There's a big Congressional fight coming on Trump's Saudi arms deal. This deal is controversial because Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are using U.S. weapons to kill civilians and destroy civilian infrastructure in Yemen, deliberately trying to create famine in Yemen; and because Trump's Saudi arms deal is widely seen as a U.S. seal of approval for escalation of the catastrophic Saudi-UAE war and blockade.
Under the Arms Export Control Act, Congress has thirty days to pass a resolution of disapproval to block the deal. Senators Chris Murphy [D-CT] and Rand Paul [R-KY] and Representatives Mark Pocan [D-WI] and Justin Amash [R-MI] are expected to introduce resolutions of disapproval within days.
On June 16, 2016, the House narrowly failed to block the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia. 90% of Democrats and 20% of Republicans voted against giving Saudi Arabia these intrinsically anti-civilian weapons. To block Trump's Saudi arms deal, we have to make this be like the House Saudi cluster bomb vote, and then do just a little better than that - a few more Democrats and/or a few more Republicans.
The U.S. military launched airstrikes against government forces in Syria today.
Under the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution, Congress has the sole authority to decide when U.S. military force will be used if the U.S. has not been attacked. Congress never authorized Trump to attack Syria, which has not attacked the U.S.
Rep. Ted Lieu [D-CA] stated: "If true, this is FRICKIN ILLEGAL. Trump does not have Congressional authorization to attack Syria, a country that has not attacked US."
In January, Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said part of why Obama didn't attack Syria unilaterally - without Congress' approval - was fear of impeachment. "[W]e had no domestic legal basis. We actually had Congress warning us against taking action without congressional authorization, which we interpreted as the president could face impeachment," Rhodes said. "They laid down markers that this would not be constitutional. If we got drawn into a conflict in Syria without congressional authorization, without international authorization, without international support, you can see very clearly how that could have completely derailed this entire presidency."
The United Nations Security Council, which under the UN Charter is responsible for protecting international peace and security, has failed to stop the Saudi-UAE war and blockade on Yemen which has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine. A key reason is that the UK, which under UK Prime Minister Theresa May is closely aligned with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, is the Security Council "penholder" on Yemen, which means that any UN Security Council resolution on Yemen has to be drafted by the UK. Theresa May's government has abused this power to shield Saudi Arabia and the UAE from diplomatic pressure at the UN for their catastrophic actions in Yemen.
Urge Theresa May to stop blocking UN action to save Yemen by signing our petition at MoveOn.
U.N. officials have said that the threatened Saudi-UAE attack on the crucial Yemeni port of Hodeida would almost certainly push Yemen into famine by cutting off food and medicine imports into northern Yemen. But David Beasley, head of the World Food Program, says diplomatic efforts to protect Hodeida have failed. "I was hopeful two weeks ago that was about to resolve, but evidently that hasn’t happened," Beasley said.
Theresa May alone currently wields the power to initiate a Security Council resolution to save Yemen from famine by protecting Hodeida. Urge Theresa May to save Yemen from famine by signing and sharing our petition.
President Trump has pushed to increase the Pentagon budget at the expense of human needs at home and abroad. The Congressional Progressive Caucus is pushing back in its proposed budget, "The People's Budget." A coalition of organizations has joined together to support The People's Budget, and Just Foreign Policy is a member of this coalition.
You can read about The People's Budget, and show your support, here.
Today, Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Justin Amash (R-MI) led a letter to Defense Secretary Mattis warning him against attacking the Yemeni port of Hodeida.
A PDF of the letter is here.
On Thursday April 27, a bipartisan group of nine U.S. Senators wrote to the ambassador of Saudi Arabia demanding that Saudi Arabia spare the Yemeni port city of Hodeida from military assault to avoid pushing Yemen into famine. The nine Senators were: Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Boozman (R-AR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Christopher Coons (D-DL) and Ed Markey (D-MA).
Urge your representatives to stand with the nine Senators demanding that "Hodeida must be spared" by signing our petition at MoveOn.
The nine Senators made five demands to help “Prevent Millions of Innocent Yemenis From Starving to Death":
- Lend full support to Secretary Mattis’ call for a political settlement in Yemen.
- Refrain from bombing the port of Hodeida and call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire around the port.
- Reform the inspection regime at the port of Hodeida to eliminate unnecessary delays in the delivery of severely needed humanitarian and commercial supplies.
- Facilitate the delivery of cranes to the port of Hodeida to increase humanitarian aid and commercial capacity.
- Redouble efforts to ensure airstrikes do not hit key economic facilities and civilian infrastructure.
Urge your representatives to join the nine Senators in telling Saudi Arabia "Hodeida must be spared" by signing and sharing our petition.
Planes of the "Saudi-led coalition" have dropped leaflets on Hodeida warning of an imminent attack. IRIN reports that a Saudi attack on Hodeida will likely include Sudan's "Janjaweed" militia, with their "long history of abuse against civilians." Aid groups warn of "near certain famine" if Hodeida is attacked.
This atrocity can't happen without U.S. aid and support. Members of Congress could try to stop that aid and support, by forcing a debate and vote.
Call your Representative now at (202) 224-3121. When you reach a staffer or leave a message, you can say something like,
"I urge you to invoke the War Powers Resolution to force a debate and vote before the U.S. helps Saudi Arabia push Yemen into famine."
When you've made your call, please report it below.
And if you haven't signed our petition calling for debate and vote before Hodeida is attacked, please do that here.
Action Against Hunger * Médecins du Monde * Norwegian Refugee Council * Saferworld * Save the Children * Tearfund * War Child
Hudaydah Port, Yemen: Humanitarian joint statement, 25 April 2017
As humanitarian organisations operating in Yemen, we are gravely concerned by reports of a possible attack by the Saudi-led coalition on the critical port of Hudaydah. Such an attack risks tipping a country starved by two years of war into near certain famine, risking the lives of millions. The crisis in Yemen cannot be addressed with a military solution. Rather than fuelling more conflict, we urge the US and the UK, as key supporters of the Saudi-led coalition, to use their influence to urge all parties to the conflict to re-double their efforts to forge a political solution and take immediate steps to address the humanitarian crisis.
General Mattis wants to increase U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's catastrophic war in Yemen, which has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine, including by selling Saudi Arabia even more weapons. In addition to producing humanitarian catastrophe, Saudi Arabia's war is helping Al Qaeda in Yemen. Imitating war profiteer Milo Minderbender in Joseph Heller's Catch-22, who fights on both sides and bombs his own squadron to increase his profits, by selling arms to Saudi Arabia, we indirectly arm Al Qaeda in Yemen, who we're also bombing.
Urge the Senate to address Saudi-Al Qaeda ties before selling more weapons by signing our petition at MoveOn.
"In their fight against Yemen’s Houthi rebels," Just Security reports, "the government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and its Saudi backers, have worked with local actors with suspected ties to al-Qaeda. Sometimes this means the targets being tracked by the US are actually cutting deals and getting their hands on weapons thanks to connections they have with the Hadi government and the Saudi-led coalition, to which the US provides support. Laying bare these thorny battlefield alliances in Yemen is crucial as the Trump administration considers stepping up US military involvement in the country."