Alwaght- In the calendar of events, the March 25 marks the beginning of the Saudi-led coalition’s invasion of Yemen that ushered in one of the most devastating and tragic wars of the 21th century. The disastrous and, indeed, fruitless war is entering its 8th year as no part of this resource-rich and beautiful but impoverished country is left without feeling the impacts of the war; from the mountainous capital Sana’a in the north to the port city of Aden in the south to the oil-rich Ma’rib in the east, and to its uncharted islands in the Red Sea in the West.
Yemen, which was undeveloped and poor even before the war because of being ruled by governments mainly submissive to Saudi Arabia and the US, now and after an eight-year war and blockade is in its worst humanitarian conditions with a population of nearly 33 million.
Its longest-serving dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh ruled the country for 33 years before he was toppled by a 2011 uprising following popular revolutions that swept through the region. Saleh handed power to his deputy Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and fled the country to Saudi Arabia. But the new government which was backed by Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf Arab monarchies declined to make the fundamental reforms eyed by the revolutionary forces. Brazen foreign intervention and subservience of Hadi’s government motivated another uprising in September 2014, removing the resigned and fugitive government of Hadi from Sana’a.
But intervention of Saudi Arabia and its Western and Arab allies to counter the newly-formed popular government led by Ansarullah Movement, destabilization of the country through forming an illegal parallel government in exile in Aden, rise of terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the southern provinces, and activities of the separatist movements motivated the army and popular committees to move to southern provinces to suppress the widening range of chaos. They made fast advances there.
After these advances, Saudi Arabia, as the leader of a military coalition consisting of some of its allies and with the green light of Western countries especially the US, began an invasion of Yemeni territory under the pretext of returning Hadi to power, killing thousands of civilians and destroying much of civilian infrastructures throughout Yemen.
Encouraged by the extensive Western military support at the beginning of the war, the Saudis promised to seize Sana’a in a few days, but now eight years have passed since that war fantasy, and not only have none of the preliminary goals of war been realized, but also due to the great military advances of Ansarullah, especially in missiles and drones, and battleground victories, the war in Yemen has turned into a deadly quagmire for the Saudis, swallowing up hundreds of billions of dollars in Saudi Arabia’s military budget and making the country’s security far more vulnerable than before. Now, most of the northern regions, parts of the strategic city of Ma’rib and the third largest city, Taiz, are under the control of Ansarullah-led National Salvation Government (NSG).
Aware of their inability to win the war, the Saudis over the past years practically implemented scorched earth policy, more than ever impacting the life of the civilians.
Massive use of Western-supplied cluster bombs caused casualties among civilians, especially children, even during ceasefire. Just last week, a 19-years-old boy named Khatab was heavily wounded by unexploded ordnance while collecting plastic and other recyclable material near a store in Taiz.
Khatab is one of the thousands of people across Yemen taking injuries and disabled because of unexploded bombs and landmines. Some of the ordnance are mortars and rockets that rained down on the cities and some others are mines and booby traps planted after retreat by enemy forces.
According to an analysis by Save the Children, an international group monitoring children security and rights, landmines and other explosives killed or wounded one child per day during 2022.
The high number of the disabled children and civilians is while due to the inhumane blockade, the hospitals ate left without adequate equipment and infrastructure to treat the injured people, including conducting organ replantation operations or even making prostheses.
On the other hand, war has put Yemenis in grave hunger, with 80 percent of the population being in need of food aids.
In the media reports from refugee camps and some of international humanitarian protection centers, in addition to children, there are young mothers themselves often undernourished and so unable to feed their children sufficiently.
While the humanitarian situation is so critical, the Yemenis are now facing new crisis which is the declining international attention and aids.
In February 2022, the UN aid chief and ex-Special Envoy to Yemen crisis Martin Griffiths warned that due to funding shortages, “the humanitarian operation is about to start doing a lot less.... Aid agencies are quickly running out of money, forcing them to slash life-saving programs.”
Since January last year, the World Food Program has reduced rations for eight million of the 13 million people it feeds each month, and Griffiths said rations may be cut further. The WFP warned that while two-thirds of the major UN aid programs had already been scaled back or closed because of funding decrease, this situation could worsen.
A recent Sky News report from Al-Jasha camp for internally displaced people revealed the critical food and medical conditions in the camp. This is amid reports in recent months about plunder of Yemen’s oil reserves in the south by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Amid calm in the battlegrounds in recent months and after Iran-Saudi Arabia détente agreement that will see them reopening their embassies after a seven-year hiatus, hopes are rising for an ultimate solution to this grave crisis, and Saudis are expected to take genuine steps towards ending the war and lifting the blockade for return of peace to Yemen.
Reacting to the Tehran-Riyadh agreement, Griffiths’s successor for Yemen Hans Grundberg said that “extensive” diplomatic efforts were underway to end the conflict in Yemen.
“The parties must seize the opportunity presented by this regional and international momentum to take decisive steps towards a more peaceful future,” he added.
However, nobody expects an overnight peace, and even if this agreement defuses the tensions in the country, the militias loyal to the fallen-apart Saudi-Emirati coalition make an obstacle to return of full peace to Yemen.