By Kenny Stancil / Common Dreams
On Friday, the seventh anniversary of the beginning of the Saudi-led war on Yemen, four members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus implored President Joe Biden to immediately end U.S. military support for the deadly assault—and vowed to pass a War Powers Resolution to make it happen if the White House refuses.
“Seven years ago today, the United States began unauthorized military participation in Saudi Arabia’s devastating war in Yemen. In the time since, Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes and air-and-sea blockade have cost hundreds of thousands of lives and threatened millions more with famine, triggering the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” CPC Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said in a statement.
“On this grim anniversary—spanning seven years and three presidential administrations—we are calling for an immediate end to American involvement in the Saudi-led coalition’s brutal military campaign,” said the lawmakers. Time is of the essence, they stressed, because “with each passing day, the crisis in Yemen intensifies.”
Biden promised over a year ago to end U.S. support for “offensive operations” in Yemen, but his administration has continued to offer hundreds of millions of dollars worth of weapons maintenance and billions in arms sales to Saudi and Emirati regimes accused of war crimes. Meanwhile, the United Nations Human Right Council in October voted not to renew the mandate of the independent monitoring group investigating potential violations of international law in the conflict.
“Saudi airstrikes have escalated in recent months,” the lawmakers said Friday, “killing and injuring four times as many civilians as the previous year.”
At the same time that civilian casualties are surging, humanitarian aid is drying up. “The Saudi blockade has reportedly prevented all fuel from arriving at Yemen’s major port since January, causing massive shortages,” said the lawmakers. “And with 30% of Yemen’s wheat imports coming from Ukraine and food prices soaring, acute hunger is expected to increase five-fold.”
As Jayapal, Sanders, Khanna, and DeFazio noted, “Congress has repeatedly voted to end the United States’ unconstitutional participation in this conflict.”
“This past fall, for the third time in as many years, a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives passed a measure in the National Defense Authorization Act to terminate ongoing military involvement,” the lawmakers said. “Still, the flow of U.S. logistics, spare parts, and maintenance essential to Saudi Arabia’s devastating bombings and aerial siege continues to this day.”
“We know that concern is not limited to Congress,” said the lawmakers, who pointed out that when Biden was a presidential candidate in 2019, he urged Congress to override then-President Donald Trump’s veto and pass a War Powers Resolution to end U.S. military involvement in Yemen.
Earlier this month, as the White House sought to contain a spike in oil prices amid Russia’s war on Ukraine, the de facto rulers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates declined to accept Biden’s phone calls and reportedly demanded even deeper U.S. involvement in Yemen.
After that, the lawmakers said Friday, “there is no better time for the president to fulfill his promise: ‘end U.S. support for the disastrous Saudi-led war in Yemen,’ and ‘make clear that America will never again check its principles at the door just to buy oil or sell weapons.'”
“While the United States may not be able to unilaterally end all fighting in Yemen, we can stop participating in Saudi Arabia’s brutal campaign, and exert leverage to compel them to lift their blockade,” said the lawmakers.
“Now, on this solemn anniversary, we urge the Biden administration to act,” the lawmakers continued. “If not, we remain committed to invoking Congress’ constitutional authorities to pass a new Yemen War Powers Resolution to end unauthorized involvement in this conflict.”
“American complicity in this humanitarian disaster has persisted for too long,” they added, “and we will not allow it to continue.”