Iran-US tensions: Republicans and Democrats vote to restrain Trump on war

 theage.com.au  07/13/2019 05:54:00 

House members endorsed a repeal of the 2002 authorisation for use of military force that was passed to approve the Iraq invasion, and a statement adopted after the September 11 attacks, that ought to be replaced with a time-limited measure.

The bill freezes the sales of arms to Saudi Arabia. which President Donald Trump showcased as a great deal during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, last year.

The bill freezes the sales of arms to Saudi Arabia. which President Donald Trump showcased as a great deal during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, last year.Credit:AP

They also voted in favour of suspending for one year the sale of air-to-ground munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, one of several efforts in the bill to deny weapons and limit US support for Saudi-led military operations in Yemen's civil war.

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The GOP-led Senate voted down a similar effort to include Iran language in its defence bill last month. But in the Democrat-led House, the Iran measure was one of several that were vital to securing support from liberal members, who had warned they might vote against the must-pass legislation.

Meanwhile, police in Gibraltar announced it has released on bail without charge four crew members of an Iranian oil tanker impounded in the British territory. The captain and chief officer of the Grace 1, a Panama-flagged ship, were arrested on Thursday. The ship was seized and continues to be held, on suspicion of transporting Iranian crude oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

The investigation was ongoing, police said.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi issued a new warning to Britain over the impounded tanker.

"Should Britain let itself be influenced and drawn into dangerous games by the US, we would advise them to rather not do that," Mousavi said.

British authorities said Iranian vessels only turned away on Thursday after receiving "verbal warnings" from the HMS Montrose, foreground, which was accompanying a commercial ship through the narrow Strait of Hormuz.

British authorities said Iranian vessels only turned away on Thursday after receiving "verbal warnings" from the HMS Montrose, foreground, which was accompanying a commercial ship through the narrow Strait of Hormuz.Credit:AP

It follows a declaration by Britain's Defence Ministry on Thursday that three Iranian ships had tried to "impede" a British oil tanker as it travelled through the Strait of Hormuz last week, after Iran threatened retaliation for the seizure of the Grace 1.

Washington has accused Tehran of being behind a series of recent attacks against commercial vessels near the strait.

In the end in Washington, only eight Democrats opposed the bill curbing Trump's ability to declare war on Iran, including the four freshmen who have sparred most openly with Pelosi: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez , Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, a Democrat, said"our bill isn't just good, it's better than the ones that the Republican Party has put together, because we believe the Pentagon should be accountable."

The Washington Post, DPA

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