Ending the war in Yemen
- USA under the presidency of Joe Biden has decided to end the U.S.’s support for Saudi Arabia’s six-year-long war on Yemen by halting the weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. It has also appointed a Special Envoy for Yemen, and removed the Shia Houthi rebels, who control the northwestern parts of the Arab country, from the list of foreign terrorist organisations.
- Both former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump looked away from Yemen even as the country, amidst a multipolar civil war and Saudi bombing, descended into chaos and witnessed a humanitarian catastrophe.
WAR IN YEMEN
- The crisis in Yemen is not only about the Saudi-Houthi conflict, it has many more dimensions such as: humanitarian, civil, geopolitical and sectarian.
- In 2015, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies went to Yemen with a defined objective: drive the Houthis, (backed by Iran) out of the capital Sana’a and stabilise the country under the government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi that they support.
- Also, the Saudi-led coalition imposed a blockade on Yemen, hoping eventual weakening of the Houthis, along with a bombing campaign aimed at wrecking the rebels militarily.
- This campaign was a failure as the Houthis entrenched themselves in the north-west despite the military and economic challenges.
- The only success the Saudis had was in limiting the Houthis to the north-west. But the Saudi-backed government failed to consolidate its position even in the south.
- The Houthis continued to amass weapons, even technologically advanced drones which they use to attack Saudi targets across the border, despite the blockade, while the Yemeni people continue to suffer.
- A separatist group, the Southern Transitional Council (STC), has established its rule in southern Yemen. The UAE, which backs the STC, has pulled out of the Saudi-led coalition.
HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN YEMEN
- The war has killed over 10,000 people and pushed the country to the brink of famine.
- According to the UN, 50,000 Yemenis are starving to death and 16 million will go hungry this year. They are depending on food assistance to survive, but the war is making it difficult for aid groups to operate in the country.
- Many more are dying due to preventable diseases as Yemen lacks proper health infrastructure and essential medicines.
- Finding a solution to such a vexed, multipolar conflict will not be easy.
- The international community should focus on tackling the humanitarian situation in Yemen.
- The Saudis should ask themselves whether they should continue with their failed strategy while the situation in Yemen keeps worsening.
- The Houthis need to stop fighting and start talking with other stakeholders if they want international legitimacy.
- A ceasefire is in everybody’s interest but the question is who will blink first.
- The Biden administration should use its leverage to pressure Riyadh to lift the blockade, a key Houthi demand, as a confidence building measure and push for talks for a lasting ceasefire.
- Once a ceasefire between the two main rival blocs is achieved, the U.S. and its regional allies could call for a multilateral conference involving all stakeholders to discuss Yemen’s future.
- Yemen can find a way out of the current crisis provided the war is brought to an immediate end and the country is given diplomatic assistance.
View all comments