Anti-war groups and progressive lawmakers expressed cautious optimism this weekend after the Trump administration announced it would end its policy of refueling Saudi planes that are engaged in Saudi Arabia’s assault on Yemen—but called for bolder and broader policy changes to ensure an end to the attacks that have killed more than 15,000 civilians.
On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the refueling practice would end, with Saudi Arabia claiming in a statement that it now has the ability to refuel its own planes—a claim that U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis bolstered in his own comments on the policy changem but that drew skepticism from critics. The change came amid heightened calls from across the political spectrum to end the U.S. military’s cooperation with the Saudis, following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Progressives including Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have called for an end to U.S. participation since long before Khashoggi, a Saudi who wrote critically of his home country’s government, was killed by Saudi agents in October.
Khanna and Sanders both said they would take action in Congress to hold the administration accountable for its pledge to end refueling efforts.
“When it comes to Yemen, talk is cheap and those on the brink of starvation can’t afford any political stunts. The world is watching to see if this is merely more empty promises or if the United States will finally use its power to end the suffering in Yemen.” —Kate Kizer, Win Without WarCalling the decision one that “could avert a humanitarian crisis,” Khanna told The Intercept that Congress should now pass Senate Resolution 54 and House Resolution 138, which direct the president to remove U.S. forces entirely from the war in Yemen unless they have been authorized by Congress.
“Similar to what we did in Somalia’s case, when the White House said that we weren’t going to have any intervention, Congress went ahead and passed both of the War Powers Resolution [measures], just to make sure that was definitive,” Khanna said, referring to Congress’s urging of President Bill Clinton to limit U.S. involvement in Somalia in 1993.
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