McGovern Condemns U.S. Support of Saudi War in Yemen
Yemen Denied Humanitarian Aid as Civilians Suffer from Hunger and Fastest-Growing Cholera Epidemic Ever Recorded
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), a senior House Democrat and co-chair of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, delivered the following speech on the House floor condemning Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, the suffering it is causing among innocent civilians, and urging the United States to end its support of the war. Click here to view video of speech online.
Full Text of Congressman McGovern’s Speech:
“I thank the gentleman from California for yielding me time and for his leadership to bring before this House the critical issue of U.S. policy towards Yemen. Most importantly, I want to thank the gentleman for his determination to provide this House with at least 30 minutes to debate the complicity of the United States – through its support of the Saudi-led forces in the civil war in Yemen – in one of the greatest humanitarian crises taking place on the planet.
“The House should be considering Mr. Khanna’s original resolution, H. Con. Res. 81. Republican leaders made that impossible by threatening to put forward a rule that would have blocked the right of Congressman Khanna to ever call his privileged resolution up for debate.
“According to the United Nations, Yemen is suffering the fastest-growing cholera epidemic ever recorded. At the same time, Yemen faces the world’s biggest food emergency.
“Saudi Arabia has blockaded Yemen’s ports and airports. Just last week, it sealed the country’s borders. As a result, the people of Yemen have been cut off from nearly all humanitarian aid during this horrific famine and cholera epidemic, and the ability of humanitarian agencies to provide relief has been significantly impeded.
“The U.N. has called the Saudi closure of Yemen’s borders to aid deliveries “catastrophic.” Even the International Committee of the Red Cross was forbidden to cross the northern border with a delivery of chlorine tablets to prevent cholera.
“We learned today from the Saudis that two smaller southern ports and one Red Sea port will open “soon” – although we don’t know what that means. But the main port where over 80 percent of Yemen’s food supplies enter will remain blockaded and closed.
“It is well-documented that the Saudi-led coalition – and Saudi forces in particular – have carried out a ruthless, brutal bombing campaign that deliberately targets hospitals, schools, food markets, and the civilian population, including children.
“The World Food Program has warned that hundreds of thousands of children will be “on the brink of starvation” if the blockade lasts for even two weeks. That deadline of death and starvation will arrive next Tuesday, just two days before we here in the United States sit down to enjoy Thanksgiving with family, friends and loved ones. Will the Members of this House spare a thought for the children, mothers and fathers of Yemen as we sit and feast in the warmth and comfort of our own homes?
“Or will this Congress finally, after more than 2½ years of sheer horror, send a clear message to Saudi Arabia that its actions are intolerable?
“Saudi Arabia’s actions thus far and the coalition it leads in the Yemen civil war may very well rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to the United Nations.
“It is past time for this House to clearly and unambiguously declare that the United States will no longer provide or sell military aid, equipment and munitions to potential war criminals.
“That the United States will no longer supply mid-air refueling to Saudi and coalition bombers headed to Yemen to wreak havoc on the suffering Yemeni people.
“That the U.S. will no longer share intelligence with the Saudi coalition.
“And that we will no longer remain a complicit and passive partner in carrying out one of the world’s greatest humanitarian crises.
“I know the Houthi rebels attempting to take power in Yemen are also guilty of war crimes. Last November, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held a hearing on the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Yemen, so I know full well the atrocities committed by all parties in this war.
“Yemen is just one more proxy in the regional religious and political struggle for dominance between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran. For some in Congress, that power struggle trumps every other consideration. For me, it is yet another reason to act with extreme caution and examine whether and how we allow ourselves to support potential war criminals in pursuit of consolidating their own regional agenda and power.
“I’m also concerned that this power struggle is escalating further throughout the region. Rather than U.S. policy working to cool things down, we seem to be encouraging it to heat up.
“I, for one, do not want the United States to be complicit in supporting the killing and maiming of children.
“I do not want the United States to be complicit in the deliberate targeting and attacks against schools, hospitals, markets and homes.
“I do not want the United States to be complicit in bombing water treatment plants at any time, let alone in the middle of the worse cholera epidemic in the world.
“And I do not want the United States to be complicit in supporting a blockade that condemns tens of thousands of children to famine and death by starvation.
“Once again, I thank Congressman Ro Khanna and other members like Congressman Ted Lieu for their leadership on this important issue.”