With the majority of the world being entranced by the crisis and constant reporting on Syria, it is no wonder Yemen falls under the radar for some. Of course, it’s not that Syria does not deserve the attention and help of the world, simply that Yemen also shares in need. Perhaps it is because there are great powers heavily influencing the conflict in Syria (Russia and the West), whereas in Yemen it is mainly a conflict being influenced by other Arab states, to be specific religious divisions Shia vs. Sunni. A battle of regional powers, where Iran continually supports those leading the rebellion. A Houthi movement took aim at Saad (see map “Saad”), Yemen because they saw weakness in the transitioning new president Mr. Hadi. Typically, Houthis champion Yemen’s Zaidi Shia Muslim minority. This occurred following uprisings that forced authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh out of his position. Mr. Hadi was eventually forced to flee in March 2015. These rebels are reportedly supported by the likes of regional Shia power, Iran. Needless to say, northern neighbors Saudi Arabia sees this as critical to their national security with their shared border, especially when Iran has been sending weapons and military advisers to further the Houthi movement.
Sunni-Saudi Arabia, however was not alone in its attempt to deflect this Houthi (Iranian supported) movement; other Arab nations joined the coalition to restore Mr. Hadi’s government. This Arab coalition received logistical and intelligence support from Western Powers (US, UK and France) to advance the defense of recognized government. The US has continued its support and the UN has attempted peace negotiations which haven’t been fruitful. The last “peace talk” just resulted in more fighting, meaning more deaths. The Saudi-supported Hadi government stated an ultimatum; the political process can only go forth if UN Security Council resolution 2216 is completely implemented (rebels must withdraw from all areas they control & surrender arms). A main reason Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations support Yemen is that the war-torn country lies strategically on the Bab al-Mandab strait, a waterway linking the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden, where much of the world’s oil shipments pass (of interest to Western nations as well).
These warring faith-based efforts leave nothing but a trail of death, malnutrition and a weakened nation. Such a state that self-interested Islamic State takes advantage openly in order to gain regional territory. Innocent civilians have carried the burden of the fighting and ceaselessly been the victims of serious violations of international law. According to the UN, roughly nearly 5,000 civilians had been killed and 8,000 others injured. To me, while both warring factions claim legitimacy and promote their rhetoric, they’re both destroying a nation and come across pretty radical. Nearly half the population is under the age of 18, which then makes children a third of all civilian deaths during the first two years of the conflict; an unacceptable reality for anyone staying abreast of the situation. Though Saudi Arabia supporting Hadi’s government is a realist approach to attempting to preserve the state, the aftermath it has caused doesn’t justify the end goal. The rebels being supported by Iran seem to be taking the complete radical approach toward a government it deemed abusive and repressive; still, the innocent lives lost and dying daily doesn’t justify it either. Our own government by way of President Trump’s commentary is still supporting Saudi Arabia and has plans of increasing its support, but to what end? And what will happen after? I suppose supporting a government that is supported by our ally, is better than no government at all. The total human count will tell another story though.