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The Journal Gazette

  • Henricks

Tuesday, November 27, 2018 1:00 am

US complicit in Saudis' war atrocities in Yemen

Beth Henricks

A graduate of Taylor University, former business leader Beth Henricks has lived in Indianapolis for most of her life. She is in her “second career” as Christian education and family ministries director at Indianapolis First Friends Quaker Meeting.

The list of worries I had for my son every day as he was growing up seemed unending.

From injuries, illnesses and his choices in friends, to fears of decisions he'd make in college, car accidents and more – the list went on and on.

He's all grown up now, and I still worry. However, I can honestly say I never once feared that he might die of starvation or cholera. Nor did I worry that his bus might be bombed on its way to school one morning.

But these are devastating realities for millions of Yemeni parents.

The United Nations reports that 130 kids younger than 5 die daily from preventable, war-related causes in Yemen.

As horrific as this is, you might still be wondering what this war has to do with you. You're not alone. Many of us here in Indiana and around the country have no idea what is going on in Yemen.

We are not aware of the terrible cost on children, families and communities; or that the U.S. has been unconstitutionally backing Saudi Arabia in committing atrocities in Yemen for the past three years.

That's right – Congress has never voted to declare war on Yemen or to authorize U.S. participation in hostilities there.

Nonetheless, the U.S. has been the largest arms supplier to Saudi Arabia and its allies since 2014. American support of the Saudi government as it wages war on Yemen has led to what the U.N. has declared the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

Simply put, our tax dollars are simultaneously fueling war in Yemen and the starvation of its citizens.

The reckless Saudi bombing campaign has hit hospitals, schools, water treatment plants, funerals, school buses and markets. Perhaps most devastatingly (relative to long-term, global implications), the Saudis have also imposed a de facto blockade on the country, delaying and even blocking access to food.

As a result, three-quarters of Yemenis require humanitarian aid. The country is also battling the worst cholera outbreak in modern history.

As a taxpayer, I am outraged at our country's involvement in this illegal war. As a mother and a human, I'm horrified thinking of the millions of children and families – already fleeing for their lives and uncertain of their future – starving to death amid ongoing bombings.

It is devastating to imagine an entire generation of Yemenis, if they survive this conflict, grappling with the mental, physical and economic repercussions of this U.S.-sponsored war for the rest of their lives.

I'm thankful that lawmakers are finally paying closer attention.

Under pressure from Congress, the Pentagon moved earlier this month to end mid-air refueling of planes used in the war with Yemen, but the work is not yet done.

Our own Sen. Todd Young told USA Today in October: “It offends my sensibilities – and I know it offends the sensibilities of all Americans – that there are countries in this day and age that are using food as a weapon of war.”

He's right. As we share meals with our loved ones this holiday season, millions of Yemeni citizens – from infants and pregnant and nursing women to elderly adults – face starvation, illness or death. Our support of war in Yemen is an endorsement of starvation as a war tactic.

My faith, my motherhood and my humanity compel me to speak up on this issue. Before the end of his term, Sen. Joe Donnelly has an opportunity to make a tremendous difference in Yemen.

I hope he and Sen. Young will co-sponsor and vote to pass Senate Joint Resolution 54, formally ending American military involvement with the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen and preventing more civilian deaths.