The House of Representatives passed a rare bipartisan rebuke of U.S. military efforts in the ongoing Yemeni civil war on Monday, saying the U.S. military is not authorized to provide military assistance to the Saudi-led coalition under current use of force authorizations.

The resolution is non-binding and therefore won’t put an end to the Department of Defense’s support to the Saudis, but the symbolism is important. It comes at a time when many members of Congress, both Democrat and Republican alike, are questioning the extent to which military force can be legal under the authorizations passed in 2001 to fight Al Qaeda and 2003 to invade Iraq.

Monday’s resolution states “to date, 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” previous resolutions with regard to actions against Al Qaeda and Iraq.
The resolution describes U.S. support for the Saudi coalition as “intelligence cooperation” since 2015 and “midair refueling services to Saudi-led Arab Coalition warplanes conducting aerial bombings in Yemen against the Houthi-Saleh alliance.”

Saudi Arabia’s bombing has been described as indiscriminate to purposefully targeting civilian populations as the controversial war drags on amid a humanitarian crisis in Yemen that threatens tens of thousands of civilians with starvation. Thousands have been killed and displaced in the fighting.

The resolution also points to the U.S. intelligence’s community’s assessment that the war between the Saudis and the Houthis undermines U.S. efforts to fight Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group which has exploited the vacuum of security and governance to expand its training and operations in Yemen’s hinterlands.

It also reaffirms that the war is indeed a proxy war between the Saudis and Iran, saying “Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has transferred increasingly sophisticated weapons systems to the Houthis, who have in turn shot missiles into Saudi Arabia from positions in northern Yemen,” and that the House “condemns Iranian activities in Yemen,” and “calls on all responsible countries to take appropriate and necessary measures against the Government of Iran, including the interdiction of Iranian weapons to the Houthis, and the bilateral and multilateral application of sanctions against Iran for its violations of” previous United Nations resolutions.

Image courtesy of Ibrahem Qasim via Wikipedia