Wednesday, November 28, 2018

US Senate Defies Trump on Saudi War Amid Khashoggi Fallout
Wed Nov 28, 2018 11:02PM

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (5th L) walks to a briefing with members of the Senate to discuss developments in Saudi Arabia on Capitol Hill on November 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. 

The Republican-controlled US Senate is defying President Donald Trump’s pro-Saudi policies by advancing a bipartisan bid to end the country’s support for the war on Yemen amid tensions over Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

Although the White House had urged a "no" vote, American senators voted 63-37 Wednesday to consider ending Washington’s support for the Saudi-led aggression on Yemen.

The exact same measure failed on the chamber’s floor in a 55 to 44 vote in March.

Co-sponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee and Chris Murphy, the bill would oblige Trump to cease support for the Saudi-led coalition via invoking the War Powers Resolution of 1973 (WPR).

A similar measure has to be taken in the House, where some Republican have shown opposition.

In a rare classified briefing ahead of the Senate vote, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis addressed the senators, yet failed to sway the undecided votes necessary to halt the measure, which is against Trump’s interests.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the press after briefing members of the Senate on the current relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States on Capitol Hill on November 28, 2018 in Washington, DC.

The White House released a statement, warning that such a measure "would harm bilateral relationships in the region and negatively impact the ability of the United States to prevent the spread of violent extremist organizations."

It further suggested that the president might veto such resolution.

“His advisors would recommend that he veto the joint resolution.”

Meanwhile, pressure was mounting on the Trump administration over supporting the kingdom in the wake of Khashoggi’s murder.

Trump has thrown his support behind Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who reportedly ordered the assassination of the dissident journalist and Washington Post columnist at the Saudi consulate in Turkey last month.

The CIA has provided the administration with a tape of Khashoggi’s murder, which Trump has refused to listen to.

The Saudi-led war on Yemen has also led to a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished country. The UN has already said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

By a big bipartisan margin, 63-37, the Senate just voted, for the first time, to move forward with a debate on ending American involvement in the Yemen war.

The new measure at Congress would harm ties between Trump and the Saudi de facto leader as the two are preparing to take part at the G20 gathering in Buenos Aires from November 30 and December 1.

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