US Senate fails to end military assistance to Saudi war in Yemen


The US Senate has failed to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a congressional resolution demanding an end to American military support for the Saudi-led coalition waging war in Yemen, a country plagued by more than four years of a devastating conflict.

The vote on Thursday was 53 to 45, falling short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto, despite a handful of Trump’s fellow Republicans joining Democrats in backing the War Powers Act, which limits the president’s ability to send troops into action without congressional authorization.

The resolution’s passage earlier this year marked the first time both the Senate and House of Representatives supported the provision of the War Powers Act.

Supporters of the resolution said they wanted to reassert the constitutional power of Congress to declare war, and send a strong message to Saudi Arabia about the devastating civilian toll of the war in Yemen.

The Saudi-led war in Yemen has killed tens of thousands of people and spawned what the United Nations calls the world’s most dire humanitarian crisis, with the country on the brink of famine.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the former Saudi-sponsored government back to power.

The US along with some Western countries are complicit in the ongoing aggression as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment as well as logistical and intelligence assistance.

Last November, Washington stopped providing aerial refueling for the coalition’s warplanes. It only halted the support after the coalition grew independent of it.

Many members of Congress have also become angry with Riyadh over the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a US resident and columnist for the Washington Post.

US intelligence agencies believe Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing.

However, some observers believe the anti-Saudi sentiment in Congress is not genuine and Riyadh continues to have widespread support in Washington.

Riyadh spent $27 million on hiring lobbying firms in 2017 to influence Congress, compared with $10 million in 2016, according to the Center for International Policy, which tracks foreign influence spending in the US.

The Senate vote on Thursday comes less than two weeks after the beheading of 37 Saudi nationals across the kingdom.

World leaders and several human rights organizations have expressed shock and condemnation over the mass execution.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that most of those beheaded were minority Shia Muslims. She also voiced concern about a lack of due process and fair trial in the kingdom amid allegations that confessions were obtained through torture.

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