Vote on US Withdrawal From Yemen War Comes ‘Too Late,’ But Still Sends Message

© AP Photo / Hani MohammedA Houthi Shiite sniper keeps watch over a rally to mark the third anniversary of the Houthis' takeover of the Yemeni capital, in Sanaa.
A Houthi Shiite sniper keeps watch over a rally to mark the third anniversary of the Houthis' takeover of the Yemeni capital, in Sanaa. - Sputnik International
The US Senate voted on Thursday to end any and all military support for the Saudi Arabian-led coalition in the Yemen War, which has produced the worst humanitarian crisis on Earth and inflicted food shortages and disease on the population of what was already the Middle East’s poorest country.

Under the resolution passed by the Senate, the White House must withdraw all of the Pentagon's forces from the Yemeni theater within 30 days or seek authorization from Congress for forces to be deployed. The bill did contain a provision stipulating that American forces fighting Al-Qaeda in Yemen would not be subject to the removal order.

People carry the body of a woman they recovered from under the rubble of a house destroyed by a Saudi-led air strike in Sanaa, Yemen August 25, 2017 - Sputnik International
Number of People Killed in Yemen Six Times Higher than UN Estimates - NGO

Though the data are piecemeal, estimates indicate that the 3.5-year armed conflict has killed at least 57,538 people, AP reported in November, noting that this estimate is likely to increase to 70,000 or 80,000 once death tolls from the first nine months of 2015 are analyzed. The death count — which includes combatant and civilian deaths — likely underestimates the true tally because of how difficult it is to obtain reliable data on the number of deceased, AP pointed out.

Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, joined Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Friday to discuss the evolving situation in Yemen.

​"It's come too late, and yet, I think this is an indicator that messages are now being sent, much clearer messages than had been sent before," Kelly said, "about the anger and frustration over the slaughter of children in Yemen, over the support for warring parties in Yemen."

One of the most infamous examples of indiscriminate killing by Saudi warplanes occurred in early August, when a Saudi-coalition jet launched a US-made bomb at a school bus in the Yemeni city of Dahyan, claiming the lives of 40 children. The incident was so blatantly and transparently tragic and preventable that even CNN and MSNBC finally angled their lenses toward Yemen after turning a blind eye to the mayhem there for years, Sputnik reported. After all, what does one expect to happen when dropping a bomb on a school bus?

Amnesty International has called the Yemen War "the Forgotten War," but apathy has now given way to a wave of dismayed awareness, the peace activist told Sputnik. "The combination of the Senate vote, the fact that in three weeks a Democratic Congress will be in power and very important negotiations over the port city of Hodeidah [are being held]… it certainly is clear that many more people are aware of, and alarmed by, and really sorrowful over the killing of so many people in Yemen," Kelley said.

A man passes in front of a screen showing Jamal Khashoggi during a commemoration event of Khashoggi's supporters on November 11, 2018 in Istanbul - Sputnik International
US Senate Votes to End Military Assistance in Yemen War

A blockade and siege of Hodeidah would choke Yemen of sorely needed food imports in what could be a metaphorical final straw for the 14 million Yemenis the United Nations reports are already enduring "pre-famine conditions." On Thursday, however, some justification for hope emerged, as the warring parties reportedly agreed to a ceasefire in the port city during talks in Sweden. UN chief Antonio Guterres hailed the ceasefire, stating that the truce was "the best opportunity in years to move towards the political solution the people of Yemen urgently need." Still, the UN officials say monitoring is needed to ensure the ceasefire, and scattered reports were made of fighting on the outskirts of the port town on Friday.

Though many innocents have died during the years-long conflict, the Dahyan attack in particular woke up American senators like Chris Murphy (D-CT) to the ongoing atrocities in Yemen — in addition to Washington's complicity and aid to the coalition responsible for the Yemen's destruction. Murphy was one of the few voices in Washington to finally speak out about US involvement in Yemen, which for years included targeting assistance, intelligence sharing and free aerial refueling for Saudi-coalition aircraft.

"It is as clear as day that the Saudi-led coalition is recklessly — and likely intentionally — killing innocent civilians and children, and they're doing it with US bombs and so-called targeting assistance," Murphy said in September, about a month after the vicious school bus massacre in Dahyan.

An eclectic collection of the elderly Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, the loud libertarian Rand Paul (R-KY), and Mike Lee (R-UT) were the first three senators to co-sponsor S.J. Resolution 54, which cruised through the Senate Thursday, Sputnik reported.

In this Oct. 1, 2018 file photo, a woman holds a malnourished boy at the Aslam Health Center, in Hajjah, Yemen as millions of Yemenis are edging closer to famine and fatal disease one year after a Saudi-led coalition imposed a blockade on sea, land and air routes in the Arab world's poorest country. - Sputnik International
‘Food Shouldn’t be a Weapon of War’: Charities Warn of US Complicity in Yemen

Since armed engagement started in 2015, civilian casualties have been increasing in Yemen, not decreasing, with almost every year becoming more deadly than the previous, Sputnik has reported.

"There's a grassroots movement going on across this country that's steadfastly communicating that they don't want to continue having any part in this war, or in the starvation and the possible famine," said Kelly, who spoke with Sputnik Radio from Chicago.

The Senate also voted unanimously to condemn and hold responsible Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, whose body was reportedly dismembered by Saudi operatives wielding bonesaws at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Bin Salman, sometimes referred to by his initials "MBS," has gained notoriety as the ‘architect' of the Yemen War. He is also the Saudi minister of defense.

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