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With New Hope for War Powers Vote, Poll Shows American Public Strongly Favors End to US-Backed War in Yemen

"Yemenis deserve an end to this morally and strategically bankrupt war."

A man inspects a house after it was hit by airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition, killing nine family members including five children on December 26, 2017 in Sana’a, Yemen. (Photo by Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)

Following an escalation in the Saudi-led assault on the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, most Americans said in a survey released Monday that the U.S. must end the support that has made possible the Saudis' war in the impoverished country.

A poll commissioned by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and taken by YouGov found that three-quarters of 1,168 respondents were opposed to U.S. military support of the war—support which has included hundreds of billions of dollars in weapons sales, refueling support, and intelligence.

Americans across the political spectrum expressed strong disapproval of U.S. involvement in the war, which, by some estimates, has left more than 15,000 civilians dead, more than three million displaced, 14 million on the brink of famine, and 85,000 children dead of starvation. More than half of conservatives joined nearly nine in 10 liberals and progressives who took the survey, in calling for an end to American support. 

"I think the American people and Congress are now saying let us end our support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen." —Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)"Americans of all political stripes reject the U.S. policy of fueling the war in Yemen," said David Miliband, president of IRC. "They agree that by continuing to provide military and diplomatic support for one side of the conflict, the U.S. is fueling a crisis that has severe consequences for millions of civilians...Yemenis deserve an end to this morally and strategically bankrupt war."

The poll came amid growing calls from U.S. officials for a wind-down of U.S. involvement, including Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's professed support for a ceasefire and Mattis's announcement that the U.S. would stop refueling Saudi planes. Such calls have been met with cautious optimism by human rights groups. 

"U.S. calls for a ceasefire a near month ago can only hold with the backing of the U.N., and an end to the U.S.' own military support to the coalition. Otherwise, peace will not only be unrealistic but impossible," Miliband said. "As soon as tomorrow the Senate could begin debate on War Powers resolution to bar further U.S. involvement. It is all the more critical that the opposition of Americans be heard."

Eighty-two percent of those surveyed said Congress should vote on whether to end or decrease arms sales to the Saudis—a possibility which President Donald Trump dismissed last week, warning that cutting off that relationship with the Saudis would result in higher oil prices.

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On Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told CBS's "Face the Nation" that despite Trump's fear-mongering, which came as the president announced his refusal to hold the Saudis responsible for their admitted killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, he felt confident his resolution to end U.S. support for the assault on Yemen (S.J. Resolution 54) would pass in the Senate.

"I think we now have a chance to get a majority of the United States Senate. I think people are looking at the horrific humanitarian disaster now taking place in Yemen," Sanders said. "There was a recent report that over the last number of years some 75,000 children have died of starvation. This is a country dealing with cholera. A country dealing with a terrible level of famine...I think the American people and Congress are now saying let us end our support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen."

Kevin Martin, president of the anti-war group Peace Action, urged Americans to let their senators know of their disapproval of the U.S. backing of the ongoing atrocity in Yemen.

"The Senate needs to do its job and demand an end to U.S. support for the unconscionable Saudi-led slaughter in Yemen," Martin said. "There may be a vote as soon as Wednesday afternoon, so calling senators' offices to urge support for S.J. Res. 54 is very timely."

The IRC/YouGov poll also demonstrated how removed the majority of Americans have been able to remain from the reality of the war in Yemen—a conflict which was covered in just one MSNBC segment in 2017.

Fifty-eight percent of Americans surveyed did not know the U.S. sold weapons and provided support to the Saudi coalition, while 64 percent did know that civilian targets were being struck—including a school bus filled with children and a wedding party in the last seven months. 

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