Yemen: Seven years of war

When the Ansar Allah forces (more commonly known as the Houthis) seized the capital of Yemen, Sanaa, in 2014, the already fragile political system spiralled further into a disaster amidst rising discontent with the internationally recognised government. Seven years later, little has changed. Armed conflict continues between the Houthis and the armed forces supported by a Saudi Arabian-led coalition of countries. Furthermore, the growing, UAE-backed Southern separatist movement, largely represented by the Southern Transitional Council and based in Aden, has also entered into conflict with both the Houthis and the Saudi backed alliance.

As the deadly war continues, the humanitarian situation has plunged into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. At the beginning of 2020, nearly two-thirds of the population of Yemen required humanitarian assistance to help manage food insecurity. The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs reported that since the beginning of the second wave of Coronavirus in March 2021, cases of the virus have doubled, and vaccination rates have been near to non-existent in areas controlled by the Houthis. Humanitarian aid blockades have also prevented aid from reaching civilians desperately in need, which has further prevented progress in the region.

To alleviate the deep suffering felt by the civilians of Yemen, a clear political strategy is needed, supported by all international stakeholders. Dialogue between all key actors: the Houthis, the Southern Transitional Council and other parties is vital for a peaceful solution. Recent reconciliation efforts between the government and the STC, through a power-sharing cabinet guaranteeing parity in representation of the North and South, has failed to include Houthi forces, and are therefore politically redundant for as long as Houthi forces continue to control the Northern governates. Obtaining true, peaceful cooperation may require reforming the current political system into a more federal or confederate system that allows for political and religious plurality, rather than the continuation of sectarian tensions that threaten the fabric of the nation. This allows a peaceful arrangement for power-sharing and could end the years of suffering felt by Yemen’s people through the destruction of services and infrastructure during the war.

It is time for the international community to face up to the disaster, and to move beyond the brokering of ceasefires for a permanent resolution to the complex issues faced by Yemen today. Otherwise, the country and its civilians will continue to suffer the dire consequences of sectarian division and political instability.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s