An Open Letter on Yemen to Members of Congress
To the members of Congress:
The continued suffering of the Yemeni people at the hands of Saudi-led aerial bombardments is certainly one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises but it is also a moral and political crisis for the United States, given U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the main culprits in Yemen’s brutal war. Our global leadership and legitimacy have been in decline for quite some time, but the brutal war in Yemen – whereby the richest countries in the Middle East region launch a merciless military campaign against the poorest country in the region, with arms provided by the United States and with U.S. intelligence collaboration – only deepens the world’s disillusionment and lack of trust.
A crisis that began under the Obama Administration and continues under President Trump could end immediately if the U.S. government denounced the bombardments and halted arms deliveries to the aggressive Gulf dheikhdoms. For too long, the U.S. has turned a blind eye to Saudi misdeeds, especially the global spread of an extremist form ofWahhabi Islam. One disgraceful act was the Saudi thereat to withdraw its funding of UN projects if it remains on the list of governments responsible for the deaths of children during armed conflict. In the final 20 April 2016 version of the UN report, Children and Armed Conflict, the section on Yemen describes effects on children of “ground fighting” by Houthi rebels but makes no mention of the effects of Saudi aerial bombardments.
Since then, the suffering of Yemen has only been compounded. In addition to the numerous deaths of children, women, and men, and the famine and malnutrition engulfing the country, the airstrikes have destroyed Yemen’s famous cultural heritage sites as well as its physical and social infrastructure. The cholera outbreak – affecting hundreds of thousands of Yemeni citizens – has occurred because the bombardments prevent access to clean water. These are clearly war crimes for which the Saudi-led coalition must be held accountable. And if the U.S. does not act soon, out government will be held accountable for complicity.
We can no longer stand by and do nothing for the long-suffering people of Yemen. Congress will soon debate and vote on House Concurrent Resolution 81, a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Walter Jones (R-NC), that aims to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. We call on you to support that resolution.
Yemen’s problems originate in a regime that after 1990 failed to provide its citizens with security, economic development, and social services; squandered oil revenues on military purchases; allowed U.S. drone strikes; and reinforced a complex tribal system enabling shifting alliances. These problems have been exacerbated by external intervention and especially by the Saudi military assaults and blockades. This needs to stop, as Yemenis must be able to reconcile their differences without external military interference. If the U.S. ended its weapons sales and compelled the Saudi-led coalition to end its airstrikes, the Houthis could be persuaded to put down their arms and attend peace talks.
Congress represents the voice of the people in Washington, DC. It is time for you, as our representatives, to speak for us and to claim your power to choose diplomacy and peace over militarism and war.
Members of the House of Representatives, please cosponsor and vote for House Concurrent Resolution 81, a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Walter Jones (R-NC), that aims to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Senators, please introduce comparable legislation in the Senate.
- People with expertise or experience on international affairs or the Middle East
- Faculty members
- Clergy or lay faith leaders
- State or local elected officials
- Labor union leaders
- Officer of a community or civic organization
- Professional or business person
- Artist, musician, entertainer
To sign, please go to bit.ly/end-yemens-suffering.