Trump vetoes bill seeking end to US support for Saudis in Yemen war
dpa, Hamburg, Germany
US President Donald Trump blocked a Congressional resolution calling for an end to Washington’s military support for the Saudi-led coalition waging war in Yemen, issuing Tuesday the second veto of his presidency.
The president argued that the resolution would weaken his executive powers and place the lives of US citizens in danger, while emboldening Iran.
The move prompted immediate blowback from his opponents in the Democratic Party, with House Speaker Nancy Pelos saying Trump was set to “perpetuate America’s shameful involvement in this heartbreaking crisis.” She added: “This conflict must end, now.”
Save the Children, a charity, last year estimated up to 85,000 children in Yemen may have died from hunger or disease since the war escalated in 2015.
Trump has stood by Saudi Arabia in the Yemen war and following the murder last year of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He had been expected to veto the bill.
The resolution was shepherded through both houses of Congress by the centre-left Democrats, but some key members of Trump’s Republican Party had also joined in calling for the US to withdraw its support for Saudi Arabia, as concern in Washington mounts.
Members of Congress expressed outrage over the worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen, which is on the brink of a famine. Some 80 per cent of the country’s population require humanitarian aid. The war is making the situation worse.
Lawmakers also saw the resolution as a chance to claw back war powers from the executive branch.
In a statement, Trump called it “an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the live of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future.”
Congress will likely lack the two-thirds majority to override the veto.
Ro Khanna, the lead player on the Yemen bill in the House of Representatives, said Trump “is risking the lives of millions of Yemeni civilians to famine, deadly airstrikes, and the war crimes of the Saudi regime.”
The US last year stopped mid-air refuelling operations for the Saudis and United Arab Emirates in the war, but continues to offer various forms of support, including training and guidance.
Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, has been embroiled in a devastating conflict since 2014 between government forces, backed by oil-rich Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and Houthi rebels, who have some support from Iran.
Thousands of civilians have died in the fighting, including in Saudi-led airstrikes, which have also struck school children and medical facilities.
Among the supporters of the Yemen bill from the Democratic side were many of the contenders for the party’s nomination for the presidential ticket in 2020, including a key front-runner, Bernie Sanders, who this week again urged Trump to sign the bill.
“Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country,” Sanders, a senator, said at a town-hall broadcast on Fox News on Monday.
The veto is Trump’s second. Last month, he vetoed a move by Congress to block his declaration of a national emergency at the US-Mexico border.
Justifying the veto, the White House also said the US was not actively engaged in hostilities, except against al-Qaeda.
“Peace in Yemen requires a negotiated settlement,” the president said in returning the bill to Congress unsigned.
Trump has repeatedly said that he does not like US involvement in “endless wars” but so far he has not ended any major US military engagement abroad. His plans to wind down US forces in Syria and Afghanistan remain unclear.
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