"Yemen was already the Middle East's poorest
country prior to the war, but the conflict and resultant blockade tactics have
worsened the situation exponentially."
"The United States must make clear that these
cruel and senseless blockade tactics imperil millions of innocent Yemeni people
and are counterproductive to peace."
(May 20, 2021) - United States Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), Elizabeth
Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC),
Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Kirsten
Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio.), Debbie
Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Alex
Padilla (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Maria
Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), sent a letter to President
Biden regarding the Saudi-led coalition's use of blockade tactics in Yemen that
have prevented food, medicine, and other crucial supplies from reaching
millions. In the letter, the lawmakers urge President Biden to take immediate
and decisive action to leverage all U.S. influence and tools to pressure Saudi
Arabia to unconditionally and immediately end its blockade tactics.
"We request that you leverage
all influence and tools available, including the potential impact on pending
weapons sales, U.S.-Saudi military cooperation, and U.S.-Saudi ties more
broadly, to demand that Saudi Arabia immediately and unconditionally stop the
use of blockade tactics. The current commercial fuel import standoff must end
today and be decoupled from ongoing negotiations,"
wrote the lawmakers.
copy of the letter can be found HERE
nearly seven years, Yemen has been embroiled in a devastating civil war that
has completely destabilized the country. The conflict has consumed the entire
nation and spiraled into the world's leading humanitarian crisis. The United
Nations (UN) estimates that close to 80 percent of Yemen's 31 million citizens
- more than 24 million people - are in need of assistance and protection. More
than three million people have been displaced, and experts estimate that over
230,000 people have died during the war, including tens of thousands of
civilian casualties and at least 130,000 who have died due to a lack of health
services and widespread famine.
2015, as a part of the civil war in Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition has
prevented crucial resources from reaching people in need. In 2015, Saudi Arabia
began positioning warships in Yemeni waters and shut down access to the
nation's air and land access ports. Blockade tactics have been used repeatedly,
preventing vital food, medicine, fuel, and essential supplies from reaching
sick and starving Yemeni people. The most recent iteration of this
back-and-forth between the warring actors has halted the importation of all
commercial fuel needed by nearly two-thirds of the population in northern
Yemen. It has negatively impacted food transporters and processors, hospitals,
schools, and businesses. Nations and experts from across the globe have decried
these blockade tactics since they began in 2015.
Biden's administration has taken several steps to address the conflict in
Yemen, including reversing the Trump administration's designation of Houthi
rebels as a terrorist organization, announcing an end to U.S. support for
Saudi-led "offensive" operations, and resuming critical humanitarian
assistance to northern Yemen.
applaud the attention that your administration has given to ending the conflict
in Yemen, but immediate and decisive action must be taken to end the ongoing
blockade of fuel imports which is exacerbating the growing humanitarian
crisis," continued the lawmakers.
letter is endorsed by Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL),
American Friends Service Committee, Churches for Middle East Peace, Freedom
Forward, Demand Progress, Charity and Security Network, Just Foreign Policy,
Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation, Massachusetts Peace Action, New
Jersey Peace Action, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, Peace Action,
Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) CODEPINK, DC Dorothy Day Catholic
Worker, Action Corps, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Saudi
American Justice Project, Yemeni Alliance Committee, the United Methodist
Church - Church of Board and Society, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Pax
Christi USA, Presbyterian Church (USA), National Council of Churches, Global
Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of
Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries.
recently, the blockade on Yemen has been neglected by Congress despite its
catastrophic impact on civilians' lives in Yemen," said Dr. Shireen Al-Adeimi, assistant professor at Michigan State
University. "I'm glad to see that this is now shifting, and that U.S.
elected officials are calling on President Biden to end his support for the
blockade on Yemen. I also hope to see Congress take back its constitutional
power by legislating an end to all U.S. involvement in the war on Yemen."
welcome news that this group of 16 Senators is calling for an immediate end to
the Saudi blockade on Yemen, that's helping drive the world's worst
humanitarian crisis," said Hassan
El-Tayyab, legislative manager for Middle East Policy at the Friends Committee on
National Legislation (FCNL). "The recent admission by the Department
of Defense that U.S. companies are still authorized to maintain Saudi
warplanes, means that our government is still enabling offensive Saudi
operations in Yemen, including bombings and enforcing an inhumane blockade on
Yemen's ports. The administration must use its existing authority to block U.S.
civilian contractors from aiding the Saudi war effort, before more Yemenis are
plunged into famine."
blockade, meant to starve civilians and destroy their livelihoods, is pushing
16.3 million Yemeni into the brink of a man-made famine," said Dr. Aisha Jumaan, President of Yemen
Relief and Reconstruction Foundation. "We must lift the blockade
immediately and unconditionally to prevent mass starvation and save lives.
Conditioning lifting the blockade to protracted negotiations between warring
parties is unethical as it holds civilians hostages and risks their lives.
Yemen can't wait!"
we welcomed the Biden Administration's promised end to U.S. support for
Saudi-led 'offensive' operations on Yemen earlier this year, the ongoing
blockade constitutes one of the deadliest offensive operations against Yemeni
civilians to date," said Cavan
Kharrazian, Progressive Foreign Policy Campaigner at Demand Progress.
"U.S. logistics and support continue to be used by the Saudi regime to
enforce its blockade, and the Biden Administration has yet to use the full
weight of its leverage with Saudi Arabia to end its devastating collective
punishment of millions of Yemenis. We applaud the Senators' letter, and urge
them to use all legislative tools at their disposal to end U.S. complicity in
perpetuating the world's worst humanitarian crisis."
is it possible that we are still supporting Saudi Arabia even as they continue
their blockade of supplies desperately needed to avert mass starvation in
Yemen. We need President Biden to get back to his campaign promise to treat
Saudi Arabia as the pariah nation that they are instead of looking the other
way and sending them new weapons while they starve so many in Yemen," said Paul Shannon, Mass. Peace Action Board
and Executive Committee Member.
speak louder than words. The administration must heed the call of these
Senators and act now to end the blockade on Yemen by exercising its vast
leverage over the Saudi regime," said
Erik Sperling, executive director of Just Foreign Policy. "The
blockade causes skyrocketing food and transportation costs, starving families
and then preventing them from reaching lifesaving healthcare. Shielding the
Saudis from consequences would lead to the unavoidable conclusion that the U.S.
is complicit in the blockade. That would be unconscionable and
Warren has been an outspoken critic of U.S. support to the Saudi-led
coalition's military operations in Yemen. She has previously questioned
military commanders about the United States' ability to track the outcomes of
bombing missions carried out by U.S.-armed coalition warplanes and has urged
the United States to immediately end its involvement in the Yemen war.