January 4, 2019
When the new Congress convenes Jan. 3, it is expected to pass a House resolution upholding congressional war powers and ending all direct U.S. involvement in the Saudi coalition’s war in Yemen.
But hopes remain high that H. Con. Res. 138 will help to end the Yemen war itself. Congressional strategists and activists who have been working on the issue believe passage of the war powers measure will force Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the negotiating table.
Together, they are challenging the position of some former Obama administration officials who have warned the war powers resolution alone cannot bring the conflict to a close. Those former officials, led by Brookings Institution fellow Bruce Riedel, say that cutting off the Saudi pipeline of spare parts is the only way to prevent further airstrikes, which have been central to the Saudi war strategy.
Proponents of the war powers resolution, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California, argue the Saudis will not be able to continue the war without the political-diplomatic support of the United States, and the Yemen resolution will make dramatically clear the Saudis can no longer count on U.S. support. How the Senate came to pass a version of the Yemen resolution, co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and ratified in December by a vote of 56 to 41, would appear to lend support to their argument.
The Khashoggi Effect
Until 2018, the Obama and Trump administrations had successfully avoided any congressional move to block U.S. support of the Saudi-Emirati bombing of civilian targets in Yemen, or the country’s air and naval blockade. That success was possible, at least in part, because the U.S. media largely ignored the mass starvation of the Yemeni people and unprecedented cholera epidemic these acts of aggression…