Today, the Yemen Peace Project (YPP), along with 64 other organizations, sent a letter to the United States House of Representatives to express their support for House Concurrent Resolution 81. The Resolution directs the President of the United States to end US military involvement in Yemen’s civil war, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution. Currently, the United States provides logistical, technical, and advisory military support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen without authorization from Congress. The coalition has perpetrated war crimes, targeted civilians repeatedly using US-sold weapons, and created the conditions necessary for Yemen to become the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Ending the United States military role in the conflict is essential to ending the notion that the coalition can win this war in the battlefield and push for peace.
Yemen’s man-made humanitarian crisis has created severe hardships for the civilian population. Over 17 million Yemenis do not have enough food with more than 7 million facing famine, and estimates show that there will be over 1 million cholera cases by the end of year - the largest cholera outbreak ever documented in modern history. Salaries of civil servants, teachers, and critical medical personnel have not been paid in over a year and the country faces a critical shortage of functioning medical facilities, with less than 45 percent of Yemen’s health care system still functional. Both the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi forces have contributed to the ongoing humanitarian crisis, although coalition airstrikes ate the leading cause of civilian casualties according to the UN. While efforts to hold the parties to the conflict accountable have been difficult, the United States cannot credibly push for peace while continuing to arm one side of the conflict. Congress can end this contradictory policy and move to alleviate civilian suffering in Yemen by passing House Concurrent Resolution 81.
Under the United States Constitution, Congress has the exclusive authority to declare war. US involvement in Yemen’s civil war has never been publicly debated or voted on by Congress. The Obama and Trump administrations has also consistently refused to brief Congress on the level and degree of support for the Saudi-led coalition, thus hindering efforts to create accountability for the US government’s actions. Moreover, continued support for the Saudi-led coalition could make the United States complicit in the coalition’s war crimes. Congress must exercise its constitutional authority and end US military support for the Saudi-led coalition.
The YPP and the other signatories to the letter urge members of the House of Representatives to vote in favor of House Concurrent Resolution 81 and end US involvement in Yemen’s civil war.
Read on to view the letter or view a PDF of the letter here.
October 27, 2017
Dear Congressmen Khanna, Massie, Pocan, and Jones,
We, the undersigned organizations, write to applaud your decision to introduce House Concurrent Resolution 81 to force a debate and vote on ending unauthorized U.S. military involvement in Yemen’s civil war. By providing technical, logistical and other military support for the Saudi/UAE-led coalition in Yemen, the U.S. has facilitated numerous violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen and the creation of the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.
Since March 2015, the U.S. has provided the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen with political and military support, including targeting intelligence, mid-air refueling, and other logistical support. U.S. personnel reportedly work alongside Saudi and other counterparts in the coalition’s joint command center. CENTCOM has publicly confirmed that the U.S. continues to provide mid-air refueling to the coalition, despite having no information on the objectives, flight plans, or targets of the refueled missions and no way to verify whether such missions comport with the laws of armed conflict or US national security objectives. U.S. weapons sold to Saudi Arabia have been misused repeatedly in airstrikes on civilians and civilians objects that are the leading cause of civilian casualties in the conflict and destroyed Yemen’s vital infrastructure. This destruction of infrastructure has exacerbated the world’s largest hunger crisis and created the conditions necessary for the largest cholera outbreak ever documented.
Yet despite the fact that the U.S. is actively aiding and abetting coalition abuses, U.S. military involvement in this disastrous conflict in Yemen has never been debated publicly. This war of attrition has been waged using U.S. weaponry, military support, and personnel without congressional authorization for far too long. As the Trump Administration has consistently ignored human rights and civilian harm in its national security decisions, and looks to take a more aggressive posture in the region, Congress must send a clear signal that U.S. military involvement in Yemen’s civil war requires congressional authorization. Without it, U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen violates the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973. Congress has a constitutional and ethical duty to ensure any and all U.S. military operations comply with domestic and international law, and U.S. participation in the war in Yemen raises numerous legal and moral questions that must be resolved by Congress. Congress has an additional responsibility to do all in its power to convey to the administration and US allies in the region that more must be done to address the urgent humanitarian crisis facing millions of Yemenis.
The war has also created a security vacuum in Yemen that poses a significant security threat to the region and the United States. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is stronger than it has ever been. The U.S. State Department recently stated that “AQAP, in particular, has benefitted from this conflict by significantly expanding its presence in the southern and eastern governorates. It has successfully inserted itself amongst multiple factions on the ground, making the group more difficult to counter.” Iran has also taken advantage of Yemen’s instability, and benefits the longer the conflict drags on; by smuggling limited amounts of arms into Yemen, Tehran has further embroiled its Gulf rivals in an unwinnable war. Only by ending the war in Yemen can these threats from AQAP and Iran be mitigated, for they have been bolstered precisely because of the chaos wrought by the stalemated battle between the U.S.-supported Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi-Saleh alliance.
The president is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, and as such has authority to deploy and commit U.S. troops to foreign conflicts. However, this authority is extremely limited. The Constitution grants Congress the exclusive power to declare war. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 has been held by all three branches of government to require specific statutory authorization for any extended military involvement in armed conflicts other than in cases of self-defense. As Houthi/Saleh forces in Yemen are not in any way associated with Al Qaeda and do not pose an imminent threat to the United States, there is simply no existing authority for the U.S. involvement in this conflict. We applaud your decision to exercise congressional oversight to end the U.S. role in the destruction of Yemen.
Action on Armed Violence
American Muslims for Palestine - NJ/NY (AMP-NJ/NY)
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
Arab Center for the Protection of Human Rights
Asian Law Caucus
Campaign for Liberty
Center for International Policy
Conference of Superiors of Men (Catholic)
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces
Defending Rights & Dissent
Foreign Policy for America
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ
Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project
Islamic Society of North America
Jewish Voice for Peace
Just Foreign Policy
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Maryland Chapter of the National Lawyers
Military Families Speak Out
Minnesota Peace Project
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Lawyers Guild International Committee
Pax Christi International
Pax Christi USA
Peace Action New York State
People Demanding Action
Pittsburg Mother to Mother Ministry
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)
Security Research and Information Centre (SRIC)
SEIU Local 87
STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities
The Coalition to End the U.S.-Saudi Alliance
United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ)
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Veterans For Peace
Win Without War
Women in Black - New Paltz, NY
Women in Black - Vienna
Women in Black - Baltimore
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
Worchester Islamic Center (WIC)
World Beyond War
World Peace Foundation
Yemen Peace Project