Senate vote could end US role in Yemen war

Senate vote could end US role in Yemen war
The US Senate will vote on its military involvement in the Yemen war, in a move that could overrule presidential military authorisation.
2 min read
20 March, 2018
The vote comes as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman visits Washington [Getty]
US lawmakers will vote Tuesday on whether to end Washington's involvement in Yemen's war, a move that threatens to overrule presidential military authorisation.

The vote comes as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman visits Washington in the midst of heavy criticism over a war that has left nearly 10,000 dead. Unless Congress formally authorises the US' continued role in the conflict the vote could see the country's military involvement shut down within a month.

Currently, the US is supporting a Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

As President Donald Trump prepares to meet the Saudi crown prince - and de facto ruler - on Tuesday, the start of a three-week seven-city trip, a group of bipartisan senators, including Bernie Sanders, are pushing for a vote which could see some diplomatic embarrassment.

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis last week asked Congress not to interfere with US' role there, warning that restrictions could "increase civilian casualties, jeopardise cooperation with our partners on counter-terrorism, and reduce our influence with the Saudis - all of which would further exacerbate the situation and humanitarian crisis".

Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen has killed or injured 5,000 children with around 400,000 more seriously malnourished. More than 9,200 people have been killed since 2015, when the Saudi-led coalition joined the government's fight against the Houthi rebels.

Yemen is witnessing one of the world's worst outbreaks of cholera, with nearly 1 million people infected. More than 8 million people are at risk of famine as port blockades, cholera and diphtheria bring the Arab world's most impoverished country to its knees.

Previously, President Trump had called for Saudi Arabia to lift its crushing blockade "immediately". 

Senators Sanders, Mike Lee and Chris Murphy said earlier this month that their resolution would force the first-ever vote in the Senate "to withdraw US armed forces from an unauthorised war". 

"We believe that, as Congress has not declared war or authorised military force in this conflict, the United States involvement in Yemen is unconstitutional and unauthorised, and US military support of the Saudi coalition must end," said Sanders.

Saudi Arabia has defended its war in Yemen, describing it as a "just" war, in the hopes of tempering anger over Riyadh's devastating military campaign.