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    Situational Assessment of Yemen

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    Yemeni tribal militias supporting the government in Taiz, Yemen, in October 2015.

    Summary

    Yemen is still at the centre of a seven-year-old conflict. In early 2015, the Houthi movement launched an insurgency against the Yemeni government for territorial legitimacy. During the evolution of the war, it turned into a proxy war that involved Iran and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the Yemeni government accused Iran of backing up the Houthis and providing financial and material help during the conflict. Following this, the Saudi intervention aimed to restore President Hadi’s administration in Yemen’s capital Sanaa; however, the war is still escalating. 

    Key Judgement 1

    The Houthis will unlikely surrender to the Yemeni government.

    • The Houthis are a tribe from Saada province, in the northwest of Yemen, who profess a form of Shiism, the Zaydi. Until 1962, a Zaydi ruled Yemen for 1,000 years. Therefore, the 2015 insurgency represents the struggle to restore their authority over Yemen. 
    • Moreover, Iran is actively supporting Houthis’ insurgency campaign. In exchange, Iran exploits the Houthi as a non-state proxy to carry out attacks. The recent attack in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) demonstrates how Iran backs up the Houthis with airpower. 
    • Therefore, the Houthis will not surrender to the Yemeni government as they claim legitimacy over the territory.  

    Key Judgement 2

    The ongoing conflict will likely promote the presence of AQAP in Yemen.

    • The ongoing crisis in Yemen enables the expansion of Al-Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula (AQAP) in the territory. AQAP still retains control of the Marib city. 
    • During the crisis, AQAP also provided assistance and security to Yemenis where the government lacked. Therefore, these actions strengthened Yemenis’ trust in the group. 
    • Moreover, the crisis disadvantaged US counterterrorism efforts against Al-Qaeda. Indeed, the cooperation between the Yemeni government and the US carried out successful counterterrorism efforts to regain parts of Aden. However, the violence in Yemen degraded the US capabilities to counter Al-Qaeda. 

    Key Judgement 3

    The civil war, Covid-19, the economic collapse are worsening the humanitarian crisis of Yemen. 

    • Between 2015 and 2021, the civil war made Yemen the Arab poorest country. Indeed, the financial, food, and fuel crisis wreaked the Yemeni economy, resulting in 24.3 million Yemenis in urgent need.
    • The ongoing conflict worsens the situation, failing to provide appropriate assistance. As a result, UNICEF and other humanitarian aid (i.e., the World Bank) will not provide valuable assistance until the end of the conflict. However, the end of the civil war in Yemen is unpredictable. 
    • Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic and water-borne diseases worsen the already existing humanitarian catastrophe. However, Yemen’s health care system is incapable of providing adequate services due to the lack of equipment, medicines, and staff. 

    Bianca Bonardi
    Bianca Bonardi
    Bianca is a graduate student in Criminology at Goldsmiths College of London. She recently finished her post-graduate studies in Terrorism and Security at King's College of London. Her research is mainly focused on Middle East issues and International Terrorist threats.

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