Yemen Antiwar Activism Bearing Fruit as Negotiations Advance

By Brian Garvey

Saudi negotiators arrived in Sana’a April 9 for negotiations with Houthi representatives on a deal that could end the Yemen war this month.  In the wake of the Saudi/Iran deal brokered by China, the Saudis are reportedly agreeing to pay the wages of public employees, open ports and airports, rebuild the country, and a political transition (BBC News, April 9). The Biden Administration, which has done nothing to advance the peace process, sent CIA Director William Burns to complain to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that the Saudi moves have blindsided the US with its intransigent anti-Iran policy (Wall Street Journal, April 6).

The peace movement has focused for eight years on ending the Yemen war.   Most recently MAPA rallied March 1st at the local offices of Congressional Reps. Stephen Lynch in Quincy and Jake Auchincloss in Newton, as part of a nationwide day of protests —backed by dozens of US antiwar, youth, women’s, religious, Libertarian, progressive, and other groups.  

The day of action called for a Yemen War Powers Resolution, similar to the one introduced in the last Congress by Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon. That resolution garnered 120 cosponsors, including a majority of the Massachusetts delegation. Its Senate companion, introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders, received early support from both Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey.  MAPA’s March 1 protest targeted the offices of Representatives Auchincloss and Lynch because of their unwillingness to support that resolution.

For the last 11 months, airstrikes from the Saudi coalition have been paused, likely influenced by the threat of a resolution that would effectively ground the air forces of the coalition. Although the ruthless blockade continues, the abatement of airstrikes has been a godsend to the people of Yemen.

Long considered the world’s worst humanitarian crisis by the United Nations, the war has killed an estimated 377,000 people. Intentional airstrikes on food production sites, water treatment facilities, and other civilian infrastructure, as well as a strict land, air, and sea blockade, created a man-made famine (leaving some 17 million people food inse- cure) and the worst cholera epidemic of modern times. In spite of President Biden’s 2021 promise to end the war, the crisis has worsened during the last two years and the U.S. continues to service the Air Forces of Saudi Arabia and their allies the United Arab Emirates. The Yemen War Powers Resolution would end that essential logistical and mechanical support.

On Saturday March 25th, the anniversary of the beginning of the Yemen war in 2015, Peace Ac- tion hosted a virtual rally attended by hundreds of activists from across the country to call for more action from the US Congress to finally end US complicity in the war. Senator Elizabeth Warren provided remarks alongside Reps. Ilhan Omar, Ro Khanna, Rashida Tlaib, and Pramila Jayapal.

We plan to keep the pressure on to make sure that this year will be the last for this disastrous conflict. Tell your members of Congress to do their duty and end the war in Yemen!

—Brian Garvey is Massachusetts Peace Action’s Assistant Director and an active member of the Raytheon Antiwar Campaign