In a rare attempt to stand up to U.S. conflicts abroad, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution on Monday which states that U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia in its war against Yemen has not been authorized by Congress.
The resolution, which passed along a 366-30 margin, represents a positive step forward. Still the measure could have gone further; according to Politico, it "does not call for a halt to the American support but publicly acknowledges the Pentagon has been sharing targeting information and refueling warplanes that Saudi Arabia and other allies are using to attack Houthi rebels in a conflict that is widely considered a proxy war with Iran — and a humanitarian disaster."
The resolution states, "Congress has not enacted specific legislation authorizing the use of military force against parties participating in the Yemeni civil war that are not otherwise subject to" the 2001 AUMF, or the 2003 AUMF used in Iraq, Politico reported.
"What our military is not authorized to do is assist the Saudi Arabian regime in fighting the Houthis," Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., a co-sponsor of the legislation, said. "In many cases, the Saudis have aligned with Al Qaeda to fight the Houthis undermining our very counterterrorism operations."
The original resolution would have explicitly revoked U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition; however, a compromise was made, which led to a vote that stated Congress had not authorized support for the conflict.
Leadership from both House Democrats and House Republicans pressured lawmakers to not co-sponsor the legislation.
But the measure which passed in the House "expresses the urgent need for a political solution in Yemen consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216 . . . or otherwise agreed to by the parties," Politico reported. The move still signifies an improvement and places more pressure on the U.S. to take further action.
The 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was designed, albeit broadly, to authorize military action against al-Qaeda and associated terrorist organizations.
For over two years the humanitarian crisis inside Yemen has only grown more grim, and the U.S. has helped play a major role in the destruction. More than 10,000 people have been killed, millions have been displaced and swaths of the population have suffered from the fastest spreading cholera outbreak in human history, while much of the infrastructure in the country has been bombarded with indiscriminate airstrikes — leaving government employees without a single paycheck for well over a year.
Recently, Saudi Arabia blocked all land, air and sea routes into Yemen after Houthi rebels fired a missile that was intercepted near the Saudi capital of Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has blamed Iran for allegedly assisting the Houthi rebels and said it was an act of "direct military aggression."
Saudi Arabia had already imposed a naval blockade which exacerbated the famine and other elements of the humanitarian crisis, and the new total blockade into the country has been called a "death sentence that will kill all Yemenis," by journalist Afrah Nasser.