- Trump calls out Saudi leaders over blockade of Yemen
- Growing sense of alarm at State Department over Saudi actions
With a series of rebukes of Saudi Arabia this week, President Donald Trumps administration appears to be taking a more assertive stance toward a key Middle East ally after sending conflicting messages for months.
On Dec. 6, Trump issued a two-sentence statement calling on Saudi Arabia to immediately end its blockade of Yemen, an act that has threatened to cause widespread famine, as the kingdom fights Houthi rebels believed to have backing from Iran. On Friday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on Saudi Arabias leaders to think through the consequences of their actions and be a little bit more thoughtful.
While the comments stopped short of tangible action the U.S. continues to back the Saudi-led coalition carrying out airstrikes in Yemen with intelligence and refueling the rhetoric reflected a sharper tone toward the kingdom. It also showed Trump aligning more closely with his top diplomat who, along with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, has been more inclined to reprimand Saudi Arabia for a series of foreign policy steps that have drawn widespread criticism.
There seems to be a little more of a unified voice from Washington, said Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institu...