DAWN joined more than 80 human rights, foreign policy, faith-based and other civil society groups in writing to President-elect Joe Biden to ask that he end U.S. support for the disastrous Saudi-led war in Yemen.
The letter outlines steps Biden should take, working with Congress and through his presidential powers, including by ending sales of weapons for use by the Saudi-led coalition and ending U.S. logistical support for the war.
November 30, 2020
Dear President-Elect Joe Biden:
Congratulations on winning the presidency. We know that you have an enormous task ahead of you and that there are a number of critical domestic and foreign policy issues that need to be addressed on day one of your term. As organizations representing millions of Americans concerned about the grave crisis in Yemen, we urgently ask that you include bringing an end to U.S. participation in the war in Yemen.
The U.S.-supported, Saudi/UAE-led war in Yemen, which began in March 2015, includes the blockade of Yemen's ports, the bombing of funerals, weddings, hospitals, civilians in marketplaces, residential areas, and more.
Under President Trump, war-related deaths have spiked. Despite this, the Trump administration issued an emergency declaration to push through billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE without congressional approval, vetoed a bi-partisan War Powers Resolution passed by bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress to end unauthorized U.S. participation in the war, and cut USAID funding to Yemen right as COVID-19 hit the country.
Before coronavirus, Yemen was already experiencing the largest humanitarian crisis on the planet. A 2018 report from Save the Children estimated that 85,000 Yemeni children had starved to death and in October 2020, the UN reported that 100,000 children in southern Yemen alone could die of acute malnutrition if urgent humanitarian aid is not taken. Now COVID-19 is spreading virtually unchecked. The war has decimated Yemen's already vulnerable health care infrastructure and disrupted access to clean water, sanitary systems, sufficient nutrition and adequate shelter.
The Saudi-led war in Yemen began during the Obama-Biden administration, but since then more than a dozen senior Obama administration officials — including Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes and Jake Sullivan — have called for an end to U.S. participation in the war. With President Trump departing the White House, the Biden-Harris administration has an historic opportunity to end U.S. complicity in this war the moment you come into office.
We appreciate your consistent pledge to end unauthorized U.S. participation in the war, and we urge you to immediately inform the other members of the Saudi-led coalition that you will do so on day one of your presidency. To truly end U.S. participation and complicity in the war in Yemen, you should take the following measures:
- Heed the bipartisan votes of Congress indicating that the Executive Branch does not have authorization — as required by our Constitution and the War Powers Act of 1973 — to participate in the Saudi war in Yemen, and commit to signing a new Yemen War Powers Resolution if it arrives at your desk;
- End all war-related U.S. logistical support, targeting assistance, spare parts transfers, and intel to the Saudi-led coalition;
- Stop all sales of weapons to members of the Saudi-led coalition that could be used in the war and encourage US allies and other countries to do the same;
- Pressure the Saudi-led coalition to end their military actions in Yemen, lift the blockade of Yemen's ports, allow entry of humanitarian aid and commercial imports, open Sana'a airport for civilian travel, and negotiate a nationwide ceasefire;
- Restore and expand USAID funding to all parts of Yemen and recommit U.S. financial support to UN, WHO, and WFP relief programs in Yemen. Work with the international community to pressure Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to meet and expand their funding pledges for humanitarian assistance and post-conflict reconstruction of the country.
Ending U.S. participation in the war in Yemen and restoring vital humanitarian aid to address the war's impact on the Yemeni people is a moral and legal obligation. It would be the first step in ending this catastrophe, caused in large part by actions of the Saudi-led coalition. Ending U.S participation would signal to millions of Yemenis living in Yemen and thousands of Yemeni-Americans who worry about their families in Yemen that weapon sales and geopolitical chess moves are not more important than their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
It would be a monumental first achievement for your administration that would be praised by Americans across the ideological spectrum. It would also be an important sign that you will be an advocate for restraint, as you were during the Obama Administration when you opposed U.S. participation in the military intervention in Libya, the troop surge in Afghanistan, and other military-first approaches.
As organizations that are deeply distressed about the U.S. role in perpetuating the world's largest humanitarian crisis, we are counting on you to immediately fulfill your pledge to end U.S. military participation and weapon sales for the Saudi-led war. With countless new deaths from war and starvation every single day, the people of Yemen can't afford to wait.
Action Corps ‧ American Friends Service Committee ‧ Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain ‧ Avaaz ‧ Ayada Leads ‧ Beyond the Bomb ‧ Brooklyn For Peace ‧ Campaign for Peace Disarmament and Common Security ‧ Casa Maria Catholic Worker Community ‧ CAPA DePaul ‧ Center for Economic and Policy Research ‧ Center for International Policy ‧ Chicago Area Peace Action ‧ Clearinghouse on Women's Issues ‧ CODEPINK ‧ Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) ‧ Daily Kos ‧ Demand Progress ‧ Democratic Socialists of America ‧ Democracy for America ‧ Democracy for the Middle East Now (DAWN) ‧ Episcopal Peace Fellowship ‧ Fellowship of Reconciliation ‧ Feminist Majority Foundation ‧ First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor, MI ‧ Franciscan Action Network ‧ Freedom Forward ‧ Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) ‧ Friends of Sabeel North America ‧ Grassroots Global Justice ‧ Health Alliance International ‧ Historians for Peace and Democracy ‧ Indiana Center for Middle East Peace ‧ Institute for Policy Studies, National Priorities Project ‧ Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project ‧ Interfaith Community Sanctuary ‧ Islamophobia Studies Center ‧ Israel Palestine Mission Network PCUSA ‧ Isuroon (Strong Women, Strong Communities) ‧ Jetpac Resource Center ‧ Jewish Voice for Peace Action ‧ Just Foreign Policy ‧ Justice for All ‧ Justice Is Global ‧ Kairos Center ‧ Mass Peace Action ‧ MADRE ‧ MPower Change ‧ NorCalSabeel ‧ Organization for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain ‧ Our Revolution ‧ Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace ‧ PAX Christi USA ‧ Peace Action ‧ PEACEWORKERS ‧ Presbyterian Church USA ‧ Progressive Democrats of America ‧ Project Blueprint ‧ Project South ‧ Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft ‧ Raytheon anti-war Campaign ‧ Rethinking Foreign Policy ‧ Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment ‧ Revolving Door Project ‧ RootsAction.org ‧ Saudi American Justice Project ‧ September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows ‧ Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Justice Team ‧ The International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) ‧ The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society ‧ Tunisian United Network ‧ United African Congress ‧ United for Peace and Justice ‧ U.S. Labor Against Racism and War ‧ Veterans For Peace ‧ WESPAC Foundation, Inc. ‧ West Suburban Peace Coalition ‧ Western New York Peace Center ‧ Win Without War ‧ Women's International League for Peace and Freedom-US ‧ World BEYOND War ‧ Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation ‧ Yemeni Alliance Committee
Photo caption: YEMEN-CONFLICT-HERITAGE
Yemenis search for survivors under the rubble of houses in the UNESCO-listed heritage site in the old city of Yemeni capital Sanaa, on June 12, 2015 following an overnight Saudi-led air strike. Residents said the pre-dawn strike, which killed five people was the first direct hit on old Sanaa since the launch of the bombing campaign against Huthi rebels in late March. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED HUWAIS (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP via Getty Images)