June 16 2016, 4:20 p.m.
THE HOUSE ON THURSDAY narrowly defeated a measure that would have banned the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, but the closeness of the vote was an indication of growing congressional opposition to the conduct of the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing coalition in Yemen.
The vote was mostly along party lines, with 200 Republicans – and only 16 Democrats – heeding the Obama administration’s urging to vote against the measure. The vote was 204-216.
“The Department of Defense strongly opposes this amendment,” said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the House Committee on Defense Appropriations, during floor debate. “They advise us that it would stigmatize cluster munitions, which are legitimate weapons with clear military utility.”
Cluster munitions are large shell casings that scatter hundreds or thousands of miniature explosives over large areas – often the size of several football fields. Some of the bomblets fail to explode on impact, leaving mine-like explosives that kill civilians and destroy farmland decades after a conflict ends.
Cluster bombs are banned by an international treaty signed by 119 countries, not including the United States. The United States opposed the treaty, and instead of signing it, adopted a policy that cluster bombs should never be used in concentrated, civilian areas.
21 April 2015
The border with Yemen is a 10-hour drive from the Saudi capital, or a two-hour flight, but Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen is on everyone’s mind in Riyadh.
Officially it is a Saudi-led military operation with coalition partners including the UAE, Egypt, Morocco, and other Sunni countries.