WashingtonUS President Donald Trump has vetoed a Congressional resolution designed to end US support for the Saudi-led military operation in Yemen. The resolution was an unnecessary and dangerous attempt to undermine its constitutional authority, Trump wrote in a statement of reasons.
His veto will not be overruled by MPs who approved the resolution because they lack the necessary two-thirds majority in both chambers of parliament. The leadership of the Democrats sharply criticized and challenged Trump to change his mind.
In Congress, Republicans were increasingly concerned about Trump's close ties with Saudi Arabia. His approach to Riyadh aims to isolate Iran in the region. The Yemen conflict sparked off on the capture of the capital Sanaa by the Tehran-backed, Shiite Huthi rebels in 2014. At that time, the internationally recognized government was ousted. Since 2015, a military coalition commanded by Saudi Arabia has been fighting the Houthis.
The US supports Riyadh's alliance of billions in weapons. Congress members have been concerned about the thousands of civilian casualties caused by air strikes by the military coalition. The fighting in the poorest country in the Arab world has also led to massive bottlenecks in food and medicine, observers see Yemen on the brink of famine.
Against this background, the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democrat-dominated House of Representatives recently launched the War Powers Resolution, which has been in place for decades, for the first time. It limits the President's power to involve the US in an armed conflict without Congress approval. Many opposition supporters also blamed Trump for not condemning Riad enough for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Trump's veto – already his second in his tenure – came as no surprise. In his statement, he wrote that the resolution was unnecessary because the US was not involved in fighting around Yemen, with the exception of anti-terrorism operations against IS militia extremists and the Al Qaeda group in the Arabian Peninsula.
Also, there is no US military personnel in Yemen, which would accompany the Saudi-led military coalition. At the same time, he acknowledged that the US had provided limited assistance in the form of intelligence exchange, logistics and, to a lesser extent, air refueling on a non-American aircraft.
Military aid serves to protect more than 800,000 Americans who live in certain areas of the Allies who have recently been exposed to Houthi attacks from Yemen, Trump said. Among the targets of the attacks include the airport of Riyadh, which is often visited by US citizens.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of being cold-hearted. "The conflict in Yemen is a ghastly humanitarian crisis that challenges the conscience of the entire world," wrote the Democrat. "But the president has cynically decided to counter a bipartisan vote by two congressional chambers and uphold America's nefarious involvement in this heartbreaking crisis."
David Miliband, President of the International Rescue Committee, also criticized Trump. His veto was "morally wrong and strategically stooped," said the head of the aid organization. The hopes of Yemenis for a breather will be put a damper.
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