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Yemen

Free Research Essays Conflicts are inevitable in any country and if they are not dealt with in the most democratic manner, they may lead to a war that may threaten the stability of the state. Due to the fear of the instability of the country, the neighboring nations will seek ways of helping the affected state to regain its leadership. In the same way, Yemen has found itself in a conflict with part of its population, especially the ones living in the north that is controlled by the Houthi rebels. The U.A.E has sought to help the legitimate government of Yemen so that the country can retain its stability and to assist in sustaining peace and security in the region. The paper is library research whose aim is to discuss the war in Yemen. The work covers the explanation of the Houthis, the reasons the war started, the kind of weapons being used, and the reasons for the involvement of the U.A.E.

Keywords: Yemen, war, U.A.E

War in Yemen

Background

Yemen is an Arab country found in the Middle East that borders upon Oman and Saudi Arabia, its neighbors in the southwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula. It is 527,968 square kilometers in size, and in 2015, its population was estimated to be about 26,737,317 while the median age was recorded to be approximately 18.9 years (CNN Library, 2016). The capital city of Yemen is Sana’a that hosts both the government and international offices. The country has many ethnic groups with the main ones including Europeans, Afro-Arabs, and South Asians. Arabs are the dominant group in the country. The population of Yemen almost entirely consists of Muslims (99.1%) with the remaining 0.9% practicing Baha’i, Christian, Hindu, and Jewish religions (CNN Library, 2016). In 2015, the country’s GDP was recorded at $75.54 billion while the GDP per capita was around $2,700 (CNN Library, 2016). In the year 2014, the country had an unemployment rate of 27%, a figure that has risen considerably since then (CNN Library, 2016). Yemen is a member of the Arab League. The country had enjoyed relative peace in the region for a long time until the civil war of 1994 between the southerners and the northerners over the political differences, which has claimed over 5,000 lives (CNN Library, 2016). Out of these differences, the issue culminated in the rise of the Houthi rebels who fought against the government, leading to a civil war. This work aims to discuss the war in Yemen, explain who the Houthis are, identify the reason the war began and the weapons being used, as well as to discuss the involvement of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E).

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The Houthis

The Houthis is an insurgency group in Yemen that began as a theological movement that was involved in activities promoting peace but, currently, it is at the center of the conflicts in Yemen (Al Batati, 2015). It is also known as the Ansar Allah, which means Partisans of God. Its origin dates back to 1990 when a group of youths mobilized to defend and enhance the religious traditions of Zaidism, which is a small branch of Shia Islam (Schmitz, 2015). By the year 2000, they were against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule, and they formed a tribal military insurgency to engage the government as a measure to defend both the group and its allies (Schmitz, 2015). During the rise of the Arab Spring in the year 2011, the Houthis aimed to bring change in the country by expressing protests against the government of President Saleh (Schmitz, 2015). In the beginning, it led demonstrations that were peaceful and meaningful without causing any damage to property. The group sought to have the National Dialogue with the government where its members could be in a position to air their grievances, as well as those of their allies. The Houthis backed the respect for diversity, the enhancement of democracy in the state, and regional autonomy.

However, the group decided to turn to military aggression due to the interim government led by President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi that stalled at the beginning of 2014 (Schmitz, 2015). It began its military engagement in the north where it had a victory over the Islah political party and Gen Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar’s key military units. These successive victories culminated in its domination in the capital of the country toward the end of 2014 (Schmitz, 2015). At this time, the Houthis stated that its aim was to seek an interim government that would be more efficient in addressing the issues discussed in the National Dialogue. It is also evident that the group has maintained military dominance since it has become the most powerful political and dominant military force in Yemen.

It should be mentioned that the source of power for the Houthis is not religious but rather domestic and political. The political strength of the organization was derived from the perception that President Saleh was weak and had sided with the Americans to fight the War on Terror (Schmitz, 2015). Consequently, the Houthis spread propaganda to the citizens that the government valued its relations with the Americans more than it did with its people. In turn, the government made an attempt to repress the group but the tactics it used increased the alienation of a large population in the north, which only worsened the situation. This separation increased the resentment toward the government among the population, and the organization used this resentment to gain more power (Schmitz, 2015). The masses in the alienated areas supported the group, not due to religious beliefs but due to the attainment of freedom from the autocratic rule that they felt was oppressing them. The expansion of the Houthis gained momentum in the south where other revolts against the government had erupted. The Houthis seized this opportunity to combine forces with these groups to expand its control from the north to the south.

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With the wrangles among the political parties regarding the political positions in the elections after the interim government, the government became strangled, leading to the deterioration of the economy and thus an opportunity for the Houthis to take control of the situation (Schmitz, 2015). Its control gained support all over the country, and it was robust enough to fight with the government forces. Since it had been the victim of the former regime of President Saleh and it did not trust the interim government, it ensured to safeguard its security by attacking the military forces and capturing key areas to attain the maximum advantage. The group has now taken full control of the northern part of the country, and it is consolidating support in other areas, making the government seem to be held hostage.

Reasons for War

The war in Yemen began as a result of a failed transition that had been thought to bring political stability in the country after various protests in the state that forced the long-term authoritarian leader President Ali Abdullah Saleh to hand over power in 2011 to his deputy Mr. Hadi (BBC News, 2016). It was hard for the new leader to deal with the immediate challenges that prevailed in the country at that time such as the separatist group called al-Qaida that carried out attacks in the south, food insecurity, corruption, unemployment, as well as the forces loyal to Mr. Saleh (BBC News, 2016). The new president was primarily engaged in solving these issues, which allowed the Houthi movement to take the opportunity of the weak leadership to advance its interests. Since the movement had been involved in some rebellions during President Saleh’s rule as it sought to fight for the rights of the Zaidi Shia Muslims who are considered the minority, it made use of the weak leadership to take control of the northern part of Saada province together with the neighboring areas.

The Yemenis were disillusioned with the transition, which led them to follow the lead of the Houthis, and in September 2014, they entered Sana’a and set up roadblocks and camps on the streets (BBC News, 2016). In January of the year 2015, the Houthis enhanced the takeover of the capital by enclosing the presidential palace, as well as other critical areas, which ensured that they had successfully put both the president and his cabinet under siege (BBC News, 2016). However, in February, the president managed to escape and fled to Aden’s southern port city. Then the collaboration efforts of Saleh’s loyal security forces and the Houthis aimed to control the entire country, which made president Hadi flee from Yemen abroad in March. Major regional states were alarmed by the unfolding of these events, believing that the disruption in the country was caused by a group enjoying military support from Shia power. Consequently, other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and eight Sunni Arab states began to make air raids on the group. The raids aimed to restore order in the country and help Mr. Hadi’s government to run effectively. Since then, more than 6,800 people have lost their lives while over 35,000 have been maimed (BBC News, 2016).

Various reasons have led to the current crisis in Yemen. The first one was a failed transition process. It began in 2011 and aimed to promote reforms in the country. Despite the fact that a few achievements were attained, some critical issues remained unaddressed. These problems included the power-sharing agreements and the inclusion of the Houthis in decision making (Robins-Early, 2015). There was also the issue of the federal, regional boundaries that had not been agreed upon. The unresolved issues continued to persist, leading to the escalation of corruption, which made the government weaker. As a result, the Houthis took the opportunity to expand militarily and, with the absence of the political reforms, it was able to mobilize its supporters in Sana’a and started to take over.

Second, the former president Saleh has played a critical role in the war (Robins-Early, 2015). It is evident that he aligned with the Houthis in the year 2014 as they advanced in the north, and this was done not due to shared political ideologies but due to the fighting against a common enemy. Having been in power for 33 years, he used his connections in the army, tribal confederations in the north, air force, and the secret service to help the Houthis. Thus, despite the dilution of the Houthis support base due to its expansion, the movement has had a significant boost due to Saleh’s supporters.

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Finally, the proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia has also played a huge role in the Yemen crisis. The Houthis has received both the military and the financial support from Iran (Robins-Early, 2015). For the longest time, both Iran and Saudi Arabia have not been in good relations, which means that by supporting the Houthis, Iran was promoting its interest in attacking Saudi Arabia in an indirect manner.

Kind of Weapons Used in Yemen

The war in Yemen has witnessed the use of various weapons that have been utilized in all areas, including the sea, the land, and the air. The rebels are positioned in the highlands, and the Saudi forces have used the airstrikes, which resulted in the killing of many civilians. The battles have also taken place on the land where both roads and borders have been blocked. The sea has also been safeguarded with different marine, military weapons. All these weapons are from different countries and they will be described in detail in the following subsections.

Weapons Used in the Air

The Saudi-led coalition has made the majority of the air attacks against the Houthi rebels, which has led to the killings of the civilians in the country. Saudi Arabia has the most powerful air arsenals that it has been using in Yemen. Firstly, it has over a hundred F-15SA fighter jets that have been deployed in the effort to drive away from the Houthis (Pillalamarri, 2015). The fighter jet is said to be a remembrance of the F-15E Strike Eagle and it was among the eighty-four F-15SA fighters acquired from the United States in 2010 (Pillalamarri, 2015). The fighter jets can be controlled remotely and have a high weaponry capacity. They were used in Sana’a and the city of Taiz. Secondly, Saudi Arabia also used the AH-64D Apache attack helicopters in airstrikes (Pillalamarri, 2015). Thirty-six of them were bought from the United States in 2010 and they were used in the ground operations as well. In particular, they were utilized in the scorched earth policy when the Houthis attacked the territory of Saudi. These helicopters have a four-blade rotor with a high speed of up to 120 knots and they are able to carry massive armament to the place of deployment. Thirdly, optically-tracked, wireless-guided Weapons System was used. These are guided missiles that were utilized to destroy the tankers by flying over them and opening fire on their top, which is the tanker’s softest part (Pillalamarri, 2015).

Weapons Used On Land

There have been many weapons used in Yemen, ranging from the guns and grenades to the tankers and other military vehicles. The major client of the Spanish arms industry is Saudi Arabia, and this relationship has existed for a very long time. In the year 2015, the government of Saudi Arabia bought heavy weapons from Spain totaling €540 million, which is equivalent to 15% of the arms sales in Spain (Gonzales, 2016). The rebels acquired some of these weapons from the Saudi Arabia forces as there were images on the Internet showing the automatic rifles and a Spanish C90 grenade launcher that was among them (Gonzales, 2016). One week later, in Raboha City, the other two C90s were seen on the Saudi-Yemen border. Furthermore, in February, the rebels were recorded as they celebrated the capture of the Saudi Arabia military vehicle BMR-600, which is also believed to be made by a Spanish company named Enasa (Gonzales, 2016). Moreover, the United Kingdom made bombs that have been used in the killing of the innocent people in Yemen, especially in the bombing of the factories and hospitals. The most prominent incidence is the one that occurred on 4 August in Riyadh (McDonald, 2016). The U.S. made cluster bombs that have also been used in the war by the Saudi-led coalition. There is also a fear that the white phosphorus will be utilized since Saudi Arabia has a weapon at its disposal (Norton, 2016). White phosphorus is a hellish weapon that scourges the skin, and its ability to continue burning once exposed to air makes it deadlier.

Weapons Used on the Sea

The war has also taken place on the sea, with the USS Mason ship in the Red Sea being a target of the Navy guided missiles that are believed to be from Iran but fired by the rebels (Stewart, 2016). The U.S. Navy also used the Tomahawk missiles against the Houthis who had attacked its ship in the Red Sea (Lamothe, 2016). The destroyer USS Nitze was the one used to launch the weapon at three different locations in the northern part that is occupied by the Houthis. Among the watercraft used, one can also mention the HSV-2 Swift, which is a high-speed catamaran-style vessel that is operated by the U.A.E (Lamother, 2016). Previously, it was part of the U.S. Navy.

Reasons for the Involvement of the U.A.E

The U.A.E is fighting the Houthis using U.S. tactics. It has received support from the United States in terms of intelligence, fuel tankers, and munitions (Knights, 2016). Both countries have concentrated their efforts on the northern part of Yemen where the Houthis are believed to be located. The U.A.E utilized the support of the pro-government tribes and the government forces to drive the Houthis out of the port of Aden, which is the country’s second-largest city (Knights, 2016). It also launched the ground forces that were active in driving the rebels out of the major ports and cities, as it wanted to concentrate them in the northern part where it could defeat them with ease.

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The U.A.E also armed the Hadramaut Tribal Confederation that was mounted in Reva and Caiman. Furthermore, a patchwork of approximately 4000 inside resistance rebels was developed to help in the operations by offering intelligence (Knights, 2016). The U.A.E Navy also sponsored ten patrol boats that were armed. They were vital in providing support on the shores of the Red Sea. The country also included Aden fighters in the units in the Yemen army to provide support in the northern part of the city. Furthermore, the U.A.E dispatched six 100-person units in February 2016, together with the armored trucks (Knights, 2016). The significance of the armored trucks was to give fighters the confidence to fight in tough neighborhoods, as well as to give them high local status. Moreover, the U.A.E had turboprop surveillance aircraft and helicopters that were vital in aerial surveillance. They were also crucial in carrying out the airstrikes in the mountainous regions where the Houthis were concentrated.

There are many reasons the U.A.E formed a coalition while participating in the war in Yemen. Firstly, the country’s inaction would have been more costly both politically and strategically in the long run. The main reason is that Yemen is an immediate neighbor to Saudi Arabia and, since the rebels are backed by Iran, it would mean that the collapse of Yemen would allow Iran to be in a position to destabilize Saudi Arabia and consequently the U.A.E (Abdullah, 2015). Therefore, the participation of the U.A.E is a measure to ensure the stability and security of Saudi Arabia. Secondly, the U.A.E wants to help Yemen’s legitimate government to regain control of the country so that it does no end up being ungovernable just like in the case of Iraq and other states that have experienced perennial conflicts (Saab, 2015). The U.A.E is taking the first step of suppressing the rebels so that the government of Mr. Hadi can put in place basic institutions of governance, as well as crucial reforms that will enable the country to return to its normalcy. Thirdly, another reason that has made the U.A.E become involved in the Yemen war is to help Saudi Arabia in times of need to have better relations between the two states (Saab, 2015). The country is aware of the military and financial capabilities of Saudi Arabia and thus mindful of the fact that a gesture of kindness will be repaid back when the U.A.E needs its support. Lastly, the involvement of the U.A.E in the Yemen war is a result of its responsibility within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) (Yang, 2016). One of the integral roles of the GCC is joint military cooperation; therefore, the U.A.E is honoring its mandate as a member of the GCC.

Conclusion

The Yemen war is taking a different course, and if the international community does not act very fast in its response, then the country may collapse just like other Middle East states such as Iraq. The Houthis is the rebel group that has held the government of President Hadi hostage, and it is the main reason there are conflicts in the country. The failed political transition was the triggering effect of the war. Many citizens were disillusioned, and the Houthis took this opportunity to organize disgruntled members to protest in the capital Sana’a. The president and cabinet ministers were held hostage, which shifted the control of power to the rebel groups. There has been a variety of weapons used in the Yemen war in all areas, including the sea, the land, and the air. These weapons come from different countries, including the grenades from Spain and the F-15SA fighter jets from the United States. The U.A.E is involved in the Yemen war and it has utilized the American strategy in dealing with the Houthis. It has used the intelligence within the rebels, as well as aerial surveillance and armored vehicles, in an attempt to destabilize and defeat the insurgents. The reason the U.A.E has sought to become involved in the war is both individual and collective. Individually, it aims to prevent the weakening of Yemen and sustain stability in the region for its security. On the other hand, collectively, it has a role to participate in joint military cooperation.

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