Why Should We Care About Yemen?

By Wade Dunham
Wade Dunham is an independent progressive activist, Somerville resident, escapee from coastal Maine, and an alumnus of Tufts University.

Yemen. A country in the throes of a savage sectarian civil war. Twenty million people at risk of starvation. A massive cholera outbreak in the hundreds of thousands. Over ten thousand dead in three years of nearly ceaseless conflict. Children born into an apocalyptic hellscape of falling bombs, drone strikes, and gnawing hunger. A naval blockade that prevents humanitarian aid, food, and water from reaching those that need it most.

One might think that an interventionist America that takes its role as the world’s “big brother” seriously would seek to bring an end to this violent conflict and provide comfort to the wounded and afflicted. Instead, we have interposed ourselves, yet again, in the internal politics of a sovereign nation, siding with and aiding a Saudi-led coalition fighting an alleged proxy war against Iranian influence in the region. Aimed by American targeting data and kept aloft by American mid-air refueling, the Saudi coalition’s American-made warplanes have executed a horrifying campaign of “triple-tap” airstrikes that target medical personnel responding to their initial bombardment. Alongside the devastating Saudi-led offensive, the first year of the Trump presidency has seen a much more pronounced direct American involvement in both manned and unmanned combat operations, including a sixfold increase in American drone strikes on the small but geographically significant Gulf nation and a disastrous special forces raid that claimed the life of one Navy SEAL and as many as thirty civilians. At the same time, the Trump Administration has deepened America’s ties with the Saudi royal family of Mohammed bin Salman and their abysmal track record of human rights abuses, selling the Saudi war machine billions of dollars worth of next-gen American weaponry that inevitably find its way to the conflict in Yemen.

Although our participation in the Yemeni civil war is billed as an extension of the war on terror, our role in this conflict ensures that millions of people will inevitably experience real terror, up close and very personally. It is imperative that we hold our government accountable for their role in this mass slaughter of civilians and the resultant humanitarian crisis that threatens to consume an entire country. It’s time to demand that our military stop providing logistical and intelligence support to the Saudis and their allies, and instead work to broker a functional cease fire amongst the various factions warring in Yemen. Our nation’s military and economic might should be used as the vehicle by which violence is transmuted into peace, instead of as an enabler of war crimes and civilian atrocities.

Please call the Congressional switchboard (202 224-3121) and demand that your senators co-sponsor and vote YES on S.J. Resolution 54, the bipartisan bill that calls for an end to American military involvement in Yemen. Tell your legislators that this is an unauthorized, unconstitutional, and illegal war, and we should cease both our own offensive operations and the material support of the Saudi coalition. Let them know that we will not tolerate this ruthless and immoral bombing campaign, and if they won’t act to stop it, our votes in 2018 and beyond will go to people who will.