Partnering with Sen. Bernie Sanders, independent-Vermont, we aim to secure majorities in both chambers of Congress as soon as we return to Washington to direct the president to remove U.S. forces from unauthorized hostilities in Yemen. We are invoking the War Powers Resolution with the aim of passing House Congressional Resolution 138 and Senate Joint Resolution 54. These resolutions have priority over other foreign policy considerations in the chambers, and the votes on them cannot be blocked by Republican leadership. Never before has such a feat been attempted in both houses of Congress at once — but the War Power Resolution allows members of Congress to force votes to end illegal U.S. military participation in this war. When we succeed, the Saudi campaign will inevitably collapse.
If our moral compass is to guide our country after the butchering of Jamal Khashoggi, the incineration of thousands of Yemenis in U.S.-Saudi air strikes, and the quiet deaths of more than 100,000 Yemeni children who succumbed to war-triggered hunger and disease over the past two years, Congress must pass these resolutions.
Opposition to our government’s unjust and illegal involvement in the war on Yemen has steadily grown over the last three and a half years. As more Americans have become aware of the Saudi coalition’s numerous war crimes and their role in creating near-famine conditions that are threatening the lives of 13 million innocent people, they have increasingly turned against our continued enabling of this atrocious war. Other Saudi crimes, especially the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, have forced more members of Congress to recognize that the Saudi government is reckless and increasingly out of control under Mohammed bin Salman’s bad leadership. As a result, many of them see cutting off U.S. support for the war as a necessary response to the destructive behavior of the Saudis and their allies.
We have seen that the Trump administration will go to great lengths to cover and lie for the Saudi government simply for the sake of protecting arms sales. There is no chance that the administration will ever choose to hold the Saudis and their allies accountable for their crimes in Yemen or anywhere else, and so Congress has to force an end to U.S. support. Congress tried to condition support on improvements in Saudi coalition conduct, but that assumed some measure of good faith on the part of the administration that has never been there. Secretary Pompeo’s bogus Yemen certification last month is proof that the only way for Congress to change the behavior of the Saudis and Emiratis in Yemen is to deprive them of the military assistance that they have been relying on.
The Saudis and Emiratis are not our treaty allies, and so we have no obligation to aid them in a war. They are waging an aggressive war against one of their neighbors, and no U.S. interests are served by being party to that. They are guilty of numerous war crimes in which our government has been complicit up until now, and our government should stop acting as their accomplice and enabler. The Saudis and Emiratis do not get to hide behind their supposed “counter-terrorist” cooperation when they and their proxies have been buying off and recruiting members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to fight their war against the Houthis. The war on Yemen has achieved nothing except to destroy the country, starve and sicken the population, and make AQAP stronger than it was. Insofar as the U.S. has any interests in Yemen, this war has undermined and damaged them, and our support for the coalition has made us party to a disgraceful intervention that was never authorized by Congress.
The Senate had an opportunity earlier this year to halt U.S. support for the coalition, but they failed to take advantage of it. Next month both houses of Congress will have the chance to rectify that and to put an end once and for all to a despicable policy that violates the Constitution and blackens our reputation. Voting to end U.S. involvement is the right thing to do for the people of Yemen and for the United States, and I commend Rep. Khanna and his colleagues for the tireless work they have done in fighting to end the indefensible war on Yemen.