Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat, and three other members of the House have co-sponsored a resolution that requires debate on US military involvement in Yemen. In 2015, President Barack Obama supported Saudi Arabia’s war effort in Yemen, and President Donald Trump has continued the mission. Khanna, who represents voters in Silicon Valley, says it’s time for an open debate over America’s role in the Yemen conflict.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other coalition countries wage war with US-made weapons. For example, Saudi and UAE pilots fly fighter jets made by US defense megacontractors Boeing and Lockheed-Martin. They drop bombs made by General Dynamics, outfitted with guidance systems from Raytheon. Major Saudi weapons purchases approved by the Obama administration in 2015 are now part of the $110 billion arms sale announced by Trump in Riyadh in May.
In addition to arms, the coalition fighter jets are refueled in the air by US Air Force tanker planes, flown by American pilots. Although the Department of Defense does not disclose operational information, in 2015, just days after the war began, Military.com reported that the Saudi-led coalition would purchase fuel for its Yemen operation from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling (EAR) Squadron, based in Qatar.
A week later, USA Today confirmed the deal.
Since then, American tanker planes have performed more than 7,500 midair refueling “events” with coalition aircraft, with “about 54 million pounds of fuel off-loaded in support of Saudi operations in Yemen,” Air Forces Central Command spokesperson Capt. Kathleen Atanasoff told Military.com in February.
Text of H. CON. RES. 81:
(a) Findings.—Congress finds the following:
(1) Congress has the sole power to declare war under article I, section 8, of the Constitution.
(2) A state of war has not been declared to exist with respect to the conflict between forces led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against the Houthi-Saleh alliance in the Republic of Yemen.
(3) United States Armed Forces have been involved in hostilities between Saudi-led forces and the Houthi-Saleh alliance, including through assisting Saudi and United Arab Emirates warplanes conducting aerial bombings in Yemen with selecting targets and by providing midair refueling services to such warplanes, amounting to millions of pounds of jet fuel delivered during thousands of Saudi and United Arab Emirates airstrikes.
(4) According to the Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2016, the conflict between Saudi-led forces and the Houthi-Saleh alliance is counterproductive to ongoing efforts by the United States to pursue Al Qaeda and its associated forces under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note).
(5) No authorization for the use of United States Armed Forces with respect to the conflict between Saudi-led forces and the Houthi-Saleh alliance in Yemen has been enacted, and no provision of law authorizes the provision of midair refueling services to warplanes of Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates that are engaged in such conflict.
(6) The conflict between Saudi-led forces and the Houthi-Saleh alliance in Yemen constitutes, within the meaning of section 4(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1543(a)(1)), either hostilities or a situation where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances into which United States Armed Forces have been introduced.
(b) Removal Of Armed Forces.—Pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544(c)), Congress hereby directs the President to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen, except United States Armed Forces engaged in operations directed at Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or associated forces, by not later than the date that is 30 days after the date of the adoption of this concurrent resolution (unless the President requests and the Congress authorizes a later date), and unless and until a declaration of war or specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces has been enacted.
Exchange between Rep. Khanna and Secretary of Deffense Mattis, Oct 3, 2017.
Rep. Khanna: “I don’t know if you had a chance to see the Saudi ambassador’s op-ed in the New York Times this morning. It would be the definition of propaganda and fake news. If we are going to be involved in Yemen and against Al Qaeda, that makes complete sense, but could you assure the committee and the American people that we will not aid in any way Saudi Arabia in its war against the Houthis and its gross human rights violations.”
Sec. Mattis: “As far as Yemen goes, we are engaged in an anti-terrorism campaign only right now. And where we work with the others, it is to reduce civilian casualties and it’s to try to drive this or draw this into the UN-brokered peace negotiation to end the civil war there between the Houthis and the UN-recognized and Saudi-supported Hadi government.”