Pentagon corrects $331mn ‘accounting error,’ bills Saudis & UAE for refueling jets bombing Yemen

Pentagon corrects $331mn ‘accounting error,’ bills Saudis & UAE for refueling jets bombing Yemen
The Pentagon is clawing back hundreds of millions of taxpayer-subsidized dollars it gifted to Saudi Arabia and the UAE over a three-year period, when it ‘accidentally’ refueled their aircraft for free during their war on Yemen.

US Central Command is “in the process of seeking reimbursement from” the two countries for $331 million in fuel and flight hours, according to Pentagon spokeswoman Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich. “Our partners have been individually notified about our intent to seek reimbursement, and have been given estimates as to how much they owe.”

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The decision “underscores the need for strong oversight of the Department of Defense,” said Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), whose Senate Armed Services Committee investigation uncovered what the Pentagon called an “accounting error” earlier this month, not long after the US and Saudi Arabia reached an agreement to end the midair refueling.

The Pentagon’s failure to conduct even the most perfunctory accounting is no surprise – the agency failed its first-ever audit last month, one it admits it did not expect to pass. They have a history of wasting tens of billions of dollars, after all, if not trillions

But in this case, Congress had never been notified that the Pentagon had entered into an agreement to provide the expensive midair refueling services to the Saudi-led coalition. Pentagon lawyers claimed the agreement was provisional and had never been finalized.

The decision to go after the coalition for what it owes is just the latest sign the US-Saudi “special relationship” is on its last legs. While US officials were calling American support for the Saudi-backed coalition “necessary” a week ago, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that withdrawing such support would do “immense damage” to US interests, the Senate passed a resolution on Thursday to end US military aid to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. A second resolution, to condemn Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for allegedly ordering the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, also passed the Senate.

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The Saudi-led war on Yemen is immensely unpopular among those Americans who’ve heard of it, though it receives vanishingly little media coverage on mainstream US channels. An AP report last month revealed one in three drone strike deaths are civilians, including children, and the UN has been warning for months that half Yemen’s population is on the brink of starvation. Until now, though, Congress has stonewalled all bills geared at ending US military support of the war.

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