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US Senate passes resolution over Yemen crisis

The US Senate has passed a non-binding resolution urging Washington and its allies to ‘use all appropriate measures’ to keep Yemen from becoming what they called a failed state.

The non-binding measure, which lawmakers unanimously approved, says “instability and terrorism” in Yemen pose a “serious threat” to its people, its neighbors, and the United States.

It calls on US President Barack Obama and the international community “to use all appropriate measures to assist the people of Yemen to prevent Yemen from becoming a failed state.”

The measure, authored by Democratic Senator Ben Cardin and the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Republican Senator Richard Lugar, asks Obama to promote economic progress and “good governance” reforms in Yemen.

It also urges the president “to give sufficient weight to the situation in Yemen in efforts to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States, United States allies, and Yemeni civilians.”

In the resolution, the Senate claims to support “the innocent civilians in Yemen, especially displaced persons, who have suffered from instability, terrorist operations, and chronic underdevelopment.”

It, however, makes no reference to the fact that the civilians are being killed and displaced by the Saudi and Yemeni government forces, which have placed the region under heavy aerial bombardment.

It simply calls on government forces and Houthi fighters to immediately halt clashes, and allow humanitarian aid and medicine to reach displaced civilians.

All sides should also help “create an environment that will enable a return to normal life for those displaced by the conflict,” says the resolution.

The newly passed resolution comes amid reports of Saudi air raids on civilian areas in northern Yemen. The Saudi military were reportedly launched the air strikes after suffering an overnight defeat from the Shia Houthi fighters.

Last month, Saudi Arabia joined Sana’a’s latest bout of attacks on the Houthis, which began in August, based on accusations that the fighters had attacked one of its border checkpoints.

Already involved in defending the Shia minority from Yemeni soldiers, the fighters denied the charge saying they could not possibly be interested in opening another front.

The fighters have also accused Saudis of using unconventional weapons including toxic materials and phosphorus bombs against civilians.

The conflict in northern Yemen began in 2004 between Sana’a and Houthi fighters. Relative peace had returned to the region until August 11, when the Yemeni army launched a major offensive, dubbed Operation Scorched Earth, against Sa’ada.

The government claims that the fighters, who are named after their leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi, seek to restore the Shia imamate system, which was overthrown in a 1962 military coup.

The Houthis, however, say they are defending their people’s civil rights, which the government has undermined under pressure from Saudi-backed Wahhabi extremists.

As Sana’a does not allow independent media into the conflict zone, there are no clear estimates available as to how many people have been killed in the Shia province of Sa’ada since 2004 or in the recent wave of violence.

According to UN estimates, however, during the past five years, up to 175,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Sa’ada to take refuge in overcrowded camps set up by the international body.

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