At least 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen's 18-months of civil war, the United Nations said Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – The top democrat on the House Armed Services Committee became the latest lawmaker Monday to express concern over the violence and unrest in Yemen and the U.S. role in a Saudi Arabia-led military campaign there.
“I am very concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wa.) said in a written statement. “Reports of mass civilian casualties and widespread human deprivation are distressing — especially those that suggest some of these calamitous conditions may be caused, or exacerbated, by the military intervention led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
At least 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen’s 18-months of civil war, the United Nations said Tuesday, VOA reported, a figure far greater than the 6,000 estimate that had been used by aid workers for much of 2016.
“The use of military force by Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners must strictly adhere to international humanitarian law and prioritize the protection of Yemeni civilians,” Smith said.
Criticism of U.S. support for the Saudi intervention has grown in recent weeks. Peace talks collapsed earlier this month and fighting flared. Saudi airstrikes hit a school and hospital, killing dozens of civilians. Doctors without borders announced that it would evacuate its staff from hospitals in northern Yemen because it could not get assurances that its hospitals would not be bombed again.
The civil war pits the ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is supported by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition, against Iran-allied Houthi rebels and supporters of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Six month’s after Hadi’s ousting, in March 2015, Saudi Arabia assembled the alliance of mostly Arab states to fight back the Houthi rebels.
The U.S. has provided intelligence, aerial refueling and precision guided munitions to the Saudis. U.S. officials have explicitly called upon the Saudis to minimize civilian casualties.
Secretary of State John Kerry, along with Gulf Arab states and the U.N., proposed a plan last week to restart failed peace talks with the goal of forming of a unity government in Yemen.
Meanwhile, a group of 60 US lawmakers will send a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday calling on him to postpone the sale of $1.15 billion worth of arms and ammunition to Saudi Arabia, Foreign Policy reported.
The State Department approved the sale of the weapons earlier this month, giving Congress a 30-day window to review and approve the transaction.
“Any decision to sell more arms to Saudi Arabia should be given adequate time for full deliberation by Congress,” the letter reads. “We are concerned, however, that the timing of this notification during the August congressional recess could be interpreted to mean that Congress has little time to consider the arms deal when it returns from recess within the 30 day window established by law.”
On Monday, ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing at an army recruiting center in the southern city of Aden that killed at least 71 people.
In the statement, Smith said that the U.S. must work with “Saudi Arabia to ensure that Yemen does not become an established haven for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Islamic State, or any other terrorist organization; nor become a proxy for malign Iranian activities.”
“We must also keep in mind that while Iran is providing support to the Houthis in Yemen, they are not simply extensions of Iranian foreign policy. Ultimately, this situation will be resolved through political reconciliation, and we must work to support a diplomatic resolution of this crisis,” Smith said.