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Congress Starts to Pay Attention to the War on Yemen

Some scrutiny from Congress is welcome, but there needs to be much more.

U.S. support for the war on Yemen is beginning to stir up a little resistance in Congress:

Democrats on a key Senate panel are holding up bomb sales for the Saudi air campaign in Yemen amid growing concerns over the rising death toll, Al-Monitor has learned.

This comes months later than it should have, but at least it is a start at trying to rein in the administration’s indefensible backing for the Saudi-led bombing campaign. A delay in selling the Saudis more weapons is welcome, but it would need to be more than a temporary slowdown if it is to have the effect of curtailing or ending the campaign all together. While it is good news that there is finally some Congressional scrutiny of the U.S. role in the war, there needs to be much more if the administration is going to be pressured into meaningfully changing its policy.

Unfortunately, it seems that a delay in the weapons sale is the best that can be expected. The report continued:

Sale opponents told Al-Monitor that they’d like to see lawmakers introduce a resolution of disapproval against the sale or at least circulate a Dear Colleague letter. While the sale is almost certain to go through eventually, they hope to use it as leverage to win concessions on kick-starting political negotiations with the Houthis and lifting the blockade.

If this could be used to get the Saudis and their allies to lift or just significantly relax the blockade, that would do the most good to relieve the country’s humanitarian crisis and stave off the impending famine. The trouble is that the civilian population is already suffering so severely because of the blockade that the time it will take to pressure Riyadh is time that civilians in Yemen can’t afford to waste. To make a delay in the weapons sale count for something, the Saudis would need to believe that the delay isn’t just being done for show or as a formality. The administration would need to be willing to use the leverage it has with Riyadh to extract some of these concessions, and the administration has so far seemed to be completely unwilling to do that.



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