Yemen: Is There an End in Sight?

The conflict that has plagued Yemen for the past ten years has become yet another source of proxy warfare between Iran and Saudi Arabia, although this is not how the conflict started. The true beginning of the Civil War can be traced back to the Arab Spring uprisings that took over a large part of the Middle East, pushing for political change and anti-government protests. When the movement reached Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Salah was ousted with power shifting to his deputy Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi taking his place. Even with such change in power, there was still a divide among the people and forces of Yemen regarding who their loyalties lied with. The schism that has created the current state of the Civil War began in 2014 when the Houthi militant group took over the capital city of Sanaa as well as the Hadi led government. The President soon fled the country in March of 2015 and what soon followed was a number of airstrikes aimed at the then Houthi led government in order to restore President Hadi’s power in Yemen.

Since then, there have been a number of attempts to oust the Houthis from governmental power including previous President Salah and his loyalists attempting an overthrow which only led to the death of the former President. Previous loyalists have joined the fight with Saudi Arabia in order to extinguish the Houthi led government, who is not explicitly supported by Iran, but it has been speculated that the group has Iran’s support. Even though Iran has not explicitly said they are in support of the Houthi militant group, a number of weapons shipments have been intercepted by Saudi Naval Forces in the Gulf of Aden. Throughout this incessant armed conflict, the people of Yemen have been stuck in the middle of one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. The combination of a collapsing economy, food insecurity, destruction of health and education facilities, and years with lack of progress the eventual recovery process will take time. UNICEF and other non-profit organizations including Doctors Without Borders have been in Yemen attempting to quell the ongoing humanitarian crisis, with around 23.7 million people in need of assistance, 13 million of which are children.

The most concerning thing that has presented itself in more recent news includes that there is no indication of the violence coming to an end any time soon. Specifically, the conflict has developed to become more focused on air war rather than troops on the ground through the use of ballistic missiles and drones. Saudi coalitions have continued to launch air strikes, one of which hit a detention center during mid-January of this year, killing at least 80 and injuring over 200. Alongside this, Saudi coalitions have also used “double-tap” techniques where one airstrike is carried out, then another follows aimed at those attempting to rescue the victims of the first. The Houthis have also conducted their fair share of airstrikes recently being aimed at Saudi Arabian oil tankers as well as international airports in an attempt to gain increased control of territory in Marib. The intensity of conflict in the Middle East, especially those where Saudi Arabia, Iran, or both have involved themselves cease to create anything except a growing number of crises. As some have called it the Cold War of the Middle East, this continued conflict tracing back to the 1979 Iranian Revolution is likely to continue as both countries struggle for the ultimate influence and power over the region, only causing suffering and harm along the way.

Sarah Carty
Sarah Carty
My name is Sarah Carty and I am currently an undergraduate student at George Mason University studying Global Affairs with a concentration of Human Security. Most of my life has been spent overseas, from being born in Amman, Jordan to the most recent posting in Argentina before moving to the United States. My interests include research, specifically regarding the Middle East, reading, travel, and working out daily. Alongside this, I enjoy learning new languages where I also speak Arabic and Spanish.