US awaits last $17 million reimbursement from Saudis for air refueling in Yemen struggle

A Saudi-led army coalition has absolutely reimbursed the Pentagon for one piece of America’s involvement in Yemen’s ongoing civil struggle, however one other $17 million sum stays unpaid greater than three years after the U.S. stopped some air assist for the battle.

Between March 2015 and November 2018, the Pentagon spent about $300 million to fly aerial refueling missions in assist of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others engaged within the almost eight-year battle.

About $261 million of that funded the hourly prices of flying KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender tanker planes, and one other $38 million went towards jet gasoline. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have shared the monetary burden.

The Saudi kingdom closed out the debt for flying-hour prices in January 2021 with a $6.3 million fee to U.S. Central Command, Army Lt. Gen. Andrew Poppas, director of the Joint Employees, advised Senate Armed Companies Committee Chairman Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) in a November report. Air Power Occasions reviewed the report Tuesday.

The UAE had already coated about $104 million in flying hour prices, leaving the Saudis to foot one other $157 million in hourly charges. Emiratis additionally refunded $15 million for gasoline the U.S. supplied in 2015 and 2016, the report mentioned.

With the flying-hour prices settled, Saudi Arabia nonetheless wanted to pay again $23 million for gasoline on behalf of the coalition. It shrank that stability to $17.2 million in July 2021, however the Pentagon mentioned in November it hadn’t acquired something because the summer season.

U.S. Central Command, the Protection Logistics Company and the Pentagon’s army coaching partnership in Saudi Arabia “are persevering with to hunt fee from the … Ministry of Protection for the remaining gasoline debt,” Poppas’s report mentioned in November.

Iran-linked Houthi rebels in Yemen have been embroiled in an effort to oust the federal government, which is backed by the Saudis and different Persian Gulf nations, since 2014. The Saudi-Iranian proxy struggle has killed tons of of hundreds of individuals and displaced greater than 3 million; 80% of Yemenis are in want of humanitarian help.

The U.S. army has supplied intelligence and logistical assist to the Saudi-led coalition from the beginning. In 2018, the Pentagon and the Saudis mentioned American air refueling would come to an finish as a result of the dominion might deal with it by itself. Congress additionally handed laws barring U.S. involvement in Yemen, however then-President Donald Trump vetoed the proposal in 2019.

As of the start of August 2016 — virtually 18 months into the struggle — U.S. KC-135s and KC-10s had flown greater than 1,100 sorties to pump 40.5 million kilos of gasoline into 5,525 receiving plane, Air Power Occasions reported on the time.

America continues to produce sources to the battle, resembling then-CENTCOM boss Gen. Frank McKenzie’s pledge in February to ship interceptors that block incoming Houthi missiles. People are nonetheless preventing a parallel yearslong battle towards the native al-Qaida offshoot in Yemen as properly.

The civil struggle seems to be coming into a brand new part this week, after Yemen’s exiled head of state Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi ceded energy to a brand new presidential council and a two-month ceasefire presents a quick respite. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have pledged $3 billion to assist the transition.

“It is a council of peace, however additionally it is a council of protection and power,” its chief Rashad al-Alimi mentioned Friday.

Rachel Cohen joined Air Power Occasions as senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in Air Power Journal, Inside Protection, Inside Well being Coverage, the Frederick News-Submit (Md.), the Washington Submit, and others.