The United States is supplying intelligence to the Saudi-led coalition bombing rebel positions in Yemen and will expedite arms supplies to the alliance, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken said in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Tuesday. After talks with the Saudi officials, Blinken told reporters that Saudi Arabia was sending a "strong message to the Houthis and their allies that they cannot overrun Yemen by force".
"As part of that effort, we have expedited weapons deliveries, we have increased our intelligence sharing, and we have established a joint coordination planning cell in the Saudi operation centre."
The US Deputy Secretary of State's comments came hours after the International Committee of the Red Cross flew medical personnel for the first time into Yemen amid delays that have worsened the humanitarian situation in Aden. Fierce fighting between militias loyal to Hadi and and the Houthis has been raging in the port city for days, according to Al Jazeera.
More than a 100,000 people have fled their homes after the Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes in Yemen, according to UNICEF, the UN agency responsible for children welfare. A spokesman from the agency, Rajat Madhok, told Al Jazeera that most of those who have been displaced are women and children. "Most displacements have taken place from and within al-Dhale, Abyan, Amran, Saada, Hajja. The displaced persons are mostly being hosted with relatives," Madhok said.
In a statement published on Tuesday, UNICEF said 74 children caught up in fighting had been killed and another 44 maimed since March 26. "These are conservative figures and UNICEF believes that the total number of children killed is much higher," the statement read.
On April 2, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos issued a statement saying: "Reports from humanitarian partners in different parts of the country indicate that some 519 people have been killed and nearly 1,700 injured in the past two weeks -- over 90 of them children.Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes, some by crossing the sea to Djibouti and Somalia. .Electricity, water and essential medicines are in short supply."
Yemen already is the region's poorest country with around 26 million population. War exacerbated things greatly. The World Food Program says about 13 million Yemenis have only polluted water for drinking and other uses. Around a million aged-five or under Yemeni children are malnourished. Expect the number to grow exponentially in coming weeks and months.
This is not a Shia-Sunni conflict
As usual, western media is misinforming about the latest conflict in the Middle East. It is projecting the Yemen conflict as Shia-Sunni strife since the Houthis forced President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia. Itt is also reported as Saudi bid to curtail or counter the Iranian influence which has reportedly supported the Houthis. This may be true to some extent but the real agenda behind the US-backed Saudi effort to reinstall the ousted President Hadi.
Interestingly, the US has always had a double standard when it comes to supporting the so-called democracy around the world. In Yemen it is supporting restoring its client government of President Hadi who was "elected" after overthrowing his predecessor President Ali Abdullah Saleh in a coup. He was the only candidate for the office on the ballot. Not surprisingly in the circumstance, he "won" more than 99 percent of the vote.
However, in Ukraine, a democratically elected President (Yanukovych) was chased by a mob from his office and a client fascist government was installed. Yanukovych was elected in a contested election judged to be "free and fair" by international monitoring bodies. Now the US says that by leaving the country Yanukovych lost legitimacy. While a fleeing Yemeni president has not lost legitimacy and the US is backing Saudi attacks on Yemen in the name of democracy.
Now let's discuss the Houthis, a Zaydi sect of Shia Muslims and how the current crisis developed. The current strife led by the Houthis was in the making for at least a decade. The Houthis and their allies represent a diverse cross-section of Yemeni society and the majority of Yemenites. At present the domestic alliance against Al-Hadi includes Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims alike.
The Houthis organized themselves in the early 1990s as a secular progressive group of "Young Believers". Like Hezbollah of Lebanon, they helped poor communities and organized youth camps in the northern Saada province. With President Ali Abdullah Saleh's pro-US government becoming increasingly repressive against any popular reform movement, the Houtis grew rapidly into an army of young men, soon becoming a dominating force in the North. They were seeking democracy, openly opposing the US-Saudi supported dictator, who was kept in power by Washington since 1978. The Houthis organized a first uprising against the Saleh Government in 2004, but were defeated by Saleh's brutal army with heavy backing of Saudi Arabia.
The Houthis emerged as a mass movement against President Saleh in 2011. Under continuous popular and Houthi pressure and with Washington's nod, President Saleh finally stepped down in February 2012, ceding power to his Vice President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. President Ali Abdullah Saleh was in power since 1978. He amassed $60 billion during his long corrupt rule, according to a UN report released in February 2015.