Trump urged to end U.S. involvement in Yemen
Updated 10:00, 31-Jan-2019
CGTN

U.S. lawmakers said on Wednesday they expect Congress will pass a resolution ending U.S. involvement in the Yemen war, which would force President Donald Trump to issue the first veto of his presidency in order to continue supporting the Saudi-led coalition.

Republican and Democratic senators and representatives said on Wednesday they were re-introducing a war powers resolution that passed the Senate by 56-41 in December, a rebuke of Trump amid anger at Saudi Arabia not just over civilian deaths in Yemen, but also the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.

The lawmakers – an alliance of progressive Democrats and Republican constitutional conservatives – deplored the “humanitarian disaster” in Yemen but also said they wanted Congress to reassert its constitutional authority to decide whether the United States should be involved in military conflict.

“That decision has never been debated and discussed and voted on and approved by Congress,” Republican Senator Mike Lee, one of the measure's sponsors, told a news conference.

Senators Mike Lee (C), Bernie Sanders (L) and Chris Murphy speak at a news conference on Yemen resolution on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 30, 2019. /VCG Photo

Senators Mike Lee (C), Bernie Sanders (L) and Chris Murphy speak at a news conference on Yemen resolution on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 30, 2019. /VCG Photo

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

Opponents of the resolution are reluctant to risk disrupting the strategic U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, seen as an essential counterweight in the Middle East to Iran, arch-enemy of close U.S. ally Israel.

The embassy of Yemen in Washington issued a statement opposing the resolution, saying it would “deliver a massive victory to Iran” if Washington were to stop supporting the coalition.

December's Senate vote was the first time either chamber of Congress backed a resolution to withdraw U.S. forces from a military engagement under the War Powers Act. 

That law, passed in 1973, limits the president's ability to commit U.S. forces to potential hostilities without congressional approval.

The measure never went further in December because the Republicans who then controlled the House of Representatives did not allow a vote in that chamber before the end of the year.

Democrats now have a House majority, but Trump's fellow Republicans have increased their edge in the Senate by two seats to hold a 53-47 margin.

It would take a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress to overcome a Trump veto. Trump had threatened a veto in December. 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether he still intended to do so.

Saudi-led coalition to use 'calibrated force' to push Yemen port deal

Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition is prepared to use “calibrated force” to push the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement to withdraw from Yemen's Hodeidah port city under a UN-sponsored deal, a senior United Arab Emirates official said on Wednesday.

Children stand at a makeshift camp for internally displaced people near Sanaa, Yemen, January 28, 2019. /VCG Photo

Children stand at a makeshift camp for internally displaced people near Sanaa, Yemen, January 28, 2019. /VCG Photo

Yemen's warring parties have failed to pull troops from the country's main port under a month-old truce, reviving the threat of an all-out assault on Hodeidah that could unleash famine.

The Houthis control Hodeidah while other Yemeni factions backed by the coalition trying to restore the internationally recognized government are massed on its outskirts.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the Western-backed Sunni Muslim Arab coalition struck 10 Houthi training camps outside Hodeidah governorate on Wednesday.

“Coalition prepared to use more calibrated force to prod Houthi compliance with Stockholm Agreement,” he tweeted.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths has been shuttling between the parties to rescue the deal, the first major diplomatic breakthrough of the nearly four-year-old war that has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed Yemen to the verge of starvation.

(Top image: Soldiers with a military coalition in Yemen backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates stand guard at a facility of Yemen's Red sea mills company in the port city of Hodeidah, January 22, 2019. /VCG Photo)

Source(s): Reuters