Dear friends and readers, We don’t often write about American domestic politics, because they aren’t a major focus of the YPP’s work. But Tuesday’s elections in the US have serious repercussions for US policy toward Yemen, so I want to share with you all my own thoughts on the election results, and tell you how the YPP is working to give Yemenis and Yemeni-Americans a voice in Washington.
Whether one supports or opposes Donald Trump, it is clear that he lacks experience in foreign affairs, and has little understanding of the issues that affect Yemen and the US-Yemen relationship. Once in office, he will be surrounded by the Republican party’s odd mix of isolationists and interventionists. Trump is likely to appoint someone from his inner circle to the coveted position of Secretary of State; one likely candidate is Newt Gingrich, a disgraced former Congressman who has previously championed the primacy of the Pentagon over the State Department in matters of foreign policy. With little to go on other than Trump’s own statements to date and the past actions of his allies, we have to assume that his administration’s approach to geopolitics will be defined by short-sighted and brutish unilateral action.
On the domestic front, things are no better. Mr. Trump has welcomed white supremacists into his tent, empowering those who would discriminate against and attack Muslims and Arab Americans. He has pledged to ban Muslims from immigrating to the US, and to increase arbitrary surveillance of American Muslims. Acts of violence against religious minorities and people of color in this country are all but guaranteed to increase during Trump’s presidency; already, in the two days since the election, two Muslim women in different states have been assaulted by Trump supporters.
But I’m not writing to encourage you to be afraid. I’m writing to urge you to act. In the coming year, the Yemen Peace Project will expand our advocacy program to more effectively communicate the concerns and interests of Yemenis, Yemeni-Americans, and international experts to US policy makers. I need you to stand with us in this effort.
The YPP is America’s first and only advocacy organization dedicated solely to Yemeni affairs and the US-Yemeni relationship. That puts us in an ideal position to advise and coordinate the work of other organizations, and it allows us to serve as a permanent resource and point of contact for legislators, government officials, and members of the public.
Since launching our advocacy program a year and a half ago, we’ve established positive working relationships with several members of Congress, and with staff at the State Department and USAID. Our volunteer advocacy team--led by myself and board member Don Picard--also collaborates regularly with other organizations working on US foreign policy. Through these channels, we are working to end America’s military involvement in the ongoing war in Yemen, and to support the internationally-backed peace process. We have also established an independent working group of governmental, humanitarian, and economic experts to assist with Yemen’s recovery from this catastrophic war.
With your support, we can go into 2017 with an even stronger advocacy program. In the coming year, we plan to:
- Hire a full-time advocacy director and two advocacy interns to augment our current team;
- Continue our efforts to end US military action in Yemen and reach a peace agreement;
- Put forward a comprehensive plan for responsible and constructive US engagement with Yemen, for the duration of the Trump administration and beyond;
- Defend the civil rights of Yemeni-Americans, at the local and national levels;
- Continue to build support in Congress for the above efforts;
- And train new volunteer advocates--in particular Yemeni-American volunteers--to participate in future lobbying campaigns.
We know the road ahead will be difficult. We can only make progress with your help. Some of you have already donated to the YPP this year, and I deeply appreciate your support. If you’re able to make an additional gift to our advocacy campaign, or if you haven’t yet made a contribution, I hope you’ll consider doing so today. I look forward to updating you on our successes throughout the year.
Will Picard, Executive Director