To the editor:
Andom Ghebreghiorgis of Mount Vernon has announced his campaign to oust U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, who represents Riverdale, in the U.S. House of Representatives. Mr. Ghebreghiorgis has criticized Mr. Engel’s foreign policy record, such as his support for the invasion of Iraq and his opposition under Obama to the Iran nuclear deal.
As chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Engel should do all he can to advocate for humanitarian concerns around the world. In particular, right now, he should use the fact that Democrats hold the majority in the House to insist on a ban on the transfer of arms for the war in Yemen. U.S.-made bombs are being dropped on hospitals, markets and schools in Yemen.
To be fair, Chairman Engel played an important role in helping pass the Congressional War Powers Resolution to stop illegal U.S. military support for the war in Yemen.
In the face of the president’s veto of the resolution, Congress should cut all funds and weapons for the war.
Mr. Engel’s constituents have made clear to him they want an unconditional ban on the sale of bombs and missiles to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Last December, the board of trustees of Hastings-on-Hudson passed a resolution calling on Mr. Engel and his colleague, U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey — now chair of the House Appropriations Committee — to work jointly “to cut off all military assistance or sales to Saudi Arabia affecting the war in Yemen, and all funding for U.S. military operations there.”
This month, leaders of several constituent groups — including Action Corps NYC, Concerned Families of Westchester, Concerned Citizens for Change, the NYC Democratic Socialists of America Anti-War Working Group, and the Bronx Democratic Party — along with rabbis and other community leaders, wrote Mr. Engel asking him to support a ban on the sale of all weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Unfortunately, Mr. Engel has not yet publicly announced an intention to do so.
It would serve Mr. Engel well to heed the urgent moral demands of his constituents. In the case of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, this would mean supporting a prohibition of the transfer of bombs and missiles, for at least the next two years, to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
In recent years, campaigns waged by challengers like Mr. Ghebreghiorgis have succeeded when incumbents like Mr. Engel have lost touch with their constituents.
The author is a lead organizer for Action Corps NYC.