By Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams, December 8, 2022
“After seven years of direct and indirect involvement in the Yemen war, the United States must cease supplying weapons, spare parts, maintenance services, and logistical support to Saudi Arabia.”
A coalition of more than 100 advocacy, faith-based, and news organizations on Wednesday urged members of Congress to adopt Sen. Bernie Sanders’ War Powers Resolution to block U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, where the recent expiry of a temporary cease-fire has renewed suffering in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.
“We, the undersigned 105 organizations, welcomed news earlier this year that Yemen’s warring parties agreed to a nationwide truce to halt military operations, lift fuel restrictions, and open Sanaa airport to commercial traffic,” the signatories wrote in a letter to congressional lawmakers. “Unfortunately, it’s been almost two months since the U.N.-brokered truce in Yemen expired, violence on the ground is escalating, and there is still no formal mechanism preventing a return to all-out war.”
“In an effort to renew this truce and further incentivize Saudi Arabia to stay at the negotiating table, we urge you to bring the War Powers Resolutions to end U.S. military participation in the Saudi-led coalition’s war on Yemen,” the signers added.
In June, 48 bipartisan House lawmakers led by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced a War Powers Resolution to end unauthorized U.S. support for a war in which nearly 400,000 people have been killed.
A Saudi-led blockade has also exacerbated starvation and disease in Yemen, where more than 23 million of the country’s 30 million people required some form of assistance in 2022, according to United Nations humanitarian officials.
Sanders (I-Vt.), along with Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), introduced a Senate version of the resolution in July, with the two-time Democratic presidential candidate declaring that “we must put an end to the unauthorized and unconstitutional involvement of U.S. armed forces in the catastrophic Saudi-led war in Yemen.”
On Tuesday, Sanders said he believes he has enough support to pass a Senate resolution, and that he plans to bring the measure to a floor vote “hopefully next week.”
The War Powers Resolution would require only a simple majority to pass in both the House and Senate.
Meanwhile, progressives are pushing President Joe Biden to hold Saudi leaders, especially Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman, accountable for atrocities including war crimes in Yemen and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
As the groups’ letter details:
With continued U.S. military support, Saudi Arabia escalated its campaign of collective punishment on the people of Yemen in recent months… Earlier this year, Saudi airstrikes targeting a migrant detention facility and vital communications infrastructure killed at least 90 civilians, wounded over 200, and triggered a nationwide internet blackout.
After seven years of direct and indirect involvement in the Yemen war, the United States must cease supplying weapons, spare parts, maintenance services, and logistical support to Saudi Arabia to ensure that there is no return of hostilities in Yemen and the conditions remain for the parties to achieve a lasting peace agreement.
In October, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced a bill to block all U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. After initially freezing arms sales to the kingdom and its coalition partner United Arab Emirates and promising to end all offensive support for the war shortly after taking office, Biden resumed hundreds of millions of dollars in arms and support sales to the countries.
The new letter’s signatories include: American Friends Service Committee, Antiwar.com, Center for Constitutional Rights, CodePink, Defending Rights & Dissent, Demand Progress, Democracy for the Arab World Now, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Indivisible, Jewish Voice for Peace Action, MADRE, MoveOn, MPower Change, Muslim Justice League, National Council of Churches, Our Revolution, Pax Christi USA, Peace Action, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Presbyterian Church USA, Public Citizen, RootsAction, Sunrise Movement, Veterans for Peace, Win Without War, and World Beyond War.