US Senate votes to end support for Yemen war

Sergio Conner
March 14, 2019

The US, a longtime ally of Saudi Arabia, quietly began supporting the Saudi-led coalition in 2016, providing it with intelligence, weapons sales and air refueling support for planes operated by both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The U.S. Senate defied President Donald Trump on Wednesday and voted to cut off support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Steve Daines of Montana, Mike Lee of Utah, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Todd Young of Indiana.

"Congressional authority over war was created to avoid the type of situation that's been unfolding in Yemen, where unauthorized USA military support began without public debate or scrutiny", Martin said. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT), among others, seeks to end any and all U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led conflict, including providing targeting support for Saudi airstrikes in the war-torn country.

In addition to putting an end to America's role in the slaughter of Yemeni civilians, supporters said the resolution also reasserst Congress' constitutional authority over war.

The resolution must still be approved by the House of Representatives to be sent to the White House, which said earlier on Wednesday that Trump plans a veto.

Backers of the resolution, including a handful of Trump's fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, argued that US involvement in Yemen violates the constitutional requirement that Congress, not the president, should determine when the country goes to war.

"This Senate vote moves us one step closer to ending USA support for the catastrophic war in Yemen, a war that makes America complicit in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world", Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, said in a statement.

The White House has threatened to veto the bill, arguing that USA support for the Saudi coalition does not amount to "hostilities".

US Senate votes to end support for Yemen war

Trump's support for Saudi Arabia has been a point of tension with Congress since the killing of US -based activist and writer Jamal Khashoggi a year ago.

Trump has held back on criticizing Saudi Arabia, calling them an important strategic ally and counterbalance to Iran in the region.

The measure in the Senate was co-sponsored by independent Sen. "Concerns about Saudi human rights issues should be directly addressed with the administration and with Saudi officials", McConnell said from the Senate floor.

McConnell argued the Yemen resolution "will not enhance America's diplomatic leverage" and will make it more hard for the U.S.to help end the conflict in Yemen and minimize civilian casualties.

Some also contended that stopping US support would help Iran, and potentially prolong the conflict by ending Washington's ability to influence Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a partner in the conflict, to pursue a sustainable political settlement. It would be the first measure passed by Congress to invoke the 1973 War Powers Resolution to directly curtail a president's use of military powers.

The war in Yemen is the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with an estimated 14 million people at risk of starvation.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said before the vote that the resolution "will be seen as a message to the Saudis that they need to clean up their act".

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