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Why the United States will never leave Yemen

Why the United States will never leave Yemen
From Al Jazeera - November 12, 2017

US politicians are set to debate a resolution that would limit "unauthorised" American involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, but the bill is unlikely to move past the House of Representatives, analysts say.

H.CON.RES.81 is expected to be debated on the House floor on Monday. It calls for the invocation of the War Powers Act to end US participation in the war in Yemen.

The act, introduced in 1973, requires Congressional approval for the country's involvement in any war.

By aiding the Saudis in airstrikes that kill civilians, we are creating a security vacuum that allows groups like ISIS to gain a foothold.

Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) November 13, 2017

According toDemocratic Representative Ro Khanna, the resolution's main sponsor, the bill"acknowledges that our government is assisting the Saudi refuelling, and acknowledges that such activity is unauthorised".

Currently, the US provides mid-air refuelling for Saudi and UAE warplanes that are conducting air strikes in Yemen, as well as assistance with bomb targeting, Khanna said.

In another sign of his beliefs, the representative tweeted late on Monday in California: "By aiding the Saudis in airstrikes that kill civilians, we are creating a security vacuum that allows groups like [ISIL] to gain a foothold."

The US has been supporting Saudi Arabia and its allies - mostly Sunni Arab states - since March 2015, when the kingdom intervened in neighbouring Yemen to push back Houthi rebels and reinstate the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Armed with US weaponry and logistical support, the Saudi-led coalition has been fighting against Houthi fighters, who are backed by Iran.

At least 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict, and seven million are in dire need of food assistance.

The US began supporting the Saudi-led coalition through a decision by then-US President Barack Obama, who citedthe Authorisation for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to justify US involvement.

Since taking office, President Donald Trump has done the same.

Passed in 2001, the AUMF gives the president the power to "use force" against all "nations, organisations, or persons he determines planned, authorised, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001".

It has since been used as legal justification to involve the US in various conflicts around the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

For more than a decade, the US has carried out air strikes across Yemen targeting al-Qaeda bases using the AUMF as pretext.

This seems to be the result of mounting pressure on the US government to distance itself from a war that is causing so much human suffering

Robert Blecher, International Crisis Group's Middle East and North Africa deputy programme director

The Obama administration used the same legal basis to support the Saudi-led coalition, which is targeting the Houthis, not al-Qaeda elements in Yemen.

"The war in Yemen is an entirely separate war from the fight against al-Qaeda, yet Congress has never authorised it," the authors ofH.CON.RES.81 highlighted in a statement.

Debate on the billwas postponed earlier this month when differences regarding the resolution's objectives emerged between its sponsors and the House leadership.

A compromise was reached following weeks of internal debate, but the bill was stripped of itsprivilegedstatus, meaning it is no longer fast-tracked for an on-the-record vote.

Despite the setback, Khanna's office confirmed to Al Jazeera that the bill's sponsors are still hoping to push for an official vote following the congressional debate.

'International pressure'

Robert Blecher, International Crisis Group's Middle East and North Africa deputy programme director, told Al Jazeera that the bill may have introduced due to international pressure over Yemen's humanitarian crisis.

Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) November 9, 2017

Will recent Middle East developments factor?

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