WASHINGTON--This afternoon, 56 US senators voted in favor of Senate Joint Resolution 54, formally titled “A joint resolution to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.” The Yemen Peace Project--along with a broad coalition of advocacy organizations and NGOs--has been working to generate support for this measure for more than a year, and we applaud the bipartisan majority that passed the resolution for taking courageous and unprecedented action to end US support for the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention into Yemen’s civil war.
A recent report highlights the likelihood that an additional 5 million people in Yemen will starve if the fighting in al-Hudaydah continues and consequently drives up food prices.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly “threw a fit” over the draft UN Security Council resolution calling for a limited ceasefire and increase in humanitarian aid to Yemen when it was proposed to him by British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
World Food Programme Chief David Beasley called the Houthis the greatest impediment to delivery of aid on the ground in Yemen, due to fighters taking up fighting positions in food warehouses in al-Hudaydah.
Washington, DC -- Last night, congressional leadership released the conference report of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019, which includes two amendments that will bring greater oversight and accountability to the activities of the United States and Saudi-led coalition allies intervening in Yemen’s civil war. As a pacifist organization, the Yemen Peace Project does not endorse the NDAA; however, we welcome the inclusion of Section 1274 and Section 1290 in the final legislation and, once signed into law, we strongly encourage members of Congress to take advantage of their provisions in order to increase transparency concerning US engagement in the conflict and pressure coalition allies to adhere to international law and the United Nations-led peace process.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) held a hearing this morning on US policy in Yemen, the first such hearing in over a year. To help prepare committee members for today’s hearing, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) produced a special report on the situation in Yemen, authored by the CRS’ long-time Yemen specialist, Jeremy Sharp. The report begins with a sober overview of the war in Yemen and a measured assessment of Iran’s limited role as the Houthis’ main foreign supporter, which is a welcome contrast from the rhetoric both the Trump administration and the Saudi-led coalition employ concerning Iran’s involvement. However, Sharp’s analysis, while couched in the voice of objective expertise for which the CRS is known, has several shortcomings that, perhaps unintentionally, obscure the nature of Yemen’s crisis and the context of increasing congressional dissatisfaction over US participation in the conflict.
Peter Salisbury outlined why the UN-led peace process in Yemen has been unsuccessful thus far, and what steps Martin Griffiths, a former British diplomat who takes over the post of UN special envoy at the end of this month, can take to be more successful than his predecessors.
Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 54 on February 28, which, if passed, would require President Trump to remove all US personnel from their activities in support of the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen and halt US logistical support to coalition air raids--including in-flight refueling, intelligence sharing, and targeting assistance--that have consistently targeted civilian schools, markets, and homes. Furthermore, S.J.Res.54 reasserts Congress’ power to approve and oversee the president’s deployment of the armed forces, as mandated by the War Powers Resolution. This assertion is not only a welcome congressional effort, as multiple presidential administrations have failed to push for an end to the war in Yemen; S.J.Res.54 is also the latest manifestation of a positive upward trend in congressional engagement on ending US complicity in and perpetuation of Yemen’s catastrophe.
The Economist published an article on the recent movements of the Yemeni National Army. The Army had previously been trapped in a year-long stalemate, but have recently started making progress toward Hudaydah, as well as making gains in al-Jawf in the north and Shabwah in the south. The Economist attributed these recent movements to the opportunities that have been created from shifting alliances since Saleh’s death in December.
Afrah Nasser asserted in an article published by openDemocracy that Yemen continues to be the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. One point of particular concern to Nasser is the face that the number of civilian deaths reported is inconsistent with the level of suffering that is occurring on the ground.
In response to today's Senate vote on the resolution to block the sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia, the Yemen Peace Project's director of policy and advocacy, Kate Kizer, issued the following statement:
Next week, the US Senate will vote on Senate Joint Resolution 42, a resolution that blocks the planned sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch and the UN Panel of Experts have documented numerous instances of Saudi Arabia targeting civilians in Yemen with US-sold weapons. The Obama administration suspended this sale of precision-guided munitions because of its concerns over Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen. S.J.Res 42 seeks to reinstate that suspension. Several organizations and individuals have pledged their support for the resolution, emphasizing the importance of avoiding additional US complicity in a war riddled with violations of international law and promoting the peace process rather than escalating a military campaign that has little chance of success. Below are a number of organizational statements and op-eds making the case for S.J.Res 42.
The YPP, along with 40 other national and local organizations, sent the below letter urging Congress to vote in support of S.J.Res.42 to block the pending $510 million arms sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. Recently, bipartisan members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives introduced joint resolutions of disapproval to block the sale of these weapons due to their repeated use against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Yemen.