To the editor:
In July, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel — chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — took an important step toward ending U.S. involvement in the devastating war in Yemen.
After meeting with a group of activists from multiple progressive groups in Riverdale and Westchester — and receiving dozens of letters, calls, emails and visits from constituents throughout his district — he took an important action: He co-sponsored a National Defense Authorization Act amendment that, for a year, would prohibit the transfer of bombs and missiles to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. And he supported a strong amendment to end all logistical support for the war.
This past spring, Congress sent a historic Yemen War Powers Resolution to the president, ordering an end to U.S. participation. But the president simply vetoed it. Now, this summer, Congress has an opportunity to once and for all stop U.S. participation in the war by including a ban on weapons sales and logistical support in the National Defense Authorization Act, an annual must-pass bill.
Chairman Engel helped pass a House version of the bill with strong language to end the war in Yemen. We now need Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to ensure this Yemen language becomes law.
The U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition in Yemen is starving the country and killing its most vulnerable civilians. August will mark the first anniversary of Saudi Arabia’s bombing of a school bus in Yemen — with a bomb made in America. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have also dropped U.S.-made bombs on schools, crowded markets and hospitals.
The blockade of ports and destruction of the economy have led to the largest humanitarian atrocity on Earth. Currently half the country’s population is on the brink of famine, the country is experiencing the world’s worst cholera outbreak in recorded history, and children are dying of preventable diseases every 10 minutes.
The United States, meanwhile, is providing bombs, missiles, training, intelligence, spare parts and other logistical support for the war. Last fall, Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institute wrote, “The Royal Saudi Air Force is entirely dependent on American and British support for its air fleet of F15 fighter jets, Apache helicopters and Tornado aircraft. If either Washington or London halts the flow of logistics, the RSAF will be grounded.”
It is past the time to do just that: Ground the Royal Saudi Air Force. It is also time to stop selling weapons for use on civilians. While Chairman Engel’s positions have not always aligned with ours, on Yemen, we have to applaud his work the past several months. He is helping ensure a brighter future for the people of Yemen and his clear public position on this particular matter deserves recognition.
When the United States finally ends its immoral participation in this war, it will be, in part, because of Chairman Engel’s leadership.
The author is director of Action Corps, an advocacy group that addresses climate change and violence in the world.