|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Maria Langholz, [email protected]
WASHINGTON — Over the weekend, the UN-backed truce between warring parties in Yemen expired without an agreement to continue or expand the terms of the truce. There is a serious risk that fighting may resume, and the Saudi-imposed blockade may tighten, contributing to further humanitarian suffering. Leading up to the truce’s deadline, Reps. Dingell and Pocan led 38 Representatives in sending a letter to Secretary Blinken urging the administration to leverage its power to end the blockade on Yemen. Demand Progress, Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation, Just Foreign Policy, MADRE and Friends Committee on National Legislation, along with 15 other civil society organizations, have endorsed the letter.
The letter also cites Congress’s readiness to use a War Powers Resolution (WPR) to end the US’s complicity in the Saudi coalition’s attacks on Yemen if the administration fails to take needed action. Yemen WPRs have recently been introduced in both chambers of Congress, and have broad bipartisan support with over 120 members signed on.
The blockade imposed on Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition has substantially contributed to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and in a new report, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) says that the tactic “can be considered torture.”
Alongside the release of this Congressional letter, Demand Progress, Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), MADRE, Just Foreign Policy issued the following statements:
“Whether or not warring parties can reach a new agreement to extend the truce, the US has a moral and political obligation to use any and all points of leverage with Saudi Arabia to end their collective punishment of Yemenis via the blockade, especially as we still maintain the backbone of their offensive military capabilities, which may be reactivated in the coming weeks,” said Demand Progress Policy Advisor Cavan Kharrazian. “The continued subservience to Saudi Arabia’s disastrous foreign policy and complicity in blatant human rights abuses against the Yemeni people is a dark stain on the US’s reputation and credibility. We are going on 8 years of fueling this war and humanitarian disaster. Enough is enough.”
“The Saudi imposed blockade is the main contributor to the spread of starvation and diseases and is considered a war crime. The Yemeni people should not be held hostage to peace negotiations or the truce. The blockade should be lifted unconditionally,” said Dr. Aisha Jumaan, President of Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation.
“This important letter shows that Members of Congress are rightly standing firm against the use of collective punishment of tens of millions of Yemenis as a bargaining chip in negotiations,” said Erik Sperling, executive director of the advocacy organization Just Foreign Policy. “Conventional wisdom in many powerful circles here in Washington — emanating from Saudi-funded think tanks and from an administration that fist-bumps the Saudi dictator — attempts to cast the blame for this war on the Yemeni-run, de facto government in Sana’a, instead of the Saudi-led coalition that has brutally bombed and blockaded its neighbor for over seven years. This position, however, is increasingly indefensible. If the administration green-lights renewed Saudi bombing, Congress will act swiftly to cut that support through a bipartisan, bicameral War Powers Resolution.”
“The Saudi blockade on Yemen continues to be a key driver of the world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe,” said Hassan El-Tayyab, Legislative Director for Middle East Policy at Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). “Saudi Arabia’s tactic of collective punishment has created untold suffering for tens of millions of people and contributed to hundreds of thousands of deaths. The Biden administration must take urgent action to compel Saudi Arabia to completely lift this blockade as a humanitarian act, for the sake of millions of Yemenis in desperate need.”
“The humanitarian blockade and lack of freedom of movement in Yemen is endangering communities across the country and undermining the truce and long-term prospects for peace,” said Diana Duarte, Director of Policy and Strategic Engagement at MADRE. “In spite of the truce, the Saudi-led blockade is still endangering Yemeni lives by keeping people from seeking medical attention abroad, preventing fuel from getting to healthcare facilities and emergency services, and driving a food crisis that is pushing communities into famine and causing violent conflict for scarce resources. Yemeni women community leaders are building peace at the local and global levels, but with the blockade still in place, their work faces constant setbacks. As a historic accomplice to the Saudi-led blockade, the US must use diplomatic pressure to ensure that the blockade is lifted, that freedom of movement is protected by all parties to the conflict, and that the conditions of the truce are fully implemented on the path towards an enduring, inclusive peace.”