By Latheef Farook
Yemen , an ancient country on the Arabian Peninsula has been known for its centuries old heritage, long before modern civilization changed the west and the the oil wealth turned the Gulf into a region of modern buildings and comforts Yemen was a developed country.
Its unique buildings speak volume for its rich ancient heritage . In fact Yemen’s port Aden , was the second busiest port in the world after New York in the early 1970s when it was also the only port for the entire Gulf region.
The modern Yemeni state was formed in 1990 with the unification of the United States and Saudi-backed Yemeni Arab Republic, in the north, and the Soviet-backed People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, in the south. Ali Abdullah Saleh, a military officer who had ruled North Yemen since 1978, assumed leadership of the new country.
The conflict ignited between the government forces, the Houthi rebels and other armed groups after the draft constitution and power-sharing arrangements collapsed, despite progress in the political transition led by the United Nations at that time.
Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when Houthi insurgents—Shiite rebels backed by Iran and a history of rising up against the Sunni government—took control of Yemen’s capital and largest city, Sana’a, demanding lower fuel prices and a new government.
In response, United States-European and Israel backed Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates led a coalition of nine countries from West Asia and North Africa, launched a military strike 26 March 2015 which turned this poverty stricken country into a wasteland causing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Saudi intervention initially consisted of a bombing campaign on Houthi rebels and later a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces into Yemen. Later the Saudi-led coalition attacked the positions of the Houthi militia and loyalists of the former President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who were supported by Iran.
Fighter jets and ground forces from Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman ,Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Constellis (formerly called Blackwater) took part in the operation. Djibouti, Eritrea, and Somalia made their airspace, territorial waters, and military bases available to the coalition.
The United States provided intelligence and logistical support, including aerial refueling and search-and-rescue for downed coalition pilots. It also accelerated the sale of weapons to coalition states and continued strikes against AQAP.
The war destroyed cities and villages and demolished the infrastructure causing millions of people to face starvation. The aerial bombings caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The military strikes and the senseless destruction received widespread criticism and had a dramatic worsening effect on Yemen’s crisis that reached the level of a “humanitarian disaster” or “humanitarian catastrophe”.
Today Yemen remains one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises. A staggering 21.6 million people require some form of humanitarian assistance in 2023, as 80 per cent of the country’s population struggles to access food, safe drinking water and adequate health services. Women and girls are bearing the brunt of the crisis
The conflict has displaced more than four million people and given rise to cholera outbreaks, medicine shortages and threats of famine. The warring parties observed a month long cease-fire in 2022, raising hopes for a political solution to the conflict.
The escalating cost of war includes:
* 17.4 million people are currently going hungry, with the predictions that this will rise to 19 million by the end of the year (62 percent of the population and an increase of more than 8 million since the conflict started).
* 4.8 million more people need humanitarian assistance than the first year of the conflict.
* Since UN human rights monitoring was withdrawn in October 2021 the civilian casualty rate has doubled, now reaching well over 14,500.
* 24,000 airstrikes have damaged 40 percent of all housing in cities during the conflict.
During the last seven years, over four million people have been forced to flee from violence.
The human cost of the war in Yemen is rising sharply as the conflict entered its eighth year. The number of civilian deaths increasing , hunger on the rise and three quarters of the population in urgent need of humanitarian support, Oxfam warned today.
The international agency said another year of war would bring unimaginable suffering to civilians ―almost two-thirds of Yemenis will go hungry this year unless the warring parties lay down their arms or the international community steps in to fill a massive gap in the appeal budget. This year’s aid program is currently 70 percent underfunded, providing just 15 cents per day per person needing help.
Today Yemen has become the site of grievous civilian suffering amid an intractable civil war. Many analysts say the fighting has turned into a proxy war: Iran-backed Houthi rebels are pitted against a multinational coalition led by Saudi Arabia. The involvement of other combatants, including militant Islamist groups and separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates.
Talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia in April 2023, mediated by China, have raised hopes of a political settlement to end the conflict in Yemen. However Saudi-Iran peace moves seems to be not having any impact on the sufferings of the war battered and poverty stricken Yemenis .Their sufferings continue unabated.
Meanwhile, according to Human Rights Watch,HRW, Saudi Arabian forces have killed hundreds of Ethiopians along the border with Yemen . Saudi border guards shot people attempting to cross the border at close range, and in some cases asked them which of their limbs they would prefer to be shot.
People who attempted the journey described seeing “women, men and children’s bodies strewn across the mountainous landscape severely injured, already dead and dismembered”, according to HRW.
Last month, the Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) said Ethiopian migrant workers were being “directly and deliberately” killed by Saudi security officials on a “daily basis”.
Data compiled by the UN states that 30 percent of victims were reportedly women and that seven percent were children. The letter also stated that some of the abuses included torture, arbitrary detention, trafficking and sexual abuse.
Nadia Hardman, the HRW report’s lead author, said that “Saudi officials are killing hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers in this remote border area out of view of the rest of the world”.
Disclaimer: War battered Yemen’s sufferings continues
Saudi-Iran peace deal brought no relief. - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view