U.S. President Donald Trump has vetoed a bill passed by Congress to withdraw support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen that backs the intentionally-recognized Yemeni government against Iranian-sponsored Houthi rebels.
The resolution, which was approved by the Senate last month in a vote of 54 to 46 and the House in early April in a vote of 247 to 175, directs the president to remove US armed forces from hostilities in or affecting Yemen within 30 days unless they are fighting al-Qaida.
He said there were no USA military personnel in Yemen accompanying the coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthis, although he acknowledged that the US had provided limited support to the coalition, including intelligence sharing, logistics support and in-flight the refueling of non-U.S. aircraft.
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Lawmakers who supported the War Powers resolution called Trump's decision a "painful missed opportunity". Current cooperation is limited to intelligence support and arms sales.
The move was the second veto of Trump's presidency.
The Saudi-led coalition launched its first raids on rebel strongholds on March 26, 2015 in a bid to bolster President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who now lives in Riyadh. But civilian casualties spiked in 2018, at a rate of nearly 100 per week throughout the year, according to the United Nations. The Yemeni civil war is believed to have resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.
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Notably, the UAE, main partner of the Saudi-led coalition, welcomed on Wednesday Trump's veto. Peace in Yemen requires a negotiated settlement. The president overrode a congressional resolution that aimed to reverse the border emergency he declared in order to secure more funding for his wall between the United States and Mexico in March.
Both the Saudi-led alliance and the Houthis have been accused of acts that could amount to war crimes, while the coalition has been blacklisted by the United Nations for killing and maiming children.
"For more than four years, the US has shielded the coalition from accountability and enabled it to carry on fighting a war without a clear or realistic political strategy", said Scott Paul of Oxfam America, an worldwide humanitarian group involved in Yemen.
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Al-Tamimi said that "Trump used the veto just to protect his country's huge interests gained through the relations with the UAE and Saudi Arabia". "Instead, Trump's veto maintains the status quo and sends a signal to the Yemeni people and parties to the conflict that the U.S.is not willing to use its influence to end this war".