Already one of the world’s most impoverished Arab nations, Yemen continues to be decimated by a civil war between Iran and Saudi Arabian states. Over 700,000 citizens have been exposed to cholera and sixty percent of the populace has no access to proper food, creating what a number of agencies at the United Nations calls “the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.”
What is most troubling about this conflict and its repercussions is that the United States – (hilariously) considered one of the most humanitarian nations in the world – provides military assistance to the Saudi side. While many would politically argue this is done indirectly, it is not done with ignorance. The administration is well aware of the part if plays, leaving no wiggle room to claim impartiality.
Beginning with the Obama administration and continuing with the Trump administration, this country maintains an active position in the war. From 2015 on, the U.S. Air Force has enabled the Riyadh forces to manage their air strikes. This country’s technology is utilized to identify Houthi targets. Our armed forces are also using U.S. refueling resources to help the Saudis manage minimized returns to their bases in order to stay in the air and fight. Statistics reveal our country has enabled over 9,000 midair refuelings without traversing Yemeni airspace, allowing the U.S. to claim to not be involved in the strikes. Washington has also reportedly advocated no censure against Riyadh. In addition, the civil war has empowered Al Qaeda forces in the region and weakened our own counterterrorism efforts there.
As outlined in the law, Congress should have had a say in any U.S. involvement in foreign conflict. Sadly, lack of interest, carefully prepared arguments, (unsubstantiated) allegiance to the Saudis and, unfortunately, a bit of fear, have contributed to no action, vote or even strong debate on the matter.
A bipartisan group of House members has requested the War Powers Act of 1973 be invoked. They want Congress’s official stance on the country’s involvement in the Iran-Saudi conflict or direct action on the president’s part to end all proceedings that support either side. The main voices behind the request are Representatives Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Ro Khanna (D-Torrance). Unless Congress votes otherwise, they want the U.S. to cease and desist all involvement in the Yemen civil war within 30 days.
Rep. Khanna insists that the Founders did not envision this type of abuse when crafting the Constitution. There is no greater concern than this country’s involvement in foreign conflict and using our armed services in said conflicts. boots on the ground or not. As with any process, there should have been a national debate about involvement and its objectives, as well as a determination of what military support would be deployed, what, if any, diplomatic conditions would be applied and what interests the U.S. has in the region to justify aiding either side.
Anyone in agreement with this argument should make their case to their representative in Congress.