The news hook is great news: for the first time, senators of both parties, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), are challenging the U.S. role in the Saudi-UAE war against Yemen. It’s good news because the U.S. involvement—from selling hundreds of millions of dollars of lethal weapons to sending U.S. pilots flying U.S. planes to conduct in-air refueling for the warplanes to make the bombing more efficient—is illegal, unconstitutional, and unconscionable.

It’s good news even though it’s very late. Because the news from Yemen is not good at all—it’s very bad.

The war raging in Yemen began in March 2015. From the beginning it has been a very one-sided war—more a slaughter than a war—in which warplanes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates continue to bomb civilian targets across the impoverished country. The result is what the United Nations has identified as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today—with more than 10,000 civilians killed by January 2017 when the UN largely stopped counting.  Two-thirds of those have been killed by the U.S. backed air strikes. More than 20 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. Yemen now faces the world’s worst cholera epidemic, that has killed at least 2,000 people and sickened over 1 million.  Millions more have been displaced, and large parts of the country’s infrastructure lie in ruins. Every ten minutes, a child under five dies from disease or starvation or both.

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Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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