World
20.12.17

The Yemen civil war: The Arabian Vietnam

(WT-shared) Shoestring at wts wikivoyage. Wikimedia Commons

It has been more than two years since the civil war in Yemen became especially violent. Following Ali Abdullah Saleh’s resignation from his presidency in November 2011, the power moved onto his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. The crisis in the Middle East has since shifted from bad to worse. Ali Abdullah Saleh was assassinated on the 4th December 2017 and a series of suicide bombings has shocked the nation and unemployment and food insecurity floods the country. This has led to the rise of the Houthi and Saleh groups, wanting two different outcomes for Yemen.

The origins of the conflict go back to the Arab Spring of 2011, when the Middle East had a number of popular demonstrations. People took to the streets of the main capital, Sana’a, for political change with the aim of eradicating corruption within the executive. The 1990s saw Yemen’s economy take a change for the worse, as the country backed Iraq during the first Gulf War. What should have been an oil-rich country like neighbouring Saudi Arabia actually had an economy that was suffering from the expenditures of the war, with a large percentage of its population living below the poverty line.

During the first decade of the 21st Century there was an intense struggle for power, during which Saleh wanted his own son to govern Yemen. However, enemies of Saleh attempted to murder him while he was praying in a mosque, and, realising that he was in danger, he passed on power to his deputy Hadi in 2011. Yemen then began to slide into a deep division of religious and political ideals.

In the north, the Shia-led Houthi is led by Abdul Maliq Houthi, which is still supported by Iran with military advisors and equipment. In the south, the Saleh group wants the former president back in authority and is supported by Saudi Arabia. Iran has been deploying naval vessels in the Gulf of Aden, which surrounds the Southern coast of Yemen, and Saudi Arabia has set off numerous aircraft attacks in the hope to try and weaken the Houthi rebels. All of the fighting has turned Yemeni infrastructure to rubble and there is a severe lack of access to water and aid.

August 2014 marked the time when the Houthi seized Sana’a. Hadi tried to promote Ahmad Mubarak to run as prime minister, but the Houthi did not accept this, arguing that he was too closely linked with Hadi. Following this, Mubarak was kidnapped in January 2015 and later that month Houthi rebels stormed into the presidential palace to put Hadi under house arrest. The result of this was Hadi’s last negotiation about dividing the nation into six parts. However, each group argued for more sovereignty. Hadi managed to escape to Saudi Arabia, the country was left with no supreme leader and mass murders were further exasperated by Al-Qaeda’s acts of terrorism.

It is necessary to look at the key players of this war which has caused a cholera outbreak due to poor sanitation, famine and the breaking of many human rights. America has been an integral protagonist in the conflict and without their involvement Saudi Arabia would not be able to maintain refuelling its fighter jets, which enable them to continue operations without returning to base. In America’s defence, it is a war against terror, but their attachment has only increased the death toll and they will continue to provide military support to Saudi Arabia as long as they continue to make money from selling weapons.

No side is right, but peace talks must continue so that there can be an end to the atrocities. The conflict in the Middle East has no winners. The only things that will come of it are the mass graves of men, women and children.

Global Seven News

Sophia Andersson-Gylden