3rd Thursday Alert: Tell Congress to constrain our country’s militarization of the Middle East

3rd_Thursday_logo.jpgEscalating tensions with Iran in the last two weeks verging on war resulted in the Iraqi parliament voting overwhelmingly to expel US troops from the country.  The vote was received with a strong rejection by the US, despite President Trump having campaigned on a promise to bring US troops home.  Having been present as an occupying army since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, the vote called renewed attention to US military presence in the region.  But the US has done more to militarize the Middle East than station troops there.  It has provided military arms and equipment, allocated military aid, and approved arms sales to the region in staggering quantities.

Please contact your representatives in Washington, urging them to constrain the US military presence in the Middle East in the form of troops, military aid, provision of arms, and arms sales approvals.

More than half of the arms deliveries to the region between 2014 and 2018 were from the US, according to a report citing the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.  President Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia in May, 2017 was part of the ongoing commercial ties between Saudi Arabia and major US arms manufacturers.  Military cooperation and support in the region are not partisan matters, and they span several administrations and decades, including to Egypt, and Jordan.  President Obama’s administration agreed with Israel on a renewed 10-year, $3.8 billion military aid MOU in 2016 that increased US military support for Israel.  Last week, representatives of both parties introduced legislation in Congress to formalize that agreement.

The provision of military aid and of military arms and technology, as well as the approval of military contracts, have resulted in US complicity in ongoing conflict in the region, including in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Israel/Palestine.  The death, physical and psychological injury, and displacement of people, as well as the destruction of infrastructure, can all be attributed to the militarized context in the region.  The US, as a dominant provider, must recognize its role in fomenting and perpetuating war and conflict.

In a letter to Congress in March 2018, Christian leaders recommended several steps to constrain the militarization of the Middle East, including:

  • Immediately suspend U.S. arms sales to those countries not in compliance with international humanitarian law. 
  • Fully enforce existing human rights conditions (“Leahy law”) for U.S. military assistance to all recipient governments.
  • Strengthen and expand end-use monitoring.
  • Oppose the transfer of oversight of the export of small arms and ammunition from the United States Munitions List to the less-restrictive Commerce Control List.
  • Ratify and fully abide by the terms of the Arms Trade Treaty.

The letter asserted that “continued provision of military aid and arms to the countries of the Middle East, it has been clear, does not result in greater peace, but rather greater conflict, casualties, and loss of life. The U.S.  has not advanced its own security or interests through military aid or arms sales.”

Please contact your representatives in Washington, urging them to act upon these recommendations, constraining the US military presence in the Middle East in the form of troops, military aid, provision of arms, and arms sales approvals.

Please feel free to use this sample letter when you contact your representative:

Subject line:  US Military Presence and Aid in the Middle East

Dear Representative,

As a person of faith and as your constituent, I am deeply concerned about the disproportionately high impact the US provision of military aid and of military arms and technology, as well as the approval of military contracts to countries and actors in the Middle East has had.  I do not believe the US has contributed positively to its own goal of promoting peace.  I also do not believe that the Congress has adequately borne its responsibility to apply its own laws and international law.

Several Christian leaders addressed a letter to the previous Congress in March 2018 with the following recommendations:

    • Immediately suspend U.S. arms sales to those countries not in compliance with international humanitarian law. 
    • Fully enforce existing human rights conditions (“Leahy law”) for U.S. military assistance to all recipient governments.
    • Strengthen and expand end-use monitoring.
    • Oppose the transfer of oversight of the export of small arms and ammunition from the United States Munitions List to the less-restrictive Commerce Control List.
    • Ratify and fully abide by the terms of the Arms Trade Treaty.

I support these recommendations, and urge you to act upon them, in order to uphold US law, as well as the principles of human rights and dignity, and to promote greater peace and justice for the people of the Middle East.

Thank you for your positive consideration of this request.

Sincerely,


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