On July 13, 2019, Yemen Peace Project executive director Layla Picard participated in a panel discussion on how activists have influenced US policy toward the conflict in Yemen. This panel, part of the Netroots progressive politics conference in Philadelphia, and moderated by Stephen Miles of Win Without War, sought to highlight the importance of Yemeni and American activists’ work because, as Miles put it, “the situation in Yemen is the poster child for everything that’s wrong with US foreign policy.” Picard and the other panelists described their advocacy work, the challenges they’ve faced, and what the future holds for Yemeni-American and progressive anti-war activism.
The YPP team is very pleased to finally announce the launch of our new program: the Empower Yemen initiative. We are incredibly proud of the work we’ve done on Capitol Hill to end US involvement in the war in Yemen, and this week we are particularly gratified to see the historic passage of S.J.Res.7, a piece of legislation YPP worked on for roughly two years. Under the indefatigable leadership of our past advocacy directors, Kate Kizer (2017) and Eric Eikenberry (2018), the YPP played a crucial role in the formation of the advocacy coalition that pushed S.J.Res.7 through the Senate and House. That coalition continues to grow, as does the roster of senators and representatives who understand the urgency of the crisis in Yemen and the need for a radical change in US policy.
Because of those achievements, and because there are capable leaders like Kate and Eric (and many others) continuing the struggle in Congress, we decided last year that YPP would pivot to a new phase of the advocacy effort. Specifically, we decided that our primary goal should be ensuring that the advocacy happening in Washington reflects the perspectives of those who have to live with the consequences of US policy. You’ve probably already noticed that YPP has been much quieter in 2019 than in years past; empowering Yemenis means working in the background to push Yemeni advocates and experts to the forefront. Taking advantage of our networks in Yemen and our partners in Washington, the Empower Yemen initiative aims to bring Yemeni activists and civil society leaders into the US policy-making process, bringing us closer to an American foreign policy based on human rights, the rule of law, and the interests and needs of the Yemeni people.