Yemen Blog: Bermuda Triangle
*Written by Bezhan Sharipov- Programme Intern Yemen
Things in Yemen have gone from bad to worse quickly. Rebels have seized the capital, the president has fled to Saudi Arabia and its neighbors have already begun bombing the country with risks of invasion in the near future. The situation in Yemen is not unforeseen as following the Arab Spring revolution in 2011 many decisive events in the last years have led the country to the present conflict it finds itself in. Currently the country is divided into four main ideological and military groups, namely the Shiite rebels known as Al Houthis, supporters of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh (1990-2012), Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and supporters of President Abdu Rabbuh Mansur Hadi whose troops are mainly located in the South of the country. The Houthi rebels are the key players in this conflict.
On the 26th of March, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and several other allies from the Gulf States launched a military campaign, named “Decisive Storm”. Till today, the campaign has not yet ended. Fighters from the “Decisive Storm” enter Yemeni airspace and bombard military objects on a daily a basis. Despite the fact that they are primarily targeting military bases, many of those bases are located close to residential areas and have resulted in many civilian deaths. Peaceful citizens across Sana’a, Saada, Aden, Al Houdeidah and beyond are tragically effected and needlessly killed. Civilian deaths have risen up to 150, 74 of which are children. Yemen is stuck in-between a bloody standstill. None of the conflicting parties have stepped up or proposed to negotiate or reconcile with each other. Embassies have shut down. Foreigners have been evacuated. The conflict is escalating day by day. If the situation continues this way, Yemen will likely fall into another long bloody war emerged between Arabs.
Yemen was no exception when it came to catching the Arab Spring fever. At the time of the revolution in 2011, President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down and Abdu Rabbuh Mansur Hadi took office. President Hadi became a symbol of new hope for many people in Yemen. The majority of the people were satisfied and celebrating the success of the revolution. In hindsight, the aftermath and the conflict of today has tainted the success of the revolution. Had it not led the country down a path of terrorism, high levels of unemployment, increased corruption, electricity shortage and poor political and economical health to name a few, then maybe the people of Yemen would remember the revolution as a successful historical feat.
Despite, the new presidential term, most of the military power of the country was still under the control of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his son Ahmad Ali. After the revolution, Al Houthi supporters were prepared to change the traditional political path of Yemen and steer the country into a new era of economical and political development. Each group had their own goals, their own agenda and their own grievances. Speed up to 2015 and the Al Houthis have taken over the capital of Sana’a. After they had gained significant power over time, the Houthis protested against President Abdu Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and orchestrated a military coup against him. Al Houthies have also battled against Al Qaeda in Yemen and have started to capture major cities in the country. Arguably, many experts suppose that Al Houthis root back to Iran, the main political and economic rival of the Gulf. Saudi Arabia and its allies from the Gulf identified the destabilization of the country as a threat which others interpret as a direct response to Al Houthis connection to Iran. Caught in the midst of this power struggle, the people of Yemen are suffering and have seen enough war. They wonder, what is the fault of innocent people, innocent children? Things cannot continue this way and the situation must be taken seriously by all parties involved. They must negotiate and all Yemenis should unite in avoiding a brother killing war as its consequences would be catastrophic.
*Image taken from https://instagram.com/p/3ND6AhrFTX/*
Check out the ‘Everyday Yemen’ campaign featuring striking photographs of everyday life in Yemen, capturing the heart and beauty of Yemeni people despite the turmoil within the country. You can find Everyday Yemen on Insagram, Facebook and Twitter.
YEMEN BLOG is SPARK’s blog of stories, updates and opinions by SPARK staff, of their personal experiences of the Yemen conflict on the ground after Saudi led military intervention- Operation Decisive Storm- launched and first struck the capital, Sana’a. If you would like to share your own experiences of the conflict, we welcome external contributions; to contribute please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.