October 05, 2018

DeFazio, Lee, Jones Demand Trump Administration Provide Documentation Justifying Continued US Involvement in Yemeni Civil War

WASHINGTON—Representatives Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Walter Jones (NC-03) Thursday led more than 50 members of Congress in sending a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanding he provide all documents justifying his decision to certify that the Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) coalition is making demonstrable efforts to reduce civilian casualties in Yemen’s civil war.

On September 12, Secretary Pompeo certified, as required by law, that the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE are undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and making urgent and good-faith efforts to support diplomacy to end the civil war in Yemen.

However, recent reports indicate that most State Department experts concluded the certification should have been rejected “due to lack of progress on mitigating civilian casualties.” Given the U.S.’s significant role in the Yemeni civil war, the lawmakers urged Secretary Pompeo to share these documents and stressed the need to end U.S. military support for the coalition in Yemen.

“The Trump Administration is hurtling towards another unending conflict in the Middle East, and Congress must be a backstop to unethical, unnecessary military conflict,” said Congressman Peter DeFazio. “I am concerned about the reports that Secretary Pompeo ignored the advice of State Department and Pentagon experts. President Trump and Secretary Pompeo must share all relevant information with Congress and the American people, not just the parts that feign justification for continued action in Yemen. It is imperative that the administration respects Congress’s constitutional authority in deciding the scope of U.S. troop engagement.”

“Congress and the American public deserve full transparency.  That’s especially true when it comes to the use of taxpayers’ money on unauthorized foreign entanglements,” said Congressman Walter Jones.

“The war in Yemen is a humanitarian catastrophe. Civilians are bearing the brunt of this brutal war, facing violence, famine and an unprecedented cholera outbreak. With American assistance, the Saudi Arabian/UAE coalition is escalating attacks with no regard for civilian lives,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “The fact of the matter is that the United States Congress has never authorized this war. And Secretary Pompeo’s certification that the Saudi coalition is reducing civilian casualties is completely unjustified and unsubstantiated. The U.S. government should be leading diplomatic efforts to end these atrocities, instead of prolonging this bloody, inhumane war.”

"We are heartened to see that even as Trump and his war cabinet dig their heels in—as evidenced by Sec. Pompeo’s misleading and institutionally unsupported certification—Congress will not let up its pressure,” said Stephen Miles, Director of Win Without War. “Reps. DeFazio, Jones, Lee and 48 others understand that millions of Yemenis continue to suffer, starve, and die because of a U.S.-fueled war that Congress has never authorized. We applaud this letter and know that similar efforts to thwart Trump and his partners in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from continuing their war in Yemen are just around the corner."

“For the Trump administration to report that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are taking sufficient action to reduce harm to civilians makes a mockery of the law that Congress passed as a condition for U.S. military support in this unconscionable war,” said Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation. “We applaud the leadership of Representatives Peter DeFazio, Barbara Lee, and Walter Jones in demanding answers for the questionable process that led to Secretary Pompeo’s certification decision. Quakers and friends across the country are pressing their members of Congress to hold the Trump administration accountable for their harmful whitewashing of the Saudi-led coalition’s slaughter of civilians and its starvation-blockade of Yemen.”

The letter is also supported by Demand Progress Action, Just Foreign Policy, and the Yemen Peace Project.

For a PDF version of the letter, click here.