Peace Not Walls - January

 

Tell Congress: Constrain our country’s militarization of the Middle East

Peace Not Walls 2

Escalating tensions with Iran over the last two weeks, verging on war, have resulted in the Iraqi parliament voting overwhelmingly to expel U.S. troops from Iraq. The vote met with a strong rejection by the United States, despite President Trump’s having campaigned on a promise to bring U.S. troops home. The United States has been present as an occupying army in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.  The vote called renewed attention to U.S. military presence in the region. But the United States 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.

More than half of the arms deliveries to the region between 2014 and 2018 were from the United States, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. President Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia in May 2017 was part of the ongoing commercial relationship between Saudi Arabia and major U.S. arms manufacturers. Military cooperation with and support of nations in the region, including Egypt and Jordan, are not partisan matters; they span several administrations and decades. In 2016, President Obama’s administration agreed with Israel on a memorandum of understanding that renewed U.S. military aid to Israel for another 10 years, increasing that support from $30 billion to $38 billion. In early January, representatives of both parties introduced legislation in Congress to formalize that agreement.

The provision of military aid, arms, and technology, as well as the approval of military contracts, have resulted in U.S. 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. As a dominant provider, the United States must recognize its role in fomenting and perpetuating war and conflict.

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

  • immediately suspending U.S. arms sales to countries not in compliance with international humanitarian law
  • fully enforcing existing human rights conditions (“Leahy law”) for U.S. military assistance to all recipient governments
  • strengthening and expanding end-use monitoring
  • opposing 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
  • ratifying and fully abiding 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 urge your representatives in Washington to act upon these recommendations that constrain the U.S. 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:

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  • Your Representative

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Dear [Decision Maker],

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[Your Name]
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