Competing interests of rival sides in Yemen prompt further chaos

Published 10.10.2019 00:55

The ongoing power struggle in Yemen, with various parties involved, continues to worsen what is one of the most tragic humanitarian crises of modern times.

Together with the Saudi intervention, which also paved the way for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to join in, the conflict has grown and some 6,872 people have been killed since November 2018, mostly in Saudi airstrikes, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Yemeni civilians are stuck between "two evils": the Houthi rebel group and the Saudi-led Arab coalition, the head of New Yemen Media Center, Salih el-Gabri, said Tuesday at a panel in Ankara.

Besides for the high civilian casualties, thousands more have been displaced while most of the population suffers from food and drinking water shortages, not to mention medical aid.

"No military solution but more dialogue is needed to solve the conflict in Yemen," el-Gabri added, stressing that the infighting only furthers the tragedy.

The Western-backed alliance intervened in Yemen in March 2015 against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement that ousted President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi from power in the capital Sanaa in late 2014.

His government relocated to Aden. The Southern Transitional Council (STC), which is armed and trained by Riyadh's main coalition partner, the UAE, is a major component in the coalition.

But the war has revived old strains between north and south Yemen, and the southern separatists, who seek self-rule in the south, turned on the government in August and seized its interim seat of Aden.

"The UAE and Saudi Arabia have their own ambitions in the area including gaining influence and being a dominant regional power. The UAE has gradually expanded its presence in the country. In the era of war and terror, more countries have the freedom to carry out actions like this to pursue their own interest, under a guise of fighting terrorism," said journalist Jonathan Fenton-Harvey.

The conflict which has reached a deadlock is fought on three main fronts: a fight between the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition; a fight between both those parties and terrorist groups such as al-Qaida and Daesh; and a fight between the UAE-backed southern separatists and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government.

"Under the pretext of fighting the Houthis and al-Qaida, the UAE carried out torture and human rights abuses, which was also previously reported by Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and Associated Press," Fenton-Harvey added.

Since 2015, HRW has documented about 90 apparently unlawful coalition airstrikes, which have hit homes, markets, hospitals, schools and mosques. Some of these attacks may amount to war crimes.

Yet, even though the U.S. backed Saudi-led coalition has exacerbated the situation in the country, questions remain as to whether the withdrawal of the coalition would actually end the war since problems between northern and southern Yemen existed long before the Saudi intervention or the emergence of the Houthis.

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