It is always a good time to end a war, especially one as brutal as the one in Yemen.
The current civil war there began in 2014. Power struggles had been ongoing for quite some time, as ethnic and religious groups fought for autonomy and influence; this current one, though, is primarily between the Saudi/American-backed government in Sanaa and the Houthi rebel group. Saudi Arabia became involved primarily to ensure that an Iranian-backed government did not succeed in gaining power. The U.S. has its own motivations, consisting largely in one three-letter word. You can remember it with the acronym Only in Langley.
The current civil war has proven difficult to end, as the Houthis are exceptionally resilient. The Saudi-led coalition and its ally, the Southern Transition Council, have the upper hand in terms of funding and weapons, as the Saudi coalition involves partners such as Bahrain, the United States, Egypt, and others. Still, the current military situation is precarious.
Saudi Arabia’s air force is heavily subsidized by American equipment, and it is well known that until recently, American air force personnel were training Saudi airmen and refueling the jets the Saudis were using to bomb Houthi targets — military as well as civilian.
Now, the United Arab Emirates is also a key ally to Saudi Arabia in the conflict, but primarily funds different groups. The UAE supports the Southern Transitional Council and a Salafi group known by many as the Southern Giants Brigade. The Salafi school seeks to unify Islamic political ends with Islamic religious ends. Much of this is rooted in jihadist Islam and a goal to create a global caliphate. The extremist background of the Giants Brigade is controversial to some, but the United States continues to support and provide it intelligence.
Still with me? Still following all this? Good.
Since the Cold War, the Southern Transition Council has wished for Southern Yemen to be separate from the rest of Yemen. This separatist group stood in opposition to the Saudi-backed government until 2020, when a power-sharing agreement was reached. Now the STC has been given seats in the federal government, and has gained increased regional autonomy. Both groups fight against Houthi rebels in the conflict.
The complications don’t stop there; Al-Qaeda is also a powerful player in the war. Al-Qaeda has been active in Yemen for decades, and currently has goals of ensuring the government of Yemen is anti-West and distinctly Islamic. Al-Qaeda forces have both clashed with Houthi forces and been targeted by U.S. drones. However, Saudi Arabia, despite its ties to the U.S., has not prioritized opposing Al-Qaeda, and has even formed strategic agreements with the organization in Yemen.
This seemingly never-ending conflict is especially brutal to the civilian Houthi population. An estimated 400,000 civilians (a majority children) have been killed, with millions more suffering from starvation and malnutrition. The situation has been deemed the largest humanitarian crisis in the world by the United Nations.
Therefore, the actions taken by the Saudi Arabian coalition can justly be labeled as genocidal. It targets civilian infrastructure and public health among the civilian population has drastically declined; disease, starvation, and general hopelessness run rampant amongst Houthis.
Here’s the takeaway: The Houthis are a distinct ethnic group who are being targeted by the Saudi Arabian coalition — and thus, the United States is directly contributing to genocide.
It’s always a good time to end a war; as was yesterday, and the day before, and the day before. The world seems hyper-focused on another aggressive power in Eastern Europe and, correspondingly, the United States has rebuked Russia for its behavior toward civilians in Ukraine. But if the United States is to be consistent, it must rebuke similar (if not worse) behavior on the part of Saudi Arabia.
The double standard is astoundingly easy to point to, yet few in the mainstream media are doing so. As long as the United States is in the business of subsidizing Kyiv’s military efforts, it should offset the cost by ending monetary support to Saudi Arabia.
Politics, of course, plays its part in America’s involvement in both conflicts. President Trump vetoed war powers legislation in 2019. This legislation would have impaired the president’s ability to prolong America’s involvement in wars without congressional approval. President Biden said he would end U.S. support in the war, but has not completely done so yet (If he will at all).
A new war powers bill has been crafted, and is awaiting introduction in Congress. The bill has cosponsors from both parties. Progressive Democrats seem potentially willing to hold President Biden accountable in this instance, and America First Republicans have every reason to do the same. Any Republican skeptical of President Biden should support this legislation.
So, not only is now the time to end the war, but if you believe in the political process, now is also the time to reach out to your member of Congress. Their offices, at least, are not difficult to reach. American support has made the tragedy in Yemen possible — at the genocidal scale, anyway.
Anti-war progressives, constitutionalists, and America First voters all have reasons to support war powers legislation — as does the average citizen who wants peace. It is politically expedient, economically sensible, and morally correct.
So perhaps it’s worth amending our motto: There has never been a better time to end American involvement in Yemen’s Civil War, AND there has never been a better time to limit the president’s war powers.
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This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions.