On November 13, the Republican-led House Rules Committee advanced the “Manage Our Wolves Act” to the House floor. The act will remove grey wolves from the federal Endangered Species List and prohibit federal judicial review of the legislation. As the bill about wolves was being discussed on the floor, Democrats talked about the ongoing crisis in Yemen. But what do wolves have to do with a country over 7,000 miles away?
Republicans inserted a provision into the bill that would prohibit a floor vote on H Res 138 introduced by Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA). The resolution would direct President Donald Trump to withdraw the US military out of Yemen in 30 days.
Some Republicans argue that blocking the resolution is not as consequential as it seems given that Democrats will gain control of the U.S. House of Representatives come January. While the issue will certainly be revisited in just a few months, Yemeni civilians will continue to pay the price in death, famine, disease, injury, and misery for the sake of political games in the U.S. Congress.
Just a few days earlier on November 10, the Trump administration suspended U.S. military assistance used for refueling Saudi warplanes. The announcement was a response to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which was reportedly ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman himself. The event led to international outcry, spurring Western nations to reexamine their alliance with the Kingdom. Despite the latest move, however, Trump and his aides remain reluctant to completely isolate the Saudi regime and have generally continued to support the Crown Prince in his endeavors in Yemen.
Since November 2015, Saudi Arabia has led a military coalition of nine African and Middle Eastern nations that have militarily intervened in Yemen in response to the Houthi takeover of the Yemeni government. These operations have been supported by the United States and other Western nations via weapons sales, liaison officers, and various kinds of technical support.
U.S. involvement in the war has drawn significant criticism, particularly with regards to weapons sales and logistical help provided to the coalition. As the Saudi-led effort continues to target civilians via airstrike and blockades of Yemeni ports and airspace, human rights groups have described Western, especially American, support as complicit in these war crimes and human rights violations.
In recent weeks, Western governments have made more of a push to try and resolve the conflict. On November 16, UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, secured an agreement for a delegation of Houthis, Saudis, and Emiratis to hold peace talks in Sweden. On November 11, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt visited Saudi Arabia and the UAE urging an end to the war. Notwithstanding these efforts, however, the United States’s delay in retracting its military and financial support from the coalition will undoubtedly have deadly effects. By blocking the bill that would immediately withdraw U.S. aid, House Republicans are continuing to lend a strong helping hand to a coalition that already enjoys significant advantage on the battlefield.
It is almost impossible to put into words the level of destruction and devastation Yemen and Yemenis are experiencing. Much needs to be done politically to stop the atrocities. Unfortunately, however, certain members of Congress have decided to prioritize their own partisan interests over the lives of countless human beings in Yemen.