This week, a bipartisan group of representatives led by Ro Khanna (D-CA) introduced House Concurrent Resolution 138, which invokes the War Powers Resolution of 1973 to direct the president to remove any United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress. While Sec. Pompeo may evade placing the conditions on assistance previously mandated by Congress, H.Con.Res.138 eschews half measures for a complete withdrawal of support, and can challenge the administration’s unlawful actions in Yemen. But the resolution won’t move without your continued advocacy, which is slowly turning the tide in Congress!
We got a bit of a surprise over the weekend. Despite election season, and despite the seemingly hundreds of scandals inundating our screens, certain members of Congress have not forgotten that US support is enabling shocking war crimes in Yemen. And this week, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) is pushing forward a tough amendment to the otherwise routine Defense Department appropriations bill to cut off US support for the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen. But it may not move without your voice!
As most of our readers know, the US has been providing fuel for the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes in Yemen since 2015--airstrikes that, according to the UN, are responsible for thousands of civilian casualties. Back in March, Senator Elizabeth Warren explicitly asked General Votel of US Central Command (CENTCOM), in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, whether CENTCOM tracks the missions that it refuels in Yemen, and whether CENTCOM can assess whether US fuel or US-made munitions are used in air raids targeting civilians. General Votel responded that CENTCOM does not, and that he does not believe they are, respectively.
A recent report from The Intercept, however, covered a leaked “US intelligence report” assessing a May 14 coalition strike. The strike used a US-made precision-guided munition and narrowly missed killing a dozen civilians in Yemen. The intelligence report included a “minute-by-minute account” of the airstrike and comments from an American intelligence analyst stating that the strike “fail[ed] to follow proper procedure even though safeguards are in place,” suggesting that the United States can and does track coalition raids that use US munitions.
On July 5, the Department of Homeland Security will decide whether to extend and redesignate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Yemen. TPS allows individuals already living in the US to receive protection when their home country faces war or natural disaster. Yemen first received the TPS designation in September 2015. Since then, the war and humanitarian crisis there have only intensified. If the Trump administration cancels TPS for Yemen — as it has for three other countries already — 1,200 Yemenis would be forced to return.
Today we need your help: contact your members of Congress and ask them to step up by issuing a statement and making a call to the Department of Homeland Security in support of the extension and redesignation of TPS for Yemen.
We urge you to contact your senators and representatives and tell them the time is now to introduce legislation curtailing assistance to the Saudi- and United Arab Emirates-led coalition’s military campaign in Yemen, the one message that may successfully deter the UAE and Saudi Arabia from leading a catastrophic attack on Hudaydah city and port.
Yesterday the UAE gave the UN and foreign NGOs three days to leave Hudaydah before the Emirates and their allies launch an all-out attack on the city. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, an attack could cost as many as 250,000 people “everything — even their lives,” and humanitarian organizations have warned that damage to the port, which accounts for the vast majority of the country’s food and fuel imports, could tip Yemen into a long-warned-of famine. Moreover, an attack would sink the negotiations currently being brokered by the new, US-supported UN Special Envoy to Yemen. Though the US government has rhetorically opposed an offensive, the administration appears to be washing its hands of the UAE’s actions and will do nothing to intervene.
Yesterday, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 54, 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. Specifically, the resolution would prevent the US administration from literally fueling Yemen’s civil war by halting the in-flight refueling of, and other logistical support to, coalition air raids that have targeted numerous schools, markets, and homes. The resolution will also reassert Congress’ power to approve and oversee the president’s deployment of the armed forces, as mandated by the War Powers Resolution. This is our best chance yet to end America’s involvement in a war that has killed more than 10,000 Yemeni civilians, displaced 3 million more, and brought about the world’s worst humanitarian disaster with 8 million people at risk of famine!
In April, your voice helped deter the Trump administration from supporting a Saudi-led coalition attack on the Yemeni port city of Hudaydah. Now, reports are surfacing that coalition-backed forces are mobilizing to attack the city from the south, which will turn Hudaydah into a battlefield, shut down its port, and further exacerbate Yemen’s humanitarian catastrophe.
Saudi Arabia is starving millions of Yemenis to death, and it’s doing it with the Trump administration’s support. Some members of Congress are happy to put US support for the Saudi blockade of Yemen out of mind as they head home for Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t return to full inboxes on Monday! Heightened media coverage of the blockade has the Saudi government feeling jittery. The raised voices of a few dozen representatives and senators could push them to fully open the nation’s air and sea ports to humanitarian and commercial traffic.
Write your representative and senators today, telling them it’s time to #TalkAboutYemen and demand an end to the Saudi blockade. Your Members of Congress can do a lot to raise the temperature in Riyadh and make the Trump administration think twice about its tacit support for the blockade.