Yemen victims of Saudi-led war

Funeral ceremony for the 9 victims from al-Baisi family killed in Saudi-led coalition airstrikes against Houthis held in al-Habiyl village of Ibb in Yemen on April 15, 2015.

(Photo: Adil Al-Sharee/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Congress Should Introduce a New Yemen War Powers Resolution this Month

And over 70 organizations agree.

We have seen much recently about the Ukraine war anniversary. But this is also the anniversary of other wars: March marks the 8th anniversary of the war on Yemen and the 20th on Iraq. Members of Congress, including Senator Bernie Sanders, should introduce a Yemen War Powers Resolution before this war enters a 9th year.

On March 1st activists in 10 cities across the United States protested at congressional offices and beyond, calling on their lawmakers to bring the harmful U.S. role in the Yemen war to a rapid and final end. Over 70 organizations called for and supported the protests.

During Wednesday’s protests, activists called on Sanders and other federal lawmakers to introduce a new Yemen War Powers Resolution this month. If brought to the floor for a vote, Congress could order the president to end U.S. participation in the catastrophic conflict, which the U.S. has enabled for eight years. Sanders sponsored last year’s bill, but when he moved to bring the resolution to a floor vote in December, he was shut down by the Biden administration.

In December, Sanders pledged to return to the Senate floor with a new Yemen War Powers Resolution if he and the administration were unable to agree to “strong and effective” action that would achieve his goals.

Without meaningful public action from Biden at this point, the time is now for Sen. Sanders to make good on his pledge. For over 10 months, Saudi Arabia has not dropped any bombs on Yemen. However, this could change anytime. If the United States continues to support the war, it will be implicated in Saudi aggression if, and likely when, the conflict escalates.

Without meaningful public action from Biden at this point, the time is now for Sen. Sanders to make good on his pledge.

Approximately two–thirds of the Royal Saudi Air Force receive direct support from U.S. military contracts in the form of spare parts and maintenance. TheSaudi-led coalition has relied on this support to carry out these offensive strikes in Yemen. The United States has no sufficient compelling interest in Yemen that justifies implication in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Since March 2015, the Saudi Arabia and /UAE)-led bombing and blockade of Yemen have killed hundreds of thousands of people and wreaked havoc on the country, creating one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world. 17 million people in Yemen are food insecure and 500,000 children are experiencing severe wasting, also known as severe acute malnutrition.

For years virtually no containerized goods have been allowed to enter Hodeida, Yemen’s principal Red Sea port Hodeida. Containerized goods include essentially everything other than food and fuel. This has helped cripple the economy and prevented critical life-saving medicine and medical equipment from reaching people in need.

This humanitarian crisis has worsened since President Biden took office. Admittedly this is not entirely his fault. The Biden administration took some initial good steps forward, including reversing the Trump administration’s policy to designate the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and reversing an arms transfer in the works when Biden took office. The war in Ukraine and global wheat shortage have hit Yemen hard; the country relies heavily on imports. Climate disasters have also exacerbated the effects of the conflict in Yemen. But the Biden administration does bear partial responsibility for the continued suffering in Yemen.

Despite President Biden’s February 2021 commitment to end participation in Saudi offensive operations in Yemen, the U.S. has continued support for the war. The U.S. has continued to provide spare parts and maintenance for the Saudi air force, which increased the frequency of airstrikes on Yemen in 2021 and early 2022 – after Biden took office.

Without a negotiated settlement, nothing prevents Saudi Arabia from restarting airstrikes in Yemen. With apparent never-ending and unconditional U.S. military support, Saudi Arabia lacks an incentive to once and for all completely lift its blockade of Yemen and withdraw from Yemen.

In 2018 Saudi dictator Mohammed Bin Salman ordered the murder of a U.S. journalist and then lied about it. Just last year Saudi Arabia manipulated global energy markets to raise fuel prices and empower Russia in its immoral and illegal invasion of Ukraine. These are just a couple recent demonstrations of a history of destructive activity by Saudi Arabia that is harmful to the United States and its allies. The Biden administration was correct in October when it called for a re-evaluation of the US-Saudi relationship, urging Congress to propose measures to hold Saudi Arabia accountable. Passing the Yemen War Powers Resolution is a chance to do exactly that.

Organizations that signed the call to protest the war March 1st included the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation, the Yemeni Alliance Committee, About Face: Veterans Against War, Veterans for Peace, Progressive Democrats of America, the Libertarian Institute, Avaaz, CODEPINK, Peace Action, United for Peace and Justice, Democratic Socialists of America International Committee, Women's League for International Peace and Freedom – US Section, among over 70 organizations. Over 100 national organizations – humanitarian, veterans’, libertarian, and others – wrote to Congress as recently as December urging their passage of the Yemen War Powers Resolution. Bernie Sanders should re-introduce his resolution.

Under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the power to raise and support armies is reserved for Congress. No Congressional authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) has been issued for Yemen. The War Powers Resolution empowers Congress to invoke its constitutional war powers authority to end unconstitutional U.S. participation in wars like the war in Yemen.

The bill prevents a resumption of offensive Saudi airstrikes in Yemen by prohibiting U.S. involvement in them. This legislation can promote a negotiated settlement and long-term, lasting peace between the warring parties.

Saturday, March 25 will mark the eighth anniversary of the beginning of the Saudi-led coalition's bombing of Yemen. To mark the occasion, US and international groups will hold an online rally to inspire and enhance education and activism to end the war in Yemen. Join grassroots organizers on March 25th at 12pm Eastern. Register now.

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