On Monday, in a sign of a new and welcome assertiveness on the part of Congress, which has long shunned its mandate to oversee matters of war and peace as laid out in Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution, the House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for an end to the violence in Yemen.
It passed by an overwhelming majority, 366 to 30.
The resolution, which was introduced by California Democrat Ro Khanna, states that, “To date, Congress has not enacted specific legislation authorizing the use of military force against parties participating in the Yemeni civil war that are not otherwise subject to the Authorization of Use of Military Force,” which was initially passed in 2001 and granted the president wide authority to combat those who attacked us on September 11 (read: Al Qaeda, with a healthy assist from Saudi Arabia).
“This resolution makes abundantly clear that we cannot be assisting the Saudi regime in any of its fight with the Houthi regime. And we have to limit our involvement in Yemen to take on Al Qaeda and to take on the terrorists that threaten the United States,” said Khanna.
The resolution’s overwhelming passage is a victory for the forces of restraint on both the right and the left. “This has,” one congressional aide told me, “energized those of us who have been pushing for a more realistic and restrained foreign policy on the Hill, now there is a feeling these ideas are on the cusp of breaking through to the mainstream.” Indeed, the next step may well be the creation of a war-powers caucus that would, in the words of the aide, “institutionalize the momentum and allow us to build on this progress.”
When future historians take stock of the current era, America’s complicity in Saudi Arabia’s war on the civilian population of Yemen will surely stand out as one of the more shameful episodes in a century that has not been marked by a lack of them.
The Saudi war on Yemen has, by most estimates, taken the lives of over 12,000 people and resulted in the destruction of the ancient Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and a cholera epidemic. According to Amnesty International, “approximately 18.8 million Yemenis today rely on humanitarian assistance in order to survive.”
In late August, a UN report found that the Saudi-led war has resulted in 1,340 child casualties. The report went on to note that the UN had also received “220 reports of incidents of denial of humanitarian access,” including “violence against humanitarian workers, assets and facilities and interference with the implementation of humanitarian activities.”
Last week it was reported that the Saudis have closed all entryways into Yemen as part of an effort to stanch the flow of weapons to the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. But, in fact, the closure of all air-, land, and seaports has another, more sinister purpose: the mass starvation of Yemeni civilians.