The US Senate will vote on Wednesday on a resolution to end Washington’s support for the Saudi Arabia-led military campaign in Yemen, as legislators push President Donald Trump to toughen his policy towards the kingdom.
Announcing the vote on Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders called the war “a humanitarian and strategic disaster”. Sanders, an independent who is running for president as a Democrat, is a lead cosponsor of the resolution along with Republican Senator Mike Lee.
The Saudi-UAE coalition fighting in Yemen since 2015 has consistently attacked civilians, as well as homes, schools, businesses, farms, a health clinic, a government administration building and a celebration hall, in violation of the laws of war.
Veto by Trump
The vote on the war powers resolution will be the second in four months in the Senate.
The Senate passed the measure by 56-41 in December, a rebuke of Trump amid anger at Saudi Arabia not just over civilian deaths in Yemen, but also the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.
To become effective, however, the resolution must be passed by the new Senate, which was seated in January, as well as the House of Representatives. Then it must garner enough votes to override an expected veto by Trump, who has touted the importance of a strategic alliance with Riyadh.
The House passed its own version of the resolution in February, but a procedural issue kept it from a vote in the Senate.
The United Nations calls Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. About 14 million of the impoverished country’s 29 million population are on the brink of starvation.
The war in Yemen has been at a stalemate for years, with the Saudi-UAE coalition and Yemeni forces unable to dislodge Houthi rebels from the capital, Sanaa, and most urban centres.
According to the charity Save the Children, an estimated 85,000 children may have starved to death over the past four years of war.
Almost 100 civilians were either killed or wounded every week in Yemen last year, with children accounting for one-fifth of all casualties, the UN says.