U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday blamed Iran for the ongoing civil war in Yemen, despite a congressional resolution to end support for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition in the country.
“With respect to the civil war, this is Iranian-led,” Pompeo said in an interview for The Hill’s Newsmaker Series.
Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of countries against Houthi rebels since 2015, when Riyadh and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a massive air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains that began in 2014.
The campaign has devastated Yemen’s infrastructure, including its health and sanitation systems, prompting the UN to describe it as one of the worst humanitarian disasters of modern times.
Yemeni government representatives and Houthi rebel leaders held a round of UN-brokered talks in Sweden in December, which yielded a cease-fire agreement in the Red Sea province of Al-Hudaydah.
Neither of the warring parties, however, have yet to fully withdraw from Al-Hudaydah amid tit-for-tat accusations of truce violations and sporadic clashes in other parts of the country.
Pompeo said Houthis were not committing to any of the agreements made in Sweden, following the orders of Iran.
He said that weapons systems being used by Houthi forces “have been smuggled in by Iran” and are aimed at attacking the airport in Riyadh, which means U.S. citizens flying into the country could be in danger.
“The support we are providing the Saudis as they engage with these dangerous missile systems is in America’s best interest,” Pompeo said.
Last month, the Senate voted to pass a legislation that called for the end to the U.S.’s support to the Saudi-led coalition’s war efforts in Yemen. The measure alpo passed in the House but was eventually vetoed by President Donald Trump.
Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator and 2020 presidential candidate, rebuked the administration’s support for the war, saying “U.S. participation in this war has not been authorized by Congress and is therefore unconstitutional.”