What the US senators say on the current situation in Yemen?

Things have settled down, at least for now, after Houthi rebels reached an agreement with Yemen’s president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Here’s what some lawmakers said about the situation in recent days, across a range of political spectrums:

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Wednesday, to CQ Roll Call’s Connor O’Brien:

    Remember when the president gave his speech that we’re going to degrade and destroy ISIS in exactly the model of Yemen and Somalia? Now that shows you how out of touch and delusional the president of the United States is. He is either in denial or in delusion when he thinks that Yemen is what we want to see happen against ISIS.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Tuesday, to O’Brien:

    I think the president’s foreign policy is in absolutely free fall and the whole construct that Yemen was a success upset Sen. McCain and myself because you know it wasn’t. It was being oversold. And now you find out that it was being oversold. The Iranian influence is growing throughout the region. The Houthis are being supported by Iran. Iran is all over. They’re controlling Damascus. They have a lot of influence in Baghdad. They’re controlling Lebanon now through Hezbollah. Now you’ve got Yemen. So Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen. I just think the whole storyline the president gave us last night is just out of touch with reality.

    (On what can be done in Yemen) You try to contain the problem in Yemen, but you go to the heart of the problem which is in Syria and Iraq. Yemen is a problem, but Syria and Iraq provide the greatest safe haven since 9/11 for country to be attacked. ISIL’s continued presence in Syria and Iraq, ability to recruit, ability to project force outside of Syria and Iraq, are a big threat to us. Obviously, Yemen, AQAP is a big threat to us. I would start with changing out strategy to degrade and destroy ISIL. That’s where I would start. I would try to find some regional partners to go in and stabilize Yemen. But my focus right now would be to come up with a viable strategy to degrade and destroy ISIL. ISIL is a bigger threat to us than anything I can think of right now. Yemen is a symptom of a larger problem.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., at the Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday:

    All understand that the Houthi effort to topple the government in Yemen has been supported and funded through Tehran. Tehran has basically turned the Assad regime into a puppet state. They have done that in Iraq for years.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, on CNN Wednesday:

    What’s going on in Yemen, though, is just really difficult and what they’re — what the Saudis and the Qataris are concerned about is Iran. And I think, you know — I don’t want to make life more complicated, but a lot of this is a dispute between Iran and the Arab states. The Iranians are not Arabs. They’re Persians, and this is a 2,000-year-old rivalry. And here’s how complicated Yemen is. Your reporter mentioned AQAP. That’s a Sunni-based extremist group. The Houthis, who just took over last night, apparently… are Shiites aligned with Iran. So, you know, how is all of that going to play out? So it’s, you know, you’ve got to have a program. You’ve got to know the players to be able to follow this.

    (on losing Yemen) Well, I don’t think we have much control there. I’ve got to be honest. We have ships there; we have air assets. I think we should get them out right away… Because their — the outer perimeter defense of the embassy and the compound are local troops. That’s true all over the world. And if they collapse, disappear, melt away, we’ve got a real problem. We’ve got some Marines there, but in my view, let’s be — I’d rather be safe than sorry. Let’s get them out. And if things settle down, we can work out something diplomatically. They can go back in; that’s fine. But I don’t want to be here talking to you later this week about a hostage situation.

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., on CNN Wednesday:

    Well, you know, Yemen is an important country geopolitically. You know, it’s at a very strategic location. We cannot abandon that relationship even if we do have to take a strategic step back. We cannot permanently disengage with Yemen. So, I think that we should be constantly evaluating, but the situation in Yemen for the last several years, they’ve been marked by dictators who are allies, they’ve had great political turmoil. You know, just a few years ago, a young woman was the Nobel Prize — Peace Prize winner because of her efforts to try to bring peace to that country that is so troubled. So, you know, the United States can’t back out, but we certainly have to continue to re-evaluate how we engage. It’s an important country.

Roll Call