Augmentation of Crisis in Yemen

A country so poor,

War raging everywhere.

What’s happening now?

The Sparking of Conflict:

“The beginning of every war is like opening the door to a dark room. One never knows what is hidden in the darkness.”-Adolf Hitler.

To understand the current scenario of any situation, one must comprehend the root cause. We must know what started the on-going, devastating conflict in one of the poorest countries in the Arab nations to fully realize the gravity of the situation.

The Yemen Crisis began with the 2011–12 revolution as part of the uprising ‘Arab spring’ in the region against President Ali Abdullah Saleh. He had led his country for 33 years. Saleh had been made to leave his office in early 2012, as part of a negotiated agreement between the Yemeni Government and the opposition groups. The Presidency of the government of Yemen had been passed over to and led by Saleh’s former vice president, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. After the transition of leadership, Hadi faced several problems which he struggled to deal with. The problems that he faced were to unite the deeply divided political landscape of his country and fend off the threats that had been posed by the Al-Qaeda, the Houthi militants, and other jihadists’ attacks, combined with corruption and severe unemployment of the population. Apart from that, even after his backing down from the role of President, several security personnel’s loyalties still lay with Saleh.

The Houthis thus took advantage of President Hadi’s struggle to maintain his country, and with the external support of the Iranian government, took control over the Northern land of Saada as well as surrounding areas. Disenchanted by the transition, a substantial segment of the indigenous population of Yemen began to support the Houthis, and hence, took over the capital of Saada. Ultimately, when the Houthis and the forces loyal to Saleh attempted to gain power over the entire country, Hadi was forced to flee to Aden in March 2015.

While in Aden, President Hadi regrouped and decided to take action against the Houthi forces in his country, while living in exile. He was backed up by Saudi Arabia, which feared that the Houthis were being supported by the Iranians, who were their enemies. Therefore, with the help of the forces of Saudi Arabia, and eight other countries from that region, an air campaign against the militant forces in Yemen began. The allied troops managed to free most of the southern regions of Yemen from the domination of the Houthis and their allies.

In 2018, the rival forces involved in the Yemen conflict signed the Stockholm Agreement in Sweden, which focused on three main subjects:

1. The prevention of any destruction to the city of Hudaydah and the ports of Hudaydah, Salif and Ras Issa. They did so because according to the UN’s statistical analysis of the region, if there was any mass destruction to take place in those specified regions, then the threat of a massive famine would increase to a point where the loss of life would be almost impossible to prevent.

2. Exchange of prisoners of the opposing sides with respect to the conflict. The adversary forces were to carry out an efficient exchange of any prisoners, kidnapped people or detainees as an effect of the ongoing crisis.

3. Understanding of the governance of Taiz. A joint committee was formed to analyse and address the situation in Taiz, consisting of the rival parties along with the interjection of the United Nations.

Following this event, several prisoners have been deported to their respective regions, however, the complete reallocation of forces from Hudaydah has not yet taken place, which is a matter of great concern.

After signing of the Stockholm agreement, some peace was expected in the political scenario of Yemen.  However, in July 2019, when the UAE decided to withdraw its forces from the Saudi Alliance and join the STC (Southern Transitional Council), tensions between the two countries increased, resulting in further augmentation of the crises. The STC, fully supported by the UAE, aimed to declare self-rule in southern regions of Yemen. The forces allied with the STC seized Aden and claimed that Hadi was mismanaging the government, and even linked him to Islamists.

Current scenario in Yemen:

“War does not determine those who are right-only those who are left”- Bertrand Russell

When the Ye men crisis initially began, it was expected to last for no more than a few weeks. However, even after almost 9 years of continuous war, the crisis and grievances of the country and its people have not ended.

After several months of increasing conflict between the government headed by Hadi, supported by Saudi Arabia, and the STC, backed by the UAE, the United Nations attempted to sign an agreement, hoping to cause a ceasefire. However, in April 2020, the STC finally declared self-governance in Aden and refused to accept the terms of the agreement proposed by the UN, claiming governance over several port-cities and sea blockades in the cities of Hudayah and Sanaa.

As of now, the country of Yemen is suffering from the worst humanitarian crisis in the history of the world. In the course of this war, over 100,000 Yemenis have died. Around 12,000 civilians were victim to the war itself, while no less than 85,000 died due to the consequent famine. Families are starving and there is a perpetual threat of famine. Unemployment is increasing and the health centres such as hospitals are also threatened by this crisis. On top of this, the corona-virus pandemic and a severe cholera outbreak have also caused significant damage to the already-worsening scenario.

International donors have said pledged to donate $1.35 billion to provide aid to the Yemenis and help them during these extremely unfavourable times. However, after so many years of continuous damage to the food, water, hospitals, medical facilities and basic public necessities, the United Nations proclaimed that even this amount, which as of now has not even been paid, and even if it was, would not nearly be enough to provide the required help to the war-torn country. The estimated amount required to build the country back up again is around the exorbitant sum of $2.4 billion.

The world needs to act on this. Yemen needs protection, and to help this cause, one must understand its cause.

-Anushka Srivatsan