Washington, D.C. — May 19, 2017 — From Saturday, May 20th through Sunday, May 21st, President Trump will be in Saudi Arabia to participate in bilateral talks with the Saudi government, multilateral talks with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, and the “Arab, Islamic, and American Conference.” Saudi Arabia’s King Salman said the series of talks are meant to increase cooperation in confronting extremism, help advance peace in the region, and enhance global security.
The president’s trip coincides with reports that the Saudi-led military coalition that intervened in Yemen’s civil war over two years ago is preparing to launch an offensive on Yemen’s port city of Hodeida. The United Nations and other humanitarian organizations have warned the offensive would displace a minimum of 400,000 people and spark widespread starvation by compromising a port through which over 70 percent of Yemen’s food and humanitarian aid enters the country. The U.N. estimates that 21 million people in Yemen are currently in need of humanitarian aid, seven million of whom are nearing starvation.
Jon Rainwater, Executive Director of Peace Action, said the president should take the opportunity to address the dire situation in Yemen. “When President Trump meets with heads of state participating in the Saudi-led coalition, he should strongly oppose the planned coalition attack on the port city of Hodeida, and pressure the coalition to negotiate with the Houthi opposition in good faith,” said Rainwater.
“For 26 months, the U.S. has been actively facilitating the destruction of Yemen. With military and political support from the U.S., the Saudi-led bombing campaign has killed thousands of civilians—indiscriminately bombing schools, hospitals, marketplaces, weddings and funerals. On the U.S. taxpayer’s dime, we are literally fueling this war by conducting mid-air refuelings of Saudi warplanes,” Rainwater commented.
“Given the coalition’s complete disregard for international and humanitarian law, the U.S. should cut off all military support to coalition countries without delay. Instead, the Trump administration is reportedly preparing to offer Saudi Arabia a $100 billion arms deal, worth nearly as much as the combined value of arms deals offered to Saudi Arabia during President Obama’s tenure,” Rainwater continued. “If Trump insists on continuing to arm the coalition, the least he could do is leverage U.S. support to demand a change in the coalition’s conduct, and prevent an impending attack that would put millions of lives at risk.”
Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to international conflicts. The public may learn more and take action at http://www.PeaceAction.org.