Calls for US to Stop Arming Saudis Following Deadly Airstrikes Against Yemen

Following deadly airstrikes in Yemen that are believed to have killed civilians and children, politicians have called for the U.S. to stop arming the Saudi forces that conducted the attacks.

On Friday, a Saudi-led airstrike against a prison in Saada, Yemen—run by the country's Houthi rebels—killed and wounded over 100 detainees, NPR reported.
Doctors Without Borders said the airstrike actually wounded "around 200" people, though acknowledged that a specific count is hard to ascertain. Save the Children said over 60 people were killed, adding that the prison mostly held detained migrants.

Another recent airstrike in Hodeida hit a telecommunication center, taking down internet access for nearly the entire country. The airstrike also killed three children playing soccer in a nearby field, Save the Children said. The attack was described as "a blatant attack on civilian infrastructure that will also impact our aid delivery" by the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Saudi Arabia and its coalition of eight other mostly Sunni Arab states—believing the Houthis to be backed by regional rival Iran—have continued a campaign of airstrikes against the country since 2015. The airstrikes occurred with logistical and intelligence support provided by the U.S., U.K. and France.

The coalition has increased airstrikes after the Houthis conducted a Monday attack in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The attack killed two Indian citizens and one Pakistani, The Washington Post reported.

Hours after, Saudi-led airstrikes killed over a dozen people in two separate airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen. The ongoing airstrikes have worsened a humanitarian crisis and widespread hunger amid the country's nearly decade-long civil war.

"America is complicit in this, as it has been complicit in every Saudi or UAE airstrike of this horrific war that Biden and his senior officials once promised to end," national security reporter Spencer Ackerman wrote in a Friday morning tweet. "I hope they see these children when they sleep at night."

In early 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden said he would withdraw support for the Saudi coalition's airstrikes operations. However, a year later, the U.S. continues to provide assistance for the Saudi offensive. Recently, the Biden administration sold $650 million worth of arms to the Saudis and said the weapons were for "defensive purposes," Insider reported.

"This is horrific news, further devastating Yemen. It's also a predictable consequence of continuing to arm Saudi Arabia," the Congressional Progressive Caucus tweeted on Friday morning in response to the recent attacks. "The Biden administration must stop unauthorized participation in the Saudi war and bring its bombings and blockade to an end — as Congress has demanded."

On Wednesday, Biden signaled that he may reverse course on his earlier decision not to continue a Trump-era policy designating the Houthi rebels as a terrorist organization. Aid groups have said doing so will hamper their humanitarian efforts in the country.

In response to the news, California Democratic Representative Ro Khanna said, "We need to help end the war in Yemen, not escalate it by re-imposing Trump's Houthi terror designation. Humanitarian orgs have warned this would mean even higher food and fuel prices for millions of Yemeni civilians and wouldn't do anything to stop Houthi atrocities."

The ongoing Yemen civil war stems from a failed handover of power that occurred in 2011 between former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and the country's current president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. At the time, Saleh and Hadi oversaw a government beset by corruption, unemployment and food insecurity, the BBC reported.

Dissatisfied with Hadi's ascendancy, the Houthis—who champion Yemen's Zaidi Shia Muslim minority—and security forces loyal to Saleh gradually gained more power, reclaiming parts of the country, including Yemen's capital city of Sanaa.

The civil war has killed over 130,000 people, including over 13,000 civilians killed in targeted attacks, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Project.

U.S. stop arming Saudis airstrikes Yemeni
Politicians have called for the U.S. to stop arming the Saudis following deadly airstrikes against Yemen that are believed to have killed civilians and children. In this photo, a Yemeni person inspects the scene of aerial attacks said to be carried out by aircraft of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia on January 18, 2022, in Sanaa, Yemen. Mohammed Hamoud/Getty