Congress Must Limit Unauthorized Refueling of the Saudi-led Coalition’s Warplanes

The Yemen Peace Project (YPP) calls on Members of Congress to support a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment that prohibits unconditionally refueling the Saudi-led coalition’s warplanes in northern and western Yemen. The coalition uses these planes to conduct airstrikes targeting civilians and critical infrastructure in Yemen, violating international humanitarian law (IHL) and perpetuating a conflict with no possible military solution. The Saudi-led coalition’s attacks have killed thousands of civilians and left millions in need of humanitarian aid, food assistance, and medical help. The United States cannot continue to aid and abet the coalition’s violations of IHL by refuel coalition warplanes unconditionally. Through this amendment, Congress can provide oversight of and introduce transparency into the process of refueling coalition missions.


The proposed amendment prohibits the US from refueling coalition aircraft carrying out missions in Houthi-controlled territory unless the strike is in the interest of US national security and the Secretary of Defense has certified that the strike will not hit a civilian target or a target on the US no-strike list. The amendment also promulgates a transparency process: every 90 days, the Secretary of Defense would have to report each instance in which the US refueled a coalition plane that consequently struck a civilian target or target on the no-strike list. This report would have to outline actions taken by the Department of Defense in response to such an attack, in addition to any further response by the coalition.


This amendment will provide necessary congressional oversight and common-sense transparency to address the pattern of unlawful airstrikes against Yemeni civilians. Kate Kizer, the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the YPP, states that “this amendment is needed to provide accountability. The US’ refueling of Saudi warplanes is a key source of US complicity in the crimes committed against civilians in Yemen.” The US can no longer provide unauthorized assistance to the coalition in light of its consistent abuses and violations in Yemen. The YPP urges members to approve the amendment when it is put to a vote this week.