The Yemen: A Silently Vanishing State
Yemen is the prime example of what political instability can do to a country. We are all deeply saddened by the heartbreaking humanitarian crisis that is threatening to delete Yemen off the world map. 2 million children are on the last stage of malnutrition and 20 million people are on the verge of famine. A tear-jerking video of the citizens of Yemen eating boiled leaves recently surfaced along with a message from the UN, where it pleads for financial aid. So, what did the UN do before Yemen reached this deplorable state? Little to nothing.
Yemen shown before it was plundered by war
The civil war in Yemen is usually summarized as a power struggle between Shia dominated Iran and Sunni led Saudi Arabia. Throw in Yemen’s strategic trade roots and oil rich resources and you have to yourself the perfect example of western involvement. In 2011, president Saleh, an authoritarian, had to be let down from power and was replaced by his subordinate, Mansour Hadi.
Because this new President was weak and was struggling with numerous problems in the country, a rebellion easily rose and laid claim to the northern part of Yemen, led by the Shia minority called the Houthi. Around 2014 and 2015, they had become strong enough to take over Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. Eventually, President Hadi was forced to flee the country in March 2015.
Now, how did this civil war become an international crisis? Sunni dominated Saudi government was alarmed by the strength of the rebellion and decided to intervene because they believed the Houthis were backed by the Shia-centered Iran government. Eventually, the Saudi forces were backed strongly by the US, UK, France and Arab states and came to be called the Saudi-led coalition. What followed was a four year military stalemate. Up until now, multiple skirmishes have happened between the opposing forces, resulting in deadly sir strikes and the world’s most severe humanitarian crisis.
In fact, the crisis reached beyond “tipping point”, based on UN reports, when the coalition tried to launch an offence on a Houthi base in the Red sea city of Hudaydah, which is an integral lifeline to two thirds of the Yemen population. In July 2019, Saudi Arabia agreed to withdraw its forces after international pressure but stayed back when a UAE backed rebellion broke out against President Hadi’s alleged ties with the Islamists.
The final update would be the announcement of a unilateral ceasefire by Saudi due to the outbreak of corona virus. The Houthis refused it and instead demanded the complete removal of air and sea blockades.
Just like any other Middle Eastern crisis, this one too had western interests from the very beginning. How can Houthi rebels fight such a large scale war against the combined forces of US, UK, France, Saudi Arabia and Arab states? Even if they had Iran’s support, they could never measure up to the military prowess of these financially stable countries. So many different rebellions broke out in Yemen And all were supported by one country or the other and claimed separate interests. Not to mention that Yemen is the perfect state for western interests. Considering its resources and strategic importance on the world map. It’s not unlikely that the west is playing its old game of Divide and rule to serve its own interest.
But, the important point is that all of this is done at the cost of innocent human life. The air strikes target innocent civilians more than they effect the rebels. Moreover, the hypocrisy of the west is such that they condemn Pakistan and many other countries. For lack of tolerance and poor education. When they themselves fund the bombs that strike the same people they demand justice for. Now, when the whole world is shut in their homes fearing the infectious disease. The people of Yemen remain crushed under airstrikes, hunger and disease.
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Written by: Shermeen Tanveer