Senate defies Trump with Saudi war vote

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-46561520

A bomb strike in Yemen in MarchImage copyright
Getty Images

The US Senate has voted to withdraw US military aid for Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen and to blame the kingdom’s crown prince for the murder of a journalist.

Members of President Donald Trump’s Republican party joined Democrats by 56-41 to rebuke the longtime US ally over reporter Jamal Khashoggi’s death.

Mr Trump has vowed to veto the largely symbolic measure, and it is unlikely to pass the House of Representatives.

Experts say Yemen is experiencing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The non-binding “war powers resolution” also calls on Saudi Arabia to “moderate its increasingly erratic foreign policy”.

The US chose to cease refuelling Saudi war planes last month, and Thursday’s resolution – if it were passed into law – would prohibit that practice from resuming.

The measure is seen as politically embarrassing to Mr Trump because he has refused to condemn Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite the CIA’s assessment that he probably personally ordered the killing of Khashoggi, a US resident.

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Reuters

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President Trump has consistently defended US business and military ties with Saudi Arabia

Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who supported the measure, described it as “a historic moment”.

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

He said the vote is a signal to “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”.

Since hostilities began in 2015, thousands of civilians have been killed, and millions have been pushed to the brink of starvation, according to the United Nations.

The Trump administration had opposed the bill, arguing that US support for the Saudi-led coalition is vital to isolating Iran, which backs the Houthi rebels who are fighting against Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

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Media captionSenators slam Saudi crown prince as ‘crazy’ and a ‘wrecking ball’

The bill calls upon President Trump to remove all US forces engaging in hostilities in Yemen, except for those combating Islamist extremists.

Earlier on Thursday, the warring parties met in Sweden where they reached an agreement to hold a ceasefire in the port city of Hudaydah, which serves as the principal lifeline for two-thirds of the country.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he hoped this would be the starting point to bring nearly four years of civil war to a close.

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AFP

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The Houthi (left ) and Yemeni government delegates shake hands in Stockholm

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