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American military support for Saudi-led Yemen war must stop: US Senate

Senator Bernie Sanders, I-VT, flanked by Senator Mike Lee (L), R-UT, and Senator Chris Murphy, D-CT, speaks after the Senate voted to withdraw support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen, on December 13, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

The US Senate has voted to stop US armed forces from supporting Saudi Arabia in its military aggression against its impoverished southern neighbor, Yemen.

The historic bipartisan vote on Thursday, for the first time, invoked Congress' war powers to challenge US military involvement abroad despite the Trump administration's unwavering support for the Saudi regime in its aggression against Yemen. 

The 56-to-41 vote by the Democrats and some Republicans was both a condemnation of the Saudi-led war on Yemen – which has killed thousands of civilians and created a humanitarian crisis – and another rebuke to US President Donald Trump for his all-out support for the Saudi regime and its disgraced de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman --known by media as MbS -- who allegedly ordered the murder of US-based dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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A half-dozen Republican senators joined all the chamber's Democrats in passing the unprecedented resolution against Trump. 

Republicans senators disagreeing with the move all cast no votes.

The vote approved a resolution that will require US forces to stop providing US intelligence, targeting assistance in bombing, and other military support to the Saudi-led campaign against the Yemeni nation. 

Some analysts described the resolution as a direct challenge to Trump by Senate.

Proponents of the resolution maintain that US forces involvement in the Yemen war was unauthorized, unconstitutional and immoral. 

The motion was sponsored by Sanders, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and conservative Sen. Mike Lee, of Utah.

“It is Congress, not the president, that has the power to send our men and women into war,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders as the Senate opened debate on Wednesday.

The Vermont independent Senator, who championed US withdrawal, said Congress had abdicated that responsibility for decades.

Sanders described the vote as a message to Riyadh. “Today we tell the despotic regime in Saudi Arabia that we will not be a part of their military adventurism.”

Senators also unanimously approved a separate nonbinding resolution naming Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, as responsible for Khashoggi's murder.

The Washington Post columnist was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 by a team of Saudi operatives, many of whom have been tied to the crown prince.

The resolution, introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, calls on the Saudi regime “to ensure appropriate accountability for all those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder” and urges the kingdom to “moderate its increasingly erratic foreign policy,” among other steps. 

Corker said the measure would put Congress on record as holding the crown prince responsible for Khashoggi's murder.

"The United States Senate has said the crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman is responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi," Corker said. "That is a strong statement ... I think it speaks to the values that we hold dear."

Referring to reports that Khashoggi was tortured and dismembered, Sen. Lindsey Graham ( Rep-S.C) said, "The crown prince is so toxic, so tainted, so flawed that I can’t ever see myself doing business with Saudi Arabia ... Do you really want to transfer your most advanced technology to somebody who thinks it’s okay to lure a journalist to a consulate in Turkey … and chop him up?"

Trump has downplayed evidence that Saudi Arabia's crown prince was involved in Khashoggi's murder and said the incident should not harm US-Saudi relations. 

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Trump relies heavily on Saudi Arabia for buying arms from US weapons manufacturers which has led to an economic boon in the US since he entered office.

Meanwhile, some of the senators said they hoped that the Thursday's resolution would help the current Yemen peace negotiations in Sweden sponsored by the UN.

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Since the brutal Saudi-led war on Yemen was launched in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall the former Riyadh-allied regime and crush the Houthis, the war has left thousands of civilians dead and created the world’s worst humanitarian disaster – putting millions of Yemenis -- many of them women and children -- on the verge of starvation, facing disease and death.

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