Abdus Sattar Ghazali – Trump vetoes congressional resolution to end Yemen war

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April 20, 2019

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By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

President Donald Trump has rejected a resolution from the Congress to end the 4-year old Yemen war which has killed tens of thousands of people and spawned what the United Nations calls the world’s most dire humanitarian crisis, with the country on the brink of famine.

The resolution passed the House of Representatives in April and the Senate in March, marking the first time both chambers of Congress had supported a War Powers resolution, which limits the president’s ability to send troops into action.

Trump wrote explaining why he issued the veto: “This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future.”

The president also argued the resolution would “harm the foreign policy of the United States” and “harm our bilateral relationships.”

“Peace in Yemen requires a negotiated settlement,” the president said. He also highlighted that the US was not actively engaged in hostilities, except against al-Qaeda extremists.

The move marked the second time that Trump has used his veto power to reject a bill from the legislature. To override the president’s veto, the resolution would need a two-thirds majority, which it currently does not have in the deeply divided Congress.

The resolution’s approval in both the House of Representatives and the Senate had been seen as a historic milestone already, as it was the first time that a bill invoking the 1973 War Powers Resolution reached the president’s desk.

Trump issued his first veto last month on legislation related to immigration. Trump had declared a national emergency so he could use more money to construct a border wall. Congress voted to block the emergency declaration and Trump vetoed that measure.

President Trump also said that the measure would harm bilateral relations and interferes with his constitutional power as commander in chief.

He said the U.S. is providing the support to protect the safety of more than 80,000 Americans who live in certain areas of the coalition countries subject to Houthi attacks from Yemen.

“Houthis, supported by Iran, have used missiles, armed drones and explosive boats to attack civilian and military targets in those coalition countries, including areas frequented by American citizens, such as the airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. “In addition, the conflict in Yemen represents a ‘cheap’ and inexpensive way for Iran to cause trouble for the United States and for our ally, Saudi Arabia.”

Tellingly, President Trump’s veto on Saudi-led war in Yemen came as Princess Reema Bint Bandar Bin Sultan, who took oath of office as the Kingdom’s first female ambassador to the US. Princess Reema is the daughter of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was Saudi ambassador from 1983 to 2005.

Not surprisingly, United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash swiftly welcomed Trump’s veto. “President Trump’s assertion of support to the Arab Coalition in Yemen is a positive signal,” Gargash said on Twitter. The decision is both “timely and strategic” he added. The UAE is the Saudi Arabia’s principal ally in the coalition.

Ro Khanna: Trump was risking the lives of millions: Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna, sponsor of the resolution, said Trump was “risking the lives of millions of Yemeni civilians to famine, deadly airstrikes, and the war crimes of the Saudi regime.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement saying: “The conflict in Yemen is a horrific humanitarian crisis that challenges the conscience of the entire world. Yet the President has cynically chosen to contravene a bipartisan, bicameral vote of the Congress and perpetuate America’s shameful involvement in this heartbreaking crisis.”

Pelosi added: “This conflict must end, now. The House of Representatives calls on the President to put peace before politics, and work with us to advance an enduring solution to end this crisis and save lives.”

International Rescue Committee president and CEO David Miliband said that vetoing the measure represents an “effective green light for the war strategy that has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis to continue.”

The American Conservative:Writing under the title: “Trump’s Shameful Yemen Veto Defines His Presidency,” The American Conservative commented:

“Today Trump has proven once more to the people of Yemen just how cynical he and the other supporters of the war are. Support for the war on Yemen is the most disgraceful U.S. policy today, and it is one of the most despicable policies of the last fifty years. That is what Trump chooses to continue and defend. He has chosen again and again to cater to and indulge some of the worst governments on earth, and he has done so for the basest reasons of protecting future weapons sales. If we knew nothing else about him, this would tell us all we need to know about his contempt for the law, his cruelty, and his disregard for innocent life.”

Breitbart News: Not surprisingly, Writing under the title: “Trump was right to veto empty resolution against Saudi War in Yemen,” Joel B. Pollak, Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News wrote:

“….Yemen sits on the eastern side of the Bab el-Mandeb strait — a key shipping lane for traffic through the Suez Canal. The U.S. Navy has a major base across the strait, in Djibouti — as do many other countries, including China. Allowing an Iranian proxy to command the eastern side of the strait, across from a crucial U.S. Navy asset that helps control piracy and terror, and where China is challenging U.S. dominance, would be foolish to the point of lunacy….

“Some critics contend Trump is risking the support of an “anti-war coalition” in his base. But the anti-war movement is largely a left-wing phenomenon. Those elements of Trump’s base that approve his criticisms of previous wars, such as the Iraq war, are not opposed to war as such, but rather to war without victory, or end. Trump would create more, not fewer, political problems for himself by giving up Yemen to Iran — even as his sanctions have Iran on the ropes.

“For some members of Congress, the Yemen resolution is a principled objected to foreign entanglements. For most, it is a cheap way to criticize Trump. Few have been asked to explain why they are supporting an effective surrender to Iran that would endanger American lives and interests. That question must be asked if Congress tries to mount an override,” Breitbart concluded.

Humanitarian crisis in Yemen: Yemen has been devastated by a conflict that escalated in March 2015, when the rebel Houthi movement seized control of much of the west of the country and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee abroad.

According to a UN report of February 2019, 14.3 million people are classified as being in acute need, with around 3.2 million requiring treatment for acute malnutrition; that includes two million children under-five, and more than one million pregnant and lactating women.

Highlighting that more than 20 million people across the country are food insecure, half of them suffering extreme levels of hunger, the report focuses on some key humanitarian issues: basic survival needs, protection of civilians and livelihoods and essential basic services.

“The escalation of the conflict since March 2015 has dramatically aggravated the protection crisis in which millions face risks to their safety and basic rights”, the UN report said.

The UN agency data shows that a total of 17.8 million people lack access to safe water and sanitation, and 19.7 million lack access to adequate healthcare. Poor sanitation and waterborne diseases, including cholera, left hundreds of thousands of people ill last year.

Meanwhile, grain which could help feed millions, is still at risk of rotting in a key Red Sea storage facility because conditions are too unsafe to reach it, UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and UN Emergency relief chief Mark Lowcock said.

During the past four years of intense conflict between Government forces and Houthi rebels have left tens of thousands dead or injured including at least 17,700 civilians as verified by the UN.

The agency adds that an estimated 3.3 million people remain displaced, up from 2.2 million last year, including 685,000 people who fled fighting in Hudaydah and on the west coast, from June onwards.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, the number of sites hosting displaced people has increased by almost half over the past 12 months.

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com

18 April 2019

Source: countercurrents.org

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