Senate set to vote on ending U.S. war operations in Yemen

Militants loyal to Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi take their positions in Taiz, Yemen, March, 30, 2015. The United States military has been engaged in Yemen since 2015 but a vote on Tuesday could end its operations there. File Photo by Anees Mahyoub/UPI

March 20 (UPI) — The Senate is scheduled to hold a vote Tuesday on whether to end the U.S. military’s involvement in Yemen’s civil war.

The GOP Senate Cloakroom on Twitter said the Senate will vote on S.J. 54 at approximately 4:15 if all debate time on the measure is used.

The measure, brought forth by Senators Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., seeks to end the U.S. military’s now three-year involvement in Yemen by invoking the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which says that the U.S. president can approve engagement in combat abroad “only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”

None of those conditions have been met, the senators argue, making the U.S. operation in Yemen illegal.

The United States began supporting Saudi Arabia’s military involvement in Yemen under President Barack Obama in 2015. That operation has continued under President Donald Trump and today, U.S. troops are on the ground conducting various ground operations, the Pentagon confirmed.

But if the Sanders-Lee-Murphy resolution passes the Senate, it will likely have little affect on troop levels in Yemen because it gives an exception to U.S. military attacks on Al Queda and Islamic State.

But the resolution would put limits to how much the U.S. military can assist Saudi Arabia’s military attacks on Yemen. Currently, the U.S. provides the Saudis with air-to-air refueling, intelligence assessments and other military advice.

The New York Times reported that State Department and Pentagon officials are strongly opposed to the resolution and warned senators that ending U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen could damage relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

“New restrictions on this limited U.S. military support could increase civilian casualties, jeopardize cooperation with our partners on counter-terrorism and reduce our influence with the Saudis,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a letter to congressional members last week.

Sanders has criticized the Saudi war in Yemen — and the U.S. military’s support of it — as making matters worse in a country that is already among the poorest in the world.

“Every 10 minutes, a child under the age of five dies of preventable causes in Yemen,” Sanders said in February. “What few Americans know, however, is that the U.S. military is making the crisis worse by helping one side in the conflict bomb innocent civilians.”


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