“The Obama administration will curtail some intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia following a review of military assistance, an official said, but it will expand support in other areas despite intense criticism of Saudi strikes on civilians during the Kingdom’s air war in Yemen.
The carrot-and-stick approach reflects an attempt by U.S. officials, increasingly uncomfortable with support for an operation that has been widely condemned by rights groups, to distance themselves from the Yemen campaign without alienating a core Middle Eastern ally.
“This is not a punitive measure; it’s a corrective measure,” said a senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal decision-making. “We have to careful not to cut back on things that serve our interests in the process of trying to cut back on things that don’t serve our interest.”
The White House launched the high-level review of U.S. assistance in October, following a Saudi airstrike that killed more than 100 people at a Yemeni funeral. The incident, one of a series of apparent Saudi attacks on civilian targets in the Kingdom’s war against Shiite Houthi rebels, prompted the White House to warn that U.S. aid was “not a blank check.”