A year ago today, President Joe Biden announced that the United States would no longer provide support for the Saudi and UAE-led coalition’s “offensive” military campaign in Yemen. The administration also announced they would lift a foreign terrorist organization designation on the Houthis and restore humanitarian aid to all parts of Yemen. They committed to ending the war.
For far too long, the United States has been complicit in this war and humanitarian disaster. The people of Yemen can’t wait another year for peace.
These policy changes were the culmination of years of tireless advocacy by Yemeni-Americans and grassroots allies around the country. It was a historic win for the peace movement and proof of the power of relentless advocacy for peace.
While our collective lobbying on Yemen did make a real difference, it has become clear that the United States continues to provide critical military aid to the Saudi-led coalition despite last year’s announcement. More work is required to end U.S. complicity in this conflict.
In February 2021, Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-4) led 41 Members of Congress in a letter asking the Biden administration to clarify their policy, including how they defined support for “offensive” and “defensive” operations. The administration’s response came two months late and failed to provide clear answers.
Two months later, in April 2021, the Department of Defense acknowledged that the United States continues to provide logistical support, maintenance, and spare parts transfers for Saudi warplanes. The same warplanes were used just last month to carry out airstrikes on Yemen. These attacks killed nearly 90 civilians, wounded over 200 more, and disabled Yemen’s internet for four days. In its first year, the Biden administration also approved major new weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, worth more than one billion dollars.
One year into the Biden administration, the war continues. Congress must now pass a new Yemen War Powers Resolution to end all U.S. participation in the Saudi-led war.
In that time, Saudi Arabia has doubled down on its strategy of collective punishment of Yemenis. They have continued their aerial bombardment of the country and tightened their crippling air and naval blockade of Yemen. By preventing ships from docking at Yemen’s Red Sea ports, the Saudi navy limits the amount of food and fuel that can enter the country, creating artificial shortages that have put Yemen on the brink of the worst famine in modern history. Without fuel, hospitals can’t keep their lights on. Food and medicine can’t be transported around the country to reach people in need. There are now 16 million Yemenis at risk of starvation and 2.3 million children acutely malnourished.
In response to this unfolding humanitarian crisis, Congress made several attempts to course correct. More than 100 Members of Congress spoke out against the blockade in various letters to the administration. In September, a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives voted to end all involvement in the war through the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act—only for the provision to be removed from the final bill during negotiations between the House and the Senate.
One year into the Biden administration, the war continues. Congress must now pass a new Yemen War Powers Resolution to end all U.S. participation in the Saudi-led war. Members who take on this issue will be getting a significant boost from grassroots supporters. The FCNL Advocacy Team Network has made this its main lobby ask in 2022 and has already started taking meetings with members of Congress across the country.
For far too long, the United States has been complicit in this war and humanitarian disaster. The people of Yemen can’t wait another year for peace. It’s time for the Biden administration and Congress to act!