Statement from Peace Action - SENATE PASSES HISTORIC BILL DIRECTING TRUMP TO END U.S. ROLE IN YEMEN WAR
Washington, D.C. — December 13, 2018 — In response to the Senate voting 56-41 to pass S.J.Res. 54, legislation to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action’s Senior Director for Policy and Political Affairs, released the following statement:
“In a historic vote, over the Trump administration’s strong objection, the Senate just directed President Trump to withdraw U.S. military support for the war in Yemen. U.S. support for the war has given the Saudi-led coalition both the material support and the political cover it has needed to sustain its brutal campaign in Yemen. This vote immediately diminishes U.S. political support for the war and puts more pressure on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to end their brutal tactics and negotiate an end to the war. As the Saudi-led coalition would struggle to sustain the war effort without U.S. support, congressional action leading up to this extraordinary vote may well have contributed to the progress in negotiations in Sweden where the parties to the war just agreed to a ceasefire in and around Hodeidah, a key port city for the delivery of humanitarian aid. Beyond its significance for the people of Yemen, by successfully invoking the War Powers Act, this vote also heralds the beginning of the end of Congress’ abdication of its war powers after nearly two decades of endless war with no meaningful oversight from Congress.
“The Trump administration needs to listen to the growing bipartisan consensus in Congress that U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen must end without delay. With this strong bipartisan action in the Senate, Republican leadership in the House needs to stop blocking the will of the majority and allow a vote in the House without delay. If the Trump administration does not act to end the unconstitutional U.S. role in Yemen, the incoming Congress will move to force its hand next year.
“This vote is the culmination of years of work by champions in the Senate like Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Mike Lee (R-UT), by peace groups, human rights groups, and political groups from across the political spectrum, and by grassroots activists across the nation demanding Congress take action to end the unconstitutional U.S. role in Yemen. This vote is a testament to the power of political activism, and a reminder that we must continue the struggle for a just and responsible foreign policy, because that struggle makes a difference.”
"Saudi and U.A.E. officials note that they provide an enormous amount of humanitarian aid to Yemen. This is true, and it mitigates the suffering there. But it’s difficult to give the Saudis much credit for relieving the suffering of a country that they are bombing and starving.
To avert a catastrophe in Yemen, the world needs to provide more humanitarian aid. But above all, the war has to end.
“You’re not going to solve this long-term until the war is ended,” said David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Program. “It’s a man-made problem, and it needs a man-made solution.”
That solution will entail strong American backing for a difficult United Nations-backed peace process involving Yemeni factions and outsiders, aiming for a measure of power sharing. This diplomatic process requires engaging the Houthis, not just bombing them. It also means a cease-fire and pressure on all sides to ensure humanitarian access and the passage of food and fuel. The best leverage America has to make the Saudis part of the solution is to suspend arms sales to Riyadh so long as the Saudis continue the war." (Click here to read full opinion).
"The Senate is barreling toward a floor brawl over how to respond to Saudi Arabia's role in the slaying of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Senators took a significant step this week advancing a bipartisan resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, marking a sharp break from President Trump, who has stood by Riyadh and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, even in the face of reports that the prince personally ordered Khashoggi’s death.
But now, lawmakers need to figure out what a final bill will look like as they prepare to take a next step of bringing the resolution up for debate — and a potentially raucous floor drama. The war powers fight is uncharted waters for a Senate that has repeatedly rejected attempts to challenge the White House’s war authority.
“This is new territory, I mean this hasn’t been done in the past, and I want to do everything I can to ensure that this is handled in a dignified manner,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee." (Click to read full article).
"For Trump, the relationship with Saudi Arabia is all about money," Karen DeYoung, Washington Post, Nov. 19, 2018
"A new report by William D. Hartung of the Center for International Policy, scheduled for release Tuesday, argues that the economic boost from arms sales that Trump has touted is a chimera. Although the president claimed to have signed deals for $110 billion worth of Saudi arms purchases during his visit to the kingdom last year, much of it was negotiated under the Obama administration, and many of the claimed deals were merely speculative. Final sales implemented during the Trump administration so far have totaled $14.5 billion.
At the same time, “Saudi arms sales support at most tens of thousands of jobs in the United States,” not the hundreds of thousands, or even a million, that Trump has variously claimed, reported Hartung, a researcher who has specialized in tracking the weapons trade.
Many jobs created by Saudi purchases of U.S. weaponry will ultimately be located in the kingdom itself rather than in this country, he wrote. Under Mohammed’s Vision 2030 economic diversification plan, all contracts must include 50 percent co-production clauses, with companies such as Raytheon and Boeing setting up manufacturing facilities in Saudi Arabia." (Read full article here).
"The likely assassination of the Saudi critic and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi underscores how urgent it has become for the United States to redefine our relationship with Saudi Arabia, and to show that the Saudis do not have a blank check to continue violating human rights.
One place we can start is by ending United States support for the war in Yemen. Not only has this war created a humanitarian disaster in one of the world’s poorest countries, but also American involvement in this war has not been authorized by Congress and is therefore unconstitutional.
[...] In February, along with two of my colleagues, Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, and Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, I introduced Senate Joint Resolution 54, calling on the president to withdraw from the Saudi-led war in Yemen. We did this for two reasons. The first is that the war is a strategic and moral disaster for the United States. The second is that the time is long overdue for Congress to reassert authority over matters of war.
The Senate voted 55 to 44 to delay consideration of the resolution. Since then, this crisis has only worsened and our complicity become even greater.
Next month, I intend to bring that resolution back to the floor. We will be adding more co-sponsors, and colleagues in the House have offered a similar measure. The brutal murder of Mr. Khashoggi demands that we make clear that United States support for Saudi Arabia is not unconditional.
I very much hope that Congress will act, that we will finally take seriously our congressional duty, end our support for the carnage in Yemen, and send the message that human lives are worth more than profits for arms manufacturers." (Read full article here).
To the Editor:
The Trump administration’s eagerness to bend over backward to accept the Saudi regime’s denials that it murdered Jamal Khashoggi, a United States resident and Washington Post journalist, is deeply troubling. This is particularly true given that both the president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seem willing to accept the results of the Saudi government’s proposed investigation of the case — an instance of the accused investigating themselves that would not hold up in any court of law.
More important, as the chief architect of Saudi Arabia’s brutal intervention in Yemen, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is already implicated in the killing of thousands of innocent civilians in an indiscriminate bombing campaign that has targeted hospitals, water treatment plants, markets, weddings, a funeral and, most recently, a school bus carrying dozens of children. The regularity with which the regime has targeted civilians — frequently using United States-supplied bombs and aircraft — make its claims that these are “mistakes” ludicrous.
At a minimum, the United States should stop arming Saudi Arabia and end military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, regardless of how the Khashoggi case is resolved.
The writer is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy.
"Be Outraged by America’s Role in Yemen’s Misery," by Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, September 26, 2018
"The news about Brett Kavanaugh and Rod Rosenstein is addictive, but spare just a moment for crimes against humanity that the United States is supporting in far-off Yemen.
President Trump didn’t mention it at the United Nations, but America is helping to kill, maim and starve Yemeni children. At least eight million Yemenis are at risk of starvation from an approaching famine caused not by crop failures but by our actions and those of our allies. The United Nations has called it the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and we own it.
An American bomb made by Lockheed Martin struck a Yemen school bus last month, killing 51 people. Earlier, American bombs killed 155 mourners at a funeral and 97 people at a market.
Starving Yemeni children are reduced to eating a sour paste made of leaves. Even those who survive will often be stunted for the rest of their lives, physically and mentally.
Many global security issues involve complex trade-offs, but this is different: Our behavior is just unconscionable." (Read full article here).