A new letter from members of Congress challenges the Trump administration on its support for the war on Yemen and specifically opposes American assistance in attacking the port of Hodeidah:

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers urged Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Tuesday to reconsider his support for a seemingly imminent assault by a Saudi-led coalition on the crucial Yemeni port city of Hodeida.

“In the face of Yemen’s senseless humanitarian tragedy, where 19 million people need emergency support, we are committed to using our Constitutional authority to assert greater oversight over U.S. involvement in the conflict and promote greater public debate regarding U.S. military participation in Yemen’s civil war, which has never been authorized by Congress,” the legislators said in a letter.

The members of Congress that are challenging the administration on this should be commended, and I hope Mattis listens to them. A coalition attack on the port would be a guaranteed death sentence to countless civilians who are already on the verge of starving to death because of the bombing campaign and blockade over the last two years. The Saudis and their allies bear much of the responsibility for creating what is now widely recognized to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Attacking Hodeidah would make an already horrific situation far worse:

Since Hodeida is densely populated, and the port is surrounded by the bustling city, an assault could take weeks, if not months, and lead to a mass exodus of residents as well as the tens of thousands of internally displaced people sheltering there.

“The big question is how do they take the city without destroying it and the port in the process,” said Scott Paul, a senior humanitarian policy adviser at Oxfam International who has worked in Yemen. “With any closure, we’d almost certainly have a famine in just a few months.”

It is important to remember that the Saudi-led coalition has been deliberately strangling the civilian population of Yemen of basic necessities for years. Pushing the country into a famine is consistent with the policy they have been pursuing from the beginning. The U.S. has shamefully enabled the Saudi-led war all along, but helping them with this attack would represent an even deeper involvement in one of the most obnoxious parts of the campaign to date.

If the coalition does this, they will be the main authors of a major famine, and if the U.S. continues to help them it will be an accomplice to the same crime. No U.S. interests are served by aiding and abetting the Saudi-led coalition in their destruction and starvation of Yemen. Regardless, nothing could justify what the U.S. has helped the coalition do to Yemen in any case.