Yemen on the Brink of Humanitarian Crisis

20.02.2017 Author: Viktor Mikhin

654534234234Some unexpected, and at the same time very distressing, news came from Yemen, which is involved in a civil war that has been raging well over a year. According to an Arabic Internet portal called Al-Khaleej, President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi has ordered to re-locate the headquarters of the Parliament from Sanaa to Aden, which is currently the temporary capital of the country. The decree, signed by Mansour Hadi, says that the Parliament is being re-located to Aden, “because of the deterioration of the security situation in Sanaa, which is itself endangering the lives of the deputies and is not allowing them to perform their duties as Members of the Supreme Legislative Body of the country.” However, Sanaa continues to be the main city in the country, according to the current Constitution of Yemen. In this connection, it may be recalled that Air Forces of the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia has repeatedly attacked settlements occupied by Houthis. The repeated barbaric bombardment over the official Yemeni capital, Sanaa, is just one example.

Two conclusions may be drawn from the recent events. Namely, the position of the so-called Yemeni President and his supporters in Saudi Arabia and the United States is not as strong as the Western press trumpets it to be. And, moreover, the story goes to a new split of Yemen, as it was in the recent past when the two states existed as the Yemen Arab Republic, with Sanaa as the capital, and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, with Aden as the capital. So what will happen now?

Re-location of the Parliament to the city of Aden is not accidental, as the US – supported coalition led by Saudi Arabia turned the most part of Yemen into rubble, thus making the already poorest country in the region even poorer. The intervention of Saudi Arabia, as the facts reveal, only led to the strengthening of the position of the overthrown government of Yemen in the South of the country. However it also has not passed without consequences. According to UN figures, more than 16 thousand people, including 10 thousand civilians, have become victims of this invasion. And at the same time, the Saudi-led coalition that is backed by the US has bombed Yemeni factories and farms. It has also organized a naval blockade of the country, which has led to starvation. “Civilians were trapped and targeted during the Al-Mokha fighting. There are real fears that the situation will repeat itself in the port of Al Hudaidah to the north of Al Mokha, where air strikes are already intensifying,” said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, at a briefing in Geneva .

UN humanitarian agencies are already sounding the alarm over the extremely dire humanitarian situation in Yemen. Approximately 12 million people in the country are on the verge of starvation, with more than two million children already starving.

For the past seven months, the number of Yemeni people who cannot feed themselves has increased by three million, and is now in excess of 17 million people.

In addition to the humananitarian costs, the military campaign by Riyadh has transformed much of southern Yemen into a safe place for radicals from ‘Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’ (AQAP) group. It should be noted that it is Houthis who are the deadly enemies of the Islamists from AQAP; and before the Saudi invasion, a successful offensive was carried out against them. Now, two years after the invasion of the coalition, the Islamists are as well armed as they never have been; a huge than ever finance and impact are concentrated in their hands; they control large areas of the South of Yemen.

Washington, along with Riyadh, is responsible for the crash of Yemeni statehood and the killing of innocent civilians, as put by the defense of the fugitive President Mansour Hadi, until the granting, by Barack Obama’s orders, of “the logistical and intelligence support to the coalition, which is involved in military operations against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.”

Moreover, in violation of international law, US troops regularly perform combat raids on Yemeni territory. This is, however, without much success, but more with lies. The leader of the Yemeni Al Qaeda stated that the last US military raid was actually a ‘failure’, as Reuters reported on February 5, with reference to a video by Qasim al-Raymi, who is considered to be the leader of the terrorist organization in the Arabian Peninsula. According to him, as a result of the raid, 14 civilian men and 11 women and children were killed. In response, the militants shot down two helicopters and injured dozens of US soldiers. In turn, the Pentagon, as always, has triumphantly announced the raid against Al-Qaeda in central Yemen, in which 14 militants were killed, as highly successful, even though civilians “might have also suffered.” It is a wonder how the US troops, who ran headlong from the battlefield, were able to count the trophies!

After such a ‘victorious’ raid, the Yemeni government completely lost its patience and took the unprecedented decision to revoke a permit issued to the US special forces to carry out covert ground raids on the territory of the country, aimed at combatting the leaders and active members of terrorist groups. To avoid an international scandal, the Pentagon and the Yemeni government agreed not to release an official announcement on the introduction of this ban. Moreover, the government ban does not cover the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for the accented strikes over the insurgents’ positions and encampment sites. By the way, about 90% of the victims of drones are civilians, including local people, who are forced to arm themselves while farming in the fields due to actions of the militants. It should be recalled that in Yemen, due to the specificity of this country, boys starting school must already be able to bear arms.

According to the statement of one of the leaders of the General National Congress of the Republic of Yemen party, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi , half the population lives below the poverty line; thousands of hospitals, roads, schools “have been destroyed because of the aggression against Yemen.” People cannot get medicine or food, while students cannot leave the country for education abroad. Unfortunately, these facts are not known worldwide. Therefore, the war in Yemen, which has been led for the last two years by Saudi Arabia and the United States, is dubbed ‘the forgotten war’.

However, the international community should not forget about the UN Resolution banning arms sales to Saudi Arabia; in spite of which Washington and London continue vigorously filling Riyadh with the most modern weapons, thus encouraging it to perform military actions against its neighboring Yemen.

Saudi Arabia and the United States, both of which are actively involved in ‘the forgotten war’, must decide to go for peace talks that, according to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, may revive the stalemated peace settlement of the conflict in Yemen.

Viktor Mikhin, a member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.