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US lawmakers want to stop Trump from supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen

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US President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman meet in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Oct ,12 \NewNews

The US is helping Saudi Arabia wage a war in Yemen, largely in secret. A congressman from California wants to bring it into the open.

Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat, and three other members of the House have co-sponsored a resolution that requires debate on US military involvement in Yemen. In 2015, President Barack Obama supported Saudi Arabia’s war effort in Yemen, and President Donald Trump has continued the mission. Khanna, who represents voters in Silicon Valley, says it’s time for an open debate over America’s role in the Yemen conflict.

Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA) asks Secretary of Defense James Mattis about the US role in Yemen, in a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, October 3, 2017.

“I wish someone had brought up the vote earlier,” he says. “We should never have been part of aiding the Saudis in this effort.”

On March 26, 2015, Saudi Arabia and an Arab coalition took sides in the Yemeni civil war. The Saudi-led coalition brought massive firepower to a complex turf battle between Yemen’s president Abdo Rabo Hadi and the Houthis. The United States supplied weapons, logistics and intelligence to help its Saudi allies control Yemen’s airspace, blockade Yemen’s seaports and conduct a bombing campaign called Operation Decisive Storm.

The Saudis prayed for a “quick and decisive victory.” That was 31 months ago.

The fight for control of Yemen shows no sign of stopping. The war has killed thousands of civilians, caused widespread food shortages and triggered a cholera epidemic. Yemenis have been plunged into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

“There is a huge difference in being complicit with doing harm and not being able to stop harm,” says Khanna. “Right now the problem is that we’re complicit with Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations.”

The war against Yemen’s Houthi.

In its drive to destroy Houthi targets, the Saudi-led coalition has struck hospitals, schools and marketplaces in scores of well-documented attacks. A year ago, a double-tap strike — so called because coalition planes circled back for a second hit that killed first-responders — destroyed a social hall in the middle of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, where an estimated 2,000 mourners were gathered for a funeral ceremony.

The funeral airstrike in Sanaa killed 100 people and spotlighted the murky US role in the Yemen war. Buried in the rubble of the social hall was the remnant of one of the bombs that destroyed the building.

Journalists and Houthi officials later identfied it as part of a 500-pound “smart bomb” manufactured in the United States.

Humanitarian organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned the Saudi-led coalition — as well as the Houthi — for the continuing carnage in Yemen. And while the United States doesn’t select Yemeni targets for the Saudi-led coalition, US military advisers do work alongside Saudi air force officers every day, to guide coalition missions.

“We have a limited number of folks there, five or six people,” says Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman. “They provide targeting advice to avoid civilian casualties. Their [standard operating procedure] is to provide advice — a safety measure — not to help them out in the civil war.”

But US support for the Saudi-led coalition is broader than that.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other coalition countries wage war with US-made weapons. For example, Saudi and UAE pilots fly fighter jets made by US defense megacontractors Boeing and Lockheed-Martin. They drop bombs made by General Dynamics, outfitted with guidance systems from Raytheon. Major Saudi weapons purchases approved by the Obama administration in 2015 are now part of the $110 billion arms sale announced by Trump in Riyadh in May.

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