Time for Bernie to act on Yemen

Vermonters urged Sen. Bernie Sanders to lead on ending the Yemen War, and he agreed. Now he must do it.

BRATTLEBORO — On Aug. 10, as Sen. Bernie Sanders met with seniors in Brattleboro, Action Corps Vermont members submitted questions from Vermonters, he recommitted to taking action in the Senate to reclaim congressional constitutional responsibility over war, including in Yemen.

Now is the time for Bernie to make good on that commitment. He needs to introduce and support legislation to stop U.S. complicity in the ongoing Yemen crisis.

During the recent discussion in Brattleboro, constituents reminded him of his Dec. 13, 2022 promise, when he withdrew his Yemen War Powers Resolution due to pressure from the Biden administration.

Sen. Sanders said in December, "I look forward to working with the administration which is opposed to this resolution, and see if we can come up with something that is strong and effective. If we do not, I will be back."

"We're not giving up on that issue," he said on Aug. 10 in Brattleboro.

That's good to hear.

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Since April 1, 2022, Saudi Arabia has stopped bombing Yemen - a victory that U.S. peace advocates who lobbied Congress helped achieve.

But the Saudi blockade continues to strangle Yemen, and this blockade is an act of war. Without congressional action to prohibit U.S. participation, Saudi Arabia could resume its airstrikes with U.S. bombs and U.S.-serviced fighter jets at any time.

As the senator acknowledged in Brattleboro, "Some food is getting in, some medical equipment is getting in." But the devastating blockade continues to kill. Saudi Arabia prevents medicine, medical equipment, and other basic goods from entering the country, blocks most flights to and from Yemen's capital city, and is withholding Yemen's oil and gas revenues from the Yemeni people.

Meanwhile, the Biden State Department this past spring offered more weapons sales to Saudi Arabia to use against Yemenis - at a time when Saudis and Yemenis were holding historic peace talks. The Biden State Department now appears to be an impediment to peace in Yemen, as it seems to care more now about "containing Iranian influence" in the Middle East than in encouraging Saudi Arabia to fully exit the war.

In pushing for the Saudi-Israel "normalization" deal, the U.S. is offering increased military support for Saudi Arabia, while the Saudi government continues to wage a brutal air and sea blockade against its neighbor Yemen.

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In this context, it is time for Sen. Sanders to reintroduce his Yemen War Powers Resolution and cosponsor the bipartisan 502b resolution to hold the Saudi government and the Biden State Department accountable to the values and interests of the majority of Americans.

When he takes action in the Senate, he will not be alone.

In announcing his support for Bernie's bill in December, Sen. Chris Murphy affirmed that unconstitutional U.S. military participation in the Saudi war in Yemen continues.

In May, Sen. Peter Welch released a tweet in support of the Yemen peace talks: "I'm encouraged by the progress toward ending Yemen's civil war. This is a humanitarian crisis. We should end U.S. military support to this Saudi-led war and help relieve the suffering of the Yemeni people."

Most Senate Democrats will stand with Bernie to end the war, including the blockade.

Similarly, Rep. Becca Balint was one of 39 House members who signed a letter in May calling for the lifting of the Saudi blockade of Yemen and threatening the introduction of a Yemen War Powers Resolution in the House in the absence of executive action. When the House has been allowed to vote, its members have voted to end the Yemen war on a bipartisan basis.

Vermonters have been calling on Sen. Sanders to follow through on his leadership to help end U.S. participation in the war in Yemen at multiple rallies this year. The Vermont Progressive Party and Libertarian Party of Vermont released statements in March calling on Sen. Sanders to reintroduce his Yemen War Powers Resolution.

In May I spoke both privately and publicly to Bernie about doing just that.

Now he just needs to do it.

Vermonters will be with him.

Isaac Evans-Frantz, of Brattleboro, is the executive director of Action Corps, an organization with volunteers in 30 states who campaign for U.S. policies to save lives around the world. He notes that people can still sign a petition calling on Sanders to reintroduce his Yemen War Powers Resolution and to sign on to the Murphy-Lee 502b Saudi resolution, by next month.

This Voices Viewpoint was submitted to The Commons.

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