Republicans and Democrats are coming together to call for an end to the horrific military action in Yemen that has mercilessly killed thousands of women and children and has left millions of innocent civilians at risk for starvation.
In a letter addressed to Defense Sec. James Mattis, Democratic Reps. Mark Pocan, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, and Ted Lieu; and Republican Reps. Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, and Walter Jones called for the United States to immediately end its support for the current military assault on a major port city in Yemen that is putting millions of lives at risk.
As Modern Diplomacy reported this week, the U.S.-Saudi-UAE plan is to destroy the Yemenese port city of Al Hudaydah, which is the only entry-way by which food reaches approximately seven million Shiites, members of the Houthi tribe, who occupy the western third of Yemen, and who had recently ruled all of Yemen. The U.S. provides the weapons and the training, and the United Arab Emirates supplies the pilots for this operation, which is financed mainly by the Saudis.
“We urge you to use all available means to avert a catastrophic military assault on Yemen’s major port city of Hodeida by the Saudi-led coalition, and to present Congress with immediate clarification regarding the full scope of U.S. military involvement in that conflict. We remind you that three years into the conflict, active U.S. participation in Saudi-led hostilities against Yemen’s Houthis has never been authorized by Congress, in violation of the Constitution.”
As the letter noted, the United States has spent three years launching drone strikes and aiding the war in Yemen, and while it seems to be acting to maintain the approval of close ally Saudi Arabia, all military action in the country has been illegal, because the U.S. has acted without congressional approval. The letter accused the Pentagon of intentionally keeping information from Congress, in order to appease Saudi Arabia:
“We are concerned that in the midst of a Senate effort to exercise its constitutional authority to end unauthorized hostilities—including U.S. targeting and refueling assistance for Saudi-led airstrikes against Yemen’s Houthis—the Pentagon may have concealed key information from members of Congress regarding the full extent of on-the-ground U.S. military participation in the Saudi coalition-led war.”
The letter cited Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, and noted that “Congress alone has the power to declare and authorize war, and the War Powers Resolution allows any individual member of Congress to force a debate and floor vote to remove U.S. forces from unauthorized hostilities.”
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Ultimately, the bipartisan group of lawmakers called for the U.S. military to fully disclose its involvement in Yemen, and to condemn Saudi Arabia for the atrocities it has committed in the poorest country in the Middle East:
“We call on you to immediately disclose the full extent of the U.S. military role in the Saudi-led war against Yemen’s Houthis, including the use of special operations forces; disclose any role that the Pentagon is currently performing, has been asked to perform, or is considering performing regarding an attack on the port of Hodeida; and issue a public declaration opposing this impending assault and restating the Administration’s position that Saudi Arabia and other parties to the conflict should accept an immediate ceasefire and move toward a political settlement to resolve the conflict.”
While the ongoing military action in Yemen was initiated under the Obama Administration, it has continued and even become worse under the direction of the Trump Administration. Pocan and Amash have previously addressed letters to Trump Administration, calling for an end to U.S. involvement in Yemen, and noting that everything the U.S. has done in the country up to this point has been illegal.
The results of three years of intervention from the United States and Saudi Arabia are staggering and have resulted in nothing short of genocide. The United Nations has estimated that “22 million Yemenis need humanitarian aid, and the number of and the number at risk of starvation could more than double to more than 18 million by year-end unless access improves.”
WHO, WFP and UNICEF released a statement in December 2017, calling the current situation in Yemen “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” and noting that after over 1,000 days of the war in Yemen, more than 75 percent of the population is not in need of urgent assistance.
“More than 1,000 days of families driven from their homes by brutal violence. 1,000 days without enough food to eat and safe water to drink. 1,000 days of bombed hospitals and damaged schools. 1,000 days of children recruited to fight. 1,000 days of disease and death … of unimaginable human suffering. The conflict in Yemen has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world—a crisis which has engulfed the entire country. Some 75 percent of Yemen’s population are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 11.3 million children who cannot survive without it.”
The truth is that the current conflict in Yemen has nothing to do with saving the lives of civilians, and everything to do with the United States appeasing Saudi Arabia by carrying on a manufactured proxy war targeting Saudi Arabia’s bitter enemy, Iran.
The latest letter from members of Congress who are fed up with the ongoing illegal war that has resulted in a horrific genocide in Yemen is encouraging, but it is just the beginning of the imminent change that needs to happen immediately, as millions of innocent lives are at risk.