yemen.

“We thank Acting Assistant Secretary Satterfield, Assistant Secretary Karem and Mr. Jenkins for joining us here today.

“This hearing will examine U.S. policy toward Yemen, particularly in light of the growing concern within Congress regarding the civil war and its dire humanitarian consequences.

“According to the United Nations, more than 22 million people — roughly three-quarters of the population — need humanitarian aid and protection, and 18 million people are food insecure. Last year, there were over one million suspected cases of cholera.

“While Yemen has always faced significant socio-economic challenges, the civil war — which began with the Houthis’ armed takeover of much of the country in 2014 and their overthrow of Yemen’s legitimate government in January 2015 — has plunged the country into a humanitarian crisis. 

“Iran’s support of the Houthi rebels and the intervention of Saudi-led forces to restore Yemen’s deposed government, which began in March 2015, have been particularly devastating.

“In over three years of conflict, thousands of civilians have been killed. Errant airstrikes have hit schools, weddings, and hospitals. Humanitarian groups cannot reliably provide aid due to movement constraints, and uncertain port access has slowed commercial imports of food and fuel.

“Of course, Saudi Arabia is a longtime U.S. partner, but partners must be candid with each other. So, I have raised my concerns, as many people here have, regarding Saudi Arabia’s conduct in Yemen with senior Saudi officials, including the crown prince, on multiple occasions in this last year. I know that many of my colleagues have done the same things, as I have mentioned, and I urge them to continue doing so, as I will.

“But at the same time, Saudi Arabia has a right to defend itself from a war spilling across its border. For nearly two years, the Houthis have fired Iranian-manufactured ballistic missiles into Saudi territory. In recent months, they’ve aimed these missiles at Riyadh. At least hundreds of Saudis have been killed in the fighting, and millions live under constant threat of attack. 

“So, resolving the conflict in Yemen means helping Saudi Arabia address its legitimate security concerns to prevent entrenchment of an Iranian-armed group on its southern border.

“As the committee considers ways to support effective U.S. policy on Yemen, I look forward to hearing our witnesses provide details on what the U.S. is doing diplomatically to encourage a resolution of the conflict.

“I also hope our witnesses will explain the nature of U.S. support to the Saudi-led coalition, including relevant authorities, and what can be done to address the humanitarian situation.

“With that, I ask Ranking Member Menendez if he wishes to make any opening comments. I’m sure he does, and I look forward to hearing those.”

Click here for complete testimony and video footage from the hearing.