Anti-war groups ask US lawmakers to end support to Saudi-led war in Yemen

Despite the assurances given by US president Joe Biden earlier this year, the US continues to extend crucial military support to the Saudi-led coalition’s war efforts in Yemen

September 22, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
War in Yemen
(Photo: Mohammed Mohammed/Xinhua)

On Monday, September 20, more than 50 anti-war groups wrote a letter to US lawmakers asking them to urgently take measures to end US support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. They asked for ending the war through legislation that will assert the US congress’ “constitutional authority on matters of war and peace.” 

The signatories to the letter include CODEPINK, Antiwar.com, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), as well as groups such as the Yemeni Liberation Movement. CODEPINK is also leading a campaign called Cut the Pentagon, asking lawmakers to slash the US defense budget by 10%.

The letter underlines that president Joe Biden’s declaration of ending weapons sales to Saudi Arabia earlier this year does not completely end “US complicity” in the war in Yemen. It cites the department of defense’s acknowledgement in April that “the United States continues to provide maintenance support and spare parts transfers that enable Saudi led aerial operations in Yemen, including the enforcement of the blockade.”

Last week, the US state department had approved a USD 500 million deal to provide military support service to Saudi Arabia. The decision is awaiting review by Congress.  

The signatories called on the lawmakers to use the annual defense policy bill, named the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to enact prohibitions for all kinds of US support to the Saudi war efforts in Yemen. 

The letter comes at a time when Democratic congressman Ro Khanna has proposed an amendment in the NDAA asking for termination of all US assistance to Saudi Arabia’s offensive actions.   

After a prolonged campaign against the US support to the Saudi-led war in Yemen, the Biden administration had announced the stoppage of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in January this year pending review. In February, Biden announced the end of all US support to Saudi Arabia’s offensive operations in Yemen. However, in April, the government decided to resume arms sales to the UAE, which is a major partner in the Saudi-led coalition. 

The coalition has imposed an air, sea and land blockade in Yemen’s northern areas, which are under the control of the Houthis since 2015 following their capture of capital Sana’a. The Saudi coalition supports the government led by Abd Rabbu Mansur Hadi, who has fled the country to Riyadh. His government now operates from the southern Yemeni port city of Aden.

President Biden and around 100 members of the US congress have asked the Saudi-led coalition to lift the import restrictions imposed on Yemen and lift the blockade. The letter claims that the Saudi-led coalition has tightened some restrictions with “devastating humanitarian consequences for Yemenis.”  

The blockade imposed by the coalition has led to the drying up of most of the food and medicines supplies to the country, pushing millions to the brink of starvation and death. The Saudi coalition is also accused of committing war crimes by bombing civilian areas in northern Yemen, killing thousands of innocent civilians.     

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