Infographic: Yemen’s war explained in maps and charts
How strong are the Houthis? And how have seven years of war affected Yemen? Key questions answered, in seven graphics.
Yemen is facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises as the war there enters its eighth year.
The UN estimates the war had killed 377,000 people as of the end of 2021, both directly and indirectly through hunger and disease – 70 percent of those deaths are children.
2,000 children recruited by yemen’s houthis died fighting: un, yemen civilians bear the brunt of escalating houthi-uae conflict, timeline: uae under drone, missile attacks, who is the shadowy iraqi militia that attacked the uae.
Nearly half the country (14.5 million) of 30 million people do not have enough food, according to the World Food Programme .
Nearly half (47.5 percent) of the children under five face chronic malnutrition.
At least four million people have been displaced by the seven years of war.
Key players in the conflict
In March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition – backed by the US – intervened militarily in Yemen in a bid to fight the Houthis, restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government, and reverse what they say is growing Iranian influence in the region.
The armed group made international headlines after seizing control of Saada province in early 2014. They later moved southwards to seize the capital Sanaa, forcing Yemen’s Hadi to flee his presidential palace in Aden for Saudi Arabia.
Amid the instability, several other armed groups emerged, including al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula ( AQAP ), the UAE-backed separatist Southern Transitional Council ( STC ), and others.
The Houthi movement – also known as Ansar Allah – are a movement of mostly Zaidi Shia Muslims from northern Yemen who opposed Hadi’s government and are believed to be supported by Iran.
Years of UN-brokered peace talks have failed to break the deadlock.
Who controls what in Yemen?
Seven years since the launch of the Saudi-led campaign, the bulk of Yemen’s northern highlands, as well as Sanaa, remain under the control of Houthi rebels.
The mountainous country between the Horn of Africa and the Middle East shares a 1,300km (800-mile) border with Saudi Arabia. Along its west coast is the Bab el-Mandeb Strait (“Gate of Tears” in Arabic), a vital shipping corridor through which much of the world’s maritime trade passes.
In the south is the port city of Aden, which was captured by the STC in 2019. Aden is the temporary home of Yemen’s internationally recognised government.
Air raids on Yemen
The Saudi-led coalition has carried out more than 24,000 air raids since 2015, according to data collected by the Yemen Data Project .
Since 2015, human rights group Amnesty International has investigated dozens of air attacks across Yemen and found many instances where civilians were killed with US-made bombs.
Attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE
Over the years, Houthi rebels have targeted strategic infrastructure across Saudi Arabia and the UAE, including airports, gas fields and oil tankers in the Red Sea.
In January, a UN Security Council report said the Houthis had violated a UN-imposed arms embargo and continued “to source critical components for their weapon systems from companies in Europe and Asia, using a complex network of intermediaries to obscure the chain of custody”.
In recent weeks, tensions escalated as the Houthis started launching drone and missile attacks on the UAE – a member of the Saudi-led coalition.
According to a data analysis by CSIS , Saudi Arabia’s military has intercepted more than 4,000 Houthi missiles, drones and other standoff weapons during the past five years.
In response, the coalition has stepped up attacks in Saada province, northern Yemen and the Houthi-controlled capital, Sanaa.
According to the Conflict Armament Research group, eight types of Houthi-made UAVs have been identified:
Combat UAVs: Qasef-1, Qasef-2K, Sammad-2, Sammad-3
The Qasef drones are estimated to have a range of 150-200km (93-124 miles) while the more advanced Sammads have an estimated maximum range of 1,500km (932 miles) – enough to reach the UAE from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.
Reconnaissance UAVs: Hudhed-1, Raqib, Rased and Sammad-1
On February 2 , a little-known armed group in Iraq calling themselves Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq (AWH), or the True Promise Brigades, claimed to have launched an attack on Abu Dhabi – suggesting the UAE is now being targeted from north and south.
Following the attacks, the US confirmed that it will bolster the UAE’s defences and send a guided-missile warship and advanced fifth-generation fighter jets there. The UAE hosts about 2,000 US troops, who provide early-warning intelligence and collaborate on air defence.
Saudi and Emirati military capabilities
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have both bought multibillion-dollar missile defence systems from the US.
On January 17, US Central Command chief General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie confirmed that the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) was used in combat for the first time against Houthi missiles fired towards the UAE.
The US military has had a presence in the Gulf for decades and has thousands of troops, as well as a sizable navy presence across the region.
Middle East military spending
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest arms importer. In 2020, the oil-rich kingdom spent $57.5bn – 8.4 percent of its GDP – on its military, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) ( pdf ).
In 2021, the kingdom said it spent some $50bn on its armed forces and is planning to spend about $46bn in 2022.
The US provides Saudi Arabia with 79 percent of its weapons, followed by the UK, with 9 percent and 4 percent from France ( pdf ). Saudi Arabia is also the main buyer of US, UK and Canadian weapons.
Between 2016 and 2020, nearly a quarter (24 percent) of the US’s, 32 percent of the UK’s and 49 percent of Canada’s total arms exports were to Saudi Arabia.
According to SIPRI, about half (47 percent) of US arms transfers during the past five years were to the Middle East .
In Their Own Words: The Human Face of Yemen's Conflict
Download in: English , عربي
Since the outbreak of the civil war in Yemen eight years ago, the lives of its people have been marked by hardship, uncertainty, and a bitter struggle for survival. This report, ' Voices from Yemen ', aims to shed light on their experiences, providing a human context for the quantitative data presented in 'Surviving in the Times of War'.
Over the course of four years (2019-2022), we conducted in-depth interviews with 156 individuals from different Governorates across Yemen. The goal of these interviews was not to generate statistically representative findings, but to document a range of experiences illustrating the hardships endured by the Yemeni population.
One of the themes that emerged from these interviews was the prevalence of food insecurity. In an effort to stretch limited resources, families have had to resort to extreme coping mechanisms, including reducing meal frequency, limiting the variety of food they consume, and prioritizing which family members eat. A male respondent from Al Mahwit described the agonizing trade-offs his family is forced to make:
"Sometimes we sleep with no dinner. My wife and I, no one knows what we eat or what we don’t. Sometimes when I have some money for dinner, my wife tells me that the kids need milk, so I buy them milk and we sleep without having dinner. The kids are more important."
Children have also been hit hard in their education journeys. Schools are underfunded, teachers are scarce, and many families cannot afford to send their children to school at all. A school principal from Hajjah depicts the dire state of education:
"My school has 1050 students, and it is only six rooms, one of which is residential for two teachers, one for the principal’s office, and the remaining four rooms for all grades. We have three shifts for different grades. One of the teachers had to bring his family from Hodeida governorate as conflict intensified there, so we had to move the other teacher to live under the staircase. There is no restroom or water in the building."
Healthcare access is equally compromised, with many individuals forgoing medical care except in the most severe emergencies due to high costs and limited availability of services. A health worker from Hodeida governorate spoke on the dire state of healthcare services:
"We used to offer services and medicine for free. Now we have to charge the patients and write them a prescription to buy medicine from pharmacies. People stopped coming, and they shy away. They can’t afford all that, given that commuting here will also cost them a lot. It is even a hardship for staff who spend half of their salaries on transportation."
Internally displaced Yemenis are grappling with an added layer of hardship. As they navigate a perilous journey to safety and struggle to secure the bare necessities for survival, they continue to face the threat of displacement, the erosion of their livelihoods, and the specter of rising living costs. An individual from Al-Baida governorate recounts his heart-rending experience of displacement:
"We had to leave our town because the war destroyed our homes. We had four homes. Our life is very tough here and there. The rent is also very expensive. We cannot afford that. All of us moved, even my in-laws. From Raada we first moved to a house that was expensive to rent, then we moved to another house where we could afford to pay the rent. It is difficult to live everywhere in Yemen."
'Voices from Yemen' illuminates the inextricable connections between Yemen's humanitarian crisis and the economic and social landscape. The conflict and subsequent humanitarian response have disrupted the local economy, affecting all sectors from education to healthcare. Displacement further compounds these challenges, affecting food availability, education access, health provision, and livelihood stability.
Yet, what resonates most from these narratives is not just the scale of the suffering, but how the Yemeni people often have no other choice than to endure while turning to destructive coping strategies. This report underscores the urgency for comprehensive and sustainable solutions to alleviate the tremendous hardships faced by Yemen's people. Their stories are a call to action: for policymakers, humanitarian actors, and the international community to move beyond short-term aid and towards interventions that restore more sustainable livelihoods, address the root causes of the crisis, and build a foundation for a more stable and prosperous Yemen.
Who is fighting in Yemen's war?
[1/2] A Houthi fighter with an amputated right arm takes position at a frontline in al-Jubah district of Yemen's Marib province in a frame grab from video handed out by the Houthi's media center November 2, 2021. Houthi Media Center/Handout via Reuters/Files Acquire Licensing Rights
Dec 7 (Reuters) - The parties to the war in Yemen each have their own agenda, making the conflict hard to resolve. Here are some of these groups and what they want:
In the late 1990s, the Houthi family in far north Yemen set up a religious revival movement involving the Zaydi sect of Shi'ite Islam, which had once ruled Yemen but whose northern heartland had been marginalised.
As friction with the government grew, they fought a series of guerrilla wars with the national army and a brief border conflict with Saudi Arabia. They built ties with Iran, but it is not clear how deep that relationship goes.
Since seizing the capital Sanaa in 2014, the Houthis have relied on parts of the existing bureaucracy to govern much of the north and other big urban centres. Their long-term strategy is unclear.
LOYALISTS OF THE LATE PRESIDENT SALEH
Ali Abdullah Saleh took power in north Yemen in 1978 and after unification with the south in 1990 he stayed on as president. He joined with tribal power brokers to dominate the country, placing his clansmen in key positions in the army and economy, prompting accusations of corruption.
When former allies deserted him during the Arab Spring, forcing him from power, Saleh joined with his former foes, the Houthis, and helped them seize Sanaa.
Despite their differences, they ruled much of Yemen together after the war started in 2014. Then Saleh saw a chance to regain power for his family by turning on the Houthis, then tried to flee in 2017 and was killed.
When Saleh switched sides, so did some commanders and troops loyal to him. They are now fighting against their former Houthi allies under the late president's nephew, Tarek, an army general with ties to the United Arab Emirates.
PRESIDENT HADI'S GOVERNMENT
A general in south Yemen before unification, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi sided with Saleh during the brief 1994 civil war. After defeating the separatists, Saleh made Hadi vice president.
When Saleh was forced from power, Hadi was elected to a two-year term in 2012 to oversee a transition to democracy with a new constitution and new elections scheduled for 2014.
Hadi has been at odds with key Saudi ally the UAE due to his alliance with the Islamist Islah party. It is seen as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been designated by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi as a terrorist organization.
Hadi's forces are vying for control of the southern port of Aden, the temporary seat of the government, where the influence of UAE-backed southern separatists has grown.
After independence from Britain, South Yemen became the only Communist country in the Middle East, but it suffered constant infighting. Weakened by that and the collapse of the Soviet Union, it unified with Saleh's North Yemen in 1990.
As it became clear most power was in northern hands, the old southern leadership tried to secede in 1994, but was swiftly beaten by Saleh's army, which sacked Aden. Many southerners have complained of increasing economic and political marginalisation.
Led by Abu Dhabi-based general Aidaroos al-Zubaidi, the separatists captured the southern ports of Mukalla from al Qaeda and Aden from the Houthis in 2015. They have more than 50,000 fighters, armed and trained by the UAE.
The main separatist group Southern Transitional Council has seized control of Aden several times in a power struggle with Hadi's government over the control of the south. Tensions remain high despite a Saudi-brokered deal in 2019 to end the standoff.
AL QAEDA IN THE ARABIAN PENINSULA
Set up by members of the global jihadist group who had escaped prison in Yemen and their comrades who fled Saudi Arabia, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula became one of its most powerful branches.
It took advantage of Arab Spring chaos to create mini states in remote eastern regions and launched numerous attacks that undermined Hadi's transitional government.
During the civil war, it has carried out attacks against both sides. Any prolonged chaos in Yemen will give it more room to consolidate and plot attacks abroad.
SAUDI ARABIA, THE UAE AND THE WESTERN-BACKED COALITION
Saudi Arabia regards the Houthis as a proxy for Iran, its greatest regional rival, and it wants to stop Tehran gaining sway in its neighbour Yemen.
Saudi troops have been deployed along the borders and in some Yemeni provinces but it has relied mostly on air strikes against Houthi-held areas. Saudi Arabia has also provided a base in exile for Hadi and logistical support for the ground fighting in northern Yemen.
The UAE, which also backed the 2012 transition plan, is the other main participant in the coalition.
Abu Dhabi deployed some ground troops and suffered casualties in the war before largely ending its military presence on the ground in 2019. It holds sway via tens of thousands of Yemenis, mostly from the southern provinces, that it armed and trained.
The United States, Britain, France and other Western countries actively backed the alliance with weapons, logistics and intelligence throughout the war until late 2020. U.S. President Joe Biden halted U.S. support to the war and made ending it a priority of his foreign policy amid an uproar over civilian casualties by the coalition's bombings.
Other countries in the coalition have been less closely involved, though Sudan has put some troops on the ground.
IRAN AND ITS REGIONAL ALLIES
Iran champions the Houthis as part of its regional "axis of resistance", and the movement has adopted elements of Tehran's revolutionary ideology.
But while Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse Iran of arming and training the Houthis, the extent of the relationship is disputed and Tehran has denied funnelling weapons into Yemen.
Writing By Angus McDowall and Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Giles Elgood, Angus MacSwan and Kevin Liffey
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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Yemen Crisis Explained
Here's What You Need to Know:
1. when did the crisis in yemen begin, 2. where are yemenis fleeing to, 3. what are some of the biggest challenges facing people in yemen, 4. how are yemeni women and children being impacted by the conflict, 5. what is the un refugee agency doing to help in yemen, when did the crisis in yemen begin.
Yemen’s civil war began in 2015 as a result of clashes between Yemeni government forces and the Houthis - also known as Ansar Allah. Over the past nine years, conflict and economic decline have taken a heavy toll on civilians, forcing millions to flee their homes and leaving two-thirds of the population in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Even before the current crisis, Yemen was the most vulnerable country in the Middle East. It regularly ranked among the world’s worst in malnutrition rates with half of its population living in poverty and without access to safe water.
Where are Yemenis fleeing to?
An estimated 4.5 million people from Yemen continue to be displaced. Many of them have been displaced multiple times since 2015, placing Yemen in the top six internal displacement crises globally. Many of the internally displaced have been living in exile for years, straining their meager resources and facing increasingly harsh conditions. Many IDPs in Yemen live in flood-prone areas or dangerous locations, characterized by widespread food insecurity and lack of water, healthcare and sanitation services. Their situation became even more challenging with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the threat of a looming famine in the country.
Despite the conflict, Yemen hosts more than 97,000 refugees and asylum seekers , primarily from Somalia and Ethiopia , making it the world’s third largest host of Somali refugees.
What are some of the biggest challenges people face in Yemen?
The risk of a large-scale famine, violence, collapsing services and protracted displacement are the biggest challenges in Yemen. Natural disasters and climate-induced events, such as drought and flooding, are also key drivers of displacement and have heightened existing needs. Nine years of protracted conflict have pushed the country to the brink of economic collapse, shrinking the economy by more than half since the beginning of the conflict. 21.6 million people in Yemen are now in need of humanitarian assistance and protection services.
The war in Ukraine has increased global food and fuel prices, disrupting supply chains of staple foods and basic goods. Yemen, which is currently experiencing unprecedented levels of hunger, is being impacted by the war as prices for wheat and grain soar. Despite ongoing humanitarian assistance, 17.3 million Yemenis suffer from high levels of acute food insecurity, including six million people who are on the brink of famine.
The COVID-19 pandemic also made things worse – with people’s immune systems already severely weakened after years of war and deprivation. Yemenis continue to grapple with the effects of the virus and outbreaks of other preventable diseases – such as cholera, diphtheria, measles, and dengue fever – that were long-ago eradicated elsewhere in the world.
How are Yemeni women and children being impacted by the conflict?
Women and children are bearing the brunt of the crisis. More than three quarters of all displaced people in Yemen are women and children, and at least 26 percent of displaced households are female-headed — 20 percent of whom are under the age of 18.
Women and girls are forced to take on the responsibility to sustain their families while facing inequality, limited access to services and multiple barriers due to entrenched sociocultural norms. With rampant inflation and few livelihood opportunities, many can no longer afford basic meals and are facing heightened risks of starvation, gender-based violence, exploitation and early marriage.
Malnutrition rates among women and children in Yemen remain among the highest in the world, with 1.3 million pregnant or breastfeeding women requiring treatment for acute malnutrition.
What is the UN Refugee Agency doing to help in Yemen?
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, provides lifesaving aid to displaced Yemenis, as well as to refugees and asylum-seekers across the country, reaching people in need in all 20 governorates affected by the conflict. UNHCR provides shelter kits, mats and plastic sheets to help families repair homes that have been damaged in the conflict and supports health facilities that serve refugees, asylum-seekers and Yemenis affected by violence. Health priorities include preventing and controlling the spread of cholera and helping protect families against COVID-19 by distributing hygiene kits and providing safety information across the country.
UNHCR also provides cash assistance for displaced people to cover their most urgent needs such as food and medicine, emergency shelter, and core relief items such as mattresses, blankets, sleeping mats, kitchen sets, solar lamps and more to help those displaced and most vulnerable.
UNHCR provides legal assistance and psycho-social support to help those affected by the war, along with a wide range of protection services such as prevention of gender-based violence and specific interventions focusing on women and children.
Help people in the world's worst humanitarian crisis...
Monthly giving is the most convenient, effective and efficient way you can help people fleeing conflict. Start making a lifesaving difference today. Please become USA for UNHCR’s newest monthly donor.
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Example Of War In Yemen Essay
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Topic: Middle East , Saudi Arabia , Politics , Violence , War , Iran , Government , Muslim
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The crisis in Yemen, which is known to be a poor country with corrupted rulers, began in the year 2012 with the revolution against Ali Abdullah Saleh, who, as president of the country, had led Yemen for more than twenty years. Saleh resigned office in 2012 as per an earlier agreement between the Government of Yemen and the opposition groups. Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, the former vice president of Saleh wished to unite the fragmented landscape of Yemen by defending the threat to the country from forces trying to revolt from different sides. Yemen had to face the Al Qaeda threat from the Arabian Peninsula and the revolting Houthi militants in the northern region of the country for many years. The Houthi fighters went to the extent of sweeping into the capital city of Sana’a in 2014 and forced Hadi toward negotiating a united government along with the diverse political factions of the country. The continuous pressure from the rebels further weakened the nation, and on his private residence and presidential palace witnessing attack by the militant groups, President Hadi had to resign along with his colleagues in January 2015. This led the Houthis to declare themselves as having taken over the Government of Yemen the following month. The Houthis dissolved the parliament and installed a provisional Revolutionary Committee, which was led by Mohammed Ali al-Houthi. The crisis did not end here, the resigned President Hadi, on escaping to Aden, declared that he is still the legitimate president of the country while proclaiming Aden as the temporary capital of the country. He also sought the support of the military and officials of the royal government to rally in favor of him before seeking asylum in Saudi Arabia following the rebellion of Houthis loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. By that time, protest against the Gulf Initiative got strengthened in many parts of Yemen, beyond the control of the government (Glosemeyer).
Internal Crisis in Yemen
Ever since both the north and south Yemen united in 1990, deep divisions continued to persist between both the north and south. Yemen was facing many challenges from militants linked to al Qaeda and separatists in the southern region and rebels of Zaydi Shia in the northern region by the year 2011. The political instability of Yemen has to do a lot with several internal crises. For example, the country has got very limited natural resources, and the average water availability to each Yemeni citizen per year is as low as 140 cubic meters as against the Middle Eastern average of 1,000 cubic meters per year (Heffez). The groundwater table in Yemen is known to deplete at a faster pace thereby making pursuing farming as a livelihood means very difficult. However, instead of growing food crops most of the farmers of Yemen grow a narcotic crop qat, most Yemeni men are fond of chewing. This makes Yemen incapable of fulfilling the food security of its population and makes it dependent on other countries for feeding the people. Even as the outsiders repeatedly hear about proxy wars fought between different factions supported by foreign countries, most of the conflicts occurring in rural Yemen are on water. About 80 percent of conflicts happening in the rural areas of Yemen are attributed to the less water availability for cultivation and drinking. Besides, every year 40,000 people get killed due to land and water related disputes, which is more than the number of people falling prey to terrorism, says an estimate of Yemen’s Interior Ministry (Heffez). Obviously, water shortage is one of the reasons why people flee the country in large numbers. During the ancient times, Yemen was known for abundant agricultural production as evidenced in the Bible about the greenery of the Kingdom of Sheba. Hence, Yemen still can hope to restore its past legacy if the rulers concentrate on conserving and managing its precious natural resources and winning back the confidence of its fleeing citizens. Thus, the failure of the local government to win the confidence of its own citizens by concentrating on the internal welfare measures has made the situation in Yemen still worse and prompting outsiders to manipulate the interests of diverse groups within the country.
Saudi Arabia’s Yemeni Interest
Yemen by virtue of sharing a long boundary with Saudi Arabia, has been popularly known as the back garden of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, facing threat from its natural enemy Iran and Shiites from the north of Yemen had always perceived Yemen as a friendly Sunni-dominated neighbor. In fact, Bab el-Mandeb, the strait on the southern coast of Yemen gives Saudi access to the Suez Canal and red sea apart from the ports located in the Western part of Saudi Arabia, known for exporting the highest quantity of crude oil. Thus Riyadh’s interest in the affairs of Yemen is quite evident to the rest of the world. The politics of Yemen has always been one of Saudi Arabia’s priorities even as the relationship between the two nations has been filled with a lot of complications. Saudi Arabia had a long history of political influence on Yemen that started from the 1930s. Even as the United Nations and Saudi Arabia jointly lobbied in 2011 for the smooth transition of power in the country from the former ruler Saleh to a democratically elected government, the attempt failed miserably. During the past years, Riyadh had significantly influenced Yemeni politics; in 1978 Riyadh played a crucial role in facilitating Ali Abdullah Saleh come to power, and in 1990 Saudi Arabia played its due role in the unification of north and south Yemen. Saudi Arabia also stood behind Saleh while he assumed power back in the year 1978. Saleh’s relations with Saudi Arabia soured temporarily during Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in the early 1990s’ when the Yemeni president declared his support to Saddam Hussein, former Iraqi dictator. During the civil war of 1994, even as the Saudis and other Gulf countries expelled migrant Yemeni workers from their countries, the relationship between Saleh and Saudi continued to flourish.
Saudi Arabia’s Intervention in Yemen
Saudi Arabia, leading a coalition of nine Arab countries, started airstrikes against Yemen on March 2015. ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ is the codename of the attack that began following the response to pleas for help from the worldwide recognized but still locally contested Yemeni government led by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. The request for help followed an allegedly Iranian funded Houthi offensive targeting the interim capital of Aden. Subsequently, Hadi fleed Yemen and left to Saudi Arabia as airstrikes were launched by Saudi Arabia and its allies against the Houthis and armed forces sympathetic to former ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was overthrown during the 2011 Arab uprisings. Warplanes from the other eight allies of Saudi Arabia including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco were also actively involved in the operation. The United States of America has promised logistical and intelligence support for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners. Countries such as India, Pakistan and China have evacuated their citizens from Yemen even as many fled to neighboring Djibouti and Somalia. Saudi Arabia and its Sunni coalition nations announced the end of their military operations on 21st April 2015. The coalition has also announced that having achieved their military goals, they would enter a new ‘political phase’ characterized with focus on counter-terrorism, aid, security and the hunt for an unbiased political solution to the Yemeni crisis.
Why Saudi Arabia started fighting the Houthis?
Also the weak nature of the Saudi Yemen border always posed a security threat to Saudi Arabia. Chances of terrorist outfits like Al-Qaeda penetrating Saudi Arabia through Yemen is another reason why Saudi Arabia wants to take control of the political system of Yemen (Glosemeyer). The merger of both factions of Al-Qaeda in the year 2009 exposed Saudi Arabia to free intrusion of the banned militants through Yemen. The infiltration of Al-Qaeda militants throughout Yemen and Houthis rebelling in the northern regions of Yemen literally put the security of Saudi Arabia in peril. When the balance of power in Yemen shifted in favor of the Houthis, Saudi Arabia literally felt powerless, that prompted Saudi Arabia to attack the Houthis with its allies. Earlier, Saudi Arabia was instrumental in sponsoring the Gulf Initiative of 2011 that resulted in Saleh resigning in favor of his deputy and the Saudi-desired Abed Rabbuh Mansour Hadi to become the next president of Yemen. Saudi believed that Hadi along with his allies the Ahmer clan would be strong enough to take independent actions and rule the country. But, the series of military and political victories scored by the Houthis disproved the calculations of Saudi Arabia. The events that led Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar to flee Sanaa and seek refuge in Riyadh following defeat by the Houthis and the subsequent stepping down of Hadi as president of Yemen made Saudi Arabia take a strong stand to fight the Houthis with the help of its allies. Also, a favorite of the Houthis succeeding Hadi would prove fatal to Saudi Arabia’s future relations with Yemen besides jeopardizing its vested interests. With the Houthis taking control of Sanaa and deliberating on backing up a sympathizer as the future president had made Saudi Arabia along with most of its neighbors, perhaps in the first time during modern history, helplessly watching the developments in Yemen. Houthis, toward taking the Yemenis into confidence, also have strategic plans to reveal former Saudi-backed officials involved in misappropriating foreign grants, which would show Saudi in a poor light to the rest of the world. This strategy of the Houthis for gaining popularity among the citizens of Yemen who are already affected by mass poverty would have ended up Saudi Arabia losing Yemen to the Shia Houthi rebels thereby ending its role as a key player in the region.
Yemen – Victim of a Proxy War
The present day conflict in Yemen, resembling earlier developments in Iraq and Syria, appears more similar to a proxy war involving Saudi Arabia and Iran. Both Riyadh and Tehran seem to blatantly wrestle over each other for establishing supremacy in the region. Saudi Arabia started interfering in the internal affairs of Yemen citing security reasons. Iran had a long time strategic interest toward Yemen which is much logical and simple to understand. The fractious nature and poor governance of Yemen all through has been giving Iran hope to slowly enter Saudi Arabia through the traditional smuggling routes in Yemen. The 35 percent Shia population of Yemen has always given Iran hope for being a potential friendly base for its future operations against Saudi Arabia (Reardon). Besides, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence officials have always considered Yemen a weakest defense link in the bay and hence an easy target for Tehran to break in anytime and start its operations against the interests of Saudi Arabia. No wonder, Saudi Arabia would always avoid giving a chance to Iran to take advantage of the easier way in to Yemen. Hence fighting the Shia Houthis was Saudi Arabia’s strategy of keeping Iran away from Yemen and thus the Saudi territory even as the relationship between Tehran and the Houthis is still unclear (Glosemeyer). Sunni Saudi Arabia had been historically an old enemy of Shi’ite Iran. But the two enemies always avoided direct confrontation or war; instead, they always fought through their supportive proxies in the Middle East. From the perspective of Saudi Arabia, Iran might use its military strength to influence the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) apart from the Shi’ite minority population in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Berti and Yoel). Saudi Arabia started the war by launching airstrikes aimed at Houthi rebels in Yemen backed by Iran, Saudi’s great all time enemy which gradually engulfed the entire Middle East region. In reality, even though the attack was meant to warn Iran, it turned the poorest country in the region into a battleground killing many innocent civilians. The Houthis’ daring response to the war even attracted the attention of world’s greatest powers like the United States, Russia and Great Britain. Apart from the direct assistance from Saudi’s eight Middle East allies, the United States too has offered intelligence and logistical support to Saudi Arabia. Even as the southern parts of Yemen, known for frequent Al-Qaeda intrusion, had been a frequent target for American drone attacks, attack by Saudi Arabia by killing civilians has made the situation still worse. Given the current situations, it is highly likely that the Yemenis, on giving options between foreign interventions and Houthi rule, are more probable to settle for the option of Houthi rule. Hence, Saudi Arabia is confronted with the challenge of fighting the Houthis without affecting the internal peace of Yemen for the safety of the Yemenis and its own Yemeni interests in the long run.
Importance of the war to Saudi Arabia and Yemen
First and foremost, Saudi Arabia has always perceived Iran’s interest in accumulating nuclear weapons as a threat to the entire Gulf region (Berti and Yoel) Also, most of the countries partnering with Saudi Arabia in the fighting, including the United States, want to do away with the Al-Qaeda from southern Yemen. But the Houthis and the Al-Qaeda militants being staunch enemies, the war gives Houthis the opportunity of sanitizing the region of the Al-Qaeda, if they are really interested in the security and safety of the nation they want to rule, snatching power from the erstwhile government known for corruption and dictating. In that sense the war has got the strategic advantage of helping Saudi Arabia fight both the enemies with the help of its allies. As for Yemen, the Houthis may not ensure a corrupt-free regime. Hence, intervention of Saudi along with its allies in fighting the Houthis has the advantage of Saudi helping the nation in future with the post-war rehabilitation works. On the other hand, Al-Qaeda also has got the strategic advantage of expanding its hold and consolidation in Yemen by taking advantage of the chaos prevailing right now in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has always restricted its involvement in the Yemeni politics by its strategy of quiet meddling. Although Saudi Arabia has been involved in the internal affairs of Yemen right from the old Imamate period and the earlier days of the creation of Yemen, it never launched a major military attack of this stature. Even the current bombing perpetrated by Saudi Arabia along with its allies is meant to target the Houthis and invite them to the negotiating table. But, the Houthis would not be in a position to come to the negotiating table unless Saudi ends its hostilities and ensures peace in Yemen. No doubt, the bombing has resulted in damaging bridges and other infrastructures along with loss of civilian lives. But Saudi, as an aspirant and legitimate member of the international community, may not wish to eliminate the Houthis completely. Rather, Saudi would wish to restore peace in Yemen which apart from having many strategic advantages would boost Saudi’s image in the international arena as a strategic partner for greatest powers including United States, Great Britain and Russia. Saudi’s strategy of inviting its allies including United States to fight the Houthis in Yemen speaks volumes about its intention of inviting the attention of the entire world to restore democracy in war-torn Yemen.
Could the war have been avoided?
Conclusion I do hope that the existence of a number of power centers in Yemen only means that any settlement to end the present crisis would not be acceptable unless it proves to be a better alternate choice against the erstwhile corrupt regimes in the country. Hence, partially, decentralization and fragmentation seems to be an inevitable option to settle the current Yemeni crisis (Glosemeyer) I also do strongly believe that the way forward right now for finding a more amicable settlement to the Yemen issue is to establish a power balancing the interests of all the traditional leadership structures available in the country. This would include giving due representation to true local, tribal and religious groups in the new coalition government. At the same time, negotiation or an amicable settlement would only come when the most powerful have achieved all their goals by fighting their long-time enemies.
Berti, Benedetta, and Yoel Guzansky. "Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Policy on Iran and the Proxy War." Israel Journal of Foreigh Affairs VIII:3 (2014): 25-34. Print. Glosemeyer, Iris. "Yemen Without Ali Abdallah Saleh?" Protest, Revolt and Regime Change in the Arab World February 2012 (2012): 27-30. Print. Heffez, Adam. "How Yemen Chewed Itself Dry." Foreign Affairs.com. 23 July 2013. Web. 28 Apr. 2015. <http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/139596/adam-heffez/how-yemen-chewed-itself-dry>.
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UN envoy reports on progress towards Yemen peace agreement
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Warring parties continue to make progress in efforts towards ending the nearly decade-long conflict in Yemen, though outstanding issues remain, the UN Security Council heard on Wednesday.
Ambassadors were briefed by UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg, who reported on his ongoing engagement with representatives from the internationally-recognized Government, which is backed by a Saudi-led coalition, and opposing Houthi rebels, as well as regional and international actors.
Mr. Grundberg said he was encouraged by the positive and detailed discussions, noting that all interlocutors displayed willingness to constructively engage on the way forward.
Hopes for an agreement
“There is clear determination on all sides to make progress towards a deal on humanitarian and economic measures, a permanent ceasefire and the resumption of a Yemeni-led political process under UN auspices,” he said.
“While progress is being made, there are still issues that require further discussion. With sustained determination from the Yemeni parties, supported by a coherent and coordinated regional and international community, I believe that the outstanding issues can be resolved and that the parties will be able to commit themselves to an agreement,” he added.
Expired truce still delivers
Meanwhile, the landmark April 2022 truce that expired seven months ago continues to deliver benefits for Yemen’s people, as evidenced by commercial flights to and from the capital, Sana’a, and the entry of fuel and other commercial ships via the Hudaydah port.
Mr. Grundberg said although sporadic military incidents continue to occur, hostility levels are significantly lower than before the truce.
“But the fragility of the military situation , the dire state of the economy and the daily challenges facing the Yemeni people, provide us with constant reminders of why a more comprehensive agreement between the parties is so vital,” he stressed.
Violence and economic woes
He said there are continuing reports of violence across frontlines, particularly in Al Jawf, Ta’iz, Ma’rib and Sa’ada governorates, which highlight the fragility, and underscore the need for a formal ceasefire.
The envoy also expressed concern over the deteriorating economic situation in Yemen and restrictions on freedom of movement.
He said the Government is straining to meet its obligations to its own citizens, due to an inability to export oil, which accounted for more than half of all revenues last year. Additionally, inconsistent financial and economic policies in different areas of the country have hit both citizens and businesses hard.
He warned that lack of cooperation between the parties on critical monetary and financial issues means these challenges will worsen and potentially become more entrenched.
“Despite these profound challenges, there is room for cautious optimism ,” Mr. Grundberg told the Council. He pointed to recent positive steps by the parties, such as the release of hundreds of conflicted-related detainees and urged the sides to continue these efforts.
The Special Envoy was adamant that Yemen’s myriad challenges cannot be addressed through partial or temporary solutions, underlining the importance of an inclusive Yemeni-led political process under UN auspices.
“Only an inclusive and comprehensive political process can sustainably forge a new political partnership and bring the promise of a secure and economically stable future, in which State institutions function effectively and Yemen returns to peaceful relations with its neighbours,” he said.
Hopes for peace
The Council also received an update on the humanitarian situation in the country, where millions lack access to basic services.
“There are many hopes hinging on what is happening in Yemen. Hope that, at long last, there could be an end to this terrible war, and for a sustainable peace agreement,” said Edem Wosornu, Director of the Operations and Advocacy Division at the UN’s humanitarian affairs office, OCHA .
So far this year, aid workers have reached more than 11 people each month with food and other lifesaving assistance, she said. However, they continue to be hampered by access constraints and a lack of funding.
Women humanitarians affected
Ms. Wosornu reported that “ chronic access impediments ” primarily occur in areas controlled by the Houthi de facto authorities.
“In particular, the ongoing restrictions on the movement of Yemeni female aid workers have severely disrupted the ability of agencies to operate and to reach those in need, particularly women and girls,” she said.
Regarding funding, she warned that the shortfall is increasingly threatening the ability to provide lifesaving and livelihoods assistance.
Humanitarians are seeking $4.3 billion this year to reach more than 17 million in Yemen. Despite the generosity of many donors, around 80 per cent of the appeal remains unfunded.
“Economic times are hard, but we must once again urge donors to do what they can to fund the Yemen appeal,” she insisted.
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“i wish the war could stop so i can go back to my country and live in dignity with my children.”, sayeed and his wife left their village in al torbah district of taiz governorate to find refuge in djibouti..
7 January 2019, Boulaos, Djibouti – The ongoing conflict in Yemen has displaced more than 2 million people across the country since March 2015. Some of the families who fled the violence of armed clashes, have even crossed the border into neighboring countries in an attempt to find some sense of security and provide their children with a better future.
This is the case of Sayeed Othman. Sayeed and his wife decided to leave their village in Al Torbah district of Taiz governorate to find refuge in Djibouti. Djibouti is hosting more than 26,000 refugees from Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea and Ethiopia, of which 21,000 reside in camps. Along with other 2,000 Yemeni families, Sayeed, his five-month pregnant wife and their seven children, from 17 to 3 years old, live in the urban settlement of Boulaos, near the capital city of Djibouti. Most of these families stay in shelters made of hardboards or rent a garage, for a cost of 100 USD per month. Since it is difficult for them to find a job, they don’t have regular incomes and face some difficulties to provide their children with food and access to education.
In Yemen, Sayeed was an electric engineer but in Djibouti, he is struggling to make ends meet as it is challenging to find a sustainable job for more than 5 USD per day. “Here, we are living in hell. We barely can afford one meal a day and I have too many mouths to feed. I wish the war could stop so I can go back to my country and live in dignity with my children,” Sayeed says.
In coordination with external partners, including other UN agencies such as WFP and UNHCR and non-profit organisations like the Lutheran World Federation, UNICEF supports these families with a package of interventions, including psychosocial services, school incentives, so children can still go to school, and distribution of hygiene kits, in order to improve their living conditions and bring them back a sense of dignity.
More to explore, empowering yemen’s most vulnerable families.
UNICEF, through its Rapid Response Mechanism, has been delivering life-saving aid to the most vulnerable individuals
Responding Rapidly to Displaced Families' Needs in Yemen
Provide immediate assistance to those affected by the conflict
RRM kits make a difference for recently displaced families
UNICEF and its partner agencies have distributed more than 57,000 RRM kits across 21 governorates in Yemen, benefitting over 400,000 newly displaced people
Students go Back to School in Al-Jufaina IDP Camp in Marib
Over 2.4 million children are out of school in Yemen, including almost a million who dropped out since the conflict escalated in March 2015
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The United States takes its national interest strongly domestically and internationally. The interest could be of strategic economic, political, or social significance to the Americans. Some of the foreign policies used by the U.S. are directed towards securing the interest of the country first. This has been the tradition of American governments. One of the areas that the U.S. is currently looking at is Yemen. It is currently waging war in Yemen in support of Saudi Arabia and U.A.E against the Houthis. America’s involvement in the Yemen war has included training the local army, military combat, logistical support, and use of drones to attack suspected terrorists. Opponents of the war question why the U.S. is involved in a war with a country that is among the poorest in the world. By a first glance, it seems that Yemen poses no threat to the American national security and, therefore, it is not in the national interest of U.S. to assist Saudi Arabia. However, the U.S. understands that Yemen is a vital security interest for Saudi Arabia, an area where it needs to aid Saudi Arabia and UAE. By helping Saudi Arabia/UAE through military support, the U.S. will be limiting the collateral damage as well as civilian casualties. Secondly, the U.S. needs to offer military support to Saudi Arabia and U.A.E. due to the increased level of Iranian influence in Yemen. The Saudi Arabians claim that Iran is intent on dominating the region with the Houthis as their surrogates. There have also been strong claims that the Houthis acquire financial support from Iran. There is definitely a strong relation between Iran and the Houthis, and the U.S. views Iran as an adversary given that it has already entered into a nuclear agreement with the nation. Additionally, the involvement of ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the war-torn country has pushed the U.S. more to get involved since it is concerned the war could end up strengthening the terror groups network. The third major reason why the U.S. supports the Yemen war is that it stands to gain economically from the arms trade (Rabi, 2014). The Arabic states are heavily involved in buying American-war machinery which keeps the profits growing to the American arms industry. This paper argues that it is in the USA’s national interests to assist Saudi Arabia/UAE by taking an active and direct part in military operations against the Houthis in Yemen. Pulling out of the Yemen war will be a step back in the American fight for regional peace and security.
The Saudi Arabian Efforts in Yemen Advances American Interests
Background of Saudi-U.S. Relations
Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have always been strong partners during a large part of the post-war era. Their strategic partnership has been relied upon to shape Gulf and regional security in over seven decades. The cooperation is even stronger today due to the imminent threat posed by Iran, civil wars, and the ISIS. This is not to mention the threat of political upheavals that are often encountered in the region. The strong ties between Saudi Arabia and U.S. can be defined by several notable deals. These include that time when Saudi supported the U.S. against the U.S.S.R. and the subsequent confrontation with Nasser during the Afghan resistance to Soviet invasion and the recent crisis in Yemen. The relations also go further to cover the Iran-Iraq war and the fight against Saddam Hussein. In short, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have strong ties. Davis (2015) states that Saudi Arabia is highly dependent on America for its weapons, logistics, and training support. This is backed by a report that Saudi Arabia sought arms worth over $85 billion between 2008 and 2014, and approximately $60 billion came from the U.S (Krieg, 2016). This is to show that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have a rich history of strong ties in matters involving war, disputes, and regional security. Yemen war happens to be just one of the areas that the U.S. had to get involved for its own national interests.
The relationship between U.S. and Saudi Arabia has been tested on various grounds in history. However, the two nations have consistently found shared interests especially when it concerns securing oil production in Saudi Arabia and in regulating Communism. The rise of Al Qaeda threat was a huge test of U.S.-Saudi relations, and the problem escalated after it was discovered that a large number of Saudi citizens took part in the 9/11 attacks (Gause III, 2016). In spite of these problems that threatened to turn relations, shared concerns over Iran as well as cooperation in counterterrorism have been some of the huge factors that have provided a newly found strategic logic for closer security relations between the two nations. President Obama’s government was keen to engage the Saudi Arabian government in those efforts that promoted regional stability. The administration has also been willing to help Saudi to defeat Al Qaeda. To this effect, Saudi Arabian national security has been under threat ever since the civil war began in Yemen. The unconventional threats coming from Iran and the instability in Yemen pose a huge threat to Saudi’s national security. According to Laub (2016), the U.S. has to get involved in the form of improving defensive strength of the Saudis over Iran. Obama’s administration has been involved in advancing the nations’ bilateral mechanisms. Given that Saudi Arabia has emerged as the strongest Arabic State politically and economically, U.S. has had to come to its aid to protect its interest. It has also been reported that the oil revenues in the country are expanding at a high rate as the demand for oil rises. This new profile of Saudi Arabia has improved its international standing. It is no doubt that the U.S. national security interests with respect to the country are likely to persist.
Reasons Why U.S. is in Yemen
The volatile relationship between U.S. and Iran has faced various hurdles in the past decade. Back in Yemen, Iran has been noted to take sides in the conflict. Saudi-led forces have controlled much of the airspace in Yemen through artillery and missiles to suppress the Houthis who have been reported to have a backing of Iran. However, Saudi Arabia has not fully managed to secure its national border from Houthi-led attacks. The development in Yemen has been one that has required intervention by the U.S.
The U.S. has helped Saudi Arabia in the last few weeks to strike down the Houthis using missiles after several missiles were fired towards American warships. The truth is that the U.S. has been helping Saudi Arabia in Yemen for a longer time against the Houthis by offering logistical support. The involvement of the U.S. is part of its policy. To put in into the context, conflict in Yemen began in the form of a domestic struggle for power. The struggle pitted political and tribal factions against each other. In 2011, an uprising forced leader Ali Abdullah Saleh from power after many years of a government struggle with the Houthi forces. After his government had been toppled, Deputy Rabbu Mansour Hadi took over (Brands, Feaver, Mearsheimer and Walt, 2016). He was tasked with forming a transitional unity administration. However, the Houthis still felt that the unity government formed afterward lacked any of their representatives. With time, the Houthis led an uprising that deposed Mansour, kick-starting a full-scale civil war. This was the time that Hadi asked Saudi to offer assistance in an attempt to take back control of the nation. The involvement of Saudi in the country put them against the Houthis. Perhaps the most critical factor for U.S. involvement is that the Houthi rebels receive significant support from Iran. Given that Iran is Saudi’s nemesis in the Middle East, the conflict gained international recognition. According to Lamothe (2014), Saudi Arabia knows that if the Houthis control Yemen, it will pose a direct threat on its Southern border. Given that the U.S. is mindful of regional stability and security interest in Saudi Arabia, it has to help the nation against the Houthi rebels to protect its interests. There is no doubt that an Iranian-supported militant in Yemen is a huge threat to Saudi Arabia given the proximity. Since the conflict, Saudi Arabian government has joined up with the Sunni-led Arab nations to reinstall Hadi’s government in Yemen. It can, therefore, be argued that the U.S. is helping Saudi Arabia in Yemen because it minds about the rise of Iranian influence in the region. Another evident reason that is becoming clearer with the conflict is that the U.S. is helping Saudi Arabia so that it can continue to help them fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
There is no doubt that Iran is a constant headache for U.S. given its push for nuclear weapons. The Arabic States are wary of the threat the Iran poses if left unchecked. Even more importantly, Saudi Arabia projects that Iran is seeking to dominate the Arabic region. According to Kahl and Lynch (2013), the Iran and the Gulf States are in a proxy war and that the Houthis are the clear surrogates of Iran. There is no denying that the Houthis receive financial aid from Iran. The fact that Iran is a huge threat to regional security, U.S. will be more than willing to join the fight and stop it from escalating the situation.
Saudi Arabia is greatly opposed to Houthi rebellion in Yemen because of the shared border. There is a likelihood that there could be a spill-over from Yemen into Saudi Arabia. The Houthis have always complained that the Sunni Saudi forces are intent on infiltrating their area in support of government troops. For the past six years, the Houthis have led attacks into the Saudi territory and managed to kill border guards in the process. As mentioned earlier, Yemen’s proximity to Saudi Arabia attracts major attention. The situation in Yemen has made security in Saudi to deteriorate. Apart from killing border guards, the Houthis have fired rockets into the villages in Saudi and staged border raids. Therefore, the conflict in Yemen has claimed many lives and displaced even more people. Saudi Arabia has been vocal in blaming Iran for the escalating unrest in Iran. There have been claims that the Iranian influence in Yemen is insignificant because the Houthis only benefit from small weapons and advisers from Iran. Opponents of U.S. involvement in Yemen claim there is no evidence to prove that the Houthis rely heavily on Iranian help (Terrill, 2014). However, only those sections that have not paid full attention to the conflict have missed the opportunity to see Iranian hand in the war. The Obama administration has been instrumental in blocking off over ten Iranian ships purporting to carry relief food from accessing Yemen in the past few months (Davis & Sprusansky, 2015). There was strong evidence that the ships were carrying weapons that were intended for Yemen to use against the Saudi-led attacks. It is, therefore, in the USA’s national interests to assist Saudi Arabia/UAE by taking an active and direct part in military operations against the Houthis in Yemen.
Economic interests have always been long-standing factors in major wars. The U.S. stands to gain from Yemen war by selling its arms and other war machinery to Saudi Arabia. According to Salisbury (2015), the Obama administration has traded with Saudi Arabia in arms worth over $115 billion in the two terms he has been the head of state. One of the recent deals between Saudi Arabia and U.S. has involved the sale of Abrams tanks worth over $1.15 billion. Some of these tanks are to replenish Saudi’s stocks that have been destroyed by Houthi rebels in Yemen. This was a deal that raised concerns in the Congress although it was voted in favor by 71 to 21 members.
Opponents of the war are currently debating the rationale for U.S. involvement in Yemen due to the high number of civilian casualty. A look into the history indicates that U.S. has always been Saudi’s leading arms supplier. From the 20th to the 21st century, the deals have involved weapons and military equipment. Others have included foreign military construction. Since Saddam Hussein’s regime was overthrown, military threat to Saudi momentarily dropped. However, during the Bush administration, the arms deal between the two countries reached over $16.8 billion between 2005 and 2009. This is just a recap of the deals that the U.S. has had with Saudi Arabia. There is no doubt that the Obama administration has brokered the greatest deals with Saudi Arabia since he took office. Sharp (2015) believes that Saudi Arabia will always depend on the U.S. to guarantee its security from various external threats. It is also documented that Saudi was able to compel Yemeni rebels from its territory in 2010 with the use of weaponry that originated in the U.S.
The Yemen war keeps the trade deals flowing to the benefit of the U.S. The manufacturers of fighter jets and weapons stand to benefit from the U.S. involvement in Yemen. The Arabic States have agreed to a deal that will fetch hundred billion dollars for war planes, bombs, tanks, and guns. When you put into consideration that for every sale of arms that Arab states receive Israel gets the same free, it shows you how lucrative the deals are to the U.S. The U.S. follows a firm pledge that seeks to make sure Israel has the edge over its neighbors in military terms. With these kinds of deals, the U.S. receives more profits, keeps the employment high, and keeps the Congress happy due to the inflow of campaign contributions coming from the arms manufacturers as well as the Israel lobby. Therefore, it is in the USA’s national interests to assist Saudi Arabia/UAE by taking an active and direct part in military operations against the Houthis in Yemen because it is benefitting from the inflow of funds.
The Rise of ISIS and Al Qaeda
At first glance, Yemen is a poor country devastated by political and tribal wars. This is a country that has lost over 7000 people and numerous have been injured since April 2015. There is a striking humanitarian disaster. However, this situation has provided ISIS and Al Qaeda forces with the right environment for their networks to thrive. Al Qaeda has taken up a mini-state in Yemen and put up measures to abolish taxes for the residents in Mukalla. It is a complete empire, and its emergence has been seen as one of the unintended consequences of Yemen war. The campaign that is supported by the U.S. has enabled Al Qaeda to grow stronger in the Arabian Peninsula. There are fresh reports indicating that the group has extorted approximately $1.5 million from the national oil company (Bayoumy, Browning, Ghobari, & April, 2016). It also accumulates earnings of up to $2 million in taxes on commodities going into the port (Johnsen, 2013). The U.S. is worried about the dominance of AQAP (Arabian Peninsula) due to its proximity with Saudi Arabia. The group is infiltrating the southern part of Yemen in an effort to influence the population that has felt marginalized by the country’s elite. The danger is that the group has tried to attack the U.S. airliners. Opponents of Yemen war claim that the Saudis and the U.S. are to blame for the growing stature of the Al Qaeda in Yemen. Initially, it is reported that the Houthis were ready to fight the Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliates only for the Saudi-led airstrikes to provide an enabling environment for them to take advantage of the situation. It is thought that once the airstrikes began, the Houthis were limited to act, allowing Al Qaeda to grab more territory. Saudi Arabia portrays this group as a huge threat to its national security due to its close relationship with Iran.
There are people who think that the U.S. has managed to create an enemy it never had in the Houthis by engaging in a war it should not have. Al Qaeda in has grown to become the biggest threat to American national interests in Yemen and Saudi Arabia being strong opponents of the Houthis (Hopwood, 2015). However, the U.S. has acted consistently within its domestic and international guidelines. The close border of Yemen and Saudi Arabia was always going to come into effect with the conflict being too close. Remember that Saudi Arabia is of strategic interest to U.S. on many fronts. Saudi Arabia needed to pass on a strong message to the Houthis that they cannot dominate Yemen through force. It has also followed up by directing attacks toward the Al Qaeda that now controls the eastern and central parts of Yemen. The numerous air strikes have been warranted as the U.S. seeks to reassure the Saudis that they consider their security concerns and take them seriously. There is no doubt that the U.S. is concerned that the chaos in Yemen have the propensity to strengthen Al Qaeda and it is getting involved militarily to reduce the risk to Saudi Arabia. It is, therefore, in the USA’s national interests to assist Saudi Arabia/UAE by taking an active and direct part in military operations against the Houthis in Yemen.
The conflict in Yemen has attracted attention on the international scene. Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. have been directly involved in the war in a bid to reduce the influence of the Houthi rebels. However, the entrance of the U.S. has raised several questions among different sections of the American population. Despite the doubts, the above analysis shows that it is in the national interest of the U.S. to support Saudi Arabia/UAE in the war. Saudi Arabia remains a strategic partner of the U.S. on various fronts. Secondly, the rise of Al Qaeda in Yemen has threatened to expose Saudi Arabia to insecurity. This is a huge concern for the U.S., and it has shown how important Saudi Arabia is by deploying military assistance in Yemen. Another major reason that is not mentioned often is that Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have been trading in arms for a long time. The situation in Yemen provides a chance for the U.S. to sell some arms, improving the economic status of manufacturers in U.S. With these reasons, it is in the national interest of U.S. take part in military operations against the Houthis in Yemen.
Bayoumy, Y., Browning, N., Ghobari, M. & April, F. (2016). How Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen has made al-Qaeda stronger—and richer. Reuters .
Brands, H., Feaver, P., Mearsheimer, J. J. & Walt, S. M. (2016). Should America Retrench: The Battle over Offshore Balancing. Foreign Aff., 95, 164.
Davis, K. A. (2015). Debating the War in Yemen. The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs , 34 (4), 55.
Davis, K. A. & Sprusansky, D. (2015). Saudi Arabia, the US and the Devastating War in Yemen. The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs , 34 (8), 51.
Gause III, F. G. (2016). Future of US-Saudi Relations: The Kingdom and the Power, The. Foreign Aff., 95, 114.
Hopwood, D. (Ed.). (2015). The Arabian Peninsula: Society and Politics . Routledge. https://books.google.co.ke/books?hl=en&lr=&id=VCU-CgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=Hopwood,+D.+(Ed.).+(2015).+The+Arabian+Peninsula:+Society+and+Politics.+Routledge.&ots=4q2XlSkdK9&sig=k8yP6SuAMMD4ai4V1U0CLE9z0Hc&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
Johnsen, G. D. (2013). The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Qaeda, and America’s War in Arabia . WW Norton & Company.
Kahl, C. H., & Lynch, M. (2013). US Strategy after the Arab Uprisings: Toward Progressive Engagement. The Washington Quarterly , 36 (2), 39-60. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0163660X.2013.791081?journalCode=rwaq20
Krieg, A. (2016). Externalizing the burden of war: the Obama Doctrine and US foreign policy in the Middle East. International Affairs , 92 (1), 97-113. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-2346.12506/full
Lamothe, D. (2014). How US weapons will play a huge role in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. available at the Internet address .
Laub, Z. (2016). Yemen in Crisis. Council on Foreign Relations . https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/190632/Backgrounder_%20Yemen’s%20Ci…pdf
Rabi, U. (2014). Yemen: Revolution, Civil War and Unification (Vol. 160). IB Tauris.
Salisbury, P. (2015). Yemen and the Saudi–Iranian ‘Cold War’. Research Paper, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs , 11. http://www.pmln.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/20150218YemenIranSaudi1.pdf
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Houthi Rebels Shot Down a U.S. Drone Off Yemen’s Coast, Pentagon Says
The downing of a Reaper drone, the mainstay of the American military’s aerial surveillance fleet, was the latest escalation of violence between the U.S. and Iran-backed groups in Yemen, Iraq and Syria.
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By Eric Schmitt
reporting from Washington
- Nov. 8, 2023
A U.S. military surveillance drone was shot down off the coast of Yemen on Wednesday by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, the Pentagon said.
Pentagon officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss operational matters, confirmed that the drone, an MQ-9 Reaper, had been shot down. But they would not say if the aircraft was armed, where it was flying from or other details.
The downing of a Reaper drone, the mainstay of the American military’s aerial surveillance fleet, was the latest escalation of violence between the United States and Iran-backed groups in Yemen, Iraq and Syria. The episodes have underscored the risks that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas could spiral into a wider war.
On Oct. 19, a U.S. Navy warship in the northern Red Sea shot down four cruise missiles and more than two dozen drones launched from Yemen that the Pentagon said might have been headed toward Israel.
Yemen’s Houthi militia claimed it had attempted an attack on southern Israel on Oct. 31, saying it had launched a “large batch” of ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as drones, toward Israeli targets. The Israeli military said its aerial defense system had intercepted a surface-to-surface missile fired toward Israel “from the area of the Red Sea.” It said it had also intercepted other “aerial threats” in the area, none of which entered Israeli territory.
The Defense Department said on Wednesday that there had been at least 41 attacks on U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq by Iran-backed militias since Oct. 17. At least 46 U.S. service members have been injured, 25 of whom suffered traumatic brain injuries, the Pentagon said.
Eric Schmitt is a national security correspondent for The Times, focusing on U.S. military affairs and counterterrorism issues overseas, topics he has reported on for more than three decades. More about Eric Schmitt
Our Coverage of the Israel-Hamas War
Netanyahu’s Postwar Vision: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said that he saw no role in Gaza after the war for the Palestinian Authority in its current form . The comments were at odds with views expressed by the Biden administration .
Slaughtered in Shelters: Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault on Israel began with a barrage of rockets, sending scores of people into small roadside bunkers. Then gunmen came to hunt them .
In the West Bank: Violence is on the rise in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The result is an increasingly combustible atmosphere where people are divided by faith and united by fear .
The Conflict’s Global Reach
Protests in Europe: More than 100,000 demonstrators across France took to the streets on Nov. 12 to show their solidarity with the country’s Jews. The marches came a day after a huge pro-Palestinian protest in London .
American Colleges: Amid a spate of antisemitic attacks, colleges across the United States are debating what kind of speech is out of bounds . Some high-profile universities are trying to take more direct action .
U.S. Politics: As a tense political debate rages on the Senate and House floors , many Democratic congressional staff members are agitating for a cease-fire and speaking out against their bosses’ positions.
Oil Prices: Intense fighting is underway between Israel and Hamas in a region that holds much of the world’s petroleum resources, yet energy markets have been slumping. Why aren’t oil prices higher ?
Did Yemen Declare War on Israel Amid Israel-Hamas Conflict in October 2023?
Yemen's houthi militia claimed responsibility for attempted missile attacks on israel., nur ibrahim, published nov 2, 2023.
About this rating
Yemen’s government has not declared war on Israel (as of this writing), though Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for attempted drone and missile attacks. Israel said it thwarted “aerial threats” but has not said who it believes was behind them. There has been no independent verification of the Houthi's claims.
In late October and early November 2023, online posts claimed Yemen had declared war against Israel amidst the latter's ongoing conflict with Hamas , making Yemen the first sovereign state to enter the war.
One post on X claimed that someone it described as a "Yemeni Armed Forces' spokesperson," Yahya Saree, said Yemen vowed “to continue its attacks on Israel with missiles and drones until the aggression on Gaza stops.” In reality, Saree is a spokesperson for the Houthi rebels , a militia group that has declared itself to be the state of Yemen and been fighting the internationally recognized Yemen government since 2014.
The claim that Yemen had declared war on Israel was spread by British politicians like Paul Golding, a leader of Britain First, a far-right political party.
While Saree did indeed declare the continuation of a Houthi military operation targeting Israel, he does not speak for Yemen’s internationally recognized government. The Houthi rebels are a militia group that began as a religious revival movement of a Shia sect that once ruled Yemen but is now in conflict with the Yemeni government. We thus rated this claim as "False," given that the internationally recognized government of Yemen did not make such a declaration.
The Houthi rebels claimed on Oct. 31, 2023, that they had sent a number of ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as drones, toward Israeli targets. That same day, the Israeli military said it had intercepted a surface-to-surface missile approaching the country “from the area of the Red Sea” and documented a number of other aerial threats that did not enter Israel.
The rebels, who have long been accused by Saudi Arabia of receiving support and funding from Iran, have described themselves as the “state of Yemen.” An unverified X account in Saree's name attributed the attacks to the “Yemeni armed forces.”
The Yemen government is officially the Presidential Leadership Council under Chairman Rashad Muhammad al-Alimi, since the president transferred his powers to the council in April 2022. The council is tasked with negotiating a permanent ceasefire with the Houthis within Yemen and finding a resolution to the fighting. The Houthi rebels seized Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, in 2014 and established control over much of the country's northern area since, while the internationally recognized government is based in Aden, in the south.
As of this writing, Saudi Arabia, which supports the Yemeni government in the south, has been holding talks with the Houthis in an attempt to exit the war. The Houthis see themselves as part of a so-called "Axis of Resistance" — reportedly backed by Iran — which encompasses Shia Muslim factions in Iraq and Lebanon's Hezbollah group. However, they have denied being an Iran proxy in the region.
Even though the Houthis declared responsibility for the attacks on Israel on Oct. 31, 2023, Israel itself has not said who it believes is responsible, as of this writing. The New York Times noted it could not independently verify the Houthi’s claims. Days earlier , Israel did, however, accuse the Houthis of sending drones to attack Israeli targets, though the drones ended up causing explosions in two Egyptian towns on the Red Sea.
Saree stated the Oct. 31, 2023, incident was the third operation targeting Israel and the Houthis threatened to carry out more strikes “until the Israeli aggression stops.”
The Houthi declaration generated speculation about Iran’s involvement in the Israel-Hamas conflict, even though Iranian officials have publicly stated they were not behind Hamas’ attacks on Israel in early October.
In a statement to The Associated Press , the Iranian mission to the United Nations did warn of escalating violence from militias like the Houthis should the deaths of civilians in Gaza at the hands of Israelis continue.
Al-Shamahi, Abubakr. “As Saudi Arabia and Houthis Talk, Yemen’s Government Is Sidelined.” Al Jazeera, Mar. 14, 2023. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/3/14/has-yemen-government-been-sidelined-after-saudi-iran-deal. Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.
Dahan, Maha El, and Maha El Dahan. “Who Are Yemen’s Houthis and Why Did They Attack Israel?” Reuters, 1 Nov. 2023. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/who-are-yemens-houthis-why-did-they-attack-israel-2023-11-01/. Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.
Ibrahim, Nur. “Did Iran Say It Will Hit Israel with Missile Strikes from Lebanon, Yemen and Iran If Attacked?” Snopes, 10 Oct. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/iran-missile-strikes-on-israel-if-attacked/. Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.
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“Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Claim Attacks on Israel, Drawing Their Main Sponsor Iran Closer to Hamas War.” ABC News, Oct. 31, 2023. https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/yemens-houthi-rebels-claim-attacks-israel-drawing-main-104514030. Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.
“Yemen’s Houthis Say They Launched Ballistic Missiles, Drones at Israel.” Al Jazeera, Oct. 31, 2023. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/10/31/israel-says-it-shot-down-aerial-target-near-red-sea-city-of-eilat. Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.
“Yemen’s Houthis Say They Launched Missiles, Drones at Israel.” Reuters, 31 Oct. 2023. www.reuters.com, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israel-warns-possible-hostile-aircraft-near-red-sea-city-eilat-2023-10-31/. Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.
“Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Claim Attacks on Israel, Drawing Their Main Sponsor Iran Closer to Hamas War.” AP News, 31 Oct. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/israel-palestinians-hamas-war-yemen-houthis-iran-34eab8bc1d3cf3606d874166fef2f018. Accessed 1 Nov. 2023.
By Nur Ibrahim
Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.