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Americans Can Stop U.S. Role in Yemen War

Boys stand on the rubble of a house destroyed by Saudi-led airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, in August. (Hani Mohammed / AP)

Author’s note: Saudi Arabia, which launched military operations in 2015, says its aims in Yemen are to fight Iranian influence and restore the “legitimate” government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi’s, run out in 2014 by Houthi rebels. But Iran’s influence is heavily exaggerated, and Hadi is not popular. U.S. involvement has to do with controlling Bab-el-Mandeb strait, through which 3 million to 4 million barrels of oil travel daily. 

Yemen continues to suffer in silence as the world turns away from its ongoing misery.

Despite 2 1/2 years of brutal war, the average American remains oblivious to the inconvenient truth that the United States has been helping Saudi Arabia and a coalition including the United Arab Emirates and others destroy a sovereign country that posed a threat to no one. While rich Arab states bombard the Middle East’s poorest country, creating the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and an unprecedented cholera outbreak, our government (starting with the Obama administration and continuing with Trump’s) has continued to support the aggressors not only through the sale of weapons, but also through midair refueling, targeting intelligence and other logistical support.

The international community has betrayed Yemenis over and over again. Examples include the United Nations’ capitulation to Saudi pressure by removing it from the list of child killers and allowing a Saudi-led coalition to investigate itself for (and clear itself of) any wrongdoing. Even as an inquiry into Yemen war crimes was finally agreed upon this week, the word “investigation” was dropped, and it remains to be seen which “regional experts” the committee will comprise.

But have we, the American people, turned our backs on our government’s involvement in Yemen’s destruction? Yemenis are not seeking refuge in Europe or America because a land, air and sea blockade has kept food and medicines out while trapping people in. Unlike those fleeing the war in Syria, Yemenis may be “out of sight, out of mind.” But those of us who do know about the plight of Yemenis may feel helpless or unclear about what can be done to help. The truth is, we have to act, and we have to act fast.

We can no longer stand by and watch as Yemeni children die of curable diseases like cholera (with 750,000 cases and counting) because they can’t access clean water. Nor can we stand by and watch them die of hunger in a time of immense global wealth because their parents can’t afford what little food is available. We can no longer watch as Yemeni children, women and men are killed by U.S.-supported Saudi and Emirati airstrikes that target homes, schools, funerals and hospitals alike. We must confront our government’s role in creating this “man-made catastrophe” that has pushed this already-impoverished nation to its limit.

Now, 30 months into this war, there’s an opportunity for the United States to finally withdraw from the conflict. Congress will soon debate and vote on House Concurrent Resolution 81, a bipartisan bill introduced by Reps. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., Thomas Massie, R-Ky., Mark Pocan, D-Wis., and Walter Jones, R-N.C., that seeks to end the United States’ support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

If we don’t act now, we may find ourselves looking back and wondering what could have been done to save millions of people from certain death. We have an opportunity to end this war by urging our political leaders to stop supporting the Saudi-led coalition. And we have a moral and legal obligation to extricate ourselves from aiding an ally that has worked with terrorists to achieve its goals and has continued to commit what may amount to ongoing war crimes in Yemen.

Let’s email and call our representatives and urge them to vote in favor of H.Con.Res.81 and put an end to the atrocities committed in our name. For the sake of Yemen’s tiniest victims, whose little bodies gave up fighting hunger and disease in the time it took you to read this piece, let’s end the war on Yemen.

Shireen Al-Adeimi
Shireen Al-Adeimi, a Yemeni-Canadian-American, is a doctoral candidate and instructor at Harvard University.
Shireen Al-Adeimi

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