The Forgotten Suffering

By Bill Mefford, photo by Reuters / Abdul Jabbar Zeyad

Senator Bernie Sanders and other members of Congress called this week for legislation to block continued US support for the Saudi-backed fighters in Yemen’s civil war. Though the legislation would likely face a veto, the Senators see that public opinion in the United States is beginning to turn against further US involvement in this horrible civil war and much of that reason is the murder of journalist Jamaal Khoshoggi by Saudi ruler MBS. Khashoggi spoke out regularly against Saudi involvement in Yemen. Still, even now, it seems little is said of a civil war that has caused such immense suffering for millions of people and I can’t help but wonder if it is because we as people of faith have lost our moral compass somewhat.

With so much news swirling day in and day out concerning the latest trump administration or campaign executive being arrested or indicted, it is not surprising that so many of us know little of what is happening in the rest of the world. One of those events happening in the rest of the world that is having devastating results in the civil war in Yemen.

As part of the Arab Spring, Houthi (Shiite) forces, linked with Iran, sprang up in 2014 back by Iran to overthrow the government in Yemen. They took over the capital city of Yemen and in response, Saudi Arabia and other Sunni allies backed both economic and military reprisals against the Houthi insurgents. The conflict in Yemen has therefore brought out into the open the violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in the region and thus, there exists a constant danger that this conflict might result in warfare between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The United States has chosen the side of Saudi Arabia in this conflict and much of the military equipment being used by Saudi-backed forces, particularly the equipment used in air-bombing, comes straight from the United States, as reported by the New York Times. This means that if you are a citizen of the United States, as I am, our money is backing the bombs that have killed thousands of civilians in Yemen.

As with all wars, the innocents are not the forces of either side, but the civilians. In the last three years there has been over 17,000 civilian casualties in Yemen and the country has now been taken over by famine. Over two million people have been displaced and over 22 million people are in need some kind of assistance. US-made bombs and military equipment have been used to terrorize civilians and yet, so few of us know anything that is happening in this country.

The lawlessness and ridiculousness of this current administration has distracted us from doing good for others, particularly for the civilians in Yemen. And our distraction has allowed for suffering to be perpetuated and for people to die.

No more. As much as we pay attention to the Mueller investigation and the latest trump crony to be indicted, even more must our eyes be on the real suffering that is engulfing over twenty million Yemenis. We must demand that Congress no longer ship weapons to the Saudi-backed coalition in Yemen to kill in our name. It is not that we stand with Iranian-backed Houthis; unfortunately, human rights atrocities have been committed by both sides in this conflict. We must stand with the civilians who simply want to live in a safe and secure Yemen without the threat of violence and mayhem from either side. We can do our part to aid in their hopes by demanding that the United States stop shipping any and all military aid to Saudi Arabia, who has committed all kinds of human rights atrocities regardless.

So, here is what you and I can do. I will do this today:

  • Call the office of Senator Jim Risch of Idaho (202-224-2752), who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations, and urge him to pass legislation in his committee stopping all US support for the War in Yemen.

  • Call Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY, 202-225-2464), who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and urge him to pass legislation in his committee stopping all US support for the War in Yemen.

  • Please give to the World Food Program to help feed the people of Yemen.

We can help stop suffering and I hope, for all we watch the man in the Oval Office, we don’t take our eyes off of doing justice for those who are being killed and oppressed in our name.

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