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Yemenis Will Pay the Price for Trump’s Veto

Three-year-old Yemeni girl seeking medical help for malnutrition, January 2019. (Voice of America/Screengrab).

The International Rescue Committee issued a statement in response to Trump’s shameful Yemen veto:

This veto by President Trump is morally wrong and strategically wrongheaded. It sets back the hopes for respite for the Yemeni people, and leaves the US upholding a failed strategy. Yemen is at a breaking point with 10 million people on the brink of famine. There are as many as 100 civilian casualties per week, and Yemenis are more likely to be killed at home than in any other structure. Shelling is increasing inside Hodeidah despite the ceasefire, while conflict rages on in the rest of the country, impeding efforts by humanitarians to reach thousands in desperate need. International backers like the US should be shepherding warring parties to peace – not fueling the conflict.

Yemeni men, women and children will pay the price for this veto with their safety and in the worst cases with their lives.

All of the aid organizations involved in providing humanitarian relief in Yemen have been clear and consistent in urging an end to U.S. support for the Saudi coalition. They understand what the consequences for the civilian population will be if the war is not brought to an end, and they can see that the war won’t be stopped as long as the foreign patrons of the warring parties continue providing unconditional support. When Trump vetoed S.J.Res. 7, he was proving yet again that he valued good relations with despotic war criminals more than the lives of the many millions of Yemenis being starved and subjected to the most horrific conditions imaginable.

One of the most disingenuous parts of Trump’s veto statement was the lip service he paid to reaching a negotiated settlement in Yemen:

We cannot end the conflict in Yemen through political documents like S.J. Res. 7. Peace in Yemen requires a negotiated settlement.

Without “political documents” like S.J.Res. 7, there is no chance of a negotiated settlement. The Saudis and Emiratis won’t agree to such a settlement unless they believe they are risking their relationship with the U.S. by refusing it, and as long as Trump keeps covering for them and bailing them out they will keep fighting. Just as Congressional pressure has aided the cause of diplomacy in Yemen, the president’s veto of the antiwar resolution will only encourage the Saudis and Emiratis in their belief that they can act with impunity and don’t have to worry about losing U.S. backing for their war. Passing S.J.Res. 7 was not going to end the war by itself, but it was a necessary first step to bringing the end of the war closer. Trump’s veto has dashed that hope for now, and Congress will have to find other ways to cut off support for the Saudi coalition. In the meantime, more Yemenis will suffer and die needlessly because Trump refused to heed the will of the American people expressed through our representatives in Congress.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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