Foreign Military Aid:
who’s really fighting
the war in Yemen?

It has become clear that Yemen’s civil war is being fought with the help of other countries, with foreign aid to both sides strengthening. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran are fueling the majority of the attacks.

Yemen, one of the poorest and least economically stable of the Arab countries, has been shattered by a war engulfing the entire nation. The continuing onslaught has resulted from disagreement between two factions: those loyal to the internationally-recognized government of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, and those who are allied to the Houthi rebel movement who also have ties to the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Although referred to as a “civil war,” the relentless fighting between the two parties has significant global implications, and calls for help are now sweeping the world.

The war is also taking a toll globally, with bordering countries flexing their muscles as they take part. Saudi Arabia has engaged in relentless airstrikes to help President Hadi regain control in major cities. In response, the rebels launched attacks on Saudi Arabia’s international airport in Riyadh, targeting it from northern Yemen. Simon Henderson, a journalist at The Atlantic, suggests that it was almost certainly an Iranian modified missile. Since the rebels have taken over the north, there have been over 78 missile attacks targeting Saudi Arabia.

In 2015 there were attempted missile attacks on Mecca, which is just 350 miles from the Yemeni border. Riyadh is more than 700 miles away from Yemen, which suggests a significant new technical capability, leading world leaders to believe the Iranians are helping the rebels. The Saudi-led Coalition Forces Command released a statement saying: “This is a blatant act of military aggression by the Iranian regime.”

According to the BBC, “more than 8600 people have been killed and 49,000 injured since March 2015, many of them in air strikes by a Saudi-led multinational coalition that backs the president.” Further complications arise as Saudi Arabia’s military actions in Yemen continue, particularly with the Saudi blockade on the Yemeni food and water supplies.

Reports emerging from The New York Times say that 80 percent of Yemen’s food, water and medical supplies are imported. The NYT’s Michael D. Shear suggesting that the blockade is denying the local civilians their basic human rights. The Saudi blockade of Yemen’s Red Sea ports has brought the to country the brink of the world’s biggest famine crisis. UN sources suggest that “unless commercial imports are resumed, the threat of widespread famine in a matter of months is very real.”

Of greatest concern in this war is that the civilians bear the brunt of the violence in Yemen. The death toll is set to rise, as approximately 18.8 million Yemenis are heavily in need of humanitarian assistance for their survival. The BBC reports that “most Yemenis don’t know where their next meal will come from.”

The struggle of local civilians is deepening, with parents now unable to support their children. Mohamed, father of a newborn baby said “my son was 14 hours old when he died, the doctors told us he needed intensive care and oxygen, we took him to every hospital we possibly could before he finally died. I wanted to take him outside the city but there no way out.”

With the arms trade in Yemen continuing to increase, it’s apparent that foreign aid is a key factor in prolonging the war. Saudi Arabia and Iran continue to supply the weapons. And the Yemeni civilians suffer the consequences.

Samuel Seedsman (Melbourne, Australia)

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