Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country has been struck by famine, disease outbreaks, and devastation. The Managing Director for Programs at the Centre for International Private Enterprise, Abdulwahab Alkebsi said that if the current situation in Yemen continues, then the already devastated country would experience the worst famine the world has seen in 50 years.
What is the Conflict About?
This continuing conflict goes back to 2014 and is a follow-up of the Arab Spring uprising which saw the then-president Ali Abdullah Saleh handing power to Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi in 2011. The Houthi movement took advantage of this power change and gradually took control of Yemen. Saudi Arabia feared the rise of Houthis and believed that Shia dominated Iran had backed this rebellious group. To safeguard and restore the Yemen government, a coalition of Arab states (Kuwait, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Senegal) launched a military campaign in 2015 to flush out and defeat the Houthis. Since then, it has been a Sunni-Shia clash for dominance and reign over Yemen with the innocent civilians at the receiving end.
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The Saudis are not ready to accept a Houthi dominated Yemen. They fear that a stable, militarily strong, economically viable and politically pluralistic Yemen will aspire for democratic development. Iran is not backing off. In March this year, US military intercepted arms shipments from Iran to Yemen. This is clear evidence that Iran is supplying arms to the rebels. It is a deadly fight for power.
Thousands of people have been killed in the conflict. There is no access to clean drinking water and next meal remains to be a question. Children and babies are dying from preventable diseases and families are struggling for support. Child marriages have risen. Life is bleak in Yemen. There is death lurking in every corner. The civilians are suffering.
Millions have been displaced and 100,000s are seeking asylum in other countries. Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a non-resident senior fellow at Arab Centre Washington (ACW) characterized Yemen’s problems as ecological, environmental and resource-based. “If we do not act soon, we will have potentially large-scale ecological migrants.” He said it is important to move beyond the focus of terrorism and security which is actually a proxy war with Iran. Ulrichsen said the solution is equitable political decision-making.
Think tanks say that the Yemen war is far more complicated than it meets the eye. Though the Houthis’ have been demanding for economic and political gains, the religious divide between the Shia and the Sunni is the focal point.
Saudi Arabia has always shared cold vibes with Iran