There are currently bipartisan bills in both Houses of Congress to cut off US participation in the war
Each day since Oct. 2, new evidence has emerged that the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a resident of Virginia, was a premeditated murder.
At the same time, it is also increasingly clear that the murder was approved at the highest levels of the Saudi Arabian government, most likely including the current ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
The Saudis at first maintained that Khashoggi had left the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, alive; they then claimed, incredulously, that he was killed there in the course of a fist fight. But we also know that a team of 15 Saudis, including “an autopsy expert” and others with links to Saudi high officials and intelligence, was flown in at dawn on Oct. 2.
In the past four years, the United States has supplied 60 percent of Saudi arms purchases many of which are used to kill civilians in Yemen.
Congress can stop these horrific crimes, because the Saudi and UAE bombers are dependent on mid-air refueling from U.S. planes.
Should the U.S. government cut off weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in response to this atrocity? Of course it should. But President Donald Trump has opposed this measure, and The Washington Post reports that Congress might not even have a chance to vote on it.
However, there is something vastly more important and obvious that the U.S. Congress can do regardless of what Trump wants about Saudi atrocities. The Congress can stop U.S. participation in the Saudis’ genocidal war in Yemen.
Since 2015, the U.S. military has been providing mid-air refueling to Saudi and UAE planes conducting airstrikes that have killed thousands of civilians in Yemen including a school bus with 40 children that was hit by a U.S.-supplied bomb in August.
These bombing raids also have hit water, sewage, and other vital infrastructure, causing thousands more deaths and a million people infected with cholera.
But most catastrophically, the air strikes and the Saudi blockade and siege of Yemen’s major port city have caused the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today, with 14 million people on the brink of starvation, according to the UN.
The New York Times editorial board has noted that the Saudis were trying to “starve Yemen into submission,” a strategy that constituted “war crimes.”
Congress can stop these horrific crimes, because the Saudi and UAE bombers are dependent on mid-air refueling from U.S. planes. The U.S. also provides assistance with targeting and intelligence and logistics.
There are currently bipartisan bills in both Houses of Congress to cut off US participation in the war.
House Concurrent Resolution 138, introduced by Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), has 56 co-sponsors. These include high-level leadership, such as the ranking Democratic members of the Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, Appropriations, and Judiciary Committees.
The Senate bill, led by Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah), got 44 votes in February and is likely to get a majority in the wake of the Khashoggi murder.
These bills have been introduced under the 1973 War Powers Resolution, a law that reinforced the Constitution’s provision that Congress should decide whether or not the US military should be deployed in war.
Under the two resolutions, if the Congress votes to end U.S. military participation in the Saudi war, the president will have 30 days to withdraw.
In the coming months, tens of thousands of people across the country will be contacting their representatives and senators to persuade them to vote to end this war that has nothing to do with U.S. national security.
They will be up against some of the most powerful interests in the world: the military-industrial complex including the weapons manufacturers that Trump has expressed concerns about as well as the national security state. But if enough people participate in this effort, the war will end.
Mark Weisbrot is Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), in Washington, DC. He is also president of Just Foreign Policy. He is co-author, with Dean Baker, of Social Security: The Phony Crisis.
This article appeared on October 26 in the Chicago Tribune and is reprinted from Common Dreams under a Creative Commons license.