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Saudi Arabia

Defying Donald Trump, US Senate votes to end military support for Saudis in Yemen war – and blames Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder

  • It is the first time either house of Congress has voted to withdraw US forces under the War Powers Act
  • The move is a rebuke for Trump, who has stood by Riyadh and cast doubt on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s role in Jamal Khashoggi’s killing
PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2018, 5:15am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 December, 2018, 7:31pm

The US Senate backed a resolution on Thursday to end military support for the Saudi Arabian-led war in Yemen, defying US President Donald Trump with a historic vote that underscored lawmakers’ anger over the murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Although the measure would have to clear additional hurdles to become law, the 56-41 vote was the first time either chamber of Congress had backed a move to withdraw US forces from a foreign military engagement under the War Powers Act. That law, passed during the Vietnam war, limits the president’s ability to commit US forces to potential hostilities without congressional approval.

Immediately after the vote on the war powers resolution, the Senate supported by unanimous consent another resolution saying that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for Khashoggi’s murder and insisting that Saudi Arabia hold accountable anyone responsible for his death.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who votes with the Democrats, described the vote as “a historic moment”.

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“Today we tell the despotic government of Saudi Arabia that we will not be part of their military adventures,” he said.

“So let us go forward today … and tell the world that the United States of America will not continue to be part of the worst humanitarian disaster on the face of the earth.”

Anger at the human cost of the war in Yemen, as well as outrage over the killing of the US-based Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, have prompted a harder line in Congress about the US military’s role in backing Saudi-led coalition strikes against Houthi rebels.

The rebuke of the young heir apparent to the Saudi throne is a direct challenge to Trump, who has sought to cast doubt on the prince’s involvement in the killing and has stressed instead the importance of US trade and military ties with Riyadh.

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Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell – a Trump loyalist – had called on his party to vote against the Yemen resolution although he did back the rebuke of Prince Mohammed, drafted by Senator Bob Corker, a Republican who has been critical of the president.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse