The three-year, Saudi-UAE-led war on Yemen has, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council, resulted in what is currently “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.” The blockade on imports to Yemen has, according to a senior UN official, brought 8.4 million Yemenis “a step away from famine,” while UNICEF reports that Yemeni children are dying at the rate of one every ten minutes from preventable diseases.
And yet the Saudis continue their blockade on Yemen, even in defiance of their most committed Western sponsor, President Donald J. Trump, who as recently as December 2017 called for the cessation of “all hostilities” and an end to the blockade and “completely allow food, fuel, water, and medicine to reach the Yemeni people who desperately need it.”
Yet, despite calls from the White House and the international community for an end to the savage war on Yemen, the United States has continued to lend military support to the Saudi-UAE effort. In addition to providing intelligence and aerial-refueling to Saudi bombers, the US military, according to NBC News, “drastically stepped up its air campaign in Yemen” during the course of 2017, “conducting more than six times as many airstrikes as in 2016, according to data from U.S. Central Command.”
But yesterday’s announcement by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Utah Republican Mike Lee that they, along with Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy, have introduced a joint resolution calling for an end to the unauthorized US participation in the Saudi/UAE-led war shows signs that Congress is beginning to resist continued US involvement.
The joint resolution calls for “the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.” The resolution claims that “no specific statutory authorization for the use of United States Armed Forces with respect to the conflict between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis in Yemen has been enacted, and no provision of law explicitly authorizes the provision of targeting assistance or of midair refueling services to warplanes of Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates that are engaged in such conflict.”
According to Sanders, the resolution is necessary because the United States is acting without legal justification. Sanders, Lee, and Murphy contend that the 2001 AUMF, which granted the president wide statutory authority to combat the Sunni radical terror groups such as those which attacked the US on 9/11, does not cover US action against Shia militias, such as the Houthis.
“We believe that, as Congress has not declared war or authorized military force in this conflict, the United States involvement in Yemen is unconstitutional and unauthorized, and U.S. military support of the Saudi coalition must end,” said Sanders.
“This,” said the Senator, “is not a partisan issue. If the administration believes we should be involved let them come before Congress, let them make their case and let Congress vote.” As one Lee staffer familiar with the legislation commented earlier this week, the resolution “is about Congress reasserting its power.”