UAE welcomes Trump veto of Yemen war bill

UAE says US President's veto of resolution from Congress to end US involvement in Yemen's war is "timely & strategic".

ABU DHABI - The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday hailed as "strategic" President Donald Trump's veto of a resolution from Congress directing him to end US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

"President Trump's assertion of support to the Arab Coalition in Yemen is a positive signal of US resolve towards America's allies," UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted.

"President Trump's important decision is both timely & strategic," said Gargash, whose government is a key Saudi ally in the war.

The veto was only the second of Trump's presidency, after he overrode a congressional resolution that aimed to reverse the border emergency he declared in order to secure more funding for his wall between the United States and Mexico in March.

The resolution by Congress was a harsh bipartisan rebuke to Trump that took the historic step of curtailing a president's war-making powers -- a step he condemned in a statement announcing his veto.

Bilateral relationships

"This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future," Trump said.

Democrats argued that US involvement in the Yemen conflict -- through intelligence-sharing, logistical support and now-discontinued aerial refueling -- is unconstitutional without congressional authority.

Vetoing the measure is an "effective green light for the war strategy that has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis to continue," said International Rescue Committee president and CEO David Miliband.

"Yemen is at a breaking point with 10 million people on the brink of famine. There are as many as 100 civilian casualties per week, and Yemenis are more likely to be killed at home than in any other structure."

Trump argued that US support for the devastating war between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and Huthi rebels, who control the capital Sanaa, was necessary for a variety of reasons, "first and foremost" to "protect the safety of the more than 80,000 Americans who reside in certain coalition countries."

These countries "have been subject to Huthi attacks from Yemen," he said, referring to drone and missile strikes launched by the Huthi rebels with artillery that the Saudi-led coalition says is being provided by Iran.

The president said the resolution would also "harm the foreign policy of the United States" and "harm our bilateral relationships."

And it would "negatively affect our ongoing efforts to prevent civilian casualties and prevent the spread of terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS, and embolden Iran's malign activities in Yemen," Trump said, referring to two Sunni extremist groups and his Shiite bête noire.

Critics not happy

The resolution, which passed the US House of Representatives earlier this month and the Senate in March, was a historic milestone, as it was the first time in history that a measure invoking the 1973 War Powers Resolution reached the president's desk.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi -- the country's most senior Democratic politician -- took aim at Trump's veto in a series of tweets on Tuesday.

"The conflict in Yemen is a horrific humanitarian crisis that challenges the conscience of the entire world," Pelosi wrote. "Yet the President has cynically chosen to contravene a bipartisan, bicameral vote of the Congress & perpetuate America's shameful involvement in this heartbreaking crisis."

Senator Bernie Sanders, a lead author of the Yemen resolution and a Democratic 2020 presidential candidate, said that "the people of Yemen desperately need humanitarian help, not more bombs."

"I am disappointed, but not surprised, that Trump has rejected the bi-partisan resolution to end US involvement in the horrific war in Yemen," Sanders tweeted.

Critics of the intervention warn that Saudi forces are likely using US weapons to commit atrocities in the four-year war.

Some 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen over the past four years, according to the World Health Organization, although human rights groups say the toll could be five times higher.

Both the Saudi-led alliance and the Iran-backed Huthi rebels have been accused of acts that could amount to war crimes, while the coalition has been blacklisted by the United Nations for the killing and maiming of children.