For the past three years, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) has been pushing to stop the United States’ support of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the Yemen Civil War. On Wednesday, November 28th, the Senate voted 63-37 to proceed to a debate on ending support for the Saudis in the war, a bill supported by Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT).
The sudden shift from various Republicans came after Saudi Arabia murdered a Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi in October. To date, the Trump administration has shamefully done nothing to condemn Saudi Arabia, or Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, for ordering and conducting this heinous act of violence. The President has even repeated the Crown Prince’s denials, and said he has no reason to believe the Saudis did it, even thought CIA has conclusively said they did after listening to a tape from inside the consulate where Khashoggi was killed.
He continuously cites the U.S. arms deal to Saudi Arabia as a reason not to attack them for this murder, practically putting a price on a journalist’s life. That price is over $100 billion.
The bill that has been moved forward to debate is much more than just about the murder of Khashoggi, it is to stop the U.S.’s role in a war in Yemen that has become a humanitarian disaster and is causing the deaths of thousands of children.
This August, Saudi Arabia bombed a Yemeni school bus, killing 40 children, and that bomb was supplied by the United States. For years the U.S. has been sending arms to Saudi Arabia as they continue to wage this destructive and disastrous war in Yemen, and have previously been responsible for bombs that had killed civilians in the country. After those incidents, Obama halted the sale of precision guided missiles to Saudi Arabia because of “human rights concerns”. That ban was reversed by the Trump Administration last year.
In 2017, it has been estimated by “Save The Children” that 50,000 children died in Yemen, an average of 130 per day. The United Nations has said that 2/3 of all civilian deaths in the country are a cause of the Saudi-led bombing strikes in the country. Along with the deaths, more than 3 million Yemenis have fled their home and 280,000 have seemed asylum in other countries because of the war.
The war has been abysmal for human rights in Yemen, and has been going on far too long. However, the United States can do very little to end the war in full. What they can do is stop supporting the Saudi campaign in the country which has killed tens of thousands of innocent people that are simply trying to live their lives.
This vote is historic, there has been multiple votes on this exact bill, none of which had passed. That being said, this does not guarantee that the bill will be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President. Just this year Republican House Leadership blocked a floor vote on this resolution, signaling that this will not pass in this current session of congress, nor will there even be a vote. And if it were passed, it is unlikely that the President will sign the bill and stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia because he has made it clear time and time again the he wants to make money off of Saudi Arabia even if it costs the lives of thousands of Yemenis, mostly children, or even a U.S. journalist.