US Lawmakers Vote to End US Support for Saudi-Led War on Yemen

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Asserting congressional authority over war-making powers, the US House of Representatives approved a resolution Wednesday that would force the Trump administration to withdraw US troops from involvement in Yemen, in a rebuke of Donald Trump’s alliance with the Saudi-led coalition b

US Lawmakers Vote to End US Support for Saudi-Led War on Yemen

Lawmakers in both parties are increasingly uneasy over the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and are skeptical of the US partnership with that coalition, especially in light of Saudi Arabia’s role in the killing of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the royal family.

Passage of the measure would mark the first time Congress has relied on the decades-old War Powers Resolution to halt military intervention. It also would set up a potential confrontation with the White House, which has threatened a veto. The House voted 248-177 to approve the measure, sending it to the Senate, where a similar resolution passed last year.

“We have helped create, and worsen, the world’s largest humanitarian crisis,” said the California representative Barbara Lee, a Democrat, during the debate. “Our involvement in this war, quite frankly, is shameful.”

The chairman of the House foreign relations committee, Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, said the vote represented “Congress reclaiming its role in foreign policy,” the Guardian reported.

Senate approval would set up a showdown with the administration – a veto would be Trump’s first – over the president’s shifting approach on foreign policy.

Lawmakers are quick to point out that Trump wants to withdraw troops from the wars in Syria and Afghanistan as part of his “America first” approach, but he has shown less interest in limiting the US role in Yemen.

The White House says the House resolution is “flawed” because US troops are not directly involved in military action in Yemen.

Since 2015, the administration says, the US has provided support to the coalition, including intelligence and, until recently, aerial refueling, but it has not had forces involved in “hostilities”.

Congress has not invoked the War Powers Resolution, which requires approval of military actions, since it was enacted in 1973. Lawmakers approved more sweeping authorizations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that some argue are being used too broadly for other military actions.

Newly emboldened Democrats in the House, eager to confront Trump on foreign policy, and Republicans in both chambers have shown a willingness to put a legislative check on the president’s agenda.

In the House, 18 Republicans, including members of the GOP’s libertarian-leaning wing and Trump allies in the conservative Freedom Caucus, joined Democrats in passing the Yemen measure.

Representative Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, who drafted the legislation, said there was an emerging bipartisan alliance that was skeptical of military intervention without congressional oversight.

“It’s not just about Yemen. It’s about the Congress taking a stand and every future president having to think twice about whether to authorize a military intervention without congressional approval,” Khanna said in an interview.

The Senate version is from the independent senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and backed by the Utah Republican Mike Lee.

The House added a GOP amendment that would allow continued intelligence sharing, which drew fire from the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU warned it would give the president broad authority to provide Saudi Arabia and others with US intelligence information about Yemen, and the group said the package, overall, had become weaker than originally proposed.

Now the Yemen measure goes to the Senate, where a similar resolution on removing US involvement in the war was approved with Republican support late last year.

At the time, Congress was eager to send a message to both the president and Saudi Arabia after the October murder of the US-based journalist Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The US has sanctioned 17 Saudi individuals for their involvement in the killing, and US intelligence officials have concluded that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, must have at least known of the plot. Trump so far has decided not to impose harsher penalties on the prince. The kingdom insists he did not order the killing.

The outcome of the legislation is uncertain. Republicans control the Senate, 53-47, and a simple majority is needed to pass.

Trump has yet to veto any measures from Congress. If he did veto the Yemen resolution, it is unclear whether lawmakers would have enough support to override him.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out deadly airstrikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in an attempt to restore power to fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.

The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement on March 25 that the war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured until then. The war and the accompanying blockade have also caused famine across Yemen.

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