Yemen Civil War For The Average Joe

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.