Since March 2015, Yemen has been locked in a bloody civil war that has only recently been brought back into the spotlight of Western media as the Syrian Civil War fades back into the background — as many imperial proxy wars tend to do.
The main combatants for the Yemeni Civil War include the Supreme Political Council, formed by the Houthi rebels and backed by Iran, and the old establishment of Yemen’s government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition and the United States.
As the Middle East splits into pro- and anti-imperialist blocs, the Yemen conflict is another distinct case in American string-pulling and deal brokering, both of which consistently place profits above lives and freedom.
Although the official war began in 2015, Houthi insurgency in Yemen has been active since their formation in the 1990s, when Yemen was under the thumb of a military dictator known as Ali Abdullah Saleh. Led by Hussein al Houthi, whom the group is named after, the rebels emerged from the mountainous regions of northern Yemen where Zaidism has been the major sect in the region.
Zaidism, or Zaidiyyah, is a sect of Shia Islam that focuses on fighting corruption, much like the martyr Zayd bin Ali had fought against the corrupt regime of the Umayyad Caliphate. In the same vein, the Houthi rebels launched their campaign against Saleh’s government, gaining the support of both the Lebanese group Hezbollah as well as the Iranian government.
As America’s “War on Terror” pierced into the heart of Iraq in 2003, the Houthi rebels were radicalized against the United States and any governments it supported in the region, including Yemen under Saleh.
To combat this newfound ferocity, Saleh sought to crush the Houthis once and for all by amping up the military campaign against them, with Saudi Arabia joining in the effort as its diplomatic ties with Saleh’s Yemen grew. Although Hussein al Houthi was killed in the campaigns, the rebel group was capable of surviving the oppressive onslaught until an opportunity arose to strike back.
Their opportunity was the Arab Spring of 2011. While the popular uprising in Yemen had seen the resignation of Saleh, it brought a new problem to the fray of Yemeni politics: Saleh’s vice president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi — placed in this position to remain in the good graces of the Saudi regime — had assumed political power via a one-candidate election, which the Houthis had boycotted.
By cutting fuel subsidies to the population, Hadi’s administration sent shockwaves of suffering throughout Yemen’s working classes, sparking the Houthis to take action by secretly allying with the former dictator Saleh. With most of the military still loyal to Saleh, the Houthis rushed for the Yemeni capital of Sana'a with their newfound military might, capturing the city in September of 2014 and forcing Hadi to form a new government in order to stop the advance.
Despite the promises of the peace deal, the Houthi victory was short-lived. Dissatisfied with the new government’s plans to create six federal regions, the rebels stormed the presidential compound in January 2015, dissolved parliament and declared a revolutionary government.
Before work could begin, Hadi — who had been under house arrest in Sana’a — escaped to the city of Aden, declaring the Houthi government illegitimate. Saudi Arabia, wary of the growing ties between Iran and the Houthi government, declared war in support of Hadi’s government, forming a coalition of several other Middle Eastern states while also gaining support from the United States during the Obama administration.
Throughout the war, human rights groups have recorded atrocities on both sides, including the detaining of journalists, the use of mines and similar deterrents, and the abuse of prisoners — by the Houthis — and migrants — by the coalition.
By forming a blockade on both sea- and air-based importation, the coalition is creating an artificial famine in Houthi-controlled Yemen, which could potentially kill over 10 million Yemenis. Although the Houthi and Hadi governments are attempting to broker a peace deal, only time will tell what the results of this route will bring.
However, the United States is in no way attempting to foster peace in Yemen. In exchange for oil and other commodities, the United States has been openly supporting the coalition’s warfare and tactics in any way it can, selling billions of dollars in military equipment and supplies to Saudi Arabia and its allies.
While the American war profiteers line their pockets with blood and tears today, their days of shattering lives and destroying countries half a world away are limited, and they will face their crimes as the monsters they are.
Cut the strings of American imperialism! To support her empire or her puppets is to support her crimes! A war profiteer can only sell death!
Danny Isham is a freshman majoring in Political Science. He can be reached email@example.com.
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