Senate Calls for End of Aid in Saudi’s Yemen War

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis arrives to give House members a classified security briefing, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CN) – In defiance of President Donald Trump, the Senate voted Thursday to end U.S. military aid to Saudi Arabia in the Yemen war and passed a resolution that laid blame for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The vote to pull the U.S. out of a military conflict is the first time a chamber of Congress has done so under the 1973 War Powers Act. Several Republicans defied President Trump in a 56-41 vote to end U.S. involvement in the almost four-year war. 

“Congress hereby directs the President to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting the Republic of Yemen,” the resolution states, with an exception given to military forces engaged in fighting with al Queda.

Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, cosponsor of the legislation, said he was pleased with its passage.

“Today we tell the despotic government of Saudi Arabia that we will not be part of their military adventures,” he said.

On the Senate floor, Sanders said the U.S. is partly to blame for the violence and resulting famine in the region.

“In too many cases, our weapons are being used to kill civilians,” Sanders said. “In August, it was an American-made bomb that obliterated a school bus full of young boys, killing dozens and wounding many others.”

President Trump, who has vowed to veto the measure, previously said that withdrawal of support would give an edge to Iranian-supported Houthi rebels in Yemen. A similar measure in the House has not been allowed to come to a vote.  

Saudi Arabia, a longtime ally of the U.S., has recently had its ties strained since the murder of Washington Post reporter Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Khashoggi was an outspoken dissident of the Saudi government and wrote several news articles critical of it.

Following the vote to pull U.S. military aid from Yemen, the Senate unanimously approved of a resolution condemning bin Salman for Khashoggi’s murder.

The resolution says that the Senate “believes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi” and calls for the Saudi government to “ensure appropriate accountability for all those responsible.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted against the Yemen resolution, said he fully supported the measure that condemned bin Salman for Khashoggi’s death.

 

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