By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The U.S. Senate backed a resolution to end American military assistance for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen and separately pinned blame for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi directly on Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.
The bipartisan resolutions on December 13 represented rebukes of President Donald Trump’s policy of strong support for Saudi Arabia, a longtime U.S. ally in the Middle East.
Senators voted 56-41 to recommend that the United States stop supporting the war in Yemen.
It was the first time Congress has ever backed a move to withdraw U.S. forces from a foreign military engagement under the War Powers Act, a law passed during the Vietnam War.
The act restricts a president’s ability to send U.S. forces to potential hostilities without approval from Congress.
Seven members of Trump’s Republican Party voted for the resolution, which still would require several legislative steps before becoming binding law.
A low-level conflict in Yemen escalated in 2015 when Iran-backed Shi’ite Huthi rebels seized control of much of the west of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.
Saudi Arabia and eight other Arab states intervened militarily in an attempt to restore the internationally recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansur Hadi. They have received support from the United States, Britain, and France.
However, with reports of deaths of nearly 10,000 people, many of them civilians, and with millions more facing the threat of starvation, sentiment in the West has been turning against involvement in the conflict.
On December 13, Yemen’s warring parties agreed to cease fighting for the Huthi-held port city of Hodeidah and withdraw their troops, an apparent breakthrough for UN-led peace efforts.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised the UN-brokered talks, saying that “peace is possible.”
Iran also hailed the “promising” moves toward peace, saying, “We welcome the agreements between the two sides overseen by the representative of the United Nations secretary general and see the positive steps and the preliminary agreements for continued talks as promising.”
Immediately after the U.S. Senate passed the Yemen resolution, lawmakers voted unanimously to pass a resolution blaming the Saudi crown prince for Khashoggi’s murder and insisting that Riyadh hold to account anyone responsible for his death.
“Unanimously, the United States Senate has said that Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman is responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. That is a strong statement. I think it speaks to the values that we hold dear,” said Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Trump and other administration officials have said there is no conclusive evidence that the crown prince was behind the killing of Khashoggi, who was murdered during what he thought was a routine visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has said evidence strongly points to the involvement of the crown prince, who has denied any involvement in the death of the U.S. resident and columnist for The Washington Post.
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