Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Middle East. It is besought with trouble as warfare has broken out. Many see the war as between Saudi Arabia and Iran especially in fighting for regional might. Both countries have supported arms groups similar to the case of Syria.
Today there is a power struggle in the country as rival factions can easily descend to civil war. It began as the Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa in September 2014. The Zaydi Shia militia was able to oust the government with the help of Iran. Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has withdrawn his letter of resignation and established a new government in Aden located south of the city. It can be likened to a government in exile but still having a presence within the country’s borders.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have sent their ambassadors in Aden in show of support to Hadi. Significantly, he will not succeed without the other Gulf States’ support. It is expected that they will arm him and his men as means to fight against the Houthis.
Abdel-Male al-Houthi one of the Houthi leaders condemned Hadi as being a puppet to Saudi Arabia and the United States. However, this is in spite widespread knowledge that the Houthis are supported by Iran. The later has shown support by providing daily flights to Sanaa giving aid to the Houthis.
It is important to note that the United States and Saudi Arabia have inadvertently helped the Houthi-Iranian relationship. The previous president of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh was given support to fight against them under the guise of fighting against al-Qaeda in spite evidences that this was used to fight against the Houthis.
Saleh who was overthrown in a 2011 uprising is a result of meddling between Saudi Arabia and the United States. Both countries supported different factions in Yemen resulting in today’s war outbreak. As such, Yemen is now becoming like Syria with the threat of an escalating civil war between the new government and Houthis.
The problem in Yemen is the local faction and competition of resources wherein countries like Saudi Arabia and the United States appear to be contributing to the war for the worse.
Hadi did not stop the Houthis and is compared to Saleh wherein he uses foreign fears to fuel his cause. The threat of al-Qaeda was used to be able secure billions of dollars of financing wherein the only threat was the growing power of the Houthis. Similarly, Hadi equates al-Qaeda with Houthis but evidence shows that this is not the case. The Houthis are a separate faction that relies on Iran for its power.
Significantly, arming the factions has resulted in a struggle with the hope that there will be control. However, this is not the case such as in Syria where a civil war has already emerged. But the Gulf States and America are trying to prevent an escalation through diplomatic relations. However, this is unlikely as the country is poised to further deteriorate.
While the world is watching Syria, Yemen has been in much more need of humanitarian aid. The country has been in civil war for more than ten years resulting in a short supply of basic human necessities. It is estimated that more than 20 million Yemenis are affected wherein there is no access to food or clean drinking water. The fighting has now reached Aden, the new seat of government wherein only a fraction of imports enter its ports. This has resulted in food shortages and higher prices.
Civilian aid is difficult because there are no cease fires as there are calls for foreign powers to help Hadi regain governmental power. The main difference is that Yemenis are unlikely to escape the violence compared to Syrian refugees since they are poorer and are said to have been used to the fighting.