Houthi War Prisoners
Positive signs for the Yemeni civil war appeared as the Saudi-led coalition has freed the Houthi rebels on the 28th November 2019. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported that around 128 rebels were released and flown back home to Yemen. The United Nations (UN) have praised and thanked Saudi Arabia for the merciful initiative. The situation in Yemen is looking brighter as the Saudi-led air attacks have been reduced dramatically, as reported by the UN envoy of Yemen on the 23rd of November.
Yemen is the poorest country among the countries of GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council). The Yemeni Civil War started on the 19th of March 2015. The ongoing conflict currently involves the president of Yemen, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and the Houthi armed movement.
Origins of the Conflict
Before the current president of Yemen took over, there was a civil uprising against the Former President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The former president had reigned Yemen from 1990 to 2012, and he was known for his comparison of ruling Yemen as “dancing on the heads of snakes”. The civil uprising was known as the Arab Spring in 2011 and the Yemenis fought for their freedom against Saleh’s reign. Saleh’s reluctance to step down caused him to be removed by force with the help of Saudi Arabia in 2012. And this led Saudi Arabia to install a new government with Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi as the current president of Yemen.
Sufferings and Unexpected Co-operation
Even after the Arab Spring revolution, the Yemenis were still upset and suffering under the new government. As the same unfair and undemocratic practices continued under President Hadi, the Houthi emerged and took over a part of Yemen. The Houthi rebels have always felt marginalized hence they were known to be rebellious and very involved in the Arab Spring against former President Saleh. However, an unexpected alliance was formed, involving former enemies. Saleh and the Houthis took over the capital, Sana’a, in 2014.
This rebellious incident caused president Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia, who eventually pushed for a coalition among GCC members to restore Hadi’s power. Hadi fought back the Houthi rebels with a Saudi-led airstrike barrage. In the last 4 years, more than 19,000 attacks were reported and it has demolished schools and hospitals, killing thousands of civilians. On the top of the air-strikes, in 2015, humanitarian aid was barred off by the Saudi-led coalition, where civilians were unable to receive aid, medicinal drugs and, food supplies. This led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. It was caused by the Saudi-led coalition, yet the Houthis are the ones being blamed.
Point of No Return
In 2017, after three years of fighting the Saudi coalition, Saleh dissolved his alliance with the Houthis. Saleh chose to switch sides, supporting the Saudi-led coalition on the television broadcast. Two days later, on the 4th of December 2017, the Houthis killed Saleh for betrayal. Under the Houthis rule, Yemen civilians have been struggling with constant war and famine plagues. To the people of Yemen, Saleh’s death was the end of hope, even for Yemenis who protest against him in the Arab Spring.
Yemen’s War, World’s Crisis
Currently, Sana’a is still controlled by the Houthis, who seem to be winning the war. However, Saudi Arabia, GCC and its allies including France, the United States and the United Kingdom suspect Iran for supporting the Houthis. Iran being a Shi’ite country has acknowledged favouring the Houthis are Shias, but denies giving military aid. Back on 30th September 2019, the Saudi oil facilities were attacked, and the Houthis claimed themselves responsible. However, Saudi and its allies rejected the claim and persisted that Iran is to be blamed.
Despite the UN’s efforts to end the conflict, the war still comes to an impasse between the Houthis and Iran against Saudi Arabia and its allies. During the last few days, the situation has slightly improved as there has been a drastic drop in the number of airstrikes and the Houthi prisoners have been freed. The UN and the world expressed their hopes to end this war.
Written by Jian Hong