Yemen's foreign minister says that less than a year of fighting in his country has wiped out decades of development, while the U.N. chief in a meeting with Saudi Arabia's foreign minister has called for an immediate cease-fire in the Yemen conflict. Yemeni Foreign Minister Riad Yassin told at U.N. gathering of world leaders that Houthi rebels who seized large parts of the Arab world's poorest country have not abided by U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted earlier this year. One resolution demanded that the Houthis immediately give up control of government institutions.
A Saudi-led coalition supported by the United States has carried out months of airstrikes that have drawn sharp criticism from human rights groups, who say many civilians have been killed. Meanwhile, a coalition blockade has kept most aid from reaching a country that even before the fighting imported 90 percent of its food and fuel. Ban Ki-moon in his meeting with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir again called for "increased humanitarian access."
Yemen's slide toward civil war has made the country a crucial front in mostly Sunni Saudi Arabia's rivalry with Shiite Iran, which Riyadh accuses of stirring up sectarian strife through its support for the Houthis. Sunni Arab monarchies around Yemen have condemned the Shiite Houthi takeover as a coup and have proposed a military intervention in favor of Hadi in recent days.
The advance of the Iranian-allied Shiite Houthi group raises fears of the possible disintegration of the country. Sanaa has been under Houthi rebel control since September last year. The country has been facing severe political instability after the takeover of the presidential palace by Houthi militants prompted Hadi to tender his resignation. Hadi fled to the southern port city of Aden where he has re-established his presidency. As the country continues to be dragged into civil war, the U.N. has started to hold mediated peace talks between Houthis and Hadi's government in a bid to bring peace and stability back to the country.
Yemen is also of crucial importance for the U.S., as the country is home to one of their worst enemies, al-Qaida's deadliest franchise, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has orchestrated numerous high-profile terrorist attacks, including claiming responsibility for the Jan. 7 Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris. Since 2002, the U.S. has been conducting counter-terror strikes and operations against radical militants as part of U.S. national security policy. During U.S. President Barack Obama's time in office, there have been 15 airstrikes and 107 drone strikes in Yemen as part of a "targeted killing policy." The practices of the Obama administration raise serious laws of war concerns regarding the human cost of U.S. security policy in Yemen.