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Caroline Coyle

Mr. Phillips

AP English III

5 December 2018

Yemen’s War: Prolonged Conflict Leaving Millions on the Brink of Crisis

For over three years, the nation Yemen has existed in a state of turmoil. The government

was upturned, and the president driven out of the capital Sanaa by Houthi rebels. Ever since, the

country has been embedded in war. Saudi Arabia began a military intervention soon after,

organizing a coalition of forces from multiple countries to eradicate the Houthi rebels. However,

war consistently impacts innocents, and over a few years, the horrifying impacts of the war have

made themselves known to the Yemeni people. Much of Yemen's population has experienced

starvation, suffered through an extreme cholera epidemic, or fallen victim to airstrikes, all which

are exacerbated by—or are direct results from—the warring Houthi fighters and the Saudi

Arabian-led coalition, and insufficient aid situations mean that they will likely persist until the

fighting ceases.

Ali Al Mujahed and Sudarsan Raghavan wrote in a Washington Post article that returning

Yemen's government to its previous status has been the Saudi-led coalition's goal from the start.

Despite that objective, conflict still persists in the country, and it has had devastating impacts on

the lives of Yemeni civilians. Frequently, reports contain startling figures which show the extent

that the war has reduced the quality of life in Yemen. A report from United Nations investigators

details how the Saudi-led coalition and the UAE have "killed thousands of civilians in airstrikes,

tortured detainees, raped civilians and used child soldiers as young as 8." (Cumming-Bruce) The

Washington Post editorial board described how the 2015 Yemen intervention had originally

intended to disperse the Houthi rebels occupying Yemen's capital, yet since then, "Saudi
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airstrikes that have hit schools, mosques, markets, weddings, (and) funerals," have wounded and

caused the deaths of the better part of 16 thousand people. Airstrikes on and near public spaces

such as hospitals and markets have created significant problems for many Yemeni people, some

going beyond the initial casualties of attacks.

The Saudi-led coalition has intentionally set airstrikes on civilian buildings, even some

that have been declared as off limits to strike targets. In a statement published by the New York

Times, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wrote that "according to the independent monitoring

group Yemen Data Project, between March 2015 and March 2018, more than 30 percent of the

Saudi-led coalition's targets have been nonmilitary." It is unlikely that the coalition has attacked

civilian locations out of confusion or malice, but rather because of the actions of their opponents.

The Houthi rebels have frequently used humanitarian buildings such as hospitals as spaces to

store weapons and shelter fighters. Such structures fall under a "no-strike" list, meaning troops

must exclude them from attacks. These Houthi strategies, however, "can turn the buildings into

legitimate military targets." (Kalfood and Walsh) When such measures are taken, devastating

impacts become apparent. Save the Children reported that many hospitals were deliberately

attacked, and such damage to the health care sector has spurred "the largest single-year outbreak

of (cholera) ever recorded." (Specia) With such troubling impacts, the ethics of decisions to

attack buildings housing medical services should be called into question, especially when a war

such as this causes civilians in Yemen to face numerous struggles.

Wars are costly endeavors. They regularly impose negative impacts on the financial

situations of the citizens of a country. A report by the United Nations says that the Saudi

Arabian-led coalition has "certainly contributed to Yemen's dire economic and humanitarian

situation" (Cumming-Bruce) with an approximated 18 thousand airstrikes in the past three years.
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Declan Walsh, reporter for the New York Times, has witnessed the impacts of Yemen's

deteriorating economy. He writes that "aid experts and United Nations officials say a more

insidious form of warfare is also being waged in Yemen, an economic war that is exacting a far

greater toll on civilians and now risks tipping the country into a famine of catastrophic

proportions." (Walsh) Walsh says that airstrikes and bombings can destroy places of work,

diminishing the number of jobs in the area, which increases prices of goods such as food, and

ends up "forcing families to abstain from meat, then vegetables." (Walsh) In an article of his,

Walsh explained that people have resorted to other means of income to pay to feed themselves.

A daughter's hand in marriage typically comes with a bride price in Yemen. Some families under

particular strain for money have married off daughters, many under age 18, to acquire more

currency. Viewing how times of war and conflict drive people to distressing lengths for meals

becomes deeply disheartening.

Yemen is not the first instance of a war being a central element of food shortages or

famine. In an article for Inter Press Service, Tharanga Yakupitiyage describes how in 60 percent

of the 124 million instances of crisis-level food insecurity found in the 2017 Global Report on

Food Crises, conflict was determined to be the primary factor. Mohammed Ali Kalfood and

Declan Walsh wrote in their article that "Yemen's crisis, already grave for several years, has

recently deteriorated so rapidly that the United Nations has warned that 14 million people, or half

the population, could soon be on the brink of starvation." Statements similar to this are startling

to many, and it causes much aggravation to discover that one easily identifiable source generates

a vast portion of this issue. Mark Green, administrator of USAID, says "conflict-related hunger is

one of the most visible manifestations to human suffering emerging from war... this suffering is

preventable and thus all the more tragic." (qtd. In Yakupitiyage) For all the frustration felt at the
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detriment to the Yemeni people by the war between the Houthi fighters and the Saudi-led

coalition, it can be even worse to hear that the war simultaneously prevents proper aid from

reaching those in need.

Wars can often make it difficult for aid workers to reach those requiring it, especially

when fighting becomes rampant in areas densely populated by civilians. People can become

wary about establishing aid centers and caches of supplies when they fear that conflict will

destroy them. Declan Walsh and Mohammed Ali Kalfood described Yemen's current position by

saying that aid workers warn that in many places, "the country's main humanitarian lifeline hangs

by a thread." Statements such as these become much more concerning when people explain how

vital aid has become in places similar to Yemen. Jonathan Broder writes that the number of

Yemeni people who have become reliant on international aid for supplies needed to survive has

become about 22 million, which is over 75 percent of the country's population, and many can't

receive aid due to blockage from the war. In the Los Angeles Times, Lee Keath describes that

Hodeida, a large port city in Yemen, is nearly surrounded by the Saudi-led coalition's troops,

effectively confining tens of thousands of citizens to the area. If the port were to experience a

total disconnect from support efforts, it could incite millions of fatalities, because vital

provisions and humanitarian support would primarily be cut off. Hodeida exists as an entry point

for a significant amount of supplies and relief, and with it almost completely surrounded,

"civilian casualties are again mounting amid their assaults and shelling." (Mujahed and

Raghavan) It becomes clear that this war has harmed the people of Yemen in many ways. The

prevention of aid opportunities by the coalition meant to help the country is arguably the lowest

among them.
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However, some don't view the actions of the Saudi-led coalition as harmful to the nation

of Yemen, even encouraging support of their actions through supplying the coalition with

ammunition and equipment. Michael R. Pompeo, United States Secretary of State, made a

statement on why he believes the United States is right for helping supply the coalition. "The

kingdom of Saudi Arabia has invested billions to relieve suffering in Yemen," Pompeo wrote.

Yet when others observe the results of conflict in Yemen, a far different conclusion is reached.

The Washington Post editorial board published an article on the subject, stating that a declaration

that the Saudis take all precautions to avoid killing civilians "flies in the face of the conclusions

of virtually all other observers of the Yemen war." There has been a host of information reported

about atrocities that Yemeni citizens are experiencing, and it becomes doubtful that those who

claim the Saudi-led coalition's actions have been entirely beneficial to Yemen care for the lives

of those being affected. Reports from the United Nations, firsthand accounts, and secondhand

evaluations largely come to the consensus that the Yemen war has been disastrous for the

majority of the population's lives.

It remains highly doubtful that the condition Yemen is in will be able to improve without

a serious shift in the actions between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi rebels. For a while

now, the United Nations has been attempting to stimulate peace negotiations between the two

sides, and such mediations could begin in the near future. Bel Trew of the Independent wrote

earlier this year that proclamations made by the political leader of the Houthi rebels, Mohammed

Ali al-Houthi, called for a halt to attacks on Saudi Arabia. The statements, along with peace

efforts made by the UN, have "marked some of the strongest ever commitments from both sides

to move towards a solution to the conflict which has raged for the last three and a half years."

(Trew) Whether peace negotiations will begin is still yet to be seen, but the current turn of events
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is promising. It now remains imperative that all parties involved in the conflict act wisely and

work towards an outcome that will lead to the restoration of Yemen's economy and living

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Works Cited

Broder, Jonathan. "Yemen Civil War: U.S. Lawmakers Raise Alarm Bells about Pentagon's.."

Newsweek, Aug. 2018, pp. n/a. SIRS Issues Researcher,

Cumming-Bruce, Nick. "U.N. Report on War Crimes Faults Saudi Arabia and U.A.E. in

Yemen." New York Times, 29 Aug. 2018, pp. A. 9. SIRS Issues Researcher,

"Flouting Congress and the Evidence." Washington Post, 16 Sep. 2018, pp. A.18. SIRS Issues


Kalfood, Mohammad Ali and Declan Walsh. "As Famine Looms in Yemen, Saudi-Led Coalition

Redoubles Attacks." New York Times. 6 Nov. 2018.

Keath, Lee. “Civilian death toll in Yemen mounting despite US assurances.” Los Angeles Times.

12 Nov. 2018.

Mujahed, Ali A., and Sudarsan Raghavan. "Experts: End of U.S. Refueling Flights Unlikely to

Alter Yemen War." Washington Post, 11 Nov. 2018, pp. A.22. SIRS Issues Researcher,

Pompeo, Michael R. "The U.S.-Saudi Partnership is Vital." U.S.Dept.of State, 27 Nov. 2018.

SIRS Government Reporter,

Sanders, Bernie. "We must Stop Helping the Saudis in Yemen." New York Times, 25 Oct. 2018,

pp. A.27. SIRS Issues Researcher,

Specia, Megan. "Yemen's War is Tragic. is it also a Crime Against Humanity?" New York

Times, 23 Nov. 2017, pp. A. 8. SIRS Issues Researcher,

"The Only Way to Help Yemen." Washington Post, 13 Nov. 2018, pp. A.20. SIRS Issues

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Trew, Bel. “Yemen government agrees to UN peace talks after Houthi leader calls for halt to

attacks.” The Independent. 19 Nov. 2018.

Walsh, Declan. “The Tragedy of Saudi Arabia’s War.” New York Times. 26 Oct. 2018.

Walsh, Declan. “In Yemen, Lavish Meals for Few, Starvation for Many and a Dilemma for

Reporters.” New York Times. 29 Nov. 2018.

Yakupitiyage, Tharanga. "Without Food Security, there is no Peace." Inter Press Service, 27 Sep.

2018. SIRS Issues Researcher,