WASHINGTON, DC - Last week, the US House of Representatives passed three amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would provide much-needed transparency into the performance of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and potentially end US participation in the civil war. The coalition, to which the US has provided arms, refueling, and targeting assistance without congressional authorization, has created a humanitarian disaster in Yemen. The Yemen Peace Project (YPP) applauds the House’s decision and calls on the Senate to also adopt these three provisions.
Congressman Warren Davidson’s (R-OH) amendment prohibits US military action in Yemen that is not authorized by the 2001 AUMF outside of freedom of navigation operations, humanitarian interventions, or in the national defense in the US. As US assistance to the Saudi-led coalition is not covered by the 2001 AUMF, the amendment would block all US assistance to the coalition, including refueling coalition planes bombing Yemen, outside of US-provided training to the Royal Saudi Air Forces.
Congressman Rick Nolan’s (D-MN) amendment prohibits deploying US troops to participate in the Yemeni civil war. This amendment would would block US ground troops from being deployed to Yemen. In addition, this amendment would prohibit US military personnel from being deployed to the coalition Joint Command Center. By removing US personnel from the Joint Command Center, this amendment would limit US complicity in unlawful coalition airstrikes.
The House also adopted an amendment offered by Representatives Ted Lieu (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-MN), and Yvette Clarke (D-NY) that would require a progress report from the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense on Saudi Arabia’s military performance since it made commitments to prevent civilian casualties in exchange for the unconditional resumption of US air-to-ground munitions sales in May. The report would provide essential transparency in terms of the coalition's adherence to the US-provided no-strike list, Saudi Arabia's targeting capability, and the current level of US personnel in the Joint Command Center. Under both the Obama and Trump administrations, Congress has repeatedly requested and been denied information about US assistance to the Saudi-led coalition.
"For more than two years, the US has literally fueled the war in Yemen without congressional authorization, public debate, or transparency from either administration. Congressional oversight into US refueling of Saudi-led coalition jets, which continue to conduct unlawful airstrikes against Yemeni civilians and vital infrastructure, is long overdue,” said Kate Kizer, director of policy and advocacy at the YPP. “It's time for Congress to hold the Pentagon accountable before history does and end its blanket authority to fuel Yemen's civil war. Otherwise, the US will continue to be complicit in the death and destruction wrought by the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen."
These three amendments take a significant step towards ending US involvement in Yemen’s civil war and ending the Pentagon’s blanket authority to assist the coalition without congressional oversight. The YPP welcomes these amendments and applauds these Members of Congress for taking these bold steps towards ending US complicity in the coalition's disastrous intervention. The Trump Administration should heed this strong, bipartisan signal from the House of Representatives and scale back US military support for the coalition and instead focus on pushing for a political solution to the conflict.