US President Donald Trump has used his veto powers to refuse to sign a Congressional resolution that would have ended American support for the Saudi Arabia-led war 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,” the President said in a message to Congress, as his reasons for returning the resolution without his signature.
This was President Trump’s second veto of his term so for. In his first, he turned down a resolution that had sought to overturn his declaration of national emergency to find alternate sources of money, which had been turned down by Congress, to fund a wall along the border with Mexico to stop illegal immigration.
The resolution on Yemen passed the Democratic-led House of Representatives 247 to 175 earlier this month, in a vote largely along party-lines. It passed the Republican-led senate 54-46 in March with seven Republicans voting for it, in a clear rebuke of the president’s foreign policy.
The United States has been aiding Saudi-led military operations against Yemen’s Houthi rebels who are backed by Iran. Escalating in 2015, when the rebels took control of most of western parts of Yemen and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee the country, the civil war has created a humanitarian crisis in the country, pushing it to the brink of a famine. An estimated 7,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict thus far, according to the United Nations.
President Trump said in his message to Congress that its resolution was “unnecessary” because the US was not directly involved in the hostilities in Yemen, apart from counter-terrorism operation against al Qaeda. And the US was only providing “limited” support to the Saudi-led coalition with intelligence and logistics, such as mid-air refueling for their aircraft.
And missiles fired by Iran-backed Houthis have targeted areas “frequented” by American citizens; the message went on to state in justification of his veto. And, he added, the Yemen conflict “represents a ‘cheap’ and inexpensive way for Iran to cause trouble for the United States and for our ally, Saudi Arabia”.
Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the Democratic-led House of Representatives, blasted the president’s veto. “The conflict in Yemen is a horrific humanitarian crisis that challenges the conscience of the entire world,” he wrote on twitter. “Yet the President has cynically chosen to contravene a bipartisan, bicameral vote of the Congress & perpetuate America’s shameful involvement in this heartbreaking crisis.”
US lawmakers have been critical of the US support of the Saudi-led operations also because of the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, on the orders allegedly of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin-Salman. President Trump has disregarded US intelligence assessment and sided with the crown prince’s “strong” denial of any role in it.