On Wednesday, president Donald Trump vetoed a bill passed by Congress to end US military support to the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Congress voted early this month to invoke the War Powers Resolution in an effort to stop the involvement of the US in the Yemeni civil war. However, president Trump is not on board. The veto was the second one from Trump in just a few months. It was largely expected though and it will likely hold since there are not enough votes in Congress to override him. Trump noted that the resolution passed by Congress was “unnecessary.” He also lamented that it was meant to “weaken his constitutional authority and endanger the lives of Americans.”
Congress has continued to raise concerns over Trump’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia. The president has said before that the Middle Eastern nation is strategically important in US national security, especially in fighting Iran’s influence in the region. Lawmakers have also criticized Trump for failing to directly condemn Saudi Arabia for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi, who worked for the Washington Post, is alleged to have been killed in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey. Many intelligence agencies confirmed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman was complicit in the murder. Khashoggi had been a tough critic of the Crown Prince.
The United States is the biggest arms supplier to Saudi Arabia. Washington provides billions of dollars in arms to the kingdom and has been a key player in the Yemen conflict too. Members of Congress have however raised repeated concerns over the huge number of civilians who have been killed in the conflict. The war has also left many people suffering from starvation and shortage of medical care.
The House was the first to approve the resolution to end US support for the war with a 247-175 vote. The bill was also passed by Congress with a 54-46 vote. Although all Democrats were on board with the bill, a number of Republican lawmakers expressed opposition. Rep. Michael McCaul, the high ranking Republican in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, noted that while the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is dire, ending US support in the conflict could disrupt US security agreements with more than 100 other countries. The view was shared by most GOP lawmakers. However, there weren’t enough votes to prevent its passing. Trump was largely expected to veto it though.
The president’s first veto was issued just last month on legislation related to immigration. Congress was trying to void Trump’s declaration of emergency on the southern border. The president was hoping that such a declaration would help free up funds set aside for emergencies to build the Mexican wall and it worked. The second veto now means that Saudi Arabia can continue to rely on US support as it fights off Iran-backed rebels in Yemen. The conflict which started in 2014 has claimed tens of thousands of lives with massive civilian casualties also reported. There’s also no clear strategy how to end it. The US risks getting caught in yet another protracted conflict in the Middle East.