The Middle East region is the most volatile region of the planet where sectarianism, religious fundamentalism, violence, foreign intervention, and civil wars are a routine affair. This instability is aggravated by the presence of extremist militant groups who see west as their prime enemy and pose a huge security threat. The Yemen Civil War has received less attention from the western media as compared to the Syrian Civil War. However, the damage in the former has been equally barbaric and Yemen now represents a shattered nation and an almost dismantled life. To understand the civil strife, one needs to understand the underlying history and stakes.
Yemen is the poorest nation in the Arab region and was under constant revolt by Houthi rebels since 2004. In the wake of Arab Spring, President Ali Abdullah Saleh decided to step down. His successor President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi receives ardent support from the Saudi Arabia monarchy. He also had recognition from the international community.
Houthi rebels, the Shi’ite sect from Sada province with the support from Iran, had become a largely organized political and military group. They captured northern Yemen and swept through the capital Sana’a. Their leader is Abdulmalik Al-Houthi. This change of regime infuriated the Saudis, who considered Houthis not just as a terrorist organization but also as an Iranian proxy. It prompted Saudi Arabia to intervene military and reinstate the Hadi government in Yemen. A Saudi-led multinational coalition has carried out incessant air strikes on the Houthi-rebel held areas crippling the state and has caused a devastating humanitarian crisis. The coalition received logistical and intelligence support from the US, UK, and France.
This is also considered as a shadow war in the region between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The bitter rivalry between them heightened after a geopolitical shift after the US-Iran Nuclear Deal where Iranians agreed to demolish their nuclear weapon program in exchange for removal of economic sanctions against it. This deal has apparently emboldened Iran in the region economically as well as militarily. The Sunni majority countries led by Saudi Arabia are apprehensive of Iran’s massive influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Hence, they’re trying to prevent Iran from creating a hostile government in such close proximity and have any influence on it. Interests and support of the United States have been evident and quite disappointing. The Saudis have procured and purchased massive weaponry from the US in form of tanks, helicopter, and ammunition’s. The United States although has tried to distance itself from the gross war crimes, remains complacent to it and increasingly embroiled. Another reason for the western support to this military campaign is the presence of the most active and lethal militant group of Al Qaeda in Yemen, the Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) which the US fears can take advantage of the power vacuum.
Nevertheless, the fight against a rebellious group and terrorist organization has wreaked havoc on the nation’s peace and stability. The United Nations reports that around 5000 people have been killed and another 10,000 injured. Millions have been uprooted from their habitats and internally displaced. Yemen is now witnessing the worst famine ever and an outbreak of cholera. This man-made crisis is not receiving enough support from the international community even as the Saudis continue to bomb what’s left of the nation. The obliteration of civilian infrastructure and unjustified restrictions on the import of food or fuel has completely ravaged Yemen. Damage to the citizens has been catastrophic with no solution negotiated yet. Both parties have agreed to and failed to hold a ceasefire, driving Yemen to annihilation.
Article by mausam