Washington, DC -- Today, a bipartisan group of representatives led by Ro Khanna (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced a House Concurrent Resolution, invoking the War Powers Resolution of 1973, to direct the president to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress. The Yemen Peace Project endorses this resolution and urges representatives to cosponsor and vote for the measure.
This resolution comes nearly a year after the introduction of H.Con.Res.81, a similar measure which was arbitrarily stripped of its privilege by House leadership in violation of the War Powers Resolution of 1973. Over the course of the subsequent year, Yemen’s internationalized civil war has worsened significantly. Politically, both the the rebel and pro-government sides have fractured, with the Houthis killing erstwhile ally and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and the internationally recognized government losing its grip over a plethora of militias nominally fighting for its restoration. Militarily, the conflict has deepened, with renewed offensives in the west coast and northern highlands, a daily barrage of airstrikes in multiple regions of the country, and the consistent commission of gross human rights and international humanitarian law violations by all parties to the conflict. These developments have brought about an appalling deterioration in Yemen’s already dire humanitarian crisis, in which millions starve, fall victim to disease, and add to the staggering numbers of the internally displaced.
As has been true for years, the United States bears direct responsibility for perpetuating this war and its resulting humanitarian crisis. US forces refuel and provide intelligence for coalition planes conducting anti-Houthi missions; these planes use US-made munitions to target civilians, as in a strike on August 9, 2018 that killed over 40 children. Diplomatically, the United States covers for the coalition’s ongoing restrictions on humanitarian and commercial access to Yemen’s major air and sea ports. Per a plain reading of Section 8(c) of the War Powers Resolution, the US government has introduced US armed forces into hostilities in Yemen, and their continued deployment--in refueling coalition aerial missions and supplying intelligence and other logistical support to coalition personnel--is subject to congressional oversight and a congressionally mandated withdrawal.
The new resolution is particularly timely in light of developments last week, in which Secretary of State Pompeo certified that the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are adhering to requirements laid out in Section 1290 of the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act and can therefore continue to receive US refueling assistance. These certifications--averring that the two governments are working to reduce civilian harm, increase humanitarian access, and support a peace process--were made in bad faith, and reportedly driven by concerns over preserving future weapons sales to the coalition states. The administration’s failure to honestly address the coalition’s IHL violations via Section 1290 demonstrates, once and for all, that legislative half-measures are insufficient to the moment at hand. The House must pass H.Con.Res.__ and withdraw US support for coalition war crimes, or otherwise condone US complicity in Yemen’s ongoing destruction.