Senate's Yemen war measure rebukes Trump, rewards Murphy

Clay Curtis
March 15, 2019

The US Republican-led Senate has approved a bill to end US support for the Saudi-led coalition war in Yemen.

His legislation calls for an end to a US role in hostilities in Yemen, a nation of almost 30 million people at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, where fighting between the Saudi-backed government and the Houthi rebel movement, backed by Iran, has been raging for four years.

Opponents argued that the War Powers Resolution does not apply because the U.S.is not directly involved in combat in Yemen. A two-thirds majority vote by both chambers of Congress would be needed to override a possible Trump veto. 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 US sells weapons used by the Saudis and its military provides logistical and intelligence support to the coalition for drone strikes.

Many lawmakers have taken issue with the number of civilian deaths in Yemen's conflict and have been calling for an end of United States military support ever since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last October.

It is now expected to be voted on in the US House of Representatives.

It would also be another strong rebuke of President Donald Trump's support for Saudi Arabia, which has been a point of tension with Congress since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi past year.

Coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have relentlessly bombed Yemen since 2015 in an effort to oust the Houthi rebels controlling the capital city of Sana'a.

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Romney said while he has concerns about Saudi Arabia's recent behavior, particularly the murder of Khashoggi, ending support would undermine USA allies and security interests in the region by emboldening Iran, hampering counterterrorism efforts, and potentially worsening the humanitarian crisis.

"The bottom line is the United States should not be supporting a catastrophic war led by a despotic regime with a unsafe and irresponsible foreign policy".

Lee was among seven Republicans who joined all members of the Democratic Caucus in backing the bill.

"We need to stay engaged with the limited engagement that we have", said Senator Jim Risch, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

"We're helping a foreign power bomb its adversaries in what is undoubtedly, irrefutably, a war", said Republican Senator Mike Lee, who sponsored the resolution, urging a "yes" vote.

In a Senate floor speech ahead of the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged his colleagues to oppose the resolution, which he said would limit US leverage to end the conflict and pressure to help Saudi pilots avoid civilian casualties.

The 1973 law was supposed to provide a check on the growing number of worldwide military entanglements presidents committed the U.S.to, without actually seeking a war declaration or other authorization from Congress. "Now that the new Senate has passed the resolution, the House needs to pass the same clean version of the resolution to finally send it to the president's desk".

Approaching its fifth year, the war in Yemen has killed thousands and left thousands more on the brink of starvation, creating what the United Nations called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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