A US Senate vote against a resolution on Yemen’s civil war signaled American support for Saudi Arabia’s military coalition operations that have been brought on what is called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted 55-44 to stop a resolution aimed at halting US support for the Saudi-led bombing in Yemen, a nation at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, because the military action was not authorized by Congress.
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, acknowledged “the unacceptable scale of civilian casualties, the severity of the humanitarian crisis, and the seeming lack of momentum (to)… end to this conflict” but he voted to table the resolution.
Lisa McCormick, who is challenging the senator in the June Democratic primary, posted on Twitter, “Stop killing civilians in #Yemen! American lawmakers who refused to stop allowing Saudi Arabia to use US refueling planes & other resources have blood on their hands.”
FEC records she Robin Rosenzweig, an attorney who is the wife of Elliott Broidy, a venture capitalist and a longtime Republican donor,
Numerous reports show the airstrikes have caused widespread suffering among civilians in Yemen, where the predominantly Shia-led Houthis took over in the aftermath of the Arab Spring protests in the Middle East and North Africa.
In its early phase, the Yemeni uprising was a protest against unemployment, poor economic conditions and government corruption but is has transformed into a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
According to former US officials, the vote signaled that lawmakers are worried about Yemeni civilian deaths, but not enough to deprive Riyadh of continued US support with targeting and the midair refueling of its warplanes in Yemen.
“I don’t think the congressional action will change the degree of America’s involvement, if only because (US Defense Secretary) Jim Mattis will convince them in private not to,” said Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon official.
“Ongoing resolutions such as this cannot entirely be ignored, and given the Crown prince’s inclination (to ultimately extricate Saudi Arabia from the war), this is just another push in the same direction,” said Nabeel Khoury, an Atlantic Council scholar.
Khoury indicated the vote reflected concern among lawmakers about the war, but not so much worry that Congress was “forcing the hand of the administration” to cut off military support for attacks in Yemen.
Lawmakers may continue raising the issue and sending a “strong expression of sympathy with Yemen and concern over the US involvement in that war.’
The Senate voted on the the same day that President Donald Trump hosted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House.
A White House statement said they “discussed the threat the Houthis pose to the region, assisted by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.” They also addressed the humanitarian crisis and the need for a political solution.
The crown prince also met lawmakers. Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said senators questioned the crown prince closely about Yemen during a meeting with him on Tuesday.
The Saudi Embassy said they discussed “countering the threat posed by Iran and the Iran-backed Houthi militias” and Saudi “efforts to address and alleviate the humanitarian situation in Yemen.”
The vote “highlights common understanding and shared strategic and geopolitical interests between the US and Saudi Arabia to take tangible measures in confronting the Iranian regime and the Houthis,” said Majid Rafizadeh, a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. “In addition, as a result of this development, the logistical, tactical, intelligence and military cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia will more likely increase, which would pave the way to more effectively counter Iran regime and its militias.”
The war has claimed more than 10,000 lives, crippled Yemen’s economy and left more than 90 percent of the country’s 25 million people dependent on aid handouts, including 11.3 million who are in acute need, the UN says.
Once divided between the Ottoman and British empires in the early twentieth century, Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East.
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