Saudi Arabia-Yemen Conflict


    In News

    • Recently, Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched airstrikes targeting the country’s capital, Sanaa.


    • The strikes came amid heavy fighting around the city of Marib and after coalition forces withdrew from areas around the key port city of Hodeida.

    Image Courtesy: BBC 

    History about the issue

    • About: 
      • The Iranian-backed Houthis have held Yemen’s capital since September 2014. 
      • Though the intervention of the Saudi-led coalition halted their march south in 2015, the war has slogged on for years and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
    • How did it start?
      • Seven years ago, Saudi Arabia launched a military intervention against the Houthis in Yemen. 
      • The Saudi-led coalition’s intervention was supposed to be a quick victory against an upstart Iranian-backed group and a feather in the cap of the newly named Saudi defence minister. 
      • That victory remains elusive. Instead, Saudi Arabia is now in a worse strategic situation than when it entered the Yemen conflict in March 2015.
    • 2014:
      • Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi militia seized control of several northern provinces and forced the Saudi-backed Yemeni government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of Sanaa.
      • The Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in the Yemen conflict in 2015 to support Hadi’s government.

    Who are Houthis?

    • The Houthis, officially known as Ansar Allah (Partisans of God), are an Iranian-backed, Shiite Muslim military and political movement in Yemen.
    • Its members, who subscribe to the minority Zaidi sect of Shiite Islam, advocate regional autonomy for Zaidis in northern Yemen.
    • They fought a series of rebellions against Saleh during the previous decade and took advantage of the new president’s weakness by taking control of their northern heartland of Saada province and neighbouring areas.

    Implications of Conflict

    • Yemen: 
      • The city’s fall could also lead to a humanitarian disaster, as vast numbers of civilians displaced from fighting elsewhere have sought refuge in the area. 
      • Around 140 camps have sprung up in the surrounding desert to provide basic shelter for up to two million displaced.
    • World: 
      • It can greatly exacerbate regional tensions. It also worries the West because of the threat of attacks – such as from al-Qaeda or IS affiliates – emanating from the country as it becomes more unstable.
      • Yemen is also strategically important because it sits on a strait linking the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden, through which much of the world’s oil shipments pass.
    • India: 
      • One of India’s most important shipping routes passes through the Gulf of Aden, accounting for imports of $50 billion and exports of $60 billion every year.
      • Indian nationals, including Hindus, Muslims and Parsis, have lived in Aden since the mid-1880s.
      • 8 million expats living in the region with more than $80 billion of incoming remittance annually.
      • Therefore the crisis in Yemen can affect the remittances and destroy the shipping routes.

    Source: TH