War Afflictions of Yemen

Photo Source: Middle East Monitor

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Up Front

Ever since the Saudi led coalition entered the war in Yemen in 2015 through Operation Desert Storm, at least 5000 children have been killed mercilessly. More than 19000 air raids have ravaged Arab world's poorest country.

It is believed that counterinsurgency operations, part of America’s global domination plans, proved pivotal in political instability inside Yemen. The public has often burned the American flag on the streets.

Currently, the United States does not approve of the Yemeni army, with which it coordinated before, during the USS Cole bombing, due to government illegitimacy and chaos spreading in the national senate.

According to inputs by offices of the United Nations, many children have been recruited as child soldiers. 

After more than three years of fighting, around 60,000 people have been killed. As per the Yemen Data Project, more than two-thirds coalition's air raids have struck non-military and unknown targets.

One of the worst atrocities committed by Saudi led forces that received worldwide condemnation was in 2015, when 140 mourners were killed, who were attending a funeral. There is an alarming cholera epidemic afflicting the lives of common Yemenis, as of now. People eat boiled tree leaves for survival, as the food prices have soared to 150%, since the conflict began in Yemen.

While crown prince Mohammad bin Salman has given a financial grant at the behest of Saudi government as humanitarian aid, just like the Emirati government, he still ironically has been the architect of the Yemen war for over three years. The recent ruling of expelling Yemeni workers from the kingdom make his political intentions even clearer.

Even till now the Houthi militia has not been defeated, despite the fact, billions of dollars are funnelled by the Saudis for the purchase of the fourth generation – ultra sophisticated weapons.

The Houthis are still believed to be working at the behest of Iranian strategic plans because of common religious affiliation. Iran has been accused lately of supplying missile parts to the Houthis.

Every now and then, a ballistic missile is targeted on the Saudi kingdom by the Houthis, who had been busy lately, retreating against the ‘carpet bombing campaign’ of the Saudi-UAE air forces. A $115 billion military deal of the Saudis with the US proved as a backbone of their war campaigns inside Yemen.

The regional correspondents have dispersed first-hand accounts where women and old men are seen praying to God while Saudi warplanes enter Saana. 

The oil-rich Saudi monarchy is accused of killing civilians in residential areas, markets, hospitals and even camps for refugees.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Saudi Arabia of serious war crimes in the region. They want the United Nations to launch a new probe. 

Ironically, a February UN Security Council Resolution extended sanctions for a year in Yemen, but it did not call for investigations into war crimes perpetrated by the Saudis.

The Kingdom along with UAE seems to have vested interests and possibly want territorial gains in the war-torn peninsula. 

Currently, Yemen is facing famine and 22 million people are in need of aid. Aden has become a battleground for southern secessionists at this point in time.

Talking about the economic situation, Yemen has currently run out of foreign currency reserves. Regional Yemeni businessmen have collaborated and made their own hawala networks. They also have been burdened with extra tax payments at the borders and checkpoints. The problem has increased the cost of goods at around 10-15 per cent.

According to Oped writer, Peter Salisbury, rebel fighters have been benefitting from poor checks at the borders. These militias now control large swathes of land that have been strategically important that include trade routes. 

To add more fuel to the fire, none of the rebels group has been allowed to put their opinions in any UN-led peacemaking process.

If we look at the blueprint of the UN-mediated peace process, it calls for the Houthi-Saleh alliance to cut some kind of deal with the Hadi alliance to form a ‘unity government’.

In the past, when Saleh ruled, he had robbed $33 billion cash, a disbursement by the US to fight al-Qaeda. He had allowed Houthis to gain control of several quarters of government administration during his rule. During the civil war, not only did they capture Saana, but also seized Aden and its airport which made the ruling President Hadi flee to Saudi Arabia.

Journalists have nicknamed Yemen as a ‘new Vietnam’ emerging inside the Middle East region.  They see dead coral scattered on the seashores, while young Yemeni army men chew raw green tobacco leaves, and pose for selfies in UAE armoured vehicles.

Peter Salisbury, a researcher with London based Chatham House, further reveals: ‘in Mareb Province, the main highway is cut off. In the south of this province, there is a less maintained road where lorries drive through anti and pro-Houthi checkpoints. The country is a region of mini-states at varying degrees of war.’

This fragile situation seems to speak for itself.

Yemen had been a hotbed of extremism, since Afghan civil war in the 1990s. The Egyptians fought an insurgency in the 1960s. 

It was Britain that put Yemen on the West’s maps, where British warships travelled through its ports to India. The Brits, just like the Ottomans, had partitioned the area into a north-south border.

In 2016, the Saudi led coalition wanted to seize the port of Hodeidah, which lies on the west coast of Yemen. It is because the alliance believes that this port is used by the Houthis to bring Iranian weapons. As a political move, it might also have been a plan to squeeze the Houthi faction even further so that they could put something in form of a political dialogue on the table.

During the war at the port, violence has been up to a staggering 164 percent. 

A regional political analyst believes that if Hodeidah port is cut off, the Houthis will survive, but the rest of Yemen will starve. 90% of imported food comes from the Hodeidah port. This fatal move might even surge traffic problems and increase tax/custom collections inside the war-torn territory.

Has the role of the United States in this war helped in any way, even if one approves of a notion about the hands of Houthis being not clean in this war? It doesn't seem so.


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