Mattis: Do not restrict US support UU To the forces led by Arabia in Yemen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday defended US military support for Saudi Arabian-led coalition forces in Yemen by explaining a personal appeal to lawmakers who are considering leaving Washington's participation in the devastating conflict.

FILE PHOTO: US Secretary of Defense James Mattis testifies about authorizations for the use of military force before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the Capitol in Washington, USA. UU October 30, 2017. REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst / File Photo

The Trump The administration has been warning Saudi Arabia since last year that concerns in Congress about the humanitarian situation in Yemen, including civilian casualties in the war, could limit the badistance of the United States.

Since it began in 2015, the conflict has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced more than 2 million people and taken Yemen, which is already the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula, on the verge of a widespread famine.

Mattis said that US badistance The US, which includes limited intelligence and fuel replenishment support for coalition aircraft, had as its ultimate goal to bring the war to a negotiated and negotiated resolution by the United States.

"We need to bring this to a negotiated settlement, and we believe that our policy at this time is the right one to do this," Mattis told reporters, as he flew back to Washington from the Middle East.

A bipartisan group of senators, Republican Mike Lee, independent Bernie Sanders and Democrat Chris Murphy try to take advantage of a provision of the War Powers Act of 1973 that allows any senator to present a resolution on the withdrawal of forces American armed forces of a conflict not authorized by Congress.

Its resolution would force Trump to "eliminate the United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen or affect it," except for operations against al Qaeda or badociated forces. Those are authorized under authorization from the 2001 Congress.

Their action is the last salvo in an ongoing battle between the US Congress. UU And the White House for the control of military conflicts.

In a March 14 letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and copied to other legislators, Mattis described the badistance of the US. UU As "non-combative support" focused on helping reduce the risk of civilian casualties.

"New restrictions on this limited US military support could increase civilian casualties, jeopardize cooperation with our partners in the fight against terrorism and reduce our influence with the Saudis, all of which would further aggravate more the situation and the humanitarian crisis, "wrote Mattis.

Mattis also warned that a withdrawal would encourage the Houthi rebels aligned with Iran, who have fired missiles at Saudi Arabia and attacked commercial and military ships off the coast of Yemen.

Legislators have argued for years that Congress has given too much authority over the military to the White House. Under the Constitution, Congress, not the president, has the authority to declare war.

But divisions over how much control they should exercise over the president have hampered efforts to approve new war clearances.

Report by Phil Stewart; Edition of Leslie Adler

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