US Senate votes to end military support for Saudis in Yemen
WASHINGTON In a rare break with President Donald Trump, the US Senate voted on Wednesday to move ahead with a resolution that would end US military support for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition in the war in Yemen.
Eleven Republicans voted with Democrats to provide the 60 votes needed to advance the war powers resolution in the Republican-led chamber, paving the way for debate and a vote on US involvement in a conflict that has created one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters.
The vote was largely symbolic because the House of Representatives is not expected to take the matter up this year.
But backers of the resolution said it sent a message that lawmakers are unhappy with the humanitarian disaster in Yemen and angry about the lack of a strong US response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.
The Trump administration had urged Congress not to oppose US support for the Saudi-led coalition as it battles the Houthis, Shi'ite Muslim fighters viewed by Yemen's neighbours as agents of Iran.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the handling of Mr Khashoggi's killing. He repeated his assertion that there was no direct evidence linking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the killing, despite a Central Intelligence Agency assessment that it was likely.
Mr Trump condemned the murder but has stood by Prince Mohammed.
CIA director Gina Haspel briefed leaders of the House of Representatives behind closed doors about the killing. House members said they did not hear anything to change their minds about Mr Khashoggi's death.
Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, likely the next chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in January, said he intended to hold hearings starting early next year on all aspects of Saudi behaviour and the US-Saudi relationship.
"Saudi Arabia is an important... partner, but I don't think we can simply look the other way when things happen," Mr Engel said.
There are at least three Saudi-related pieces of legislation making their way through the US Senate.The US imposed economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials last month over the killing, stopping short of action that might affect the arms deals Mr Trump has vowed to preserve. - REUTERS