In 2015, a civil war broke out in Yemen. A war that has caused one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.
Yemen has been politically unstable until the unification of the Yemeni Arab Republic that was backed by the US in the north and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen that was backed by the USSR in the south. When the two united, Ali Abdalla Salah, the president of the Yemeni Arab Republic, became the new president of the new state. Until then, the county saw many uprisings many of which came from the south between 2004 and 2010.
In 2011, the Arab Spring broke out in many Arab countries, leading to the overthrow of many dictators such as Husni Mubarak of Egypt and Zainu Al Abidin of Tunisia. Yemen and Ali Abdalla Salah were not an exception. When the Arab Spring reached Yemen, heavy protests erupted and later forced Salah to transfer his power to his vice president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
At this stage, there was a vacuum of power which allowed southern separatists and Al Qaeda to gain power in the country, even military units that were loyal to Salah took part in this power-gaining game and furthered the instability. After many years of political instability, the Houthis, officially known as Ansar Allah, emerge as the main actor in the county’s civil war and gained control of much of the county. The Houthis, as a Shia group, prompted fear in many Arab Sunni counties, especially Saudi Arabia. They feared that Iran will gain much influence in the region and reside on its borders.
In 2015, Saudi Arabia gathered a coalition of Sunni-majority Arab countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates, which later included non-Arab countries, such as Eritrea and Pakistan. The war was mainly launched by air campaigns against the Houthis. The war has received world attention and criticism due to its prolonged period and lifely cost. But many western powers support the war due to their interest.
Britain, France, and the United States are the main supporters of the war, we can say that Britain and France support the war because the weapons that are used are purchased from them, these two countries have a financial benefit in the ongoing war in Yemen. Although the United States also supplies weapons to the coalition that’s being used in the war, other factors drive the US to support this war.
One of the reasons that make the US support this war is the security of the Saudi border, Saudi Arabia is an oil superpower, it produces half of the world’s oil, an unstable Saudi Arabia will cause the oil market to crumble. If the Houthis gain control of the county, Iran will gain much influence in the country and cause a major security threat to Saudi Arabia.
Another reason is the free passage of the Bab Al-Mandeb strait, this strait is vital for global oil transport and a Yemen that’s controlled by the Houthis will bring questions to the security and free passage of the strait.
Lastly, Washington wants a government in Sanaa that will cooperate with the US in counterterrorism. The US State Department designated the Houthis as a terrorist group, so the US government has to cooperate with the coalition to counter the Houthis.
The war has caused one of the worst humanitarian crises the world has ever seen. The death toll during the war is said to be 7,700, but monitoring groups believe that the death toll is much higher, they estimate that the actual death toll is 100,000, and a thousand more were caused by malnutrition, disease, and poor health. 24 million need humanitarian assistance and protection and 18 million have no clean water. The war also caused the largest cholera outbreak ever and displaced 3.65 million from their homes.
Restrictions imposed by Saudi Arabia and the Houthis on humanitarian supplies and commercial imports should end. Yemen doesn’t only face a devastating war, it also faces a devastating humanitarian crisis. The millions of people that face hunger and malnutrition can only be addressed by international assistance and foreign aid. supply cannot properly reach their destinations, due to blockades by both Saudi Arabia and the Houthis.
The Saudi-led coalition destroyed a bridge that was controlled by the Houthis. This bridge used to carry 90 percent of food supplies by the UN.
A naval blockade that was imposed by Saudi Arabia which is supported by the US causes food shortage. A county like Yemen which is in a deadly conflict and a humanitarian crisis cannot bear these restrictions and blockades, these should be lifted immediately for a solution for the Yemen crisis.
Another solution to the political instability in the country is that the majority should lead the political and economic life. This may not look convenient, but it is. Countries that are politically and economically lead by minorities end up in turmoil. For example; in South Africa, before the 1990s, South Africa used to be controlled by minority whites, which was an apartheid state. The whites held on to power and the blacks resisted, this lead to a long instability and uncertainty of the country’s future. For Yemen to pass current and future uncertainties, the majority Sunni should lead the country, whilst protecting the freedom and rights of its Shia minority.
Proxies that are fighting over the country should leave the reconciliation tables. States fueling the conflict for dominance and influence would never sincerely take part in the negotiations and reconciliations to end the war, the reason is that their sole concern of the conflict is to reach their goal in the conflict and prevent its rival from reaching its goal. These states will not be players that will contribute to any peace processes, and will only intensify the conflict.
Mediating countries should also be committed to all peace processes to end the ongoing war in the country, all parties should be committed if peace is what is wanted.