No Man’s Land: The Civil War in Yemen

A city in Yemen. The civil war in Yemen has caused immense suffering and death. Photo by jones814 via Pixabay

The civil war in Yemen has caused immeasurable suffering and death since it began in 2015. Spurred by the fervor of the Arab Spring in 2011, the war has evolved into a monstrous display of human callousness. Amidst the Arab Spring revolutions, mass discontent was directed toward the authoritarian president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh. As Saleh’s grip on power weakened, the jihadist Houthi movement — a group composed mostly of the Shia minority of northwest Yemen  — took advantage of the situation and seized the capitol of Sanaa in 2015. As the Houthis gained power, Yemen became the Middle East’s newest proxy war between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran.  

The United Nations reported that over 15million Yemeni civilians will suffer from serious food shortage by the middle of this year. This has caused human rights groups to label the situation in Yemen as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world right now. With the Saudi airstrikes killing countless civilians along with the Houthi forces committing egregious war crimes, Yemen has become a veritable “No Man’s Land” — a place where the rule of law has broken down and civilians are helpless to the whims of cruel men.  

I posit that the United States is culpable in the atrocities perpetuated in Yemen. As the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are close allies, the United States supports Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes in Yemen through arms sales, training and intelligence. Saudi involvement in Yemen has been categorized as a genocide by “Human Rights Watch,” as its airstrikes are illegal under international law, as they deliberately attack civilian targets. The end of U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen would not come without severe consequences for relations between the two countries. The United States relies on Saudi Arabia for its oil exports and needs Saudi Arabia as a key ally against Iran in the Middle East. However, as long as the United States supports Saudi ambitions in Yemen, our country that champions freedom and human rights is aiding in crimes against humanity.  

Millions of Yemeni people will starve due to the war and from a lack of access to much needed supplies. The lack of food and medicine is due to the Saudi blockade of Yemen. This famine is man-made. If the U.S. were to be tougher on Saudi Arabia as they are directly influencing the starvation of millions of people, perhaps the situation could get better. The best solution I can think of to this humanitarian crisis is to call an immediate ceasefire, end the Saudi airstrikes and end the blockade to supply food to the starving civilians. This solution is untenable however as all parties involved in the war see no purpose in a ceasefire or anything else that would impede the war effort. Sadly, humankind’s callous instincts seem to hold more sway over our gentler instincts, even in the face of an ongoing genocide. 

The civil war in Yemen currently has no signs of ending soon. The carnage, famine and suffering are tragically going to plague Yemen for the foreseeable future. United States support of Saudi airstrikes is directly leading to the deaths of civilians. Hopefully the Biden administration considers the human cost of its alliance with Saudi Arabia. Perhaps then, the Yemeni people can be relieved of this trauma and find peace away from terror. 

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