English International Special

Yemen’s tragedy: prolonged proxy war makes Yemen the hub of humanitarian crisis in the world.

Written by Subhash Krishnan

Yemen has had a long struggle in pacifying the internal disturbances owing to cultural and religious differences ever since its formation in 1990. The modern Yemeni state was formed after the unification of the US and Saudi-backed Yemen Arab Republic in the north, and Soviet-backed People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen in the south.

It’s been 7 years since war broke out in Yemen and there seems to be no sign of reconciliation despite peace talks mediated by the United Nations and other regional players. The United Nations calls the humanitarian crisis in Yemen as ‘the worst in the world’ – the poorest country in the Arabian peninsula has now become synonymous with grave civilian affliction and suffering, complemented by its already existing and escalating problems of widespread hunger and disease outbreaks. The current situation is expected to spiral further as its foreign aid has declined considerably in the wake of COVID 19 pandemic.

Yemen has had a long struggle in pacifying the internal disturbances owing to cultural and religious differences ever since its formation in 1990. The modern Yemeni state was formed after the unification of the US and Saudi-backed Yemen Arab Republic in the north, and Soviet-backed People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen in the south. Later on, the Yemeni government was overthrown by Houthi rebels. The Houthi rebels, which have the support and backing of Iran, now lock horns with a multinational coalition led by Saudi Arabia which includes major players such as UAE. The Houthi movement in Yemen is viewed as an Iranian proxy rather than a homegrown movement by Saudi Arabia, considering the fact that Iran is the primary international supporter of the Houthis, providing them with military assistance as well as weapons. This has provoked military intervention by Saudi Arabia as well as involvement from players outside the Arab world such as the US to safeguard their own interests and allies in the region. Even though Iran and Houthis share the same geopolitical interests- which is to challenge the US-Saudi dominance in the region and to oust the Hadi government backed by them, there are specialists who say that the Iranian influence is bare minimal since the Houthis and Iranians follow different sects of shiite Islam. Several political developments amidst contrasting interests of various groups and factions has led to secession by southern separatists for several months and affirmed the presence of AQAP ( Al- Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula) after it captured territory in Yemen. AQAP has expanded its military base as well as garnered support after it provided Yemenis security and public services in some areas which the government failed to cater.

The humanitarian impact of the crisis is pathetic, as the civilians bear the brunt of this protracted war which has become a proxy one with rifts between internal factions continuing to deteriorate with the involvement of external powers who want to secure their interests in the region. As of now, about four million people are internally displaced and nearly 3,70,000 people died due to war and combined causes such as shortage of food, water and health services, which by the way are also the indirect outcomes of war.

Written by Gouri Parvathy

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Subhash Krishnan

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