WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump formally vetoed a measure that would force his administration to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
The veto, the second of Trump’s presidency, overrode a bipartisan measure earlier this month that would have stopped the U.S. from providing logistical, intelligence and targeting assistance to Saudi Arabia in the conflict with Yemen.
The resolution served as a rebuke to Trump and Saudi leaders and highlighted a growing unease with America’s role in the grisly conflict, which has left more than 50,000 civilians dead and millions of Yemenis on the brink of starvation. Currently, the U.S. provides billions of dollars of arms to the Saudi-led coalition fighting against Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen.
“This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future,” Trump said in a letter to the Senate.
The war in Yemen is a proxy battle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as the two regimes battle for influence in the region. The Saudis, along with the United Arab Emirates, have engaged in a deadly bombing campaign against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
The war has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. An estimated 85,000 children have died of starvation over the last several years, according to Save the Children.
An ‘ultimately immoral’ war: Senate approves measure to force US withdrawal from Yemen despite Trump’s veto threat
Trump defended the U.S. role in the war, highlighting that Americans live in the surrounding countries that have been targeted by attacks from Yemen rebels and abandoning the conflict would allow an “inexpensive way for Iran to cause trouble for the United States and for our ally, Saudi Arabia.”
Trump also blamed the Senate for the pace in which his appointees have been confirmed, arguing that vacancies in his administration have impeded helping end the conflict.
“Peace in Yemen requires a negotiated settlement,” Trump said. “Unfortunately, inaction by the Senate has left vacant key diplomatic positions, impeding our ability to engage regional partners in support of the United Nations-led peace process.”
The president also pointed out the move would hurt relations with foreign powers and “its efforts to curtail certain forms of military support would harm our bilateral relationships, negatively affect our ongoing efforts to prevent civilian casualties and prevent the spread of terrorist organizations such as al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS, and embolden Iran’s malign activities in Yemen.”
Over the last several months, lawmakers have grown uneasy with Trump’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia as he tries to further isolate Iran, a regional rival.
In a break with the president, Congress voted for the first time earlier this month to invoke the War Powers Resolution to try to stop U.S. involvement in a foreign conflict. House approval of the resolution came earlier this month on a 247-175 vote. The Senate vote last month was 54-46.
Congressional support for ending the U.S. role in Yemen gained momentum last year amid bipartisan outrage over the Saudi government’s role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist who was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Lawmakers in both parties believe that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was complicit in Khashoggi’s killing.
The baby twitches his legs in pain. He’s crying but he is so dehydrated his eyes can’t produce tears. His belly is inflated as taut as a balloon. He’s a victim of Yemen’s three-year civil war. (May 3)
Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY; Associated Press
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