House to Trump: Get out of Yemen
In this Aug. 13, 2018 file photo, Yemenis attend the funeral of victims of a Saudi-led airstrike, in Saada, Yemen. Airstrikes by Saudi Arabia and its allies in Yemen killed more civilians in 2018 than last year despite U.S. claims that the coalition is working to prevent such bloodshed, a database tracking violence shows. The war, nearly four years old, killed as many as 80,000 people, according to the figures, not counting the untold numbers who have died of hunger in the humanitarian disaster wreaked by the conflictHani Mohammed | AP

WASHINGTON—By a 248-177 bipartisan vote, the Democratic-run U.S. House told GOP President Donald Trump to get the U.S. out of Yemen. The GOP-run Senate, which approved a virtually identical demand last year, is expected to agree – but Trump’s advisors want him to veto the Yemeni war ban.

The measure, by Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., invokes the 45-year-old War Powers Act and declares the U.S. must end its support for the Saudi-led coalition whose attacks have contributed to thousands of deaths and 14 million refugees in the Yemeni war.

Trump’s Office of Management and Budget, his top advisors, warned lawmakers on Feb. 11 they would recommend he veto the measure, a joint resolution, but the sentiment on Capitol Hill is clear. Even radical right-wing Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chair of the so-called “Freedom Caucus,” backs Khanna’s anti-Yemen war bill. He said it would foster national debate on the issue.

The anti-war sentiment in the country is obvious, however.

The most recent public opinion poll on the issue, by yougov.org late last November for the International Rescue Committee, showed 75 percent opposition to U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition and 82 percent support for ending or reducing U.S. arms sales to the Saudis. Trump uses Saudi arms purchases – which haven’t materialized yet – as one reason to back the Saudis and their allies.

“Most people with the notable exception of Trump were outraged by foreign interference in the 2016 (U.S.) elections,” said John Bachtell, chair of the CPUSA, earlier this year. “We should be equally outraged when the U.S. interferes in the internal affairs of other countries.”

U.S. Labor Against War denounced Trump’s intervention in Yemen as part of its recent “Hands Off Venezuela!” resolution. “The U.S. has no legitimate claim to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries, to take sides in internal political disputes, or to undermine governments elected by the people. We have seen the disastrous consequences of recent U.S. interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and, through its alliance with Saudi Arabia, in Yemen,” USLAW said.

“The U.S. has helped fuel the disaster with weapons, logistical assistance, and refueling of aircraft so the Saudi-led coalition can wage its bombing campaign. Ostensibly targeting Yemen’s Shiite rebels, the military campaign has committed ‘accidents’—schools and hospitals have repeatedly been hit and thousands of civilians—including many children—killed,” said Medea Benjamin of CodePink.

Khanna and his allies say U.S. support for the Saudis produced a large humanitarian disaster in Yemen.

“More than 14 million Yemenis — half the country — are on the brink of famine, and at least 85,000 children have already died from hunger and disease as a result of the war. Let’s end American complicity in the atrocities in Yemen,” Khanna said a day ago.

House Democratic leaders back Khanna’s measure, House Joint Resolution 37, which invokes the War Powers Act to end U.S. involvement in Yemen. “The conflict in Yemen has gone on for far too long, leaving a permanent stain on the conscience of the world,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. Last year, when the GOP ran things in the House, its leaders blocked Khanna’s measure.

“Congress has the responsibility to provide oversight of America’s use of military force and support to international conflicts,” Pelosi said. After applauding Khanna and his allies, she added: “The United States must also work to advance a peaceful, enduring political solution to the conflict and end the humanitarian crisis.” But Trump has shown little sign of doing so.

“We cannot look the other way when it comes to the recklessness with which the Saudi-led coalition has conducted its operations,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.

“In Yemen, I’m not just talking about one tragic screw-up, though that would be bad enough. The coalition’s operations have been characterized by strike after strike after strike that has resulted in unnecessary civilian casualties. A school bus full of children, a wedding, a funeral. And these mistakes have been compounded by a lack of real accountability.”

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., and Mark Lee, R-Utah, plan to bring up the get-out-of-Yemen measure there. Under Senate rules, it must be debated and voted upon, regardless of what Trump or the Senate GOP leadership thinks. Last year, senators voted 56-41 for virtually the same thing.

“With the first-ever passage of a War Powers Resolution” last year, getting the U.S. out of Yemen, “the Senate said in no uncertain terms that we will not continue to have our military posture dictated by a despotic, murderous regime in Saudi Arabia,” Sanders said when he reintroduced the Yemeni war ban resolution in late January.

“We look forward to quickly passing this resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. We are going to send a strong signal to the president that the U.S. Congress is prepared to play the role designed for us by the framers of the Constitution.”

“The founders specifically gave Congress – the branch closest to the people – the power to declare war. Yet we’ve been participating in war actions in the Yemeni Civil War since 2015 without the go-ahead from Congress. It was unconstitutional then, and it’s unconstitutional now,” Lee added.

The joint resolution notes the U.S. provides “aerial targeting assistance, intelligence-sharing and aerial refueling” to the Saudi-led coalition. That aid, Khanna’s resolution says, breaks the War Powers Act, which requires the president to ask congressional consent any time U.S. armed forces “are engaged in hostilities” outside U.S. borders “without a declaration of war or specific congressional authorization.”

“Such forces shall be removed by the president if Congress so directs,” Khanna’s resolution, quoting the War Powers Act, adds. It tells Trump to end U.S. involvement and yank out U.S. troops within 30 days. The only exception covers troops directly fighting “al-Qaeda or associated forces.”


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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