Nothing in Yemen has been left untouched by war, not even the air. Yemen’s four-year civil war has produced the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. The conflict between a Saudi-led coalition supporting the Yemeni government and Iran-aligned rebels has killed at least 10,000 people and pushed 14 million more to the brink of famine.
The war that started in 2015 has only exacerbated Yemen’s many previous woes. The conflict, gradually escalating from a political impasse into full-scale hostilities, is quickly becoming intractable. At first glance the conflict seems to be nothing more than a struggle for power between two warring groups in one country.
This however, is far from the truth – the war in Yemen, is a war that the West has fostered, fuelled and funded in the hopes of getting the upper hand of Iran. As a consequence, multiple factions are entangled in Yemen’s war: pro-government forces led by the president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who are backed by a Saudi-led regional coalition, facing anti-government forces led by the Houthis.
In addition, the Saudi-lead campaign in northern Yemen relies heavily on aircrafts made by: American, British and French companies. Claiming the West´s interference is crucial to restore stability in the region. At the same time, there is growing international outrage about the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia under these circumstances. Germany, Denmark, Finland, and Norway have announced an end to such sales.
Nevertheless, the intervention of regional powers in Yemen’s conflict is nothing more than a means to an end for the two warring regimes. Meanwhile, the conflict continues to take a heavy toll on Yemeni civilians, making Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The UN estimates that the civilian casualty toll has exceeded 15,000 killed or injured. Nothing in this war has been left untouched, not even women and children who have been overlooked in Yemen’s wartime narrative.
Yet they are the ones most likely to be displaced, deprived and abused. Twenty-two million Yemenis remain in need of assistance, eight million are at risk of famine, and a cholera outbreak has affected over one million people. All sides of the conflict are reported to have violated human rights and international humanitarian law. With all this said, neither the Security Council nor the western backers of the coalition have troubled to question the logic of the conflict.
Since this futile and disastrous atrocity began, the war has turned much of Yemen into a wasteland, where the disruption caused by the western world has been measured in Yemeni lives, while everyday life in the western nations remains unaffected.
Yemen has become a “chaos state”: a nominal entity rather than a meaningful one. A conflict that began when the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition took on Houthi rebels who had overthrown the internationally recognised president has splintered and spiralled, fuelling extremism and a southern separatist movement.
These factors – and the spread of a lucrative war economy – mean peace prospects are more dire than ever. Violence has intensified since the unexpected US call for a ceasefire. Donald Trump has made clear that he prioritizes the jobs created by Saudi arms sales over the Yemeni civilians killed by them, but few have openly endorsed this inhumane logic.
The citizens of Yemen now find themselves caught between not only a civil war between rival Yemeni forces, but also in a battlefield between the region’s two superpowers, Saudi Arabia and Iran, each with their own allies in the West – namely Russia for Iran and the U.S. for Saudi Arabia. The death toll keeps climbing; malnutrition and hunger are rampant. Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, the United Nations warned in February, is the worst in the world today. Nevertheless, the western world has turned a blind eye to the ongoing violence.
4 Years, 1500 days, 3600 hours, 2,160,000 minutes, 129,600,000 seconds that is how long the war in Yemen has gone on. Behind these stark impersonal numbers are real people — individual mothers, fathers and children. But the blunt truth is that Yemen’s ordeal is the consequence not of natural disaster but a tragic man-made conflict.