When it comes to the war in Yemen, Congress has made its feelings known: It wants to end any U.S. participation, as well as block the sales of weapons to the countries carrying it out. In April, both the House and Senate passed a bipartisan resolution that would end U.S. military involvement in the Saudi-led coalition. Lawmakers were concerned not only by the devastating humanitarian toll of the war, which has resulted in an estimated 233,000 deaths – more than half of which are children under five – but also by the lack of statutory authorization for U.S. military engagement there.
What did President Donald Trump do? He responded by upping the ante. He not only vetoed the joint resolution, but then declared a national emergency, citing tensions with Iran, so that he could bypass Congress and sell over $8 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other countries. It is safe to assume that these sales will bolster the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, helping it prosecute the war against the Houthi rebels. American and British bombs have been directly responsible for the deaths of more than 200 Yemeni civilians, including at least 122 children, but this number only includes incidents where field researchers were able to identify weapons remnants, conduct interviews and analysis, and provide conclusive documentation. The actual number is likely much higher, and this arms deal will only push it up even more.
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Rachel Stohl is Managing Director and directs the Conventional Defense Program.