ACTION ALERT: Defund the Criminal US/Saudi Military Assault on Yemen
August 21, 2018
Washington Post Editorial & AntiWar.com & US Senator Chris Murphy
On August 9, an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen dropped a bomb that struck a bus packed with young boys in the village of Dayan. The US-made bomb killed at least 51 people, including 40 children. A Saudi spokesmen defended this horrific massacre. The administration's response has amounted to a shrug. The US is complicit in a probable war crime and the Dahyan bombing was not an isolated incident -- previous airstrikes have hit civilian weddings, funerals and food markets.
End US Support for this Misbegotten and Unwinnable War
Washington Post Editorial Board
Millions are at risk of starvation across Africa and Yemen, but Washington Post Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah says we're too distracted by President Trump to notice.
(Gillian Brockell, Kate Woodsome, Karen Attiah, Malcolm Cook/The Washington Post)
WASHINGTON (August 19, 2018) -- On August 9, an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen struck a bus packed with young boys in the northern village of Dahyan, killing at least 51 people, including 40 children, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
As Saudi spokesmen defend this horrific massacre -- one called the bus a "legitimate military target" -- Trump administration officials are being pressed by members of Congress and reporters to say whether the bomb that was dropped was supplied by the United States, and whether the plane that dropped it was refueled by the US military under an ongoing support operation.
The administration's response has amounted to a shrug. When journalists questioned a senior US official this week, he responded: "Well, what difference does that make?"
The obvious answer is, a big one. If it assisted in an airstrike that killed innocent civilians -- the boys, according to the New York Times, ranged in age from 6 to about 16 -- the United States is complicit in a probable war crime. And the Dahyan bombing was not an isolated incident. Previous airstrikes have hit weddings, funerals and food markets.
Thousands of civilians have been killed since the Saudis and their allies launched their intervention in April 2015. As a letter to the Defense Department from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) put it, "US refueling, operational support functions, and weapons transfers could qualify as aiding and abetting these potential war crimes."
Like the Obama administration before it, the Trump administration has tried to keep its distance from the Saudi campaign while simultaneously supporting it through the sales of bombs, targeting intelligence and refueling for planes.
Meanwhile, a promised cakewalk -- the Saudis and their United Arab Emirates allies promised to quickly defeat Houthi rebels who had driven a Saudi-backed government out of the capital -- has turned into a quagmire.
The tangible result has been tens of thousands of deaths and what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with 8 million people on the brink of famine and more than 1 million infected with cholera.
It is long past time to end US support for this misbegotten and unwinnable war. There is a clear path out: A UN mediator has called the various parties to Geneva early next month to discuss a peace process.
Among the first steps would be a cease-fire, along with the transfer to UN control of the Houthi-held port of Hodeida, through which flows 70 percent of Yemen's food and aid supplies. UN sources say the Houthis, who have the support of Iran, are ready to strike these accords, but the Saudi and UAE regimes have been resistant.
The US allies will accept a peace process only if it is clear that they will not have Washington's support for more war. Because President Trump remains in thrall to the Saudi princes, it's fortunate that Congress has applied some pressure. Amendments added to the defense authorization bill that Mr. Trump signed this week require the Pentagon to investigate whether US-backed air operations resulted in violations of human rights.
The bill conditions further military support on a State Department certification that the Saudi coalition is working to prevent civilian deaths. The Dahyan bombing should make such certification unthinkable.
Murphy Amendment Would
Defund US Involvement in Yemen War
Bill expected to come to vote early this week
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(August 19, 2018) -- Recently signed by President Trump, the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) sought to place limits on US involvement in the Yemen War, and mandated new reports to Congress regarding involvement. President Trump said in his signing statement he won't honor those limits, arguing that the war limits violate his role as commander in chief, and the reports put an undue burden on the Pentagon.
This week, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) is taking another crack at defunding the war, with an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act of 2019, which is coming up for debate in the Senate. This amendment withdraws all funding, prohibiting the Pentagon from spending any money on the Yemen War.
This is the only realistic recourse Congress has to President Trump's refusal to abide by NDAA limitations, The power of the purse allows Congress to defund conflicts, and Sen. Murphy says it is particularly vital in this case, because the war is unconstitutional and never authorized by Congress.
Previous debates over Yemen in Congress saw administration officials conceding that the war was never authorized, but the Pentagon also falsely claiming that the US wasn't directly involved in the conflict.
Continued US involvement has become increasingly controversial, particularly as the civilian death toll skyrockets. Earlier this month, a Saudi war plane attacked a Yemeni school bus, killing at least 42 children. The bomb they dropped was made by Lockheed Martin, a US company.
This is the latest in a long line of massacres involving US-provided arms, US-provided planes, and Pentagon facilitated attacks. While Congressional leadership hasn't always been eager to allow debate, there is substantial concern about US culpability in Saudi war crimes.
There is not a specific timetable for the vote on the Murphy Amendment, but business related to the Appropriations Act is expected to begin Monday afternoon, which means that the amendment will almost certainly come up for a vote in the next few days.
Those wishing to contact their Senators in support of the Murphy Amendment should do so as soon as possible. Contact information can be found here.
Murphy Amendment Would Halt Funds to Yemen
Until Pentagon Certifies Saudi Coalition
Is Not Violating International and US Law
Chris Murphy / US Senate
WASHINGTON (August 17, 2018) -- US Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Friday announced an amendment to the FY 2019 Defense Appropriations bill that would cut off United States' support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition's war in Yemen until the Secretary of Defense certified that the coalition's air campaign is not violating international law and US policy related to the protection of civilians.
The amendment comes in the wake of a horrific school bus bombing, which killed 44 children and 10 adults and highlighted the coalition's repeated strikes on innocent civilian targets.
"Either the Pentagon should be 100% certain that US weapons and funding aren't being used to commit war crimes in Yemen, or we should cut off US support right now. 44 innocent kids are now dead, joining the thousands of other civilians who have been murdered by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen," said Murphy.
"President Trump declared last week that he intended to ignore a new law that placed conditions on US support to the Saudi-led coalition -- passing this amendment would show that Congress wasn't messing around," Murphy added.
"For three years, administrations of both parties have promised that US assistance will improve the targeting, but things on the ground are getting worse, not better. We're enabling a war that is killing innocent people and not making us one bit safer -- that needs to stop."
According to the United Nations, up to one-third of all Saudi-led coalition airstrikes hit civilian targets. Data shows there has been a 37% increase in civilian casualties from airstrikes in 2018 compared to 2017 (up to 778 from 567).
Murphy has been a vocal critic of US support for military campaigns in Yemen that have led to devastating humanitarian consequences and a security vacuum that has empowered terrorist groups. Murphy has repeatedly expressed concern that US participation in Saudi Arabia's military actions against Houthi rebels in Yemen threatens our own national security interests.
Murphy introduced a bipartisan resolution with US Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) to end unauthorized US military involvement in Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen. Murphy introduced similar legislation last year. In June, Murphy and colleagues sent a letter calling on the Trump administration to take action before an attack on the port of Hudaydah.
Already considered one of the world's largest humanitarian crisis, it is calculated that the Yemen conflict has:
* Killed more than 10,000 civilians and wounded 40,000 more
* Left 22.2 million Yemenis -- more than 80% of the entire population -- requiring humanitarian assistance;
* Caused the loss of more than 50% of Yemen's nighttime electricity, a key condition for maintaining hospitals, water supply systems, and communications;
* Left 8 million Yemenis on the brink of starvation;
* Produced the largest cholera outbreak in modern history.
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