The West is now looking to Yemen

The West is now looking to Yemen

Yemen is a country destroyed by decades of wars that sowed death and destruction in the country. All these years, from this affluent corner of the world, it has been seen as one of those far-flung regional conflicts that barely deserves media attention, despite the fact that the United Nations has described the Yemeni tragedy as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. . The news blackout was broken when the Western powers stormed the battlefield. US and British airstrikes against Houthi rebels have put the spotlight on the Gulf’s most populous and poorest countries.

These bombings come in response to attacks launched by the Houthis for months against merchants allegedly linked to Israel in the Red Sea to show support for Gaza. “God is great. Death to the United States. Death to Israel. Curse the Jews and victory to Islam” is the slogan of this armed group that defends the interests of the Shiite minority in Yemen and maintains close relations with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. .

Since pro-Soviet South and North Yemen united to form the current state of Yemen in 1990, political instability has been a constant in the Arab country, with intermittent civil wars fought by the government army, Houthi militias, operating under the name Ansar Allah (Ansar Allah), and affiliated separatist forces. For the Southern Transitional Council, it longs for southern Yemen. Another actor in the conflict is Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. A long crisis resulting, in large part, from more than three decades of dictatorship by President Ali Abdullah Saleh, one of the four leaders toppled by the Arab Spring in 2011.

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Shiites against Sunnis

The fall of Al-Saleh and the subsequent military defeat of his successor, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, before the Houthis was the starting point of the current war. In 2014, Shiite militias took control of the capital, Sanaa, and large areas in the northwest, the most populated area. To halt its advance, a Sunni military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates went to war to support the Yemeni government, recognized as a legitimate power by the United Nations. The mission is to regain lost territories, install a president with the same ideological orientation, and undermine Iran’s alliances in the region.

“Easy prey” Riyadh and its allies must have thought they were equipped with the latest American weapons. Miscalculation The Houthis, whose name is derived from the assassinated founder of this political-religious movement, Hussein Badr al-Din al-Houthi, have proven that they have great military and resistance capabilities. Neither indiscriminate Saudi air strikes nor the blockade of Hodeidah port and Sanaa airport – which are in Houthi hands and the main routes for accessing supplies – have been able to dissuade them. On the contrary, the Shiite militia on several occasions with drones and cruise missiles attacked oil refineries in Saudi territory and targets of the UAE, the main allies of the separatists in the south. The coalition accuses Iran of supplying the rebels with weapons, which Tehran denies.

The United Nations and other human rights organizations have documented hundreds of alleged war crimes committed by all parties. The number of deaths as a direct and indirect result of the war (famine, disease) varies according to sources, but it is estimated at more than 380 thousand people. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has 4.5 million internally displaced people, part of more than 18 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, out of a population of more than 33 million. The huge spending on armaments contrasts with the decline in international aid funds. In the past five years, the World Health Organization, for example, has seen its budget for Yemen reduced by 45%, despite the cholera outbreak that has afflicted the country since 2017.

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Popular support

Military attrition and failure have forced Saudi Arabia to look for a way out of Yemeni Vespers. Since mid-2022, after a short truce, the intensity of the fighting has decreased, and in December 2023, taking advantage of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a UN-sponsored negotiation process was opened which managed to make the blockade imposed on the Houthis more flexible, but it seems that Derailed these days due to the crisis in the Red Sea.

Washington and London’s military intervention has given wings to the Yemeni government, which is now in the hands of the so-called Presidential Command Council, based in Riyadh and of which anti-rebel factions are part.

The attacks in the Red Sea are considered high-risk actions for the Houthis, although they appear to be little more than a leap into thin air and more like a propaganda strike. The Arab and Muslim population, always attached to the Palestinian cause, strongly criticizes their leaders because they are unable to stop the indiscriminate massacre of civilians in Gaza. The Houthis, who have always been underestimated, have gained popular support inside and outside their country.

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