While welcoming President Joe Biden’s recent moves to end much of the U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, Rep. Ro Khanna on Thursday stressed that “our work to support a brighter future for the people of Yemen is just beginning.”
“We need to confirm we’ve ended all arms sales to the Saudis, and that we won’t fulfill any outstanding weapons contracts. We need to press for additional humanitarian aid in all parts of Yemen.”
—Rep. Ro Khanna
In a Twitter thread, Khanna (D-Calif.) praised Biden’s reversals of Trump administration policies in Yemen as “a huge commitment to end U.S. support” for the war, which the United Nations estimates has claimed nearly a quarter million lives since late 2014.
Biden’s moves include his January 27 temporary arms sale freeze to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, his February 4 declaration ending U.S. support for “offensive operations” in the Saudi-led war, and his announcement the following day that he would reverse the Trump administration’s designation of the Houthi rebels as terrorists.
However, Khanna also said that “we need further clarification on what specific military support we’ll be ending, and, just as importantly, what support Biden still plans to provide to the Saudis.”
“Ending U.S. complicity in the Yemen war is NOT ending the war,” Khanna stressed. “The bombing continues. The threat of famine for 16 million continues. Given our responsibility, we must call on all foreign parties to stop the bombing, funding, and intervention. Only then can we resolve the civil war.”
Ending US complicity in the Yemen war is NOT ending the war. The bombing continues. The threat of famine for 16 million continues. Given our responsibility, we must call on all foreign parties to stop the bombing, funding & intervention. Only then can we resolve the civil war. https://t.co/lbsminTogQ
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) February 12, 2021
“We need a commitment from Biden to use all of his leverage to end the Saudi-led de facto blockade of Yemen,” Khanna added. “We need to confirm we’ve ended all arms sales to the Saudis, and that we won’t fulfill any outstanding weapons contracts. We need to press for additional humanitarian aid in all parts of Yemen.”
In an interview with The Intercept‘s Ryan Grim on the “Deconstructed” podcast posted Friday morning, Khanna again praised Biden. However, he also cautioned against inferring too much from the president’s words.
“Biden has come out and said that the U.S. will no longer assist with offensive operations in the war on on Yemen,” said Khanna.”But then I want to read to you what Biden says after that. He says: ‘at the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks… and other threats from Iranian-supplied forces in multiple countries. We’re going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.'”
Khanna said that Saudi forces “basically launch missiles into residential sites in Yemen to target the Houthis, claiming that they were doing that in a defensive posture to prevent an attack on Saudi Arabia. So their explanation is not going to fly. And the Congress needs to make sure that it’s actually a defensive and not offensive strikes into Yemen. And we have to be vigilant to make sure that the Saudis aren’t able to exploit that definition.”
Yemen remains what the U.N. calls the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis.” Underscoring this designation is a Friday report from multiple U.N. agencies warning that nearly 2.3 million children under the age of five are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition this year, 400,000 of whom could die if they do not receive urgent treatment.