As Senate Prepares to Vote on Saudi War, Peace Activists Protest Raytheon Arms Sales

Andover protesters called on Dec. 13, 21018 for end to Raytheon arms sales to Saudi Andover protesters called on Dec. 13, 21018 for end to Raytheon arms sales to Saudi

Andover, Massachusetts, Dec. 13 — 25 antiwar activists from Andover, Lowell, Lawrence, Newton, Boston, and Cambridge gathered this morning outside Raytheon’s Andover facility to call on the company to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia while Saudi forces are at war inYemen.  

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS, or Mr. Bone Saw) waves his bloody saw at Andover Raytheon protest

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS, or Mr. Bone Saw) waves his bloody saw at Andover Raytheon protest

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) launched the Saudi/UAE/US bombing campaign in Yemen in 2015 to restore the country’s exiled president, but the war has become a stalemate.  Yemen now faces the world’s largest humanitarian castrophe, with hundreds of children dying every day from famine, a million cases of cholera, and tens of thousands, mainly civilians, killed in the fighting. 

Waltham-based Raytheon Corporation, Massachusetts’ largest military contractor, is the largest munitions supplier to the Saudi armed forces for the conflict. Its bombs have been used in numerous attacks on civilians.  Saudi forces have bombed hospitals, farms, irrigation equipment, a water purification plant and other civilian infrastructure in their campaign to subdue Yemeni resistance.  The United States supports the war by selling arms and providing training, spare parts, intelligence, targeting, andrefueling to the Saudi military. President Trump recently rejected calls to cut of U.S. support for Saudi forces, claiming that lucrative arms sales are more important than the humanlives those arms are destroying.

The Senate voted yesterday to opendebate on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bill, S.J.Res.54, which would cut off U.S.support for the Saudi/UAE war. Massachusetts’ Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren both support the bill. A vote is expected this afternoon.   A similar bill lost a close procedural vote in the House of Representatives yesterday by 203-206 but is expected to be reintroduced next month when newly elected Democrats take their seats in the House.

Today’s protest was sponsored by Merrimack Valley People for Peace, Veterans for Peace, Lowell’s Christ Church United, Lawrence-Andover Friends Meeting, Massachusetts Peace Action, Friends Meeting at Cambridge, and the Coalition to Stop the Genocide in Yemen.

Background:

The war in Yemen has given rise to the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet. Over 8 million are on the verge of starvation, and millions more require humanitarian aid. A report from the World Peace Foundation offers “strong evidence” that Saudi Arabia has deliberately targeted food production and distribution facilities across Yemen in an effort to starve the people of Yemen. A report from Save the Children estimates that 85,000 children under the age of five have died from starvation since the war began. S.J.Res. 54 argues that the U.S. role in Yemen is unconstitutional because it violates the War Powers Act, as legal experts explained in a letter to Senate leaders ahead of a previous vote on S.J.Res. 54 held in March of this year. An IRC/YouGov poll released on November 26 shows that 75 percent of Americans oppose U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and 82 percent think Congress should vote to end or scale back arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Peace Action and its Massachusetts branch have worked to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen for years, and are active in a coalition of advocacy groups lobbying on the issue.