US Secretary of State Pompeo defends Saudi arms sales after damning watchdog report on Yemen

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses the media at a joint news conference with the Czech prime minister, at the start of a four-nation tour of Europe, in Prague, Czech Republic, on August 12, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has defended Washington’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia after a watchdog report said the State Department failed to “fully assess” the risk of civilian deaths in war-torn Yemen.

Pompeo said on Wednesday that his department “did everything by the book” in regards to arms sales to Riyadh in May 2019.

“I am proud of the work that my team did. We got a really good outcome. We prevented the loss of lives,” he claimed.

Pompeo made the remarks in response to a report by the State Department Inspector General that said “the department did not fully assess risks and implement mitigation measures to reduce civilian casualties and legal concerns associated with the transfer” of precision-guided bombs to the Persian Gulf Arab countries.

Last year, both US Republicans and Democrats opposed the sales, but President Donald Trump vetoed resolutions to block the transfers and there were not enough votes to override him. 

Congress had requested an investigation into the Trump administration’s decision to move ahead with $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, sidestepping the congressional review process by declaring an emergency.

Pompeo was accused in May last year of abuse of power after he exploited an emergency declaration to push for the eight-billion-dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE despite opposition from US Congress. He cited alleged threats in the Middle East to sidestep the congressional review process.

In May, Trump abruptly fired Inspector General Steve Linick, who was looking into Pompeo’s case, and then appointed Stephen Akard, who also resigned from his post last week after recusing himself from the arms sales investigation.

Linick was the fourth government inspector general removed by the Republican president in recent months.

Supported by its regional allies and armed by its Western backers, Saudi Arabia has been waging a war on Yemen since March 2015.

An estimated 100,000 people have lost their lives in the Saudi war.

The war has destroyed Yemeni infrastructure, including a large number of hospitals and clinics amid an all-out Saudi blockade.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku