Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Yemeni medical teams carry body bags containing corpses of those killed in airstrikes on a prison in northern Yemen on January 25, 2022.

Yemeni medical teams carry body bags containing the remains of people killed in U.S.-backed, Saudi-led airstrikes on a prison in northern Yemen on January 25, 2022. (Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images)

New Demands for Yemen War Powers Resolution as Report Reveals Depth of US Complicity in Airstrikes

An investigation found that many Saudi-led airstrikes were "carried out by jets developed, maintained, and sold by U.S. companies, and by pilots who were trained by the U.S. military."

Brett Wilkins

A leading peace group on Monday said a new report detailing the depth of U.S. support for Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen—hundreds of which have been called war crimes by international legal experts—shows the need for Congress to pass a recently introduced measure to end American complicity in one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

"Our ongoing complicity is a stain on our nation's soul. Just further reason for Congress to pass the newly introduced Yemen War Powers Resolution."

According to The Washington Post—which along with the Security Force Monitor (SFM) at Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute analyzed thousands of news reports and images to identify warplanes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that have attacked Yemen—"a substantial portion of the air raids were carried out by jets developed, maintained, and sold by U.S. companies, and by pilots who were trained by the U.S. military."

This, despite a February 2021 pledge by President Joe Biden to end U.S. support for "offensive operations" in the Saudi-led war—a promise that has been repeatedly sidestepped via arms sales and a $500 million maintenance contract.

"This is an absolutely devastating analysis of U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen," tweeted the Quaker peace group Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). "Our ongoing complicity is a stain on our nation's soul. Just further reason for Congress to pass the newly introduced Yemen War Powers Resolution."

Last week, a bipartisan group of 48 House lawmakers introduced a War Powers Resolution directing "the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress."

"It's critical that the Biden administration take the steps necessary to fulfill their promise to end U.S. support for the disastrous Saudi-led war in Yemen," explained Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), one of the resolution's lead sponsors.

"We should not be involved in yet another conflict in the Middle East," he added, "especially a brutal war that has created the world's largest humanitarian crisis, and contributed to the deaths of at least 377,000 civilians."

Writing for Just Security, Priyanka Motaparthy, director of the Counterterrorism, Armed Conflict, and Human Rights Project at Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute, and SFM's Tony Wilson noted Saturday that "during seven years of war, coalition airstrikes have killed nearly 9,000 civilians in Yemen."

"Human rights groups and the United Nations-mandated Group of Eminent Experts have documented more than 300 airstrikes that are likely war crimes or violations of the laws of war," they continued. "These strikes have hit hospitals and other medical facilities, markets, a school bus filled with children, and a funeral hall filled with mourners."

"Independent human rights groups, journalists, and U.N. monitoring bodies have found U.S. weapons used in many of these attacks," the pair added.

The Post-SFM investigation comes amid widespread U.S. and Western condemnation of alleged and documented Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

"Thousands of similar strikes have taken place against Yemeni civilians," the report notes. "The indiscriminate bombings have become a hallmark of the Yemen war, drawing international scrutiny of the countries participating in the air campaign, and those arming them, including the United States."

The report also comes as Biden prepares to visit Saudi Arabia in the coming weeks in a bid to boost relations with the oil-rich kingdom amid record fuel prices driven by Russia's invasion of Ukraine—despite a campaign promise to make the nation's leaders "pay the price" for their role in the grisly murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The president's decision to visit the fundamentalist kingdom, one of the world's worst human rights violators, stands in stark contrast to the U.S.' exclusion of Cuban, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan leaders from the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles—purportedly due to the lack of democracy and respect for human rights in those countries.

Annelle Sheline, a Middle East research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, last week called the introduction of the War Powers Resolution "a key factor in why the warring parties in Yemen decided to extend their ceasefire," which is now in its third month.

Speaking of the resolution on Al Jazeera last week, Sheline said that "if this were to pass, two-thirds of Saudi Arabia's air force would be grounded, because they cannot operate without U.S. military contractors, spare parts, and assistance."

"It very clearly shows," she added, "that the Saudis... don't want to be in the position of losing the ability to fly their own planes if the U.S. does withdraw support."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Dems Threaten to Subpoena FTI Consulting Over 'Blanket Refusal' to Provide Info on Fossil Fuel Work

"FTI's refusal to cooperate with this congressional inquiry shows that they have something to hide, which will reveal the dangerous ways agencies like theirs have promoted fossil fuel greenwash and misinformation," said the Clean Creatives campaign's leader.

Jessica Corbett ·

Bad Day for DeSantis as 'Stop WOKE Act' Hit With Injunction, Lawsuit

"If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case," a federal judge wrote in blocking part of the controversial law. "But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents."

Brett Wilkins ·

US Judge Says Mar-a-Lago Affidavit 'Can Be Unsealed' With Redactions

"This is going to be a considered, careful process, where everybody's rights, the government's and the media's, will be protected," declared U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.

Jessica Corbett ·

Federal Judge Orders Starbucks to Rehire Fired Union Organizers in Memphis

"It was a ruling in favor of what's right," said one member of the Memphis Seven. "We knew from day one that we were going to win this, it just took time."

Brett Wilkins ·

Activists Arrested While Protesting 'Dirty Pipeline Deal' Outside Schumer's Office

"Sen. Schumer is sacrificing frontline communities and our clean energy future, all to placate a coal baron," said one organizer, referring to the majority leader's side agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo