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There is not a glimmer of hope in Yemen There is not a glimmer of hope in Yemen
by Abdullah A. Ali Sallam
2016-07-14 10:35:05
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yem01_400_01Yemen one of the poorest and most violent countries in the Middle East, Yemen is also an area of strategic importance in region ,because it sits on the Bab al-Mandab strait, a narrow waterway linking the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden, through which much of the world's oil shipments pass. This explains the reasons behind the nation's conflicts and the regional players seek to control it. Especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia fear a Houthi rebel’s takeover would threaten free passage through the strait.

 In recent months Yemen has descended into conflicts between two main groups, pushing the country "to the edge of civil war".

The main fight is between forces loyal to the President, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, and those allied to Zaidi Shia rebels known as Houthis. The current conflict consider there  are contours of the wider sectarian struggles currently destroying of Yemen's heterogeneous social fabric, this conflict , if not tamed, the deep conflict between the several different groups may well spiral out of control. A disintegrated Yemen is in no one’s interest. 

It is not the first time that Yemen fighting wars, Yemen has been embroiled in conflict for almost a century, since the end of World War I in 1918 is suffering with divisions between the country's north and south, both parts were involved in conflicts of their own.

After a year of civil war, the main combatants, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and Saudi-backed government forces, have agreed to revive peace talks that have started for fifty days.

According to Yemeni foreign minister Abdulmalek Al Mikhlafi said peace talks in Kuwait aimed at ending the 14-month-old war and easing a humanitarian crisis in the Arabian Peninsula's poorest country.

For more than two months, the talks that the U.N.-sponsored have not yielded any results

Earlier attempts by Oman to broker a peace deal in Muscat and later talks in Geneva have failed to bridge the gap between the various sides.

Strangely, the Yemenis have many agreements between conflict parties, but Their efforts have led to a number of stillborn agreements, one of the most important of these agreements is of Pledge and Accord, which they have signed in Jordan in 1994, however they went back to Yemen not to implement the agreement and peace but to a civil war between the north and the south.

In the fact, The current conflict in Yemen is a part of a regional power conflict  between Shia-ruled Iran and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, where Iran  seeking to destabilize Saudi Arabia look at Yemen as a staging post for any assault against the kingdom while Saudi Arabia has considered Yemen its backyard, that must control it.

The Houthis and the elected government is also seen as part of a regional power struggle between Shia-ruled Iran and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, which shares a long border with Yemen.

The Iranian support for Houthis rebels considered argument inevitable.  Because Houthis control of territory immediately south of the border with Saudi Arabia. as well as, Iran state whose central ideology is political Shiism, would surely seize the opportunity to back the Houthis to the hilt because of Houthis are a predominantly Zaydi Shia group and many of Houthis leaders have been studied in Iran and got a big supporting from Iran.

This conflict reminiscent of the "Great Game" played out in Afghanistan between Great Britain and Russia more than a hundred years ago, Saudi Arabia and Iran are engaged in their own decades-long strategic rivalry for power and influence in the Middle East, stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf and Arabian Sea. It is built mostly along sectarian and ideological lines - Saudi Arabia as the leader of the Sunni Muslim world, and Iran as the leader of the Shia Muslim world.[1]

Unfortunately this "Great Game" led to war has been a disaster and also for the region, Saudi Arabia, arab gulf countries and the United States.

The war has killed more than 8000 people, drawn in rival regional powers Saudi Arabia and Iran and triggered a humanitarian crisis in one of the Arab world's poorest countries. The reports of abuses by the Houthis, but the top United Nations human rights official, Human Rights Watch and others say the majority of civilian deaths. The UN said that more than 2,288 people have been killed and at least 10,000 others have been injured.

The cost of this proxy war is staggering. Continued conflict and import restrictions have all but destroyed the economy and social fabric in Yemen. As of the end of April 2016, over 6,400 people have been killed and 30,000 injured since the escalation of violence in March 2015. Almost 2.8 million people have moved from their homes in search of safety and security. Social services are waning as a result of violence, lack of personnel, lack of fuel, supplies, and equipment. The economy is collapsing due to a lack of exports and currency devaluation.

The situation is extremely fragile and unstable, and the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. Estimates show that more than 21.1 million people (more than 80 percent of population) are in need of food, shelter, and healthcare and water aid.  Inflation is skyrocketing. Escalating the already high inflation in Yemen to over 30 percent in 2015. The sharp increase in prices of food coupled with loss of jobs and lack of work opportunities have increased poverty and malnutrition among the most vulnerable groups. Currently standing at 80 percent of the population (Poverty line at $1.90 per day/ppp).[2]

The conflict on the ground in Yemen is very much a political one, fueled, as most conflicts are, by competing battles over turf, influence and power. It’s unclear what the Saudi and Iran endgame in Yemen is. Their actions so far appear to have only exacerbated tensions in the country.

 

What happens in Yemen can greatly exacerbate regional tensions and this conflict has serious implications for region and the security of the West. It also worries the West because of the threat of attacks emanating from the country as it becomes more unstable Due to the presence of al-Qaeda in Yemen. According to Western intelligence agencies AQAP consider the most dangerous branch of al-Qaeda because of its technical expertise and global reach.

Despite, the strategically important of Yemen, but seemingly, there is not a glimmer of hope to stop the war in Yemen as long as  the war of Yemen is a part of the Saudi-Iranian shadow war that is ongoing in places such as Lebanon, Syria and Bahrain, is seeking to use Yemen. It’s unclear what the Saudi and Iran endgame in Yemen is. Their actions so far appear to have only exacerbated tensions in the country.

The important question is who is fighting whom in Yemen?

 

 



[1] Martin Reardon(26 MARCH 2015). Saudi Arabia, Iran and the 'Great Game' in Yemen.http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/09/saudi-arabia-iran-great-game-ye-201492984846324440.html

[2] World Bank(2016). THE IMPACT OF WAR AND PEACE IN MENA. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTMENA/Resources/QN155.pdf

 


        
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