Yemen is dirt poor. More than half of its 23 million people depend on food aid. Yemen has to import 90% of the wheat and 100% of the rice it consumes. That little water that is available for agriculture is used up for growing qat, a mild stimulant that everyone seems to be using. Growing qat is more profitable than growing wheat.
Yemen produced some oil and gas and this was the main income of the state. But with falling oil prices and increased conflicts the income was less than was already needed and has now come down to zero. Another important source of income are remittances by people working outside the country, often in Saudi Arabia.
Some 40% of the population, mostly the northern mountain tribes are Zaidi 5er Shia who in their believes, rites and laws are nearer to some Sunni interpretations of Islam than to the 12er Shia’s versions in Iran and Iraq.
The other 60% of Yemenis are Sunnis of various Sufi tendencies. There was and is no real history of sectarian strife within the Yemeni society. In the current conflict the Zaidi Houthi rebels are fighting next to some units of the Yemeni army with mostly Sunni soldiers. The Houthi are a Zaidi revival movement which pushes for the historic leading role of the Zaidis in the country.
Over the last decades Saudi Arabia sponsored Salafi schools and preachers in Yemen. These follow the Wahhabi stream prevalent in Saudi Arabia and see the Zaidi as nonbelievers and the Sufi stream as unislamic. One Salafi school with 8,000 followers was situated in Dammaj, right in the middle of the Zaidi province Saada, has been central to the current inner Yemeni conflict.
The Houthi have been fighting against the central government since 2004. After the former president Saleh was ousted in 2011 during the Arab Spring a sham election was held to put the former vice president Hadi into the top job and a process of creating a new constitution and a sham democracy was initiated. The task was left to the Gulf Clown Council under the leadership of Saudi Arabia and some UN bureaucrats who had no real knowledge of Yemen. The Houthi were excluded from the process which of course failed.
Eventually the Houthi, with the help of some army units, took over the capital Sana and pressured president Hadi to create an inclusive technocratic government to solve some of the country’s most urgent problems. Over several month a hassle ensued and in the end Hadi fled to South Yemen and eventually to Saudi Arabia. The Houthi, allied with some military units under the command of the former president Saleh started to take over the country.
The Saudis and their U.S. minders want Yemen to depend on them and dislike any real Yemeni independence. They are, like the “west”, a neo-colonial state while the Houthi are, like Iran or China, a post colonial entity:
This is not just a regional fight – it is a global one with ramifications that go well beyond the Middle East. The region is quite simply the theatre where it is coming to a head. And Yemen, Syria and Iraq are merely the tinderboxes that may or may not set off the conflagration.”The battle, at its very essence, in its lowest common denominator, is a war between a colonial past and a post-colonial future.”
For the sake of clarity, let’s call these two axes the Neo-Colonial Axis and the Post-Colonial Axis. The former seeks to maintain the status quo of the past century; the latter strives to shrug off old orders and carve out new, independent directions.
The Saudis, their paid mercenaries and the U.S. launched a war against Yemen. Despite other claims and delusions the Saudis are not acting alone. A common headquarter with the U.S. was set up and the U.S. is creating the intelligence for the bombing target lists. This is very much a U.S. war of aggression. The acclaimed aims of the war, “restoring democracy” where there was none and other nonsense, do not make any sense. Essentially they ask for the Houthi to dissolve, the Zaidi and everyone else to roll over and for the creation of a Wahhabi entity under Saudi control:
Despite Saudi or even US assertions to the contrary, Operation Decisive Storm has nothing to do with supporting the legitimacy of a political process in Yemen. Its goal is instead to maintain the continuity of authoritarian governance in the region by actively repressing the forces that threaten to undo the status quo. That this coalition has indiscriminately lumped together ISIS, Iran and the popular democratic movements of the Arab uprisings of 2011 should indicate both its broader strategic goals and, equally, the dangers to positive political and social change it represents.
The Saudis and their allies, including the U.S., are bombing the shit out of Yemen’s already poor infrastructure. They are blocking the harbors and Saudi Arabia is also blocking all money transfers. Food will soon run out. The bombs have hit civilian refugee camps, food factories, a diary and electric, water and communication infrastructure. Yemeni towns on the border with Saudi Arabia are under artillery fire. Many civilians get killed and wounded. The weapons the Yemeni army will need to eventually fight al-Qaeda are being destroyed.
As the Saudi war on #Yemen enters its 2nd week, communications is getting worse by the day : internet, international calls severely affectedHussain Albukhaiti
Dairy factory,Sadda gas stations&water company,Sanaa power station,Lahj cement factory,ports&airports.. those r the Saudi/US”houthis”targets
It’s by now almost undeniable that KSA’s #YemenInvasion has as a primary goal to degrade #Yemen infrastructure/economy to ensure dependence.
Despite a rich target environment, hundreds of Saudi airstrikes have not killed a single Al Qaeda militant in #Yemen. Well done, Salman.
The International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders both say that the Saudis are preventing the arrival of any help.
This is essentially the same strategy Israel uses against Gaza, only on a ten times bigger scale.
Salman is the new king of Saudi Arabia. He has Alzheimer but is a fervent Wahhabi. Unlike the former King Abdullah King Salman is willing to use the Muslim Brotherhood, in Yemen under the name Islah, as a instrument against his enemies. This creates some unease, especially with Egypt, in his anti-Yemen coalition.
The king’s son Muhammad is only some 30 years old and has no military or political experience. Despite that he was made Defense Minister and is leading the war. His plan seems to be to install some Saudi created new government in Yemen. A conference is to be held in Riyadh but neither the Houthi leader nor the former president Saleh, together the current and effectively ruling strongmen in Yemen, will be invited.
No war was ever won through air campaigns and the Saudis will not get what they want through bombing. Despite the bombing campaign the Houthis and their army allies are taking the southern port city of Aden. A ground campaign against them would be very bloody and likely end with a defeat for the invaders.
Meanwhile the Yemeni state is falling further apart and the war will lead to more ungoverned space al-Qaeda and the Islamic State will be able to take over.
The inner conflict in Yemen is not sectarian. The Houthi are not Iranian puppies. Whoever rules in dirt poor Yemen can not endanger the ultra rich Saudi state. Why do the Saudis believe that this war makes sense for them? Why do the Obama administration and the hawks in congress think that this whole campaign is a good idea? Why do they support it?