I come to you all with a prudent matter. A bi-partisan group of four lawmakers are demanding the president get approval from congress before escalating the US involvement in Yemen.
“For this reason, we write to request that the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) provide, without delay, any legal justification that it would cite if the administration intends to engage in direct hostilities against Yemen’s Houthis without seeking congressional authorization.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is copied on the letter.
The letter is being circulated by Reps. Mark Pocan, D-Wis.; Justin Amash, R-Mich.; Ted Lieu, D-Calif.; and Walter Jones, R-N.C. Peace groups including the Friends Committee on National Legislation are lobbying for it.
My fellow Americans, this is an issue important to both #TheResistance and #MAGA groups. I’ve seen people across all sides of the political spectrum concerned about the US involvement in the war in Yemen. As people have flooded their representatives phone lines, town halls, faxes (those too!) over issues such as healthcare and cabinet appointees, it’s now time to call our representatives about Yemen.
What do you need to know?
You need to know…..
That coffee you might be drinking every morning? You can thank Yemen for it. Where it was invented is debatable, either Yemen or Ethiopia can claim this, but we have Yemen’s trade routes and coffee houses to thank for spreading it throughout the world.Embed from Getty Images
Yemen, Sanaa, coffe seller in the Old Town.
Yemen has its own Galapagos and it’s called Socotra, home of the dragon blood tree.Embed from Getty Images
These unique and weird looking trees are located on Socotra Island in the Indian Ocean 240 kilometres east of the Horn of Africa, Yemen. These extraordinary trees are called Dragons blood trees due to the red resin they are producing and which was used as dye and medicine in ancient times. Looking like open umbrellas, they make the Diksam Platou to one of the most alien looking place on the earth.
Where are my New Yorkers? Fellow Chicagoans? Lovers of tall buildings? We LOVE our city skylines and Yemen is home to the world’s oldest skyscraper city.Embed from Getty Images
Shibam, South Yemen – Shibam (often referred to as Shibam Hadhramaut) is a town in Yemen. With about 7,000 inhabitants, it is the seat of the Shibam District in the Hadhramaut Governorate. It is famous for its mudbrick-made tower houses.
Yemen loves honey! Beekeeping is respected and a family-run job. Entire shops are dedicated to honey.Embed from Getty Images
A Yemeni vendor pours honey into a jar at his shop in the capital Sanaa on July 18, 2016.
They also have Valentine’s Day!Embed from Getty Images
Labourers arrange flower bouquets at a shop in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, on February 14, 2014.
People gather together to play and watch their favorite sports too.Embed from Getty Images
Yemenis watch the Euro 2016 group C football match between Germany and Poland at a cafe in the capital Sanaa, on June 16, 2016. From Dubai to Tunis, Euro 2016 football fever is sweeping the Arab world, filling cafes and restaurants and overshadowing popular Ramadan soaps on television.
Now that you know a bit about the country that you can relate to, what’s happening with this war? How is the US involved and why is the letter by lawmakers important?
I was watching a video on refugees fleeing from Yemen to Djibouti and one young woman asked a very good question, “What kind of president leaves his people to die?” I think that is very much at the heart of the matter.
- Yemen’s President Hadi fled the capital city, Sana’a, in January 2015 after Houthi rebels took over. The president and his cabinet resigned.
- The president went to the southern city of Aden, where he withdrew his resignation.
- The president then fled to Saudi Arabia.
- Saudi Arabia began bombing Yemen on March 26th, 2015. According to BBC, anywhere from 13-18 civilians were killed when their homes were destroyed.
- The United States provided “logistical and intelligence support” to Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes.
Saudi Arabia, and thus President Hadi, are America’s allies. We are supporting a coward who fled his country and sought refuge in another. A president who is allowing a foreign power to bomb his people. This foreign power is using American-made weapons with American support. “What kind of president leaves his people to die?”
When a ship is sinking, does the captain stay to make sure his crew and passengers get to safety or does he abandon his ship before all of them?
When there is a fire in a school, does the teacher get their students out or run out of the building before them?
Members of the military, do you leave anyone behind?
America, why would we support a man who left his country behind and is allowing another to bomb it?
Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, these are the US supported ones remember, have hit residential homes. They’ve hit markets. They’ve hit funerals. They’ve hit schools. They’ve hit hospitals. They’ve even hit a museum and historical monuments. It’s been two years and that’s what this coalition has accomplished. America, do we want to support this?Embed from Getty Images
Residents inspect the damage at a bazaar after Saudi-led coalition warplanes hit the ad- Dahi military base in Al Hudaydah, Yemen on August 21, 2015. A mosque, bazaar and a truck were struck by the air strikes killing people including civilians, reported.
Saudi Arabia, the country the US is supporting, has placed a blockade on the entire country. Airports are closed. Ports are closed. Saudi Arabia made sure the airports were so closed that they bombed them. Yemen depends on imports and now humanitarian aid. Who is Saudi Arabia blaming for supplies not getting in? The Houthi. Do we want to support a blockade and then blame someone else for it?
Yemen is currently on the brink of famine. Or maybe they’re already there. NGOs and humanitarian organizations are struggling to get supplies in because of the blockade. And now the Saudi-led coalition (Americans, again, this is us) are thinking of targeting Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah. This is the port that is receiving Yemen’s little bit of humanitarian aid. Yemen depends on this port. It is currently controlled by the Houthi rebels. Obama, the one thing he did right regarding Yemen, was to urge Saudi Arabia not to attack this port. Now there’s chatter that it might happen and the Trump administration is in support of it.
According to Human Rights Watch on October 8, 2016, the Saudi-led coalition, backed by the US, committed an apparent war crime when it targeted a funeral.
- The airstrike killed over 100 people and injured over 500 others.
- Human Rights Watch identified the munition used as a US-manufactured air-dropped GBU-12 Paveway II 500-pound laser-guided bomb.
According to Reuters in December 2016, the US halted sales of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia, but did not cut off arms sales and intelligence support all together.
“Governments approving the export of arms to Saudi Arabia capable of use in Yemen have received many detailed and credible reports from the UN and other reputable bodies over the past months pointing to a pattern of horrific human rights abuses and war crimes committed throughout Yemen by the Kingdom’s forces and allies,” said Brian Wood, Amnesty International’s Head of Arms Control and Human Rights. “In the face of unbearable suffering of civilians and mounting casualties those governments have failed to enact convincing measures to prevent further violations, conduct independent and impartial investigations or bring the perpetrators to justice, yet, they are carrying on business as usual, and in some cases even escalating arms transfers. This is a clear breach of the golden rules in the Arms Trade Treaty.
Senator John McCain is wrong about increasing our involvement in the war. He stated:
“I think it’s a direct threat to the United States’ national security and would help the rise of al-Qaeda and other extremist elements. I don’t have a problem with that.”
But, it was Saudi Arabia launching their campaign in Yemen that brought out Al Qaeda extremists.
- March 2015, Yemen’s army left the city of Mukalla because of the attacks started by Saudi Arabia. The city was defenseless.
- Al Qaeda moved in on the defenseless city and released other members from prison.
- This branch of Al Qaeda is considered by the US as one of the deadliest. They were behind the Charlie Hebdo attack.
- Its emergence is the most striking unintended consequence of the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen. The campaign, backed by the United States, has helped Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to become stronger than at any time since it first emerged almost 20 years ago.
- Al Qaeda is also fighting the Houthi rebels. It seems they have the same enemy as Saudi Arabia?
- Al Qaeda accused the US of coordinating attacks WITH the Houthi. But the US has been supporting Saudi Arabia in their fight AGAINST the Houthi.
- The US drone strikes in Yemen are harming Al Qaeda’s efforts in fighting the Houthi.
What else has the Saudi-led coalition, backed by the US, accomplished these past two years of war?
America, do we want to support this? We need to be PRUDENT. If our involvement in this war in Yemen is of concern to you, then call your representatives and urge them to sign this letter.