WAR IN YEMEN – THE ARABIAN VIETNAM

It is a common thought among everyone all across the globe that all the countries in the Arabian Peninsula are insanely wealthy. Yet, it has one of the poorest nations on Earth. Its annual GDP and Per Capita Income is much lower than comparing to countries like Tanzania or Senegal. It has a population of about 25 Million people.

Despite being deeply poor and undeveloped it has been devastated by War from the past 5 Years. And this war is no small war or just a Civil War between Government and Rebels going on many African Nations. This War in Yemen almost Equivalence to the American War in Vietnam. Here we can find two most powerful nations of the Muslimworld supporting two different sides of the conflict. Those Nations are Saudi Arabia and Islamic Republic of Iran

On the one had we have The Internationally Recognized government of Yemen under the Exile President Abdur Rahman Mansoor Hadi supported by Saudi Arabia and also enjoys full Logistical and Technical support in terms of Military Equipmentand Training from the United States, UK  and few EU Nations. One another hand we have the Revolutionaries or Rebels    ‘The Houthis’ supported by Iran. There are also many third parties to the already complicated conflict mainly the Yemeni branch of ISIS [Daesh] called ‘Ansar Al-Sharia’ Movement and The Southern Transitional Council in Southern Yemen completely supported, trained and equipped by United Arab Emirates.

ROOT’S OF THE CONFLICT:

This is not the first time Yemen is having a Civil War in fact this is the Third Civil War in just 25 Years. Yemen is a country divided by both Ideology and Religion. Indeed before 1990 Yemen was divided into two separate countries. The Southern Yemen which had a Communist Government and The Northern Yemen which had a Pro-Saudi Government. In May 1990 The President of Northern Yemen managed to unite the country and started ruling the entire country with its Capital the City of Sanaa. Saleh is one of those politicians who considers Democracy and Human Rights to be optional. Few years his newly formed unified country and the southern communist started an uprising against Saleh. But, this First War lasted for only few months and the new government won with the assistance of the Saudis. Again in 2004 Yemen had further Anti-Government protest leading to turmoil but this time opposition was a Shia Muslim’s Rebel group called ‘The Houthis’ but yet again the Saleh Government managed to beat down the uprising.

In 2011 with the start of Arab Sprsing the citizens again took to streets against the dictatorial rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh and demanded him to give up his power. But this time Saleh left power by handing over all his power’s to his deputy Abdur Rahman Mansoor Hadi. This new president found himself in a very terrible situation as it was not only politically weak but also economically battered along with Al-Qaida destroying several parts of country. The citizens kept protesting against the newly weak government. But the tides began to shift tremendously in 2014 when the previously rebelled Houthis came back in the game. But this time they were much more powerful both militarily and politically. With the change in power The Houthis managed to over-throw the Hadi government and captured the capital city of Sanaa and most parts of northern Yemen where about 75% of countries population was living. Saleh was directly or indirectly supporting The Houthis as they had made a power sharing agreement between them. At this crucial movement president Hadi went to southern port city of Aden where he started to govern as an intern President but as the time passed by The Houthis started offensive operations against the port city of Aden this forced him to go into Exile in Saudi Arabia and asked Saudi’s to intervene and help him to restore his rule over Yemen.

As we all know that the Saudi Arabia is a Sunni majority country and the die- hard enemies of the Saudi’s are no other than the Shia majority Iran and these are the same Shia Muslim’s ‘The Houthis’ who took power in Saudi Arabia’s southern borders and Saudi’s definitely cannot allow a Iran supported Shia government at its rear. So, Saudi Arabia acted quickly and managed to secure and build a regional coalition called Saudi Led Coalition in March 2015 including almost all the Arab Nations particularly United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt and Morocco but later in 2017 Qatar was removed due to internal disputes. This coalition had huge support from both US and UK. They started their military campaign by declaring No Fly Zone over all of Yemen and imposing a total Land, Sea and Air blockade.

MILITARY ASPECTS OF THE CONFLICT:

Why the Saudi’s are losing?

Saudi Arabia has world’s third well equipped army in the entire world with an annual Defence Budget of about 65 Billion Dollar’s and it also enjoyed full military support of its coalition members. It has almost 300,000 Active Military personal and about 180 state of art combat aircraft along with numerous American and Chinese made Combat Drones. When compared to the military might of the Saudi’s their enemies has only about 50,000-80,000 combat personnel and a huge power gap between training and equipment dating back to the Soviet Vietnam Era.

Yemen- A Natural Fortress:

When analysing and looking on the terrain of Saudi Arabia it is vast and big desert and the Saudi Army is trained and equipped to fight in this open board terrain but on the other side looking into Yemen it is completely opposite, it is full of full of mountains and rocky peak’s which are as much as about 3600 meters from the surface. All of these obstacles makes it extremely harder to transport a big army no matter how well equipped it is. The Saudi’s use almost well advanced weapons of war such an example is MIA1 Abram’s MBT which cost about 6 Million Dollar’s now when such costly and advanced equipment passing through mountain slopes in a single range of fire it would be extremely easy for a bunch of Yemeni mountain guerrillafightersarmed with RPG-7 which cost about only 3000 US Dollars to destroy those passing column of military conveys without being even detected. It is not only the problem for Saudi’s here as mentioned earlier Royal Saudi Air force operates about 180 combat jets and several American reconnaissance and surveillance drones but they are also not much helpful in combat where the enemy can easily hide inside mountain caves and escape from Airstrikes and also the most modern radars on these planes and drones are also not useful in detection inside these mountain caves.

Where the Saudi’s use modern truck and helicopters for transportation of equipment the Yemenis use mountain Camel’s and Donkey’s for their transportation of weapons and ammunitions.

A Demotivated Army:

Usually a Political system in a country has nothing to do with the Military on how they organize the troops and conduct war. But, in case of Saudi Arabia it is completely different these both system are completely well connected due to their absolute monarchy The Royal House cannot and does trust their army. The political ruling class of the Saudi’s completely control the Army who’s General’s and top official’s come mostly from civil ruling class who don’t even have proper military training or being graduated from any military schools. Right from the lower sergeant to the upper colonel are not well qualified men having position. For example: A soldier discovers a machine gun nest which is about 300 meters out, usually in any modern army that soldier can contact the nearby aircraft via radio and request for Airstrike or for reinforcements but incase of Saudi Military that Soldier has to inform to his CO, he will inform to his higher official and it takes about 60 minutes for issuing order’s and this one hour gap cost them over half a dozen soldiers. On the other hand their Enemy the Houthis have a western style military doctrine where a group of Anti- Armour can react quickly without any clarification from the higher officers and their morale is usually very high comparing to Saudi’s because they are fighting against invaders in order to defend their homeland.

Particularly the reason behind comparing this war with the Vietnam War is that it doesn’t matter how well equipped an army maybe it is the tactics and correct strategy which makes to win the battle. This war can also be compared with The Korean War because of very less attention by the main stream media and international organizations just like the Korean War is ignored during the Cold War Era.

HUMANITARIAN ASPECTS OF WAR:

According to UN Yemen is facing one of the worst Humanitarian crisis of the world. About 87% of the country’s population is in need of immediate humanitarian assistance and almost 60% of population about 15 Million are already depended up on Aid from UN Agencies. The Saudi’s are definitively not winning on the military level but its relentless airstrikes has devastated the entire Yemen it has completely destroyed the Yemen’s basic public and civil infrastructure. The Saudi Airstrikes have not only targeted Hospitals, Schools, Shopping Malls, Funerals, Wedding Ceremonies, Water supply plants, Irrigation Facilities, It has resulted in the complete destruction of 10 Water Sanitation Facilities, 15 Sea ports, 14 Airports and several uncountable atrocities and crimes against humanity and all of these are severe violations of International Humanitarian Law and Laws of Armed Conflict and could amount to war crimes. The current death toll from direct attacks of coalition results about 150,000 people. Not only from military attacks are the Yemenis being killed due to several other reasons. The continuous and severe blockade imposed on Yemen is drastically making the situation much more critical.

The Forced Famine of Yemen:

Since 2016, a famine has been ongoing in Yemen which started during the early years of war. Over 17 Million of Yemen’s population is at risk, over 3.3 million children and pregnant or lactating women suffer from acute malnutrition. Over 100,000 of the affected children are in the western governorate of Al-Hudaydah with the city of Al-Hudaydah worst affected part of province. According to Norwegian Refugee Council, the famine will soon reach “biblical proportion”. The famine is being compounded by severe outbreak of Cholera, which is resulting in 5000 new cases daily. Devastation of Yemeni infrastructure, health, water and sanitation systems and facilities destroyed by Saudi led coalition led to spread of cholera. UNICEF says that the airstrikes are deliberately targeting water systems in Yemen.  After 5 November 2017, the famine was more worsened by the Saudis who tightened the air, sea and land blockade. According to the manager of Al-Hudaydah port [from where most of aid supplies enter Yemen] which is under the control of Houthis, medicine and food cannot go to Al-Hudaydah city or other parts of Yemen, since the airstrikes ruined the ports industrial cranes in August 2017. The UN repeatedly requested the coalition to lift the blockade by all these requests are rejected claiming that rebels will use it to smuggle weapons. In October 2018 United Nations warned that about 8 million Yemenis will face starvation if immediate upliftment of blockade and aid and food supply is not allowed for distribution and this would be ‘The worst famine in 100 years’ the world has ever seen. Following this warning another report by Save the Children estimated that about 85,000 children under the age of five have died due to starvation.

One of the worst incident of the conflict is known as The Dhayan Airstrike, On 9 August 2018, Saudi Arabian expeditionary aircraft bombed a civilian school bus passing through a crowded market with U.S.-made bombs in Dahyan, Saada Governorate, Yemen, near the border with Saudi Arabia. At least 40 children were killed, all under 15 years old and most under age 10.

The Houthis are also accused of targeting civilian infrastructure deep inside Saudi Arabia such as Cruise Missile attack on June 12 2019 on Abha International Airport in Jizan resulting in injuring of 26 civilians and September 14 2019 attack on Saudi Arabia’s biggest crude oil refinery.

PEACE EFFORTS:

Several efforts by the international community and UN had been made to establish ceasefire and to start political process was done. The most recently The Stockholm Agreement. It says;

  1. An agreement on the city of Hudaydah and the ports of Hudaydah, Salif and Ras Issa.
  2. An executive mechanism on activating the prisoner exchange agreement.
  3. A statement of understanding on Taïz.

HOPING PEACE RETURNS TO YEMEN AND EASE THE SUFFERING OF YEMENI PEOPLE

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