Congressman Frank Pallone joined Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, Congressman Ro Khanna and 39 of their colleagues in a letter to President Joe Biden and his military policy team in support of ongoing diplomacy to end the eight-year-long war in Yemen.
The House has repeatedly voted to cut all U.S. military participation for the Saudi-led war, where airstrikes in Yemen have been called war crimes but the United States supported the majority of air force squadrons involved.
The devastating violence has killed at least 159,248 people, according to conservative estimates by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), which monitors war zones around the world.
While Russia’s bombings of a maternity hospital and other civilian targets in Ukraine have drawn widespread public indignation as war crimes, thousands of similar strikes have taken place against Yemeni civilians without the American public taking much notice.
The indiscriminate bombings have become a hallmark of the Yemen war, drawing international scrutiny of the countries participating in the air campaign, and those arming them, including the United States.
U.S. support for the Saudi war effort, which has been criticized by human rights groups and some in Congress, began during the Obama administration and has continued in fits and starts for seven years.
“We write to applaud the recent diplomatic progress made by the warring parties in Yemen, and to express our profound hope that the recent visit of Saudi officials to Houthi-controlled Sanaa and prisoner swaps mark the beginning of a major breakthrough in a conflict that has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. While these developments provide a reason to hope that an end to the 8-year war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen is within reach, we must acknowledge that there are still major obstacles to a lasting settlement that require careful attention and diplomatic engagement from the United States,” wrote the members.
As we approach the 8th Anniversary of the Yemen War, the country remains stuck in a devastating cycle of conflict and humanitarian crisis that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Yemen is currently the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with over 4 million Yemenis displaced and an estimated 80% of the country’s 30 million people reliant on some form of assistance for their survival.
The lawmakers are urging President Biden and his Administration to:
- Clearly and publicly state that the United States will not provide any further support in any form to any faction party to the conflict while diplomatic talks to end the war are ongoing and should they fail to reach a diplomatic settlement and return to armed hostilities.
- Clearly and publicly state that Yemen belongs to the Yemeni people and only the Yemeni people.
- Clearly and publicly state that the Saudi blockade of Yemen’s ports — a form of collective punishment against innocent Yemenis — must be lifted unconditionally, as global international humanitarian leaders have long sought.
- Ensure that all factions are cut off from the weapons that they require to continue the bloodletting of the Yemeni people by immediately pausing all weapons sales and military assistance to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and any active member of the Saudi-led coalition until peace is secured and their forces are withdrawn from Yemeni territory, and maintaining American support for the United Nations arms embargo on the Houthis.
- Support a significant and desperately needed increase in American humanitarian aid to the Yemeni people.
- Take a leading role in organizing the international community to prepare for and begin the significant reconstruction effort that must take place in Yemen.
- “We believe that these steps are crucial to achieving a just and lasting peace in Yemen and ending a dark chapter of American involvement in this horrific crime against the Yemeni people. For our part, we will remain deeply engaged in supporting this renewed momentum for peace, and stand ready to introduce legislation to prevent further U.S. military complicity in the Saudi-led war on Yemen if hostilities resume, including via Congress’ authority under the War Powers Act,” the members concluded.
This letter comes after Tlaib led 23 of her colleagues in calling for at least $1.2 billion in humanitarian assistance to Yemen in this year’s budget.
“Now more than ever the U.S. must push hard to ensure that the blockade is completely lifted, and that Saudi Arabia and the UAE agree to and honor a timeline to withdraw militarily and end their occupations of Yemeni territory. While peace negotiations are ongoing, the U.S. must not obstruct peace by offering further military assistance, weapons, or security guarantees to Saudi Arabia or the UAE, while maintaining its support for the UN arms embargo on the Houthis,” said Congresswoman Tlaib. “The message needs to be crystal clear—no aid of any kind will be considered while Yemen starves. If this diplomatic process breaks down, my colleagues and I are prepared to introduce new legislation to end this awful war.”
“Despite recent progress in peace talks in Yemen, it remains the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. As negotiations proceed, the United States must be clear that it will not provide any support to the Saudis — logistical, intelligence or spare parts — until peace is secured,” said Congressman Khanna. “The United States must not be complicit in this conflict. As I have advocated for years, ongoing diplomacy is critical to ending this eight-year long war in Yemen.”
Last month, political violence in Yemen dropped by 30% compared to the month prior, reaching the lowest level since the regionalization of the war in March 2015.
This steep decrease coincided with a five-day Saudi and Omani delegation visit led by the Saudi Ambassador to Yemen to the capital city of Sanaa, amidst Oman-brokered peace negotiations between Houthi de facto authorities and Riyadh.
Yemen spiraled into a civil war in 2014 when the Houthis ousted the Internationally Recognized Government (IRG) from Sanaa. The conflict was regionalized in March 2015 by the intervention of the Saudi-led coalition in support of the IRG.
The letter was signed by Representatives Becca Balint; Jamaal Bowman; Cori Bush; André Carson; Greg Casar; Debbie Dingell; Lloyd Doggett; Veronica Escobar; Anna Eshoo; Valerie Foushee; Chuy García; Raúl Grijalva; Val Hoyle; Sheila Jackson Lee; Pramila Jayapal; Hank Johnson; Barbara Lee; Jim McGovern; Kevin Mullin; Eleanor Holmes Norton; Alexandria Ocasio Cortez; Frank Pallone; Mark Pocan; Ayanna Pressley; Delia Ramirez; Jamie Raskin; Linda Sánchez; Jan Schakowsky; Melanie Stansbury; Eric Swalwell; Dina Titus; Jill Tokuda; David Trone; Juan Vargas; Maxine Waters; Bonnie Watson Coleman; and Susan Wild.
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