January 10, 2018

Young Leads on Yemen Humanitarian Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During his year on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) has emerged as a leader on humanitarian issues, most notably in Yemen, where a Saudi-led blockade has helped cause the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Following a months-long campaign by Senator Young, Saudi Arabia recently announced it is suspending key impediments to humanitarian assistance. An article published yesterday by The Weekly Standard outlines Senator Young’s successful efforts:

“Indiana senator Todd Young [was fired up] and he had been for a while. Throughout 2017, the Foreign Relations Committee member placed Yemen at the forefront of his work overseeing international development policy for the subcommittee he chairs. He and a bipartisan group of senators formally asked the Saudi government in April to refrain from impeding aid and bombing the places where it’s delivered. When his concerns weren’t satisfied by June, he voted against an arms deal with the Saudis. He stalled the confirmation of a State Department legal adviser nominated in September, Jennifer Newstead, as he formally questioned her position on the legality of the Saudis’ behavior in formal correspondence between October and November….Newstead answered Young’s inquiry to his satisfaction, and he lifted his hold, as Foreign Policy reported.

“The thrust is that Young is dealing in more than just diplomatic niceties—or, as he put it to me Friday, is providing ‘leverage to our own government to try and ensure that this starvation blockade is lifted.’ … ‘I don’t think we have any choice but to try and arrest Iranian expansionism,’ he says, as it relates to U.S. support of Saudi objectives in Yemen—which has lessened but continued amid escalating attacks and casualties. But that doesn’t mean the United States shouldn’t punish Saudi misbehavior. 

“‘Because of our shared interests with the Saudis—making sure Iran stays in a box to the extent they can, and refrain from terrorist activities throughout the Middle East and beyond—I would expect that we’ll continue to work together on those. But at the same time, let’s be clear: We also have some leverage, vis a vis the Saudis,’ he says. ‘They’re trying to diversify their own economy. We can be quite helpful in that regard . . . and there are other ways that we partner with the Saudi leadership, and help enhance their credibility within that region and beyond. And our motivation to help on all of those fronts could absolutely diminish to the extent that the Saudis continue to ignore this administration’s concerns, which I share, about the denial of life-saving assistance to the Yemeni population, in what I think is an ill-considered and ham-fisted effort to advance their military aims.’”


What others are saying

New York Times: “Senator Todd Young, Republican of Indiana, has called on the president and others to clear the way for needed supplies to Yemen…”

“American politicians, including Republicans, have urged Mr. Trump to use his leverage with the Saudis to help civilians dying of starvation and lack of medicine in Yemen. Senator Todd Young, Republican of Indiana, has called on the president and others to clear the way for needed supplies to Yemen, including by delivering large cranes to unload cargo vessels and speed up the process of distributing aid. In a statement on Wednesday, Mr. Young’s office praised the president. ‘President Trump’s attention to this critical matter is very encouraging and we hope he continues to pressure the Saudis to fully end the humanitarian blockade of Yemen,’ Mr. Young said.” (“Trump Urges Saudi Arabia to End Blockade of Goods Into Yemen,” New York Times, 12/6/2017)

Foreign Policy Magazine: “Sen. Todd Young is holding up a key State Department confirmation until the White House helps ease the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.”

“One Republican lawmaker is waging a quiet battle to persuade the Donald Trump administration to pressure Saudi Arabia to end its stranglehold on aid to Yemen, which is facing a spiraling humanitarian crisis with millions of lives threatened by disease and hunger. A Saudi-imposed blockade on fuel and other supplies is the main cause of the man-made catastrophe, aid agencies say, as Riyadh pursues its war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Sen. Todd Young, an Indiana Republican, is holding up the confirmation of the State Department’s nominee for legal advisor, former George W. Bush official Jennifer Newstead, until the Trump administration takes steps to force its Saudi ally to ease the blockade and allow more humanitarian aid into Yemen. (“GOP Senator Presses Trump Administration Over Deadly Saudi Blockade in Yemen,” ForeignPolicy.com, 12/4/2017)

Bread for the World Program: “Sen Young’s involvement has been critical to bringing this issue to the forefront of the administration’s and the American public’s attention.”   

“We would also like to thank Sen. Todd Young of Indiana for encouraging President Trump to take this step. Sen Young’s involvement has been critical to bringing this issue to the forefront of the administration’s and the American public’s attention.” (“Bread for the World Applauds Trump’s Call to Allow Aid in Yemen,” statement, 12/6/2017)

On December 8, World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley said, “Senator Todd Young is one of the greatest allies the World Food Program has in its efforts to help and save the Yemeni people. Senator Young has consistently and effectively raised not just U.S., but global awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and his determination to get restrictions on humanitarian access lifted have made it possible for WFP to support the food needs of more than seven million Yemeni people. Let there be no doubt: there are many Yemeni men, woman and children alive today because of Senator Young.”