SANAA, Yemen — A Saudi-led coalition airstrike at a fruit-and-vegetable market near Yemen’s flashpoint Red Sea port of Hodeida killed at least 21 civilians, including children, the U.N. humanitarian aid agency said Thursday.
The war in Yemen is a complicated, as is most civil wars that have various countries involved.
It’s almost impossible to picture it but Yemen was once the home of the Sabaeans (biblical Sheba), a trading state that flourished for over a thousand years and also included parts of modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Yemen is the poorest out of the Arab countries and it is caught in the middle of battle between the Houthi rebels and supporters of Yemen’s internationally recognised government.
In September 2014, the Houthis took control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and proceeded to push southwards towards the country’s second-biggest city, Aden.
In response to the Houthis successes, a coalition of Arab states launched a military campaign in 2015 to defeat the Houthis and restore the Yemeni government.
Civilian casualties in Yemen are high.
As of March 26, 2018, at least 10,000 Yemenis had been killed by the fighting, with more than 40,000 casualties overall.
The charity Save The Children have reported in 2017 over 50,000 children died during that year, which is a rate of 130 children a day.
A majority of these death have been caused by Saud-led coalition attacks, in fact the UN Commision has put this number at two-thirds of reported civilian deaths. While the Houthis have been accused of causing mass civilian casualties due to their siege of Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city.
Million of civilian have been displaced.
Similar to what is occurring in Syria, civil war usually mean a vast number of people are forced to flee their home and go to neighbouring countries. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), estimates that more than 3 million Yemenis have fled their homes to elsewhere in the country, and 280,000 have sought asylum in other countries, including Djibouti and Somalia.
Even those who have managed to fled have to worry about lack of food and shelter. Those that are still in the country are suffering from a lack of healthcare to treat their injuries.
Various countries are involved in the conflict.
In 2015 Saudi Arabia formed a coalition with other Arab states to defeat the Houthis, this included countries such as Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Senegal. The US is also indirectly involved (if you conveniently ignore the arms they sell to Saudi Arabia) as they regularly launch air attacks on al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) targets in Yemen, and recently admitted to having deployed a small number of troops on the ground.
Iran Vs Saudi Arabi Cold War?
Many commentators have suggested that the civil war in Yemen is the result of a cold war between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Commentators in the Arab Gulf States often claim that Iran now controls four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa.
In Syria Saudi-backed rebels are currently fighting against against Bashar al-Assad’s government, which is supported by Iran. Lebanon is another arena of conflict: Iran sponsors Hezbollah, the Shia militia and political movement, while Saudi Arabia supports the predominantly Sunni Future Movement.
Tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia has been ramped up in recent months, as earlier this year Saudi Arabia executed Shia Muslim leader Nimr al-Nimr and Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
It’s almost impossible to help.
Across Yemen aid organisations are struggling to reach the casualties of this deadly war. The Houthi siege of parts of the city of Taiz has prevented critical medical supplies from arriving. Saudi Arabia is also another obstacle as they have been pressuring aid organisation to leave Yemen.
In January 2016, a hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders was hit by a rocket, killing four people. A bombing carried out by the Saudi-led coalition injured at least six people at a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in October 2015.