This article first appeared on Common Dreams.
Yemen continues to suffer in silence as the world turns away from its ongoing misery. Despite two and a half years of brutal war, the average American remains oblivious to the inconvenient truth that the United States has been helping Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates destroy a sovereign country that posed a threat to no one. While rich Arab states bombard the Middle East’s poorest country, creating the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and an unprecedented cholera outbreak, our government (starting with the Obama administration and continuing with Trump’s) has continued to support them not only through the sale of weapons, but also through mid-air refueling, targeting intelligence, and other logistical support.
The international community has betrayed Yemenis over and over again — examples include the United Nations’ capitulation to Saudi pressure by removing it from the list of child killers and allowing the Saudi-led Coalition to investigate (and clear) itself from any wrongdoing. Even as an inquiry into Yemen war crimes was finally agreed upon recently, the word “investigation” was dropped, and it remains to be seen which “regional experts” will comprise the committee.
But have we, the American people, turned our backs to our government’s involvement in Yemen’s destruction? Yemenis are not seeking refuge in Europe or America because of a land, air, and sea blockade that has kept food and medicines out, while trapping people in. Unlike those fleeing the war in Syria, Yemenis may be “out of sight, of mind.” But those of us who do know about the plight of Yemenis may feel helpless or unclear about what can be done to help. The truth is, we have to act, and we have to act fast.
We can no longer stand by and watch as Yemeni children die of curable diseases like cholera (with 750,000 cases and counting) because they can’t access clean water. Nor can we stand by and watch them die of hunger in a time of immense global wealth because their parents can’t afford what little food is available. We can no longer watch as Yemeni children, women, and men are killed by US-supported, Saudi and Emirati airstrikes that target homes, schools, funeral gatherings, and hospitals alike. We must confront our government’s role in creating this “man-made catastrophe” that has pushed this already-impoverished nation to its utmost limit.
Now, 30 months into this aimless war, there’s an opportunity for the United States to finally withdraw from Yemen. Congress will soon debate and vote on House Concurrent Resolution 81, a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Walter Jones (R-NC), that aims to end the United States’ support for the Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen.
If we don’t act now, we may find ourselves looking back and wondering what could have been done to save millions of people from certain death. We have an opportunity to end this destructive war by urging our political leaders to stop supporting the Saudi-led Coalition. And we have a moral and legal obligation to extricate ourselves from aiding an ally that has worked with terrorists to achieve its goals, and has continued to commit what may amount to several and ongoing war crimes in Yemen.
Let’s email and call our representatives and urge them to vote in favor of H.Con.Res.81 and put an end to the atrocities committed in our name. For the sake of Yemen’s tiniest victims, whose little bodies gave up fighting hunger and disease in the time it took you to read this piece, let’s end the war on Yemen.
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Shireen Al-Adeimi is an assistant professor of education at Michigan State University. Since 2015, she has played an active role in raising awareness about the Saudi-led war on her country of birth, Yemen, and works to encourage political action to end U.S. support. She is a non-resident fellow at Quincy Institute.