THE US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a resolution clearly stating that US military assistance to Saudi Arabia in its war against neighbouring Yemen is not authorised under legislation passed by Congress to fight terrorism or to invade Iraq.
The House adopted the nonbinding resolution by a 366-30 vote on Monday. In a rare exercise, the House publicly acknowledged the Pentagon has been sharing targeting information and refuelling warplanes that Saudi Arabia and its allies are using in its war of aggression against the impoverished nation.
The resolution states that US military operations are partly authorised to fight only al-Qaeda and other allied terrorist groups in Yemen, but not Houthi fighters. ‘To date,’ the resolution says, ‘Congress has not enacted specific legislation authorising the use of military force against parties participating in the Yemeni civil war that are not otherwise subject to the 2001 Authorisation for Use of Military Force or the 2003 AUMF in Iraq.’
The House vote is being seen as a key victory for members of both Democratic and Republican parties who believe only Congress has the power to authorise US military operations overseas. The US government’s support for Saudi Arabia in its brutal war against Yemen is unconstitutional, House Representative Ro Khanna – a Democrat – has said.
‘What our military is not authorised to do is assist the Saudi Arabian regime in fighting the Houthis,’ said Khanna, who co-sponsored the resolution with Representative Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) on the House floor. In many cases, the Saudis have aligned with al-Qaeda to fight the Houthis, undermining our very counter-terrorism operations.’
‘I’ve said for years we should sunset the 2001 AUMF,’ added Representative Eliot Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. ‘We never intended it to be a blank cheque.’
Khanna, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has been urging Congress to exert more oversight of US military operations abroad. He argues that American involvement in the war in Yemen requires Congressional authorisation under the War Powers Act.
‘I don’t believe our security cooperation with the Saudis triggers War Powers,’ House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said. ‘But just because it does not arise under that particular statute, does not make it immune from our scrutiny.’
Last month, Khanna and three other senators introduced a resolution under the War Powers Act, which gives Congress 15 days to vote on Washington’s involvement in the devastating war which has killed over 12,000 Yemeni civilians since it began in March 2015. Approved in 1973, the War Powers Act is intended to check the president’s power to commit America to armed conflicts without Congressional consent.