Middle East Coalition Bombs Yemen

By WH

A Saudi Arabian-lead, seven-member coalition began bombing the Houthi rebels in Yemen on March 25. The members of the coalition are: Kuwait, Jordan, Sudan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain. The coalition is also receiving technical support from several other nations, most notably from Turkey and America. Saudi Arabia and Turkey are currently considering sending in ground troops, according to CNN. Ground troops are already

The intervention by such prominent actors faces opposition from China, Russia, and Iran, reports Al Jazeera. There are allegations that Iran is providing some form of support (one figure within Yemen even went so far as to call them “Iranian stooges,” reports BBC), although there is currently no credible information supporting such a relationship.

The situation is Yemen is unclear, but many have said the nation is in a civil war, involving Al Qaeda, the former autocratic leader of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh before the Arab Spring, the official government, the Houthis, and now many members of the international community.

The Houthis are a Shiite Muslim group in Yemen who took over the capital Sana’a on January 22 and have control over large swaths of land in the Middle East nation, bordering Saudi Arabia and controlling a key trade route nearby the Suez Canal. The official government, lead by Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has reconstituted itself in Aden, a city in the south. Hadi has left the country, and government forces are in disarray amidst the fighting in the country.

Journalist Jeremy Scahill, who specializes in Middle Eastern affairs, explained to Frontline that the Yemeni military is critically “underfunded and undermanned,” resembling the situation in war-ridden Iraq. The official Yemeni government, both before and after the Arab Spring, have received support from the US in the form of missile attacks going back to 2002. Governments have also been friendly with Saudi Arabia in the past, too.

Hadi is extremely reliant on foreign support, specifically from the US, which has made many within Yemen brand him as just an American puppet. Saleh received support from the US throughout his tenure as leader of the country, yet to lesser degree than Hadi since Saleh knew how to manage the various tribal interests. He garnered the support of many fighters from the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980s, reports The New York Times Magazine, thusly capturing a fairly strong coalition among the leading factions of Yemen. This was later undermined in the Arab Spring, leading his resigning.

Saleh and his supporters are currently fighting against the Houthis. Some analysts are speculating that he will attempt to grab power, after he lost it years ago in 2011; this course of events is especially possible that Hadi left the country years ago.

The threat of Al Qaeda, particularly in the south, goes back before 9/11. Al Qaeda has seized several towns and villages in the south of the country and have also bombed several Shiite mosques, reports The Washington Post. Al Qaeda has thought of Yemen as by and large a safe haven, according to Clinton Watts of George Washington University.

One tribesman said to Robert F Worth for The New York Times Magazine that his son is “a mujahid [a holy warrior]. He is fighting those who occupy foreign lands. He is fighting unbelievers.” These feelings of religious Arab nationalism have deep roots in the Middle East, and have been excluded from mainstream, Middle East government control for decades.

This complicated and nuanced situation has thus far not been helped by foreign intervention, as shown by the failure of a decade of American airstrikes to weaken extremist forces within Yemen. The Saudi-lead effort may been as unsuccessful, and all the while the Yemeni people will grow to be more polarized and alienated as they see their politics driven by foreign powers caring little for the welfare of Yemen. Hopefully, Yemen will not turn into another Iraq, but given the current trajectory, it may well be.