US Senate Votes to End Backing for Saudi War Effort in Yemen Timelines: N-Saudi Arabien, US-Imperialismus, USA_vs_SaudiArabien

The U.S. Senate on Thursday dealt a historic rebuke to Saudi Arabia, a longtime U.S. ally, passing a resolution to end American support for the kingdom’s military intervention in Yemen’s civil war and another measure condemning the killing of a dissident Saudi journalist.

After hours of passionate debate, the Republican-led chamber voted 56-41 to approve the first resolution. Moments later, it adopted the second resolution by a voice vote. In both cases, the chamber acted in defiance of the Trump administration, which has strenuously argued against a rupture of cooperation between Washington and Riyadh.

“Yemen is now experiencing the worst humanitarian disaster in the world,” Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said. “The United States has been Saudi Arabia’s partner in this horrific war. We have been providing the bombs that Saudi Arabia is using, refueling the planes that drop those bombs, and assisting with intelligence.”

“Eighty-five thousand kids [in Yemen] under the age of 5 have died from starvation and disease,” Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy said. “All the evidence points to the fact that the Saudis are using our bombs to deliberately target either civilians or civilian infrastructure.”

Seven Republicans joined a unified Democratic caucus in backing the initial Yemen-related resolution, which asserts Congress’ constitutional duty to declare war and approve prolonged U.S. military engagements. The U.S. legislature has not authorized America’s support role in Saudi Arabia’s campaign to combat Iranian-backed Yemeni rebels, a conflict that has led to widespread civilian deaths.

But some argued that, in this instance, the case for asserting war powers authority is weak.

“The United States is not involved in combat [in Yemen]. It is not dropping ordinance. It is no longer even providing air-to-air refueling [for Saudi warplanes],” Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said. “If the Senate wants to pick a constitutional fight with the executive branch over war powers, I would advise my colleagues to pick a better case.”

“If we set the precedent that even an operation such as the refueling of aircraft of allied countries needs congressional authority, we would severely limit the executive branch’s ability to respond to international crises and safeguard our global national security interests,” Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan said.

That argument did not sway resolution co-author Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, who countered that direct U.S. support for Saudi military actions constitutes unambiguous involvement in the war in Yemen.

“We’re involved in this conflict as co-belligerents [with Saudi Arabia],” Lee said.