On one side of the war, Shiite Houthi rebels, a religious minority in Yemen, backed by Iran, who now control the capital, Sanaa, and the second largest port city, Hudaydah. On the other side, the government forces of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which includes the United Arab Emirates and the United States. A Saudi-led air campaign has pounded Houthi strongholds in the north, and cut off aid and food, driving many people south, homeless in their own land.
The Houthi movement (known formally as Ansar Allah), which champions Yemen’s Zaidi Shia Muslim minority and fought a series of rebellions against Saleh during the previous decade, took advantage of the new president’s weakness by taking control of their northern heartland of Saada province and neighbouring areas.
Disillusioned with the transition, many ordinary Yemenis — including Sunnis — supported the Houthis, and in late 2014 and early 2015 the rebels gradually took over the capital Sanaa. The Houthis and security forces loyal to Saleh — who was thought to have backed his erstwhile enemies in a bid to regain power — then attempted to take control of the entire country, forcing Mr Hadi to flee abroad in March 2015. Alarmed by the rise of a group they believed to be backed militarily by regional Shia power Iran, Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states began an air campaign aimed at defeating the Houthis, ending Iranian influence in Yemen and restoring Mr Hadi’s government. The coalition received logistical and intelligence support from the US, UK and France. U.S. lawmakers have sought to stop the flow of money and weapons to Saudi Arabia. But the Trump administration approved a deal to sell the Saudis $1.3 billion worth of weapons. Trump pressed forward with a massive $8 billion sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the UAE. The U.S. is now considering an additional $478 million transfer of precision guided munitions to the Saudis. Militants from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the local affiliate of the rival Islamic State group (IS) have taken advantage of the chaos by seizing territory in the south and carrying out deadly attacks, notably in Aden. Soon after the Saudi-led coalition, with the United Arab Emirates being a key partner, began its bombing campaign in Yemen against the Houthi rebels in 2015, it was reported that al Qaeda militants were fighting on the same side as the Saudi militia to defeat the Iran-linked Houthis. The new Associated Press investigation, however, reveals that the coalition has made “secret deals with al-Qaeda fighters, paying some to leave key cities and towns and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment, and wads of looted cash.”
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest arms importer. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a defence think-tank, Saudi Arabia was the world’s top arms importer between 2014 and 2018, spending $16.9bn on weapons, with at least $4.9bn of that amount spent on European arms. Most of its arms come from the US, followed by the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Canada. Other SLC (Saudi Arabian-led International Coalition) members Egypt and the UAE are also among the world’s leading arms importers, receiving most of their weapons from the US and France.
Since 2015, arms exports to the SLC have continued despite overwhelming evidence that the SLC has been violating human rights and international humanitarian law in Yemen. Most of the civilians killed in the conflict have been killed in SLC airstrikes, many of which have targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure — schools, houses, markets, farms, factories. Some of these attacks were carried out with weapons supplied by Western states. G20 states sold weapons worth $17bn to Saudi Arabia since it joined Yemen war in 2015, but gave a third of that amount as aid. Britain has earned eight times more from arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other members of the coalition fighting in Yemen than it has spent on aid to help civilians caught up in the conflict, a report has found. Britain has given £770m in food, medicines and other assistance to civilians in Yemen over the past half decade, the report by Oxfam found, making the country the sixth largest recipient of British aid. But over the same period it has made £6.2bn of arms sales to members of the coalition fighting there, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Because of the war, poverty in Yemen has jumped from 47 percent of the population in 2014 to a projected 75 percent by the end of 2019. Yemen, long the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, plunged into war after Houthi rebels seized the capital Sanaa in late 2014.
A Saudi-led military coalition launched a blistering offensive months later to prop up the internationally recognised government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against the Iran-aligned group. It has also displaced millions and left more than two-thirds of the population in need of aid. 11.7 million individuals have become impoverished as a result of the war.
In addition, 4.9 million are malnourished. Of this number, 600,000 are children under the age of 5. The war reduced economic growth in Yemen by $88.8 billion. This resulted in Yemen’s status as the world’s second least equal country in the world in terms of income. Without any change in the status quo, Yemen will become the world’s most impoverished country by 2022. Yemen is largely reliant on food and imports for economic stability. Because of this, the economy has been unable to recover quickly without international intervention. The public sector employed 30 percent of the Yemen population. However, a crash in the availability of assets left those individuals unemployed and unable to contribute to a jumpstart in the economy that would feed, clothe and put money in the hands of the impoverished. In the past three months alone, more than 100,000 people have to flee their homes. Disruptions to public infrastructure and financial services have severely affected private sector activity. More than 40% of Yemeni households are estimated to have lost their primary source of income and, consequently, find it difficult to buy even the minimum amount of food.
24 million out of 30 million people in Yemen depend on food aid and medical aid. That is 80% of the population and to make matters worse, aid is not reaching them. Yemen is now witnessing the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. In an already crippled country, COVID-19 is ravishing an already vulnerable population with four times the deaths from the disease than the global average. There are one million suspected cases of cholera. Lots of diseases have spread. Children are getting malaria. Their platelets are low. They are very sick because of lack of food. Journalists’ access is limited and dangerous.
Unfortunately, the Yemen issue has been forgotten by the whole world. Journalists cannot perform their duties properly for security reasons. Countries of the world remain silent on this issue for their own benefits. There are many human rights violations in Yemen. The whole world must take action to stop these violations. Human life is more valuable than all politics and dirty bargains.