Cole Harrison on Senate vote on Saudi-led war in Yemen

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In this episode of Growl, we speak with Cole Harrison, Executive Director of Massachusetts Peace Action, based in Cambridge, Mass. At issue is last week’s Senate vote in favor of allowing floor debate on Senate Joint Resolution 54 to proceed, which would pave the way for ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led campaign against Yemen.

Villagers scour rubble after the bombing of Hajar Aukaish, Yemen, April 2015; photo by Almigdad Mojalli.

Harrison says that Mass Peace Action is encouraged by this legislation, introduced by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) but notes that this is just a first step towards shutting down a conflict that has ballooned into the planet’s worst humanitarian crisis in the last four years.

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Jason Velázquez, editor
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Official Release from Massachusetts Peace Action

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The editors

Senate Vote takes Major Step to End US Support for Saudi-Led War in Yemen
Cambridge, November 28, 2018– In response to the Senate voting 63-37 in favor of allowing floor debate on S.J. Res. 54, legislation introduced by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, Cole Harrison, executive director of Massachusetts Peace Action, released the following statement:

“We thank Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey for their leadership in supporting an early end to US support for the disastrous Saudi/UAE war in Yemen. Today’s vote shows that Congress is fed up with the Administation’s uncriticial support of the brutal Saudi regime. We look forward to a vote by the Senate to end US involvement in the war.

“Cutting off military aid to Saudi Arabia is the right choice for Yemen, the right choice for our national security, and the right choice for upholding the Constitution. This is one of the only successful votes in recent memory Congress has taken to assert its war powers and stand up to presidential overreach on questions of war. The bigger challenge in reclaiming congressional war powers will be repealing the antiquated war authorizations from the early 2000’s that have made endless war the status quo, but this vote represents important progress in that broader struggle.

“The bombs being used to destroy Yemen are made right here in Massachusetts by Raytheon Corporation. It’s time for Raytheon to apply human rights criteria to its weapons sales and end its relationship with Saudi Arabia. If Raytheon does not comply, the state legislature should cut off public investments in Raytheon.

“Three years ago, the notion of Congress voting to cut off military support for Saudi Arabia would have been politically laughable. This successful vote in the Senate is a testament to the collective power of a coalition of peace groups, human rights groups, and grassroots activists across the country making calls, organizing rallies, and meeting with members of Congress to make the case for ending the U.S. role in the war in Yemen. Of course, more work remains to be done. The Senate still needs to pass the Sanders resolution itself, and the House needs to follow suit as soon as possible to force the president to decide between vetoing the legislation, which polls suggest would be widely unpopular, or ending U.S. support for the war.”

Background

The war in Yemen has given rise to the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet. Over 8 million are on the verge of starvation, and millions more require humanitarian aid. A report from the World Peace Foundation offers “strong evidence” that Saudi Arabia has deliberately targeted food production and distribution facilities across Yemen in an effort to starve the people of Yemen. A report from Save the Children estimates that 85,000 children under the age of five have died from starvation since the war began. S.J.Res. 54 argues that the U.S. role in Yemen is unconstitutional because it violates the War Powers Act, as legal experts explained in a letter to Senate leaders ahead of a previous vote on S.J.Res. 54 held in March of this year. An IRC/YouGov poll released on November 26 shows that 75 percent of Americans oppose U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and 82 percent think Congress should vote to end or scale back arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Peace Action and its Massachusetts branch have worked to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen for years, and are active in a coalition of advocacy groups lobbying on the issue.


Massachusetts Peace Action is the state affiliate of Peace Action, the nation’s largest peace organization, founded in 1957 as the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE). Peace Action works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights, and support just and nonmilitary solutions to the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Palestine. The public may learn more and take action at masspeaceaction.org. For more
up-to-date peace insider information, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
or Youtube at @masspeaceaction.

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