US ends Yemen war involvement

The Republican-controlled Senate has passed a resolution that would end US involvement in the Saudi-led coalition’s brutal war in Yemen, countering President Donald Trump’s support for the controversial conflict.

Background 

The Yemeni Civil War is an ongoing conflict that began in 2015 between two factions: the internationally recognized Yemeni government, led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, and the Houthi armed movement, along with their supporters and allies. Both claim to constitute the official government of Yemen.

On 21 March 2015, after taking over Sana'a and the Yemeni government, the Houthi-led Supreme Revolutionary Committee declared a general mobilization to overthrow Hadi and further their control by driving into southern provinces.

Military intervention was launched by Saudi Arabia in 2015, to influence the Civil War in Yemen. A two-year Saudi-led campaign has damaged infrastructure and caused a shortage of medicine in one of the poorest Arab countries. Reports have also emerged that there are players within Yemen who actively sponsor terrorism by funding activities conducted by ISIS.

The United States provided intelligence and logistical support for the campaign.

The Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out air strikes against the Houthi rebels for more than 2 years now. Since then, the country has been plunged into a civil war in which the exiled government backed by Saudi Arabia is trying to defeat the Houthi group aligned with Iran.

According to the UN and other sources, from March 2015 to December 2017, 8,670–13,600 people were killed in Yemen, including more than 5,200 civilians, as well as estimates of more than 50,000 dead as a result of an ongoing famine due to the war.

Analysis 

The Yemen War Powers resolution, which passed 54-46, blocks US forces from any involvement in the increasingly unpopular war without further authorization from Congress. Its backers have argued that US involvement in the conflict violates the constitutional requirement that Congress alone can authorize participation in war.

An earlier version of the resolution passed the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives but was rejected by the Senate; the resolution must now pass the House again before it is sent to the White House, where Trump has promised to veto it.

A small group of Republicans were willing to cross party lines to rebuke Trump over his support for a conflict the United Nations has declared a humanitarian disaster, which has killed tens of thousands of civilians and left half the population of Yemen on the brink of starvation.

US forces previously provided targeting support for coalition airstrikes and even mid-air refuelling for coalition planes, until that practice was reportedly discontinued late last year.

The Yemen War Powers resolution also serves as a vehicle to pressure Trump to condemn the Saudi government over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which US intelligence agencies have pinned on Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Meanwhile, revelations that interests connected with the Trump administration were in negotiations to sell the Saudis nuclear technology have shed new light on the president’s cozy relationship with the embattled kingdom.

Coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have relentlessly bombed Yemen since 2015 in an effort to oust the Houthi rebels controlling the capital city of Sanaa. The US-armed and trained coalition have reportedly deliberately targeted hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, leading to a massive cholera outbreak, and upwards of 60,000 people are believed to have died in the conflict since 2016 – with a further 85,000 estimated dead of famine and malnutrition.

Half of Yemen's population relies on food aid to survive, placing them in immediate danger of starving to death after coalition forces blockaded the port city of Hodeidah last year.

Assessment 

Our assessment is that the official withdrawal of the US from the Yemen war represents a major shift in the US President’s ability to declare and withdraw war by transferring some of that executive power to the Congress. We believe that this is a required check in the executive powers of the President. 

Image Courtesy: Martin Falbisoner creator QS:P170,Q30147473 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Capitol_west_side.JPG), „US Capitol west side“, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode