- Ro KhannaU.S. representative of California’s 17th Congressional District.
President Joe Biden had promised to end support for offensive operations by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and stop all “relevant” arms sales, but the U.S. continues to service Saudi warplanes, and the administration recently approved the sale of $650 million in air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia. Congressmember Ro Khanna, one of the most outspoken congressional critics of the war, says the U.S. has the power to stop the fighting. “We could ground the Saudi Air Force to a halt tomorrow if we stopped supplying them with tires and parts,” says Khanna. “Instead, we continue to authorize arms sales to the Saudis.”
More from this Interview
- Part 1: “Dignity in the Digital Age”: Rep. Khanna Calls for Wealth Tax & Decentralizing, Diversifying Big Tech
- Part 2: Rep. Ro Khanna Wants Big Oil to Confront Record of Climate Denialism, Meet Emissions Reduction Vows
- Part 3: Rep. Ro Khanna: The U.S. Could End the Yemen War Tomorrow. It’s Time to Stop Arming the Saudis
- Part 4: “We Need Restraint”: Rep. Ro Khanna Cautions Against Sending U.S. “Lethal Aid” to Ukraine
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to switch gears to a letter that you and about a dozen other House Democrats recently sent to President Biden to stop servicing Saudi warplanes used in deadly attacks against Yemeni civilians. You cited the recent airstrikes on a migrant detention center in Yemen, which killed over 70 people. President Biden had pledged to end U.S. support for offensive operations by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and all, quote, “relevant arm sales,” but it then approved the sale of $650 million in air-to-air missiles to Saudi Arabia, among other sales.
You have been a champion of the Yemeni people in Congress. Can you talk about that move and what needs to be done now, how the U.S. is central to this ongoing attack on the Yemeni people, creating what the United Nations has called the greatest humanitarian catastrophe in the world?
REP. RO KHANNA: Amy, frankly, I’ve been disappointed in the administration on Yemen. I was hopeful in the beginning. When the president came out, he said, “We’re going to have a new policy. We’re not going to continue refueling on offensive strikes.” But the reality is that the strikes have continued. The blockade has continued. The Saudis refuse to realize that they’ve lost the war.
And we have leverage that we’re not using. We could ground the Saudi Air Force to a halt tomorrow if we stopped supplying them with tires and parts. Instead, we continue to authorize arms sales to the Saudis. We have to tell the Saudis, “Stop the war.” Now, the Houthis aren’t blameless. I get that they’re firing into the Saudi territory. But our support and our leverage is with the — is over the Saudis. And if the Saudis lift the blockade, if they recognize that that war is over, then we can have a diplomatic settlement in Yemen. We can alleviate the extraordinary inflation and famine. And we just aren’t being willing to put enough pressure on the Saudis, despite having the leverage.
So, it’s a place where you’re seeing increasing discontent among progressives in Congress. I know Pramila Jayapal and others are really looking for much bolder action from the administration.
And if I could say one sentence, because I heard your earlier report, the excellent reporting on Afghanistan? That is also a concern, where Senator Warren and I have — with others, with Chris Murphy, have written to the administration about more transparency on civilian casualties. We’re waiting for a full accounting. But, certainly, I think the reporter from CNN, Nick, was absolutely correct that people are owed the full truth and a full investigation.