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Yemen - Five years after catastrophic US-backed war

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Fighting in Yemen continues, five years after Saudi Arabia launched indiscriminate air strikes against Yemen to re-install the government of President Hadi who fled to Saudi Arabia in March 2015. Hadi's government was overthrown by Houthi rebels.

Interestingly, since the beginning of Yemen war, the US and the United Kingdom have sold arms and provided technical and logistical assistance to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), both of which have conducted indiscriminate air raids on Yemeni soil causing heavy civilian casualties.

More than 100,000 people have been killed in the war, according to ACLED (Armed Conflict Location and Event Data), including 12,000 civilians. According to the World Food Program, 24 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian assistance, while 20 million are food insecure.

The war has contributed to what UN officials have described as the world's worst humanitarian disaster, with an estimated 85,000 people having died as a cause of war-induced famine. A coronavirus outbreak would break the country's collapsing healthcare infrastructure, according to the WHO.

The conflict has consequently tarnished Saudi Arabia's image abroad, due to the staggering civilian death toll and unrelenting humanitarian disaster.

"I think it's fair to say that Saudi Arabia is trapped in place," said Hussein Ibish, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. "They don't benefit from continuing the war, but they cannot afford to stop it either."

American complicity must end

Wednesday (March 25), Hassan El-Tayyab wrote in the Hill, "On this heartbreaking 5th anniversary of the war, the United States must end the obstruction of humanitarian assistance, press for a nationwide ceasefire, and support a diplomatic settlement to the war."

Hassan El-Tayyab pointed out: "After five years of war, roughly 14 million people are at risk of famine and over 24 million people rely on food assistance for survival. Aid agencies have described Yemen as the worst place on earth to be a child, with the conflict claiming the lives of at least 85,000 under the age of five. More than 2 million people have been infected with cholera, while an alarming dengue and influenza epidemic is gripping the country. The Saudi-led coalition's blockade has impeded the flow of food, fuel, and medicine, which has threatened the lives of millions. And our decision to suspend all humanitarian aid (due to reports that some aid was being diverted) is not morally sustainable in light of the added urgency of coronavirus."

The US may be complicit in war crimes in Yemen, according to El-Tayyab: "Last September, the UN released a report indicating that by providing military aid, intelligence sharing, logistical support, and weapons to the Saudi-led war in Yemen, the U.S. may be complicit in war crimes. The report documents horrific violations of international law, including airstrikes targeting civilian and agricultural infrastructure, arbitrary killings, torture, detention, and sexual violence against women."

Human Rights Watch 2020 report on Yemen

The armed conflict in Yemen has resulted in the largest humanitarian crisis in the world; parties to the conflict have killed and injured thousands of Yemeni civilians. According to the Yemen Data Project, more than 17,500 civilians were killed and injured since 2015, and a quarter of all civilians killed in air raids were women and children. More than 20 million people in Yemen are experiencing food insecurity; 10 million of them are at risk of famine.

Yemen's economy, already fragile prior to the conflict, has been gravely affected. Hundreds of thousands of families no longer have a steady source of income, and many public servants have not received a regular salary in several years. The country's broken economy has worsened the humanitarian crisis.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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