My Turn: Sanders must fight Yemen blockade

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By MARYDIANE BAKER

Published: 08-15-2023 1:35 PM

At a “meet and greet” town hall hosted by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders at the Senior Center in Brattleboro on Aug. 10, Action Corps Vermont presented him with a petition signed by almost 900 people across the country, including many Vermonters, asking for his leadership now in the Senate to end endless wars, starting with the U.S.-backed Saudi war and blockade on Yemen.

Bernie met the December setback in his efforts to force a vote on his Yemen War Powers Resolution with a vow to return to Congress if sufficient progress wasn’t made on moving administration policy to end the Saudi war and Yemen blockade. On Thursday, Bernie reconfirmed that stance, stating that he’s not giving up on the issue.

Yemenis report that they continue to endure great hardships due to the Saudi blockade of their country. Thanks to U.S. support, Saudis control all the seaports and airports, restricting movement of supplies. Three round-trip flights a week, and only to Jordan, allow for little opportunity to obtain medical care.

Some have been stranded in Jordan for nine months, since the Saudis curtail movement of people also. Medical equipment is not allowed to be shipped directly to Yemen, resulting in unconscionable delays. Yemen’s current de facto cease-fire, while a welcome improvement over Saudi bombing, is not enough. The Saudi blockade of Yemen is also an act of war. The Biden administration is still helping Saudi Arabia maintain that blockade.

There is currently some small improvement in the quantity of supplies allowed in. Dependent, though, on imports for 83% of their calories, the Yemeni people are receiving drastically less than the 500,000 tons of food and 400,000 tons of fuel they require per month, U.N. documents show. For a country facing what the U.N. calls “dire economic and humanitarian challenges,” with three-fourths of the population in need of humanitarian aid, the end of the continuing Saudi blockade is essential and urgent. The human cost is too massive to do otherwise.

Action Corps Vermont is asking Bernie to do two things to help end the Saudi blockade on Yemen, and all Vermonters will be able to easily see if and when Bernie has done them. The first is to reintroduce his Yemen War Powers Resolution in the Senate. The second is to co-sponsor the Murphy-Lee-Durbin 502B human rights resolution on Saudi Arabia and its war in Yemen.

We will continue to press Bernie to do these things until he has done them, and we ask all Vermonters to help us hold Bernie accountable to his promise.

MaryDiane Baker of Brattleboro is the Action Corps Vermont organizer volunteer.

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