Congress Must Act to End U.S. Support for the Saudis in Yemen




On the same day that Secretary Pompeo lied about Saudi coalition compliance with Congress’ Yemen conditions, coalition planes blew up a taxi stand full of civilians in Hodeidah.

Last month, coalition forces attacked the main hospital and fish market in Hodeidah. Scores of civilians were killed in those attacks. Then on Aug. 9 a coalition plane bombed the school bus in Dahyan in northern Yemen and killed 51 people, including 40 schoolchildren out on a field trip.

Two weeks later, dozens of displaced women and children fleeing the coalition offensive on Hodeidah were killed by an airstrike. These are just the largest, most notable attacks on civilians by the coalition in the space of one month. It doesn’t count the fishermen attacked and killed late last month as part of the coalition’s systematic targeting of Yemen’s food production, and it doesn’t include the numerous attacks that kill and maim smaller numbers of civilians day after day.

All of these attacks form a pattern that proves that the coalition shows flagrant disregard for the lives of civilians and routinely commits war crimes in its bombing campaign. U.S. support makes that bombing campaign possible, and so our government is responsible for the crimes that the coalition commits with our military assistance. The Saudi coalition will take Pompeo’s certification as a signal that they can continue to act with impunity.

The Yemen Data Project has been tracking Saudi coalition airstrikes since the start of the war, and they have measured a significant increase in airstrikes on confirmed non-military targets in recent months:

Our latest monthly summary is out. August was marked by notable airstrikes on civilian vehicles & buses in Yemen amid a significant change in non-military to military targeting. Bombing of non-military targets more than doubled that of military targeting.

In August, 39% of Saudi coalition air raids targeted non-military sites compared to 18% targeting military. Similar figures were recorded in July. This marks a significant change to the overall pattern of air raids since 2015 where 31% have been non-military, 36% military.

As we can see from these figures, the coalition is not only hitting non-military targets with horrifying frequency, but there are also far more strikes on non-military targets than there are on military targets. This increase in attacks on civilian targets is tied to the Hodeidah offensive, and the longer that this offensive lasts the worse things will become for the civilian population.

The idea that the coalition is making any effort to minimize harm to Yemeni civilians is risible, and all of the evidence shows that it is false. Pompeo’s certification is a lie, and it is a remarkably transparent and shaky one at that.

How can the Trump administration deny what everyone can see with our own two eyes? It is as clear as day that Saudi-led coalition is recklessly – and likely intentionally – killing innocent civilians and children, and they’re doing it with U.S. bombs and so-called targeting assistance. These certifications are a farce and we should all be ashamed that our government is turning a blind eye to likely war crimes.

U.S. involvement in Yemen will be a black mark on our nation’s history. The facts on the ground all point to the exact opposite conclusions than the ones the Administration certified today. Civilian deaths are increasing, not decreasing, with nearly every year growing more deadly than the last.

The horrific attack on a school bus was only the latest in a recent list of atrocities. And right now, the coalition is preparing to encircle the port city of Hudaydah, which will cut off vitally needed humanitarian aid to most of the population.

The Saudis continue to attack water infrastructure and obstruct humanitarian aid, and a new wave of cholera is sweeping the country. Diplomacy hasn’t gained serious traction mostly because the U.S. continues to provide a virtual blank check to the coalition’s military campaign.

The U.S. should never have been involved in this war, and ending our involvement is long overdue. Congress needs to rebuke the Trump administration for its arrogance and dishonesty, and it needs to end U.S. complicity in the destruction and starvation of Yemen.

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