They were simply trying to go to school ― an effort at normalcy amidst a war that has raged for more than year ― when the bombs fell on their classroom. It was just the latest horror in more than a year of Saudi airstrikes in Yemen that have seen schools, hospitals, and numerous other civilian targets bombed. Now, with international condemnation growing by the day, the United States is on the verge of rewarding Saudi Arabia’s carnage with a massive, $1.15 billion sale of tanks and other deadly weapons.
Thankfully, we can do something about this dangerous decision. In the US, Congress has the chance to veto weapons sales to foreign governments like this one. So far, a few brave voices like Sen. Chris Murphy, Rep. Ted Lieu, and others are speaking out and leading a fight to kill this deadly arms sale.
But they need our help. We need to let Congress know that enough Yemeni blood is on our hands, that we cannot continue to sell weapons to a country that is putting them to use right now to kill innocent civilians. If enough of us speak up, Congress can stop this deal and we can stop fueling the war in Yemen and start pushing for peace instead.
You would think that not selling weapons to a country that is bombing schools and hospitals is a no-brainer. But right now, Congress is under intense pressure to rubber stamp this arms deal from the Pentagon contractors who stand to make massive profits from the sale and the Saudi government eager to restock its war weary military. That’s simply not an excuse to be complicit in the continued carnage in Yemen.
When the US bombed a hospital in Afghanistan, our community was rightly outraged, standing up and demanding accountability. Yet today, our government is on the verge of rewarding that very same behavior by the Saudis in Yemen. We cannot let that happen.
The ongoing war in Yemen is a tragedy, killing thousands, displacing millions, and helping feed the violent extremism of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS. Instead of funneling a billion dollars worth of new weapons into that war, the US should be pushing for a diplomatic, peaceful settlement that would end Yemen’s war, protect civilian lives, and greatly enhance American security. Congress has the chance to change course, but only if they act now.