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Senate urges halt to U.S. support for Saudi war on Yemen

15 March 2019

The Republican-controlled Senate has passed a resolution that would end usa involvement in the Saudi-led coalition's brutal war in Yemen, countering President Donald Trump's support for the controversial conflict.

The bill also directs the President "to remove US Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen, except those engaged in operations directed at Al Qaeda or associated forces", within 30 days after the resolution's enactment. Saudi Arabia said that United States assistance was no longer needed.

Supporters of the War Powers Resolution argued the U.S. shouldn't be involved in the war without explicit permission from Congress. Opponents argued the United States does not have "boots on the ground" and is offering noncombat technical assistance to Saudi Arabia, an ally.

Should it pass Congress, it could force Trump to issue the first veto of his tenure.

Lawmakers have never before invoked the decades-old War Powers Resolution to stop a foreign conflict, but they are poised to do just that in the bid to cut off USA support for a war that has triggered a humanitarian catastrophe.

The US sells weapons used by the Saudis and its military provides logistical and intelligence support to the coalition for drone strikes.

The Senate vote also sent a message of disapproval for a war that has killed thousands of civilians, including many women and children, and engulfed Yemen in starvation. Mike Lee, R-Utah, marks the first time lawmakers have invoked the decades-old War Powers Resolution to halt American military involvement in a foreign conflict.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman shake hands in the State Dining Room before lunch at the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 14, 2017.

The vote was 54 to 46 with seven Republicans voting with Democrats.

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In this February 12, 2018, photo, Saudi-led coalition forces are seen in Yemen.

The U.S. has provided refueling for Saudi coalition aircraft, but that ended previous year after the Saudi regime was implicated in the murder of one of its citizens, journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Sen. Mitt Romney voted against the resolution.

"Peace envoys are telling us they want deeper USA engagement in this situation", Risch said in a statement following the vote.

In a Senate floor speech ahead of the vote, Sanders said that Congress is reclaiming its constitutional war powers to end America's complicity in a humanitarian crisis.

Resolution opponents argued that support for the Saudi-led coalition is not an appropriate use of the war powers act limiting the president's ability to send troops into action, because USA forces are not actively engaged in fighting.

The resolution is a reminder that Congress has the legal ability to compel the removal of US military forces, absent a formal declaration of war.

A similar resolution to end support for the Yemen war passed the Senate in December, but it was not taken up by the House, which was then controlled by Republicans.

Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders has called the Saudi war on Yemen a humanitarian and strategic disaster.

Senate urges halt to U.S. support for Saudi war on Yemen