Saudi coalition had all the motivation to interfere in Yemen disputes following the takeover of Sanaa by the Houthi Movement. Riyadh had the support from Arab brothers in the neighborhood, and Western chorus outside the region.
In the previous part, we discussed the evolution of process that led to the Saudi Coalition intervention in Yemen. Escaping from the house arrest, Mansour Hadi revitalized his claim for power despite former resignation. Riyadh seems to have provoked Hadi’s move to provide the pretext for attacks. In return, Hadi, who still had claim for legal presidency, called for Saudi intervention.
Saudi Intervention; Taste of Blood
Another Peace talks by the United Nations began in December, 2015 and resulted in short cease-fire with little accomplishment. 9 months later, the negotiations halted due to a lack of progress.
Houthi-Saleh partnership came to an abrupt end late the next year. Saleh stated that he was willing to meet with the Saudi-led alliance to discuss ending the battle. Saleh’s convergence received criticism by Houthi officials as a treason, and bloodshed ensued. Houthi forces and Saleh troops fought for control of strategic locations in Sanaa. The death of Saleh, by Houthi troops, near his house in the capital ended dispute.
The Saudi coalition expanded the offensive on Al-Hudaydah, a strategic coastal city, under Houthi control in mid-2018. Riyadh thought the danger of losing the city would compel the Houthis to negotiate a cease-fire agreement. Al-Hudaydah has been a major source of income for the Houthi movement. They made millions from cargo taxes at the city ports. The city was, meanwhile, a safe-line for humanitarian supplies, leading the United Nations to interfere and dispatch a special envoy to mediate a settlement. The UAE, a member in the Saudi coalition, has declared an arbitrary stop. The chance for the special envoy intervention was squandered, and the assault restarted in a few days.
By the end of 2018, a settlement was reached, with a cease-fire calling both sides to withdraw their forces. The UN was also in charge of overseeing the city’s ports and humanitarian deliveries. The cease-fire proved unstable as the two parties charged one another of violating the agreement’s conditions.
The delivery of foreign assistance was hampered by Saudi-led forces. Warfare continued intermittently throughout the next year. As a success appeared increasingly improbable after three years, Abu Dhabi began gradually withdrawing its troops from Yemen.
In earlier months of 2020, the battle intensified as the Houthis boosted their missile attacks and Riyadh escalated the air raids. With the Coronavirus pandemic spreading across the world, Saudi Arabia suffered financial instability as oil stock fell. Fears rose about Saudi ability to deal with a virus breakout. Facing these challenges, Saudi Arabia proclaimed a one-sided cease-fire to the intervention in April.
Saudi Arabia started the war unilaterally, but 5 years of violence left scars that would make its end impossible. Yemen went on with defending its nation against the foreign intervention in the coming months. Riyadh also proved untrustworthy with its ceasefire announcement.
Yemen has been mired in a humanitarian catastrophe since Saudi coalition intervention. Over 80% of Yemen’s people lack access to proper drinking water. Furthermore, about half of the population suffered shortage of enough food and medical care. Saudi attack on Al-Hudaydah essentially blocked the major line of food supplies intensified the emergent situation.
Nearly 16 million people in Yemen were on the verge of starvation by the end of that year. The greatest famine in the world, in a century, was ravaging the nation. To add salt to the scar, the country also suffered the greatest cholera outbreak in human history. In a process if 2.5 years, the number of potential cholera cases had risen to over 1.7 million people.
Saudi-led intervention in Yemen not only failed to secure its primary objectives, but imposed a disastrous condition on Yemen. Saudi blockade, along with air raid on civilian regions, made the worst humanitarian crisis in world’s registered history. In the next part, we discuss the reasons behind the Saudi attack and whys and hows of its insistence to end it following 2021.