The 2011 Arab Spring is viewed by most as the most effective movement by the people of the Middle East to make the Arab governments more accountable to their citizens and listen to them more.
The Arab Spring also came to Yemen. Yemeni citizens took to the streets calling for the end of the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Yemeni people saw their country being pushed towards the brink of economic collapse and civil war.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh decided to respond with economic concessions, but he refused to resign. Soon, tensions got even worse, especially in the capital of Sanaa, where protestors were dying at the hands of the military. This escalated into deadly clashes between government forces and protestors.
Finally, Yemen saw a transfer of power in November 2011 to Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who was the Vice President. Hadi tried, however, failed to deal with many problems facing Yemen such as attacks by Al-Qaeda, disloyalty to him, a separatist movement in the South, as well as corruption, unemployment and food insecurity which was inherited from President Saleh.
The Houthi movement, a predominantly Shia led movement, took advantage of the new President's inaction and took control of their heartland of the Saada province
Angry with the dellusion of the President, many average Yemenis, even non Shia's, supported the Houthis.
In September 2014, the Houthi's laid siege to the capital. In January 2015, the Houthis surrounded the presidential palace and effectively placed the President and his ministers under house arrest. They also gradually began to seize the government institutions by the beginning of 2015. President Hadi fleed his palace to the city of Aden and abandoned his post, creating a vacuum for the Houthis, ISIS, and Al-Qaeda to establish more rule in the territory.
The Houthi's continued their rule, attempting to take control of the entire country, forcing President Hadi to flee abroad in March 2015.
Saudi Arabia was alarmed by the rise of the Houthis, backed by their rivals Iran. They along with 8 other primarily Sunni Arab countries initiated a military campaign to restore President Hadi back to power.
As of now, no side is close to a military victory nor have peace talks been successful. The Hadi government, backed by the Saudi-led coalition has established a home in Aden and taken back most of East Yemen.
However, the air campaign and the naval blockade by the Saudi-led coalition has failed to get rid of the Houthi rebels from their strongholds in Sanaa and its surrounding province.
Jihadi groups such as AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) and ISIS have stepped up their efforts to gain power in Yemen amongst this chaos.
Unfortunately, civilians have suffered the most during this fighting and have been victims of war crimes by the Saudis and other countries. According to the UN, approximately 8010 people have been killed in the conflict since March 2015. Most of the people who have been killed are civilians.
The destruction and bombings of infrastructure hospitals, schools, and restrictions on food and fuel imports have pushed Yemen to the brink of famine. Some 17 million people are considered food insecure and 6.8 million severely food insecure.
WHO has recently announced that there appears to be a cholera outbreak in Yemen. An estimated 26,000 people have been infected since the outbreak back in October. It is very difficult to help the country as it’s health facilities have been torn apart by the war. The World Health Organization states that less than 45% of their health facilities are still functioning.Tweet
In the US, where I live, citizens have many rights. These rights are laid down in the US Constitution, the highest law in the US. The Constitution lays down many fundamental freedoms such as freedom to practice whichever religion you want, freedom to speak whatever you want, and much more.
Let us now talk about another country far away from the US. That country is called Yemen and is located in the region called the Middle East. Yemen has a constitution, but unlike the US it does not have any freedom of religion. This is what has caused problems. One group in Yemen called the Zaidi's have felt oppressed and discriminated against by the government for a long time. The Zaidi's began protesting and created a group called the Houthi's, to take over the government.
They succeeded in 2015 when they took control of the Yemeni capital of Sana'a, forcing the president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, to flee the country.Tweet
"Welcome to Mafraj Radio, the official podcast of the Yemen Peace Project. This podcast covers contemporary political, social, and cultural affairs in Yemen and the Yemeni diaspora from a range of sources and perspectives.
Our aim with this podcast is to make Yemen accessible to casual listeners who don’t necessarily have a background in Yemen or Middle East studies, while still providing a level of depth and context you can’t get from mainstream media coverage of Yemen.
In Yemeni Arabic, the word mafraj refers to a characteristic feature of highland Yemeni architecture, which is renowned for its unique beauty. A mafraj is a room, preferably with windows on all sides, on the very top of multi-story house.
The mafraj is where Yemenis gather in the afternoons and evenings with family and friends to discuss the events of the day and the gossip of the nation. Like a good mafraj, this podcast aims to be a site for discussion, debate, and edification, and a vantage point from which we look at events in Yemen from different angles."Tweet
As an American, you may think that the US has zero to no influence on the Yemen Civil War. However, you may be surprised. Maybe even horrified.
There are 2 main sides to the Yemen Civil War: the Houthi rebels and the supporters of President Hadi's government. The Houthi's is a Shia militant group which have become an enemy of Saudi Arabia and other Sunni majority countries in the Middle East. Arabian countries have formed a Saudi led coalition against the Houthi's and their uprisings. The Houthi's are rising up because they feel they have been discriminated against and oppressed by the government. They are now fighting back. However, Saudi Arabia disagrees. They believe that the Houthi's are being supported and funded by Iran and this is actually a proxy war for dominance in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Now while Saudi Arabia is doing the bombing and fighting, the United States is backing and supporting the Saudis with weapons and financial means. Saudi Arabia is currently the largest buyer of US weaponry. Just recently, the US sold F-15 fighter jets and cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are currently using those in the war against the Houthi's.
The US even helps refuel Saudi jets, so that they can be more effective at bombing Yemen. They do this by refueling fighter jets while still in the air. The US does this so that the Saudis do not need to land and refuel as frequently.
As one can clearly see, the US has a huge role in the Yemen Civil War. The bombings carried out by the Saudi Arabian military have destroyed schools, universities, markets, and much more. One strike by the Saudi's destroyed the seaport of al-Hudaydah, a port Yemen relies on to import a lot of their food. The US has begun to speak out against these atrocities and even condemn some of them. They have asked the Saudi's to attempt to minimize these casualties. However, according to the latest reports this warning has done nothing.
One may ask why the US allows the Saudis to continue committing these atrocities and why they are so complicit to it. Well, they are many reasons. One reason is that there has been a longstanding relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia, dating back to the Cold War. Another factor is the fear that Yamen may become a breeding zone and safe haven for terrorist organizations. AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) currently controls swaths of land in Yemen and it is Al Qaeda's most vicious and active branch. The US does not want to give terrorist organizations the means to plot more attacks against the US.
I am not going to tell you what to or not to believe in. But let me just state the obvious. The US is currently helping Saudi Arabia and its allies fight a bloody war with massive casualties and damage which shows no signs of ending. That is not something to be proud of.Tweet