WASHINGTON — The Senate is closing in on two bipartisan votes that would put the upper chamber on record against U.S. support for the war in Yemen and for the Crown Prime of Saudi Arabia.
Poised for a possible vote early next week is a bipartisan measure to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition war in Yemen. The Pentagon already has announced an end to U.S. refueling of Saudi aircraft for the war, but it still provides intelligence and logistical support, among other things, to the Saudis.
The measure has gained strength among senators in large part because of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and what is viewed as the White House lackadaisical response to the involvement of Saudi officials in that slaying.
“The United States should end the military support that enables our Gulf client states, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and their allies, to bomb Yemen,” Benjamin Friedman, a senior fellow with Defense Priorities, said Thursday. “That step would pressure the Saudi coalition to end its military campaign and make it easier for the warring Yemeni parties to cut a peace deal.”
Peace talks for Yemen were scheduled to begin Thursday in Sweden.
That measure to end U.S support for the conflict would be framed in the War Powers Act, which if passed would require President Trump to remove all forces in Yemen or assisting with the conflict within 30 days.
The language of the measure is now being worked on, in part to have an agreement to move forward on a direct vote without any or many amendments.
“This is new territory…., I want to do everything I can to ensure that this is handled in a dignified manner,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters Wednesday.
Concurrent with the War Powers measure is a resolution that would put the Senate on record as placing the blame for Khashoggi’s murder on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
That bipartisan effort was launched after some senators met with CIA Director Gina Haspell for a classified briefing on Khashoggi’s murder.
“There’s not a smoking gun — there’s a smoking saw,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), told reporters after the briefing. He is one of the sponsors of the bipartisan resolution in linking the Crown Prince to the murder.
Both Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was not a smoking gun tying the Crown Prince to the murder.
Both measures would be a rebuke of the White House, which has offered continued support of the Saudi Crown Prince and the importance of the business relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.