The War In Yemen: Roots Of The Conflict

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The current war in Yemen has been ongoing for three years, since 2015. The Houthi rebels and Yemen’s government are in a bloody war. Roots for conflict started with the failure of a political change when the then president handed over his power to his then deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi (BBC News, 2018). Hadi did not have a great presidency, there were numerous problems. Al-Qaeda attacks, corruption, and food insecurity are just a few of the problems he had a difficult time managing.

If you know the history, you know the Houthi’s champion the Shia Muslim minority, and had many rebellions with former president Saleh while he was in a term, they saw an opportunity as they did before and used Hadi’s weakness against him. September of 2014 is when the Houthi’s took over Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. The Houthi’s and forces loyal to Mr. Saleh forced Mr. Hadi out of the country in March of 2015. With the power this group had everyone believed that they were backed by the military, there is no way they were not backed by military forces with the weapons and knowledge they had. Eight countries who were mostly Sunni Arab states including Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco, Sudan, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, set to restore Mr. Hadi’s government. Qatar was the eighth country but withdrew in June of 2017. The effort included the help the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.

That is to say, the help that the United States provided was being a party in the conflict and knowing the risk of being involved in unlawful coalition attacks, and still providing the in-air-refueling and other support. The United States will not provide detail of its engagement. The United Kingdom is the diplomatic support of the team, along with training and the weapon supplier for its members. The ongoing legal action in the UK is due to the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia (BBC News-Yemen, 2018). Arms were still sold despite the unlawful attacks that were done with them.

Within these three years there have been three attempts for a peace deal, all tof which have failed. When the Houthi’s moved south to Aden after taking Sanaa, they were stopped by the efforts of Mr. Hadi’s loyal soldiers and tribesmen from southern Sunni and separatists (BBC News-Yemen, 2018). They fought a long four-month battle. The coalition that was Saudi-led wanted there to be no more smuggling of weapons by Iran. The Arab states also wanted to feed 8.4 million starving people (Haaretz, and Reuters, 2018). A report on June 13, 20148 reported this as the largest assault on Yemen’s war. The Arab alliance fought to take back the Red Sea port from the Iran-backed Houthi’s.

In the years leading up to the war, from 2006 to 2010 the worst drought happened in Syria. Thousands of families were impoverished, leading to a high migration from rural to urban slums. The rural province of Darʿā, located in southern Syria was where the first protest took place. This civil war in Syria is a full scale one, starting from a peaceful uprising against the president seven years ago. More than 350,000 people have lost their lives. Before this war began, unemployment was high, there was no political freedom under President al-Assad. President Bashar al-Assad succeeded his late father Hafez 8 years ago, in 2000.

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On March 2011, demonstrations of pro-democracy erupted (BBC News-Syria, 2018), it did not take the government long to get word and begin using deadly force to crush the strife. He imprisoned many along with killing hundreds. The people wanted the president to resign. With unrest spreading, the force intensified. Opposition supporters had you guessed it, secured weapons they were primarily to defend themselves, later using them to get of security forces.

This Syrian civil war is more than a battle between those for and against president al-Assad. Multiple groups and countries with their own motives are involved prolonging the fight and making everything more complex. The key supporters are Iran and Russia, which leaves the rebels being backed by Turkey, the US, and Saudi Arabia. Iran is believed to have helped president al-Assad by deploying hundreds of troops with billions of dollars spent. Russia with military bases in Syria, launched an air campaign in 2015, turning the tide of war in the governments favor (BBC News-Syria, 2018). The strikes only target “terrorists” the military keeps stating, but rebels and civilians are killed. Everyone knows a bullet, a missile, and any other weapon does not have a name on it.

With this in mind, it does not look like the war will end anytime soon. It is well agreed that a political solution is the only solution. Since 2014, there have been nine rounds of mediate peace talks. President al-Assad of course has been unwilling to negotiate. The rebels want him to step down as a part of the settlement. Round after round of talk have shown minor progress. He is not budging. Rebels want to bring the regime of Assad. The majority of Syrians want a democratic Syria, and free elections should take place after he is done in office.

Looking through the articles, Kaufmann wrote what I needed to understand better. He said there are possible resolutions. When the opposing groups are separated demographically into safe, secure places (Kauffman, pg. 3). Once a group is separated there are no opportunities for further conflict. Other means can be used, he states for peace enforcement. We see more often than not, the “peace” route does not work. Not saying that it cannot, for example in Syria there has been multiple peace talks to get a resignation from president al-Assad with no progress.

Kaufmann gives accounts on a war not ending if there is no separation. He states conflict would resume if an international force comes in to impose peace, as soon that “force” left (Kaufmann, pg. 16). Peace although not promised with ethnic separation, is allowed. War is no longer a primary focus. Probably goes without much saying, if president al-Assad just left and resign, peace would be restored in Syria, there will be no strife, but his greed is making negative outcomes. There are three tools available for interventions, they are sanctions, military aid, and direct military intervention. Sanctions are only useful if used. Military aid and direct military cannot and should not be used in every situation but used correctly can be effective.

Kaufmann shares four alternative solutions to civil wars and shows why they are not feasible. First, suppression, a one-sided victory reduces violence in the short tun, however, the suppressed groups will most likely rebel when conditions change. Second, reconstructing ethnic identities-people adopting more inclusive identities can lead to exaggeration and alleged atrocities by leaders. Third, power-sharing is voluntaristic according to Kaufmann. The cooperation and decisions of leaders is an important part. Lastly, state-building does not matter if the interests and safety of all parties are protected.

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