Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Senate rejects bid to end United States support for Saudi campaign in Yemen

Yemenis check the damage in the aftermath of a reported air strike by the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemeni capital Sanaa Vote on War Powers Act Challenge to Yemen War Looms in Senate
Kenny Thornton | 21 March, 2018, 07:33

The US Senate on Tuesday rejected a bipartisan bid to end American involvement in Yemen's civil war, voting down a rare effort to overrule presidential military authorization.

Though the prince, 32, has won Western plaudits for seeking to ease Saudi Arabia's reliance on oil, tackle chronic corruption and reform the conservative Sunni Muslim kingdom, the severity and secrecy of an anti-corruption crackdown last November has unnerved some investors. But the GOP leader had little choice but to allow the vote that was forced by coalition of liberal and libertarian-leaning lawmakers, led by Sen.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks to a crowd of supporters at a Democratic unity rally at the Rail Event Center on April 21, 2017, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The vote addressing American war powers had aimed to shut down United States military involvement in Yemen within a month unless Congress formally authorized continued involvement.

Supporters of the Senate measure argued that Yemen was the latest hot spot where the Pentagon was engaged under an authorization to use military force (AUMF) that Congress first passed on September 14, 2001, three days after the deadly attacks on NY and Washington by Al-Qaeda hijackers.

Congress last authorized the use of military force in Afghanistan in 2003.

Since then, presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now Donald Trump have relied on the order's authority, along with a subsequent AUMF in 2002, as the basis for operations against armed Islamist groups.

President Donald Trump feted Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday and lauded US defense sales as a boost to American jobs, even as Riyadh's involvement in Yemen's civil war faced criticism.

Vote on War Powers Act Challenge to Yemen War Looms in Senate

The Pentagon opposed the measure, and briefed senators last week about the US role, which is mainly involves refueling Saudi fighter aircraft and providing intelligence, military advice and logistical support.

He gave CBS's 60 Minutes an interview, which aired on Sunday, doing his best to come off as a progressive leader, and Saudi officials have been doing the rounds with US media to emphasize Saudi Arabia's disdain for Iran, its chief rival in the region.

The US Senate voted on Tuesday to sink a resolution that would have restricted US military role in Yemen and ended its support for the Saudi-led coalition.

The U.S. refuels coalition warplanes, shares intelligence with the Saudis and provides them with munitions used in the air war.

Still, The Post also reported last week that Trump had hit up the Saudis for $4 billion in order to "rebuild and stabilize the parts of Syria that the USA military and its local allies have liberated from the Islamic State" - part of his exit strategy from the warn-torn country. Mattis said the withdrawal of USA support would embolden Iran to increase its support for the Houthis.

"I hope what will happen is that we will not in our haste make a mistake that we'll come to regret", said Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn of Texas, according to The Hill.

The Washington Post's Fact Checker noted that while the numbers seemed to add up, that upon digging deeper, they found that "there's less than meets the eye", as numerous numbers only reflected "memorandums of intent" and not actual deals. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, met with the crown prince before the vote and signaled the tough debate ahead.

The Saudi embassy said the prince discussed with members "countering the threat posed by Iran and the Iran-backed Houthi militias" as well as Saudi "efforts to address and alleviate the humanitarian situation in Yemen". "It stretches the imagination, and it stretches the English language beyond its breaking point to suggest the US military is not engaged in hostilities in Yemen".

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