President Biden announced an end to US support for offensive operations in Yemen. He needs to go further.

MAPA Newsletter February 2021

by Brian Garvey

During his first major foreign policy address, President Joe Biden announced that he is  ending U.S. support for the Saudi/UAE-led war on Yemen and cancelling relevant arms sales of offensive weapons used by the Saudi-led coalition.

“It is welcome news that the Biden Administration will no longer support the greatest humanitarian catastrophe in the world. The conflict that has killed over 100,000 people, many of them innocent women and children. By providing missiles and bombs to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the United States bears responsibility for the famine and disease created by those weapons,” said Brian Garvey, Assistant Director for Massachusetts Peace Action, the largest antiwar organization in the Commonwealth. “Because Raytheon Technologies is headquartered right here in Waltham, the Bay State has a significant connection to the war in Yemen. Not only is Raytheon making offensive weapons for the coalition, both in the US and in Saudi Arabia, but our current Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, has only recently stepped off their Board of Directors. Mark Esper, who served as Pentagon Chief under Donald Trump, was formerly Raytheon’s top lobbyist. They have massive political influence.”

President Biden also stated in his address at the State Department that the United States will continue to defend Saudi Arabia from its enemies across the region. This falls short of the rhetoric then candidate Biden used on the campaign trail. At a Presidential Primary debate in November of 2019 he said, “I would make it very clear we were not going to in fact sell more weapons to them. We were going to in fact make them pay the price, and make them in fact the pariah that they are.”

“It is hard for me to understand why my government should commit itself to the defense of a country involved in war crimes,” said Garvey. “President Biden himself called Saudi Arabia a pariah state. Over 400,000 Americans have been lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. If we can’t defend our own citizens against global threats like disease, why are we investing resources to defend one of the worst human rights abusers in the world?”

On January 25th 2021 Massachusetts Peace Action took part in the International Day of Action on Yemen, joining over 385 organizations from 25 countries across the world to demand a complete end to the war in Yemen. Mass. Peace Action is a part of a coalition called the Raytheon Antiwar Campaign, which acts to raise awareness for Yemen and connect the issue to Massachusetts. “Today is a good day, for activists across the world who have opposed this war for over 5 years,” said Garvey. “but the work to expose our connection to these crimes and sever ties to Saudi Arabia will continue until the brutal war in Yemen is over completely.”