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The Ongoing Struggle of the Yemeni Civil War

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The Ongoing Struggle of the Yemeni Civil War

Credit: UNICEF

Credit: UNICEF

Credit: UNICEF

Beatrice Ieronimo, Staff Writer

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According to the International Rescue Committee, Yemen is facing the world’s most significant humanitarian conflict since 1945: a civil war that has left thousands dead and millions displaced. While the conflict is split between groups of divergent political opinions, civilians are the ones suffering most from the consequences of this fighting.

Yemen Civil War Map  Credit: geopoliticalfutures.com

Credit: Daily Mail
Pres. Ali Abdullah Saleh

Tensions first arose following the Arab Spring, which brought down some Middle Eastern dictators. Yemenis wanted to be free of longtime authoritarian President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and he eventually was forced to transfer his power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, in November 2011. However, this transition failed, as Hadi was unable to handle issues threatening the stability of his nation effectively. These issues included complex security threats, specifically jihad attacks and the Southern separatist Houthi movement’s loyalty to Saleh, as well as the breakdown of society through corruption, unemployment, and famine. Hadi’s weakness in handling his country’s difficulties opened the door for Houthi seizure of Yemen’s capital, Saada, and its surrounding areas. This display of strength helped the Houthis garner popular support from Yemeni civilians disillusioned by Hadi’s leadership.

Credit: The Atlantic
Followers of the Houthi demonstrate against the Saudi led air strikes on Yemen.

By 2015, the Houthis and security forces loyal to Saleh amassed enough of a following to attempt seizing control over all of Yemen, pushing Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia. This Houthi demonstration of power caught the attention of the Saudi Arabian government, which began to fear that the Shia Houthi was supported militarily by Iranian Shia power. Iran’s support of the Houthi would allow for Iranian access to Saudi Arabia’s border, which Saudi leaders sought to avoid at all costs. Therefore, Saudi Arabia and eight other Sunni Arab states joined together in a coalition that aimed to reinstate Hadi’s government through an air campaign.

Credit: Reuters
Coalition air strikes have caused most direct civilian casualties.

This conflict has persisted ever since, with the coalition forces and Houthis frequently deploying violent means to try to gain control over Yemen. This toxic environment of violence has created the perfect opportunity for al-Qaeda and ISIL militants to take advantage of the broken state. Such terror groups add to the nation’s chaos by seizing southern territories and carrying out deadly attacks on Yemen’s temporary capital, Aden.

Credit: UN Photo
Classroom in Yemen

Currently, the Yemeni Civil War is said to be deadlocked, yet both Houthi and coalition forces have not wavered in their desire for power. Tactics to break the deadlock along with the damage caused by military violence have left Yemeni citizens in bleak conditions. The destruction of infrastructure from airstrikes has left countless Yemenis homeless, living in the squalor of wrecked streets. These streets are breeding grounds for disease, as the shaky, Yemeni government has neglected to implement an efficient sanitation system. Two-thirds of Yemenis, therefore, do not drink clean water. Many of these civilians are exposed to cholera, which will most likely kill them due to their limited access to international aid and healthcare. Restrictions on imports and exports from port seizure have greatly reduced the food available to sustain the Yemeni population. An estimated seventeen million Yemenis will face famine this year because of food shortage.

Credit IBLACH.COM
Thousands of Yemeni children are fleeing bombing attacks on the port of Hodeidah every day putting them at risk of starvation and disease.

While the Yemeni Civil War has already had grave repercussions internally, the implications of its continuation could result in future dangers to global livelihood. For example, the strengthening of Al-Qaeda and ISIL forces inside Yemen has created a legion of new terrorists that can potentially threaten global security. In addition, Yemen is strategically valuable for its spot on a strait connecting the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden, which is where a majority of the world’s oil shipments pass, so it should not be neglected in war.

Overall, the Yemeni Civil War is not to be neglected, as its current and potential outcomes are harmful to locals and on a global scale. International efforts to mediate and better the conditions of this war-stricken country are necessary for the survival and success of its people, as well as creating global stability.

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