Dems try to stop US support for Saudis in Yemen conflict

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A man with his children walk on rubble of a house hit by the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, on February 1. Xinhua

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Democratic-led US House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a resolution that would end US support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the war in Yemen, as many lawmakers sought to push President Donald Trump to toughen his policy towards the kingdom.

It was the first time the House of Representatives has ever supported a war powers resolution, but the 248-177 vote – almost entirely along party lines – would not be enough, however, to overcome Mr Trump’s promise to issue what would likely be his first veto.

Only 18 of Mr Trump’s fellow Republicans in the House joined 230 Democrats in supporting the resolution seeking to stop the US military from any hostilities in or affecting Yemen, including refuelling aircraft conducting missions in the Yemen civil war, without authorisation from Congress.

Democrats and Republicans reintroduced the war powers resolution two weeks ago as a way to send a strong message to Riyadh about the humanitarian disaster in Yemen and condemn the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The administration – and many of Mr Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress – said the resolution was inappropriate because US forces had provided aircraft refuelling and other support in the Yemen conflict, not combat troops. It also said the measure would harm relationships in the region and hurt the US ability to prevent the spread of violent extremism.

The Senate is expected to vote on the resolution within 30 days.

A previous version of the resolution passed the Senate by 56-41 in December. But it was not brought up for a vote in the House, where Republicans held a majority until Democrats took control on January 3, following sweeping victories in November’s elections.

The United States has supported the Saudi-led air campaign against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen with mid-air refuelling support, intelligence and targeting assistance.

December’s Senate vote was the first time either chamber of Congress backed a resolution to withdraw US forces from a military engagement under the War Powers Act. That law, passed in 1973, limits the president’s ability to commit US forces to potential hostilities without congressional approval.

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