Qaiser Mahmood, Student of International Relations, International Islamic University, Islamabad
Yemen one of the Arab world’s poorest country which has been battered by a devastating civil war since last five years . Yemen internal unrest has its roots in 2011 Arab spring wave of popular uprising which ousted the decades long authoritative president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The so called Arab spring also known as Arab uprising & Facebook revolution sounded the alarm of perpetual chaos in Yemen. Angry Masses revolt against Abdullah Salih finally set a stage for transitional government under new president Abd Mansour Hadi.
President Hadi struggled to deal with variety of problems, including Corruption, attacks from Jihadist groups, some military personnel loyalty with Saleh,secession in southern Part of Yemen, food insecurity political tug of war & increasing unemployment.
The Houthi movement known as “Ansar ullah started rebellious activities against Hadi ,took advantages of the new president weaknesses & incompetency taking control of the Northern province & then the northern Yemen capital San’na.
In 2014 when Houthies , Zaidi Shia rebels overtook control of San,na capital & booming advancement in the northern border attached with Saudi Arabia . Different secessionist groups activated across the country , they took weapons in order to restore their own writ, they sets a stage of very ugly war of all against all.
Mansour Hadi internationally recognised government & on the other hand Irani backed Shai majority Houthi rebels started attacks against each other, in 2015 Saudi Arabia multinational led-coalition forces take first campaign of Economic blacked & then deadliest Air-strikes against Houthi rebel’s supported by France, United Kingdom, other European partners & US with intelligence & logistics supports.
Thing’s further deteriorated when Houthi rebel’s killed decades long authoritative president Abdullah Saleh in a brutal assault in march 2017 & Mansour Hadi exiled in Saudi Arabia .Houthi rebels accelerated Counter attacks on Saudi military installation, airports, oil facilities, pipelines, cities & civilian population with allegedly Irani made Ballistic missiles & RM drones.
With the declaration of self-rule by separatists in Southern Yemen a de-Facto secession the situation in the war-torn country is set to intricated further. Difference between the southern & northern regions of Yemen are not new & go back decades. Until the reunification of both parts of Yemen the northern Yemen capital Sanna,& the Marxist southern Yemen capital Aden remain in restrained circumstances , both parts of the country’s involved in separatist activities which was brutally dealt by Abdullah Saleh .
Saudi Iran rivalry in Yemen
Saudi Arabia & Iran fighting for regional dominance to maximise more influence within region, Yemen is a settled battle field like, Syria, Lebanon, & Iraq for both regional heavyweights .Both regional Powers want to take part in the chess board of Power Politics. The unkind terrain of Yemen is battered by these two regional foes, Iran providing Money, weapons & moral support to the Zaidi Shia Houthi militants, while Saudi Arabia trying to sweep out all of Irani backed militant groups which posses serious threats to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Yemen share long immediate border with Saudi Arabia in case of Any Irani foothold in their southern part it will definitely Harm Saudi Arabia security.
The United States share critical security concerns with her decades long strategic partner Saudi Arabia that shaped the $Billions dollars worth arms sale. US has been widely relying on Saudi oil supply which she need a reliable Military Power to protect her supply chain & any looming threat facing by both partners in the region Including Iran factor .Yemen is going to be a lingering security challenge to US national interest & fear of militants attack in the Gulf of Aden,Red Sea ,Svez canal & strait of Hurmoz. US want to share its military burden with an militarily stable Partner in the region. The United States needs an allies that have interoperable forces that can fight effectively alongside US military forces to Ease US burden in rapidly changing regional landscape. Yemen poses immense security threat to both partners. Saudi Arabia is the largest client of US military hardwares. US is going to sell more than hundreds $billions worth arms to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Including F15 fifth generation fighter jets, Apache attack helicopters, Black hawk, little Bird, Patriot anti Missile defence system, Tanks, artillery, Howitzers, drones & other military equipments. Alqida & ISIS radical islamist militant wings which taking roots in already volatile Yemen territory. US carried out hundreds of drones attacks against militant groups & Houthi rebels since civil war erupted in Yemen.
As America re-ballance to the Asia -Pacific & withdraws from the middle East with least strategic interest as compare to other looming hot spots Indo Pacific region, Indian ocean ‘ south China sea ,etc compelled Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to react more aggressively against any contrasting threat. Saudi Arabia went for lethal reaction to thwart any looming threats to its national security & interest. From 2015 Saudi led coalition forces Airstriks, massive bombardment millions of Yemenis displaced internally, more than 15000 people were killed ‘ injured, 22 millions people need humanitarian assistance 8 millions people’s are under severe starvation & several thousands other infected by Cholera disease . children’s are dying due to less malnourishment, & insufficient foods & diets. Yemen is the worst humanitarian issue of twenty first century surrounded by Powerful giant’s.
Geo strategic location of Yemen its importance
Yemen is located on the southwest corner of the Arabian peninsula across from the Horn of Africa. With Saudi to the north & Oman to the East Yemen’s land border are largely isolated by the empty quarter, a vast uninhabited desert that stretches to the region across the red sea, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, & Somalia are linked to Yemen’ by trade ,cultural & religion .from its vantage point of red Sea ,Gulf of Aden , & Strait of Hurmoz Yemen’ posses huge strategic importance in the Arabian peninsula.
Port of Aden, gulf of Aden a very important chock point in terms of international trade, oil supply & pirates activities. From Rome to the great Britain & ottomans southern part of Yemen’ remain an important Geo-strategic hot spot for year’s . South west part of Yemen stretches along with red Sea & Sviz canal where large portion of world trade shipping & oil supply passing. In case of any military confrontation the whole region can bear the fruits of oil cuts & trade disruption. Iran & Saudi Arabia pulling each other leg’s on the soil of Yemen. Any miscalculation between two regional foes can put region into perpetual Chaos .1990 Gulf war badly disrupt oil supply to the rest of world. Geo strategic location of Yemen is one of the major reason of Yemen poverty, civil unrest & internal disorder where different Power’s meddling their heinous activities to get maximum advantages of Yemen geo strategic location.
Yemen a poverty hit country facing worse humanitarian crisis in the history, people, infant kids are dying due to lake of foods, medicine & healthcare facilities. In these dreadful scenario’s Saudi Arabia & Iran should abandoned their mutual rivalry for the sake of long lasting Peace in Yemen. Yemen’s geographic challenges, then are threefold.
First, the country must ward off foreign encroachment on its exposed southern flank.
Second, it must find a way to manage its increasingly scarce resources.
And third, Sanaa must keep the Hadramawt — known for its ability to threaten national unity — under tight control.
OIC, Arab league , African union, Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia & other Major Power’s can play their decisive role to shun worsening humanitarian crises in Yemen .