Monday, December 17, 2018

Legislature Update: Senate votes to stop support for war in Yemen; & Letter from Brian Terrell about Yemen

By Christine Sheller

Thursday, December 13, 2018 a historic vote happened in the US Senate.  They voted across both parties to try to force the Trump administration to end its military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

It will stall in the House for now, but after January when Democrats take power in the House, proponents of the measure will revive the issue.  It was a bipartisan vote in the Senate.  Seven Republican senators joined all the chamber’s Democrats and its two independents to pass the Yemen resolution. 

The resolution will require the US to stop providing intelligence, targeting assistance in bombing, and other military support to the Saudi government and its allies in Yemen.

Bernie Sanders, the Independent from Vermont, who championed the push for this vote, said, “Today we will tell the despotic regime in Saudi Arabia that we will not be a part of their military adventurism.” 

The resolution, introduced Thursday by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, Republican- Tennesee, calls on the Saudi government “to ensure appropriate accountability for all those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder” and urges the kingdom to “moderate its increasingly erratic foreign policy,”  among other steps.  Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 by people tied to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

This was also a challenge to President Donald Trump, who downplayed evidence that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince was involved in Khashoggi’s murder.  He did not think the incident should damage US.-Saudi relations.

One of the other senators who called for this vote, Chris Murphy, Democrat- Connecticut, said, “Today is a watershed moment for Congress.  We are reasserting our responsibility to be a co-equal branch with the executive (branch) in foreign policymaking.”

Sources Cited:
Shesgreen, Deirdre. “Senate votes to end Yemen war support.” USA Today12-14-18.

Christine Sheller is coordinator and editor at Iowa Peace Network.  She is a graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary.

An ask for action:  Stop Saudi US-supported violence in Yemen

A letter to readers from Brian Terrell in the Voices for Creative Nonviolence October newsletter; reprinted with permission

Dear friends,

Events in Yemen demand our urgent attention.  Yemeni cities, towns, ports, and roadways constitute one of many battlefields in the so called “war on terror” that the U.S. began seventeen years ago this month in Afghanistan.  Vice-President Richard Cheney suggested at the time that this war “may never end” but would “become a permanent part of the way we live.”  Now the war is bludgeoning Yemenis into submission.  If U.S. imperial violence is ever to end, we must change the way we live.  We must hear voices like that of Ahmad Algohbary, a Yemeni photo journalist.  He has courageously gone to sites where the Saudi-led coalition, supported by the U.S., has bombed civilians.  Some of his photos show carnage and wreckage; others show people, including children, struggling to survive.  How can we dismantle the militarism that slaughters Yemeni children?

In recent months, some of us at Voices and our allies have trod many miles along the roads of some of the troubled and militarized places of the world, from Okinawa to Hiroshima, across Korea’s Jeju Island and from Savannah to King’s Bay on the Georgia coast.  The Afghan Peace Volunteers, our friends in Kabul, have allied with the Peoples Peace Movement, who heroically walked the road from Helmand to Kabul as a plea for peace.

More than any other walk I have been on, walking in Georgia to “Disarm Trident” has convinced me of the worth of such efforts.  In these times of confusion there is some satisfaction in putting our hopes and fears into action, one foot after the other for hours and days on end, sharing the joys and pains of the road with old friends and new.  Keeping close to the ground and travelling slow helps us to learn the social landscape along with the scenery.

Our friend Steve Baggarly, formerly imprisoned for a Plowshares action walked with us.  He suggests that it is through weaponry that our fear, pride, and greed become hierarchy, oppression, and war.  “If there is to be hope for the a world where all people live in dignity and at peace with one another,” says Steve, “it is precisely the military and private arsenals which swamp the planet that must be unmade and remade into tools that will sustain humanity and the earth.”

We have also been invited to participate in commemorations and celebrations of the 50th anniversaries of some of the many significant anti-war actions that took place in 1968.

Conditions are more perilous today by any measure than they were 50 years ago, though fewer seem to be paying attention.  By 1968, direct U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War had been going on for four years and was widely recognized as an intolerable quagmire.  Urgent calls to end that war were heard in the streets and halls of congress, within the caucuses and conventions of the mainstream political parties and on the screens and in the pages of mainstream media.

To say the least, the sense of urgency many felt in 1968 is lacking in U.S. today.  The “Doomsday Clock” issued each year by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists to measure the fluctuation level of danger of nuclear destruction is set this year, 2018, at two minutes to midnight.  Fifty years ago, in 1968, the clock was set to seventeen minuets and there was much more awareness of danger then than now.

There are many needs to be met, many issues to contend with, injustice to be challenged, but ultimately, ending the nuclear threat, ending this state of permanent war is our urgent task.

Our friend Maya Evans writes from Japan, “the change is marching from the bottom up!”  If there is little to hope for in the halls of power or from the people that the media tells us are important, we do find hope even in these days from those many small actions taken by common people around the planet.

~Brian Terrell, for Sarah Ball, Kathy Kelly Laurie Hasbrook, Sean Reynolds, and Ken Hannaford-Ricardi (also workers at Voices for Creative Nonviolence)

Brian Terrell lives at Strangers & Guests Catholic Worker Farm and is co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

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