Biden under pressure to end support for ‘Yemen suffering’

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A letter that members of Congress sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken increased growing pressure on the Biden administration to fully end U.S. support for Yemeni suffering and push the Saudi Arabia-led coalition to “lift its obstruction of commercial and humanitarian imports” to the war-torn country.

Although President Joe Biden was praised early in his term for a series of actions on Yemen—temporarily freezing arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, ending U.S. support for the coalition’s “offensive operations,” and reversing the designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organization—lawmakers and activists want him to go further.

“Since 2015, the restrictions imposed by the coalition have critically exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in Yemen,” the letter says.

“The interference, delay, and outright blocking of commercial goods and humanitarian assistance shipped to Yemen’s ports is a principal cause of price inflation, food insecurity, economic collapse, and the failure of public services in Yemen. These measures do not interrupt the supply of Iranian and other weapons to the Houthis.”

The letter acknowledges recent progress on getting fuel into Yemen as positive but adds that “none of this excuses the Saudi-led coalition’s continued obstruction of commercial and humanitarian imports to Yemen, which serves no legitimate humanitarian, political, or security purpose. Ending this practice will boost Yemen’s economy, de-escalate the conflict, and prevent this humanitarian catastrophe from worsening—all important U.S. objectives.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) also signed on to the letter, as did Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), William Keating (D-Mass.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Colin Allred (D-Texas), Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), and Kathy Manning (D-N.C.).

It came a week after over 70 lawmakers—led by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.)—sent a similar message to the White House.