Bipartisan Letter Calling on Pentagon to Withhold US Support for Disastrous Assault on Yemen’s Major Port

WASHINGTON, DC (June 13, 2018) US Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI), Justin Amash (R-MI), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), and Ted Lieu (D-CA) this week led a bipartisan letter calling on Secretary of Defense James Mattis to stop a disastrous military assault by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Hodeida, Yemen’s major port city. In the letter, Members called for the US to reject providing logistical, military, and diplomatic support for the Saudi-led coalition’s operation, as well as disclose the full scope of the US involvement in the Saudi-led war.

“We urge you to use all available means to avert a catastrophic military assault on Yemen’s major port city of Hodeida by the Saudi-led coalition, and to present Congress with immediate clarification regarding the full scope of US military involvement in that conflict,” wrote the Members. “We remind you that three years into the conflict, active US participation in Saudi-led hostilities against Yemen’s Houthis has never been authorized by Congress, in violation of the Constitution.”

“We are concerned that in the midst of a Senate effort to exercise its constitutional authority to end unauthorized hostilities – including US targeting and refueling assistance for Saudi-led airstrikes against Yemen’s Houthis – the Pentagon may have concealed key information from members of Congress regarding the full extent of on-the-ground US military participation in the Saudi coalition-led war,” continued the Members.

“We call on you to immediately disclose the full extent of the US military role in the Saudi-led war against Yemen’s Houthis, including the use of special operations forces; disclose any role that the Pentagon is currently performing, has been asked to perform, or is considering performing regarding an attack on the port of Hodeida; and issue a public declaration opposing this impending assault and restating the Administration’s position that Saudi Arabia and other parties to the conflict should accept an immediate ceasefire and move toward a political settlement to resolve the conflict,” Members wrote.

“In light of a possibly disastrous offensive on Hodeida, we remind you that under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, Congress alone has the power to declare and authorize war, and the War Powers Resolution allows any individual member of Congress to force a debate and floor vote to remove US forces from unauthorized hostilities,” concluded the Members.

The Saudi-led war against Yemen’s indigenous Houthi rebels, now over three years old, has created “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” according to international relief agencies, leaving 17.8 million Yemenis, or 60 percent of the population, food insecure, and 8.4 million a step away from famine. The port city of Hodeida, already under a Saudi-imposed blockade, receives 80 percent of the country’s food imports, and experts warned that an assault on the city could immediately threaten the lives of 250,000 people and put millions more at risk of starving to death.

Pocan and Amash have previously worked together to raise concerns to the Trump Administration in two separate letters regarding the humanitarian threat posed by a Saudi coalition attack on Hodeida, obtain the Trump Administration’s legal justifications for the war, and call for the immediate end of US hostilities, which include targeting and midair refueling assistance for Saudi-led airstrikes.

In September, Pocan joined Khanna, Massie, and Jones to introduce H.Con.Res 81, a privileged measure invoking the War Powers Resolution to remove US Armed Forces from unauthorized Saudi-led hostilities against Yemen’s Houthis. That resolution obtained 53 House cosponsors and led to a companion measure to end US participation, introduced by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT), which 44 Senators voted to consider in March.

The full letter is available here.