Sen. Chris Murphy: 'There's an American Imprint on Every Civilian Life Lost in Yemen'

By Susan Jones | August 17, 2016 | 5:20 AM EDT

People gather at the site of a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders damaged by a Saudi-led airstrike in the northern town of Abs, Yemen, Tuesday, Aug.16, 2016. Yemen's Houthi rebels condemned the Saudi-led military coalition on Tuesday over an airstrike that hit a hospital, killing 14 people. (AP Photo/STR)

 

(CNSNews.com) - The Saudis are the ones dropping the bombs, but "there's an American imprint on every civilian life lost in Yemen," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told CNN's Jake Tapper on Tuesday.

"If you talk Yemenis, they will tell you, this is not perceived to be a Saudi bombing campaign. This is perceived to be a U.S. bombing campaign. What's happening is that we are helping to radicalize the Yemeni population against the United States." Murphy called that "terrible for us right now."

A Saudi air strike on Tuesday hit a hospital in Yemen, killing 14 people, the Associated Press reported. The U.S.-supported Saudi air campaign against the Houthi Shi'ite rebels began in March 2015, six months after they captured the capital city of Sanaa.

Rights groups and U.N. agencies say around 9,000 people have been killed in the conflict. The fighting has intensified since peace talks in Kuwait collapsed earlier this month.

Murphy said the Saudis couldn't fight the war without U.S. help: "It's our munitions, sold to the Saudis; it's our planes that are refueling the Saudi jets; and it's our intelligence that is helping the Saudis (with) their targeting.

"We have made a decision to go to war in Yemen against a Houthi rebel army that poses no existential threat to the United States," Murphy said.

"It's really wild to me that we're not talking more about this in the United States because of the very high level of U.S. involvement in the civil war and the consequence to U.S. national security."

Murphy noted that the U.S. Congress has not authorized President Obama to "conduct this operation in Yemen."

He also noted that the target in Yemen is not al Qaeda, the group mentioned in the 2001 war authorization. He called it "another example of a war being conducted by this administration without prior approval by Congress and therefore by the American public."

Murphy said both ISIS and al Qaeda are taking advantage of Yemen's civil war to recruit more members. "I think it's time that the United States rethink it's support for this bombing campaign," he added.

Murphy said Congress will have a chance to weigh in next month, when lawmakers will be asked to reauthorize a new sale of weapons to the Saudis. "So Congress can step in and say enough is enough," Murphy said.

Murphy said he's talking with both Democrats and Republicans about stopping the next round of arms sales to the Saudis.

"I would love for Congress to debate an authorization of war, not just in the context of Yemen, but also in the broader context of our war against ISIS, which hasn't been authorized either.

"But we have a chance to, perhaps, put a pause or a halt on these arms sales to the Saudis, at the very least, in order to get some assurances from the Saudis that they are going to stop bombing civilian hospitals and schools and factories. At the very least, we need to press them to be more responsible in the conduct of this war."