State Department looking into reports US weapons ended up in wrong hands in Yemen

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The State Department is looking into reports that U.S.-made weapons sent to Yemen have fallen into the hands of those against the U.S.-backed and internationally recognized government, according to a letter released Tuesday by presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

“The Department of State takes these allegations very seriously and is working closely with partner nations to determine whether there were any such unauthorized transfers,” according to the Nov. 19 letter from Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Mary Elizabeth Taylor.

The State Department sent the letter in response to Warren’s queries on the matter last month.

Warren in October wrote to several U.S. government agencies demanding answers after a CNN investigation found that U.S. weapons in Yemen were being used by militia groups to fight U.S.-backed forces in the country.

Taylor notes that “the allegations appear to be limited to Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles” and that both the State and Defense departments in September looked into MRAP inventories in the United Arab Emirates to establish vehicle accountability.

“Both departments are planning a similar oversight visit to Saudi Arabia in November 2019,” Taylor adds.

Once the two agencies “complete the visits and any necessary follow-up discussions with the two governments, the Department expects to have a full account of the circumstances related to the disposition of this equipment and any potential violation of the agreements.”

Warren said in a Tuesday statement that while she welcomes the investigation, she is “troubled by the apparent lack of full cooperation in this process by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which calls into question whether it is in America’s interest to continue selling arms and other military hardware to these governments.”

Democratic lawmakers have grown increasingly disillusioned with U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen as the devastation deepens for civilians.

In response, Congress has passed resolutions to end U.S. support and block a package of emergency arms sales the Trump administration approved for Saudi Arabia.

Warren also wrote to agencies in February after a separate CNN investigation found that Saudi Arabia and the UAE had given U.S. weapons to al Qaeda-linked fighters and other militants in Yemen, violating agreements with the United States.

The Pentagon said at the time that it began an investigation into the unauthorized transfer. As of September, the investigation remains “ongoing.”

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