Instead Of Supporting More Bombing…US Can Help Bring Peace To Yemen
By Elizabeth Warren and Ro Khanna
In August, the world watched in horror as a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in Yemen claimed the lives of 40 innocent children. The boys, many under the age of 10, were killed when their school bus was bombed during a class trip. The weapon used in that deadly bombing was made in America.
It was not the first time. In June, airstrikes hit a cholera treatment center run by Doctors Without Borders, even though it was clearly identified as a medical facility.
In April, 20 civilians, many from a single family, were killed while celebrating a wedding in a village in northwest Yemen.
As a result of this conflict, at least 15,000 Yemenis have died, 2 million more are displaced, and 22 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. To make matters worse, a man-made famine has brought nearly 8 million people in Yemen to the brink of starvation.
This humanitarian catastrophe didn’t happen overnight. For more than three years, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has been bombing Yemen as part of war to counter Houthi movement.
During this period, the United States has been quietly providing intelligence and military advice to the Saudi-led coalition. US government refuels Saudi coalition warplanes in midair. US government provides advice and assistance. US government authorizes the sale of US-made bombs and missiles the coalition uses to conduct this war.
US Congress threatened to cut off US support for the Saudi-led coalition’s operations in Yemen until the Trump administration certified the coalition was making “an urgent and good faith effort” to reduce civilian casualties, alleviate the humanitarian crisis, and negotiate an end to Yemen’s war.
But rather than using this opportunity as leverage to hold US partners accountable, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rubber-stamped the Saudi-led coalition’s actions. Secretary of Defense James Mattis asserted that the coalition was making “every effort” to prevent civilian casualties — even as the United Nations reported that the coalition was responsible for the majority of the children killed in Yemen last year.
The administration’s decision to double down on US support for the bombing campaign makes a mockery of congressional oversight authority. Overlooking the Saudi-led coalition’s apparent disregard for international norms and laws of armed conflict does nothing to improve US standing in the world. And continuing to support a war in Yemen does not make America safer.
The crisis in Yemen is worsening, and the United States can do something about it. US can hold the Saudi coalition accountable. US can demand that all parties cease the violence. US can support UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths’ peace negotiations.
The Yemeni people are suffering. Instead of supporting more bombing, the United States can help bring peace to the region. Congress has an urgent responsibility to act.