As the conflict in Yemen enters its third year, a bipartisan group of congressman has called upon Defense Secretary James Mattis to rethink American support for the Saudi-led coalition currently fighting rebels in Yemen.
In a letter addressed to the administration sent last Tuesday, the lawmakers asked Defense Secretary Mattis to reconsider support for a planned Saudi assault on the Yemeni port city of al-Hodeida, one of the few functioning ports left in the war-torn nation.
“In the face of Yemen’s senseless humanitarian tragedy, where 19 million people need emergency support, we are committed to using our Constitutional authority to assert greater oversight over U.S. involvement in the conflict and promote greater public debate regarding U.S. military participation in Yemen’s civil war, which has never been authorized by Congress,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
The nine-state coalition led by Saudi Arabia began its bombing campaign in Yemen in March 2015 in an effort to restore President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi to power after he was deposed by Houthi rebels, a political-religious group based in Yemen’s mountainous northern region.
The Houthis, who stormed Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a in 2014 and forced Hadi’s resignation, now receive somewhat wide support in the country. This is especially true as Hadi was elected on a one-man ballot in 2012, an event celebrated as a triumph of democracy by the likes of Hillary Clinton.
The rebels have since formed a new government in Yemen, but the Saudi-led coalition has not stopped bombing. What began as a relatively small conflict has burgeoned into a full-scale humanitarian crisis for the country of 25 million people. According to the United Nations, over 14 million people, more than half of the country’s population, are now “food insecure” in what was already the Middle East’s poorest nation.
Human rights groups and other monitors have strongly criticized the Saudi-coalition’s indiscriminate bombings, which have killed thousands of non-combatants and devastated civilian infrastructure.
The situation is made all the worse by the fact that Yemen imports nearly 90 percent of its staple foods, including wheat and other cereal grains. The war has not only left domestic farms and food production facilities in ruin, but has disrupted markets and distribution networks across the country, leading to skyrocketing prices in some areas for what food that remains.
Another bipartisan effort was made in April when 55 legislators signed a letter addressed directly to President Trump which urged him to seek congressional approval for any escalation of America’s role in the conflict.
That letter was prompted by the administration’s rush to judgement over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria in early April. It could also have something to do with the botched military operation ordered by Trump in the first weeks of his presidency. That raid resulted in American casualties, and inflicted yet more suffering on Yemeni civilians.
Despite the long-awaited congressional skepticism over America’s role in Yemen, it may have no affect on policy. The bosom-buddy relationship with Saudi Arabia has held firm over many years, and appears to be set to continue well into the future.
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Contributed by Will Porter of The Daily Sheeple.