Yemen.. The forth anniversary of war: Curbing Iran is the key

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September Net – GULF NEWS

 

The conflict in Yemen erupted after Houthi militia, in December 2014, toppled the internationally-recognised government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and seized parts of the country, including the capital Sana’a.

On March 26, 2015, an Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), intervened in Yemen in response to a request from the government there after Iran-backed Houthi militia advanced on the southern city of Adan, the country’s provisional capital after the rebels’ overrunning of Sana’a.

 

Iran fueling the conflict

Four years later, there is no end in sight for the conflict mainly due to the world’s failure to put enough pressure on Iran to stop its support for Houthi extremists.

“The Iranian regime continues to provide all types of weapons to Houthi rebels in order to keep fighting against legitimate government troops and ensure that Tehran’s mullahs will have a strong foothold in Yemen,” said Adnan Mansour to Gulf News.

The Houthi militia’s war has pushed the country to the brink of starvation and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN.

The Iran-backed Houthi militia have destroyed the country’s infrastructure facilities, including the public health system.

“This war will continue and Yemenis’ sufferings will continue as long as the world and the UN ignore the clear fact that Iran is the real player behind all these miseries,” Mansour explained.

“Iran is determined to expand its influence in the Arab region and extend it to Yemen after Syria and Lebanon through its proxies,” he added.

Arab nations have long complained of Iranian interference in their domestic affairs as well as fomenting sectarian strife in the region.

 

Hodeida

Since it entered the war, the coalition was able to win back large swathes of territory from the militants, but main population centers remain under Al Houthi control.

A lightening offensive by Yemeni forces last year was able to liberate much of the Al Houthi-controlled territory along strategic Red Sea, but stopped just short of the Hodeida port, the main conduit for goods and aid.

However, the Legitimate government says the Houthi rebels  are using the port to illegally smuggle in weapons from Iran to sustain their military efforts.

Nonetheless, government forces agreed to a halt their offensive, but reserved their right to resume it if peace talks fail.

However, the Sweden deal has since bogged down due to the Houthi militia’s refusal to withdraw from Hodeida and its three harbours as the deal stipulates.

“Iran has a hand in aborting the implementation of the Hodeida agreement,” Mansour said.

The Houthi militia has recently boasted of their “stock of missiles” and threatened to attack Saudi Arabia if the Yemeni government forces resumed an offensive to liberate Hodeida.

The Red Sea city in west Yemen is strategically important because of its main port, through which most the poor country’s imports and humanitarian aid enter.

“The UN failure to put enough pressure on Houthi militia and their Iranian patrons harms credibility of the international organization and the agreements, which it meditates,” Mansour said.

“What is the use of peace agreements if they are not implemented?” he added.

 

Houthi rebels not serious about peace

Over the past four years, UN efforts to end Yemen’s war have gone nowhere.

“Houthi rebels have wasted several chances to peacefully settle the crisis, a matter that confirms they pursue a project, which they will not renounce,” said Hassan Abu Taleb, an expert at the Cairo-based Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

“The international community and the [UN] Security Council appear to have no clear vision about how to deal with Houthi rebels,” he added.

Abu Taleb points to close links between the militant group and Iran.

“Years ago, Iran began its sectarian, cultural, educational, military and financial engagement in Houthi-majority areas. Young Al Houthis in Sa’ada [ the militant stronghold in North Yemen] often go to Iran where they receive training at institutions and camps,” he said.

In recent months, Houthi militia has stepped up their attacks with Iran-made missiles on neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which has announced backing for a peaceful solution to Yemen’s crisis.

 

Saudi and UAE give billions in aid

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have pumped billions of dollars in aid to revitalise Yemen’s war-battered economy and in humanitarian assistance for millions of Yemenis.

Both countries have topped the list of aid donors to Yemen, according to the UN.

The money has flowed mainly into sectors of food assistance, healthcare, education and overhaul of infrastructure facilities ruined by the militants.

This year, the UAE and Saudi Arabia pledged 500 million dollars each for the UN Humanitarian Response for Yemen.

Around 14 million of Yemen’s 28 million population are estimated to be on the brink of famine, according to the UN World Health Organisation.

The ongoing conflict makes it hard for most of them, mainly in Houthi-held areas, to have access to relief aid.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre has been playing a major role in delivering food supplies to Yemenis. For example, the Riyadh-based institution has held courses for the rehabilitation of Yemeni children manipulated by Al Houthis as child soldiers. The centre has, moreover, launched several projects to support Yemenis displaced by the fighting.

Timeline of Yemen war

December 2014: Houthi militia unseat President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi from power and put him under house arrest. He later escapes and sets up temporary government headquarters in the southern city of Aden.

March 2015: Saudi Arabia and the UAE form an Arab coalition to help Yemen restore its internationally-recognised government.

July 2015: Yemen government announces it has retaken the entire province of Aden, its first success since the coalition stepped in.

August 2015: Yemeni forces have retaken five southern provinces.

October 2015: The government reclaims the Bab Al Mandab Strait, an internationally vital shipping route.

November 2017: Houthi rebels fire a missile in the direction of the international airport in Riyadh. It is intercepted by Saudi Arabia calls it an “act of war”.

Rebels have since regularly fired missiles at Saudi Arabia.

April 2018:  Houthi’s second-in-command, Saleh Al Sammad, dies in a coalition air raid.

June 2018: Government fighters, backed by Saudi and UAE land forces, launch an offensive on Hodeida.

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