Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faced internal opposition to U.S. support for the war in Yemen from State Department staff, according to a recent report. The staffers had become concerned by the rising civilian death toll in the war being carried out by Persian Gulf monarchies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — not only owing to bombings of densely populated areas, but also a humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the fighting, with up to 8.4 million people at risk of starvation.
Those concerns, however, were overruled after Pompeo discussed the matter with the State Department’s legislative affairs team. The legislative affairs staff, according to the Wall Street Journal, argued that restricting U.S. support would endanger billions of dollars in future weapons sales, including a massive sale of precision-guided munitions between Raytheon, a U.S. weapons manufacturer, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
That staff — the legislative affairs team at the State Department — is led by a former Raytheon lobbyist.
Before his presidential appointment last June, Acting Assistant Secretary of State Charles Faulkner was paid handsomely by Raytheon to lobby lawmakers on defense procurement issues, ethics records show.
The main pending sale is a $2 billion deal to give Saudi Arabia and the UAE air-to-ground munitions produced by Raytheon.
Debate broke out in the State Department around a congressionally mandated deadline for Pompeo to certify that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were taking steps to reduce civilian casualties in the Yemen war. The failure to certify would have immediately banned U.S. refueling efforts to bolster the Gulf monarchies’ war, but, according to the Wall Street Journal, the legislative affairs desk argued that “lack of certification will negatively impact pending arms transfers.” The office also warned that future weapons sales could be jeopardized — and Pompeo ended up issuing the certification.
The main pending sale is a $2 billion deal to give Saudi Arabia and the UAE air-to-ground munitions produced by Raytheon. The Trump administration began moving forward with the sale in the spring, briefing the chair and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Under U.S. law, the Senate can block arms sales and the sale is currently being held up by Sen.