By M M Special Correspondent
Muslims revere Saudi Arabia for Holy Qaba and Prophet’s resting place is located in the country. But do we really need to support Saudi Arabi for its every decision? How can anyone support prince MBS on Khashoggi killing? Or how can anyone support Saudi war in Yemen?
The Yemeni Crisis began with the 2011–12 revolution against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had led Yemen for more than three decades.After Saleh left office in early 2012 as part of a mediated agreement between the Yemeni government and opposition groups, the government led by Saleh’s former vice president, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, struggled to unite the fractious political landscape of the country and fend off threats both from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Houthi militants that had been waging a protracted insurgency in the north for years. In 2014, Houthi fighters swept into the capital of Sana’a and forced Hadi to negotiate a “unity government” with other political factions. The rebels continued to apply pressure on the weakened government until, after his presidential palace and private residence came under attack from the militant group, Hadi resigned along with his ministers in January 2015.
The following month, the Houthis declared themselves in control of the government, dissolving Parliament and installing an interim Revolutionary Committee led by Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a cousin of Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi. However, Hadi escaped to Aden, where he declared that he remains Yemen’s legitimate president, proclaimed the country’s temporary capital, and called on loyal government officials and members of the military to rally to him. On 27 March 2015, BBC reported that Hadi had “fled rebel forces in the city of Aden” and subsequently “arrived in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh” as “Saudi authorities began air strikes in Yemen”. Civil War subsequently erupted between Hadi’s government and the Houthis. Since 2017 the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) has also fought against the government.A military intervention was launched by Saudi Arabia in 2015, leading a coalition of nine African and Middle East countries, in response to calls from the internationally recognized president of Yemen Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi for military support after he was ousted by the Houthi movement due to economic and political grievances, and fled to Saudi Arabia.
Code-named Operation Decisive Storm the intervention is said to be in compliance with Article 2(4) of the UN Charter by the international community, this has been contested by some academics.The intervention initially consisted of a bombing campaign on Houthi rebels and later saw a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces into Yemen.The Saudi-led coalition has attacked the positions of the Houthi militia, and loyalists of the former President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, allegedly supported by Iran.
The Houthis who had pressured Mansur Hadi for reforms, say that they took power through a popular revolt and are defending Yemen from a western backed invasion. Th Saudi-led bombings soon expanded to most of Western Yemen including civilian targets and was followed by UAE-led deployment of ground forces in the South.
Fighter jets and ground forces from Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Academi (formerly Blackwater) took part in the operation. Djibouti, Eritrea and Somalia, made their airspace, territorial waters and military bases available to the coalition. The United States provided intelligence and logistical support, including aerial refueling and search-and-rescue for downed coalition pilots.
It also accelerated the sale of weapons to coalition states. The US and Britain have deployed their military personnel in the command and control centre responsible for Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, having access to lists of targets. Pakistan was called on by Saudi Arabia to join the coalition, but its parliament voted to maintain neutrality.On 21 April 2015, the Saudi-led military coalition announced an end to Operation Decisive Storm, saying the intervention’s focus would “shift from military operations to the political process”Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners announced the launch of a political and peace efforts, which they called Operation Restoring Hope. However, the coalition did not rule out using force, saying it would respond to threats and prevent Houthi militants from operating within Yemen. Qatar was suspended from the coalition due to the 2017 Qatar diplomatic crisis.
The war has received widespread criticism and had a dramatic worsening effect on Yemen’s humanitarian situation, that reached the level of a “humanitarian disaster”or “humanitarian catastrophe”.After the Saudi-led coalition declared the entire Saada Governorate a military target, the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen and Human Rights Watch said that air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition on Saada city in Yemen were in breach of international law. On 1 July 2015 UN declared for Yemen a “level-three” emergency – the highest UN emergency level – for a period of six months. Human rights groups repeatedly blamed the Saudi-led military coalition for killing civilians and destroying health centers and other infrastructure with airstrikes.
The de facto blockade left 78% (20 million) of the Yemeni population in urgent need of food, water and medical aid. Aid ships are allowed, but the bulk of commercial shipping, on which the country relies, is blocked.In one incident, coalition jets prevented an Iranian Red Crescent plane from landing by bombing Sana’a International Airport’s runway, which blocked aid delivery by air.As of 10 December 2015, more than 2,500,000 people had been internally displaced by the fighting. Many countries evacuated more than 23,000 foreign citizens from Yemen. More than 1,000,000 people fled Yemen for Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Oman. The war has caused a humanitarian crisis, including a famine which has threatened 13 million people, as well as an outbreak of cholera which has infected an estimated 1.2 million. In November 2018, UNICEF described Yemen as “a living hell for children” saying that every 10 minutes a child is dying due to preventable diseases as a result of the war. More than 85,000 children under age 5 may have died of starvation. So why shouldn’t we blame Saudi Arabia?