June 12-19: Senate Resolution of Disapproval Nearly Passes; Airstrikes on Market Kill 25

Monday, June 12

The Intercept reported that the Trump administration made its argument in favor of an arms sale of over $500 million to Saudi Arabia in a top-secret briefing organized by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Yemen Peace Project Advocacy Director Kate Kizer said of the meeting, “It’s really unfortunate that Senate majority leadership decided to hold this briefing in secret. Americans deserve to know the conduct of our allies, especially when the U.S. is intimately involved in starving potentially millions of Yemeni civilians by continuing to provide unconditional support to the Saudi-led coalition.”

Tuesday, June 13

The bipartisan resolution of disapproval for the sale of more than $510 million in arms sales to Saudi Arabia narrowly failed in the US Senate. With 47 senators voting to block the sale, the vote came closer than any previous vote to prevent the United States from selling arms to Saudi Arabia since the Reagan administration. Read the Yemen Peace Project’s statement here.

An article in The Atlantic stressed the dangers of selling arms to Saudi Arabia as it commits “many possible war crimes” in Yemen, contextualizing the recent US-Saudi arms deal in a longer-term American policy of arming autocratic regimes in the region.

Reuters reported that the Trump administration plans to resume delivering precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia in accordance with a 2015 arms deal. Such munitions are particularly controversial because Saudi Arabia has a history of targeting civilian sites in Yemen, and such strikes are often carried out using American-made weapons.

Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic and the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies published a report on US drone and “targeted killing” policies in Yemen and elsewhere, entitled “Out of the Shadows: Recommendations to Advance Transparency in the Use of Lethal Force,” which emphasized the lack of transparency and accountability in US operations. The report found that the United States has only acknowledged approximately one fifth of its reported drone strikes. It articulated the human rights value of transparency and accountability and provided recommendations for more robust oversight in the future.

Wednesday, June 14

The Guardian reported on a Save the Children statement that the rate of cholera infections in Yemen has more than tripled in the past two weeks. Children under the age of 15 now account for nearly half of all cases, and a child is infected with cholera every 35 seconds.

The New York Times reported that Saudi Arabia is purchasing a package of training programs through the US military, which would include instruction in international law issues, and improved targeting procedures. The Saudi decision to engage in the program may be a response to American concerns over massive civilian casualties and alleged war crimes in Yemen.

Thursday, June 15

Asharq Al-Awsat reported that Houthi rebels fired a missile at an Emirati ship off the coast of Yemen, injuring one crewman.

The United Nations Security Council released a presidential statement addressing the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Read more on the Yemen Peace Project blog.

The New York Times reported that UNICEF is paying the salaries of Yemeni doctors and nurses. Yemeni medical personnel, who are currently struggling to stem a cholera epidemic and to treat various conflict-related injuries and illnesses despite limited medical supplies and other challenges, had not received salaries in months, but for the past four weeks they have been supported financially by UNICEF.

The World Health Organization (WHO) signed an agreement with the Saudi King Salman Centre for Humanitarian Aid and Relief for more than $8 million to respond to Yemen’s cholera epidemic.

The Middle East Monitor reported that Alexandre Faite, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Delegation in Yemen, warned that Yemen’s healthcare system is on “the brink of collapse.”

Friday, June 16

The Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor published a report on the arms trade in Yemen, referring to the role of the Yemeni military, AQAP, and other actors in flooding the country with weapons.

Al Arabiya reported that Houthi forces bombed Saudi trucks carrying humanitarian aid intended for distribution to Yemenis in Marib. Sources alleged that an improvised explosive device was used in the attack.

Saturday, June 17

Reuters reported that, while the Hadi government has agreed to a plan to secure al-Hudaydah Port proposed by United Nations Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed last month, the Houthis remain “skeptical.” The plan calls for the Houthis to surrender Hudaydah to an unspecified third party; currently, no plausible third party has been identified.

Reuters reported that an American drone strike in Shabwah province killed two suspected  al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) militants. Civilian casualties of US drone strikes in Yemen are often reported as AQAP militants.

Sunday, June 18

According to Al Jazeera, Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on the al-Mashnaq market in the Shada district of Sa’dah province killed at least 25 Yemeni civilians.

Anadolu Agency reported that several Yemeni civilians have committed suicide in the face of the country’s deepening humanitarian crisis.

Monday, June 19

Al Arabiya reported that pro-Hadi forces have gained control of Jabal Ham on the border between al-Jawf and ‘Amran provinces.

The Middle East Monitor reported on alleged major acts of humanitarian aid obstruction committed by the Houthis and their allies, including the blocking of dozens of aid ships and the stealing of supplies from hundreds of land convoys.

The Middle East Monitor reported that forces aligned with the Houthis have kidnapped former Islah parliamentarian Ahmed Wali Al-Thashy.

The Guardian published an op-ed warning that the American decision to back the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen is dangerous, because it breeds anti-US sentiment in the country.