US Senate votes against bill to end American participation in Yemen conflict

Senate votes against bill to end US participation in Yemen conflict. (Screenshot)
Updated 21 March 2018
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US Senate votes against bill to end American participation in Yemen conflict

WASHINGTON: The US Senate rejected Tuesday a resolution that would prohibit US troops from helping a Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. Still, the unusual vote — coming as Saudi Arabia’s crown prince was in Washington — amplified the continued unease in Congress with military endeavors abroad.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, warned senators against the measure. But the GOP leader had little choice but to allow the vote that was forced by coalition of liberal and libertarian-leaning lawmakers, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. They argued Congress should not cede its wartime authority to the White House.
The resolution, which would halt US military involvement in the Saudi campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, was tabled, 55-44, effectively shelving it for now.
“The founding fathers gave the power to authorize military conflicts to Congress, the branch most accountable to the people, not to the president,” Sanders said during the floor debate. “The time is long overdue for Congress to reassert that constitutional authority.”
It’s the latest attempt at a war authorization vote as lawmakers regularly raise questions about overseas military actions but have been unable to muster enough votes in Congress to halt, or approve, them.
Congress last authorized the use of military force in Afghanistan in 2003. This authorization has been used by President Donald Trump, and by President Barack Obama before him, to justify US military intervention in Syria and other unstable areas where extremist groups operate.
Supporters had been pushing the resolution forward, but Tuesday’s vote came as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman opened a three-week tour of the United States in meetings with Trump at the White House and leaders on Capitol Hill.
The Pentagon opposed the measure, and briefed senators last week about the US role, which is mainly involves refueling Saudi fighter aircraft and providing intelligence, military advice and logistical support. No US troops are fighting Houthis directly, officials say.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has strongly defended what he calls US non-combat support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
“New restrictions on this limited US military support could increase civilian casualties, jeopardize cooperation with our partners on counterterrorism, and reduce our influence with the Saudis — all of which would further exacerbate the situation and humanitarian crisis” in Yemen, Mattis wrote in a recent letter to McConnell.
Both the US and Saudis view the Houthis as Iranian proxies. Mattis said the withdrawal of US support would embolden Iran to increase its support for the Houthis.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, also urged senators against the resolution, promising a full debate on the use of force at an upcoming hearing in April.
“We’re not shying away from this debate,” Corker said. “The proper way to deal with these issues is to deal with them in committee.”
The panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, met with the crown prince before the vote and signaled the tough debate ahead. While Menendez said he was not ready to abandon an ally, he expected to see diplomatic measures and alleviation of the humanitarian suffering in Yemen.
“My vote today is not a blank check for US military support,” Menendez said. Nor, he said, was it a “thumbs up” to Saudi Arabia for “business as usual.”
 


KSRelief to provide 5,000 Yemenis with school supplies

Saudi Arabia is ranked the first donor in the world when it comes to humanitarian financial and logistical support in Yemen. AFP
Updated 19 min 42 sec ago
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KSRelief to provide 5,000 Yemenis with school supplies

  • There are two million Yemeni children out of school because of the Houthis’ aggression against civilians
  • The total cost of all the projects provided by KSRelief since its establishment is $70 million

JEDDAH: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) has launched a project to provide Yemeni students and schools with supplies to ensure that education continues across the country despite the brutal acts of militants. The trucks started to carrying the aid from Riyadh to Yemen on Monday.

“It is a project to provide Yemen’s schools with the essential needs to ensure a better and smoother educational environment, such as chairs, desks, and boards, in addition to students’ supplies. It will support nearly 5,000 students across Yemen,” said Dr. Samer Aljetaily, spokesman for KSRelief.
“The trucks will arrive first in Ma’arib, then it will be distributed to the most needed areas across the country’s schools and students.”
“My Education” is one of the big projects given to support Yemen’s people in health, shelter, infrastructure, environment and education to help the country stand on its feet regardless of any devastation caused by the militants.
“The total cost of all the projects provided by KSRelief since its establishment is $70 million. In terms of education, the center has given financial aid to schools, paid teachers’ salaries, and provided students’ essential school needs and meals. We will continue supporting our brothers and sisters in Yemen in all sectors.”
This project has been supported by the Saudi Ministry of Education and the Saudi-led Islamic Military Coalition. “The coalition always supports our all initiatives in the interest of Yemeni citizens. The coalition will protect the aid till it arrives in Ma’arib, then it will support logistically to facilitate the distribution of the supplies. Education is a priority for the Saudi government and for KSRelief.
“We have always supported education in Yemen and always will, whether it is for schools, educational institutions, students, teachers, or even educational curricular and psychological support departments to help students become better amid all the horrific acts caused by the Houthis. KSRelief is very keen on building a strong future with a well-educated generation of Yemenis.”
Asked whether there is a lack of international support for Yemen, he told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE, has attracted global attention to Yemen’s humanitarian status in different ways, including direct funding for the infrastructure of the country and huge support for health, education and the environment. Saudi Arabia is ranked the first donor in the world when it comes to humanitarian, financial and logistical support in Yemen. This has encouraged other countries’ support as well.
“The UAE has greatly supported the Yemen humanitarian file with $1 billion. The international community has reacted to this.
“However, there must be more international collaboration to reduce the militants’ attacks on the aid and supplies and facilitate the entry of aid and ensure a higher level of safety. There is also need for better cooperation to protect students and children in the militants’ controlled areas,” he emphasized.
“The Saudi Ministry of Education has supported this initiative by providing school supplies and students’ essential supplies.”
There are two million Yemeni children out of school because of the Houthis’ aggression against civilians.