Further Complications In Ending The Crisis In Yemen


David Smith Jr.

He is currently an undergraduate Economics major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His present concentrations of study and research include international trade and political relations, along with their effects on global welfare, economies, and the environment. After pursuing further graduate economics education, he hopes to become a part of the U.S. policy making process through consulting and research.

For the past several years, military conflict in Yemen overwhelmingly holds the attention of international media outlets. Yet, certain revealing events from this week only further amplified present complications. First, the Trump administration recently put forth plans to restrict a previous Obama executive procedure of announcing civilian deaths occurring outside of military zones. Next, the United Nations recently reported that an estimated 5,000 Yemeni civilians fell casualty to Saudi Arabian bombings in the area- approximately 100 per week. Simultaneously, the Saudi-led coalition accused Yemeni rebels of violating peace deals, which were overseen by UN authorities. As a complicating addition to the conflict in Yemen, these recent events leave many international authorities awkwardly conflicted and warrant a renewed approach.

Regardless, this ongoing engagement deserves immediate attention as a humanitarian issue, as multitudes of innocent civilians are annihilated weekly. Furthermore, many experts admit the dubious nature of the situation. Bill Roggio of the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies stated, “I think we will never truly know the number of civilians killed in airstrikes in these areas away from active battlefields. The reality is that these strikes take place where the government, news organizations and human rights groups have limited visibility, and the enemy has shown a propensity to attempt to manipulate the information.” Even further, Volker Türk of the UNHCR explains the victims’ concerns on the ground: “Exposed to daily violence, many live under constant fear and suffer in deteriorating conditions, turning in desperation to harmful coping mechanisms in order to survive.” In contrast, the National Security Council commends the Trump administration’s motion as an end to “superfluous reporting requirements, requirements that do not improve government transparency, but rather distract our intelligence professionals from their primary mission.” To this, the international legal advisor from Human Rights First, Rita Siemion, responds, “It’s a major step backwards that’s out of touch with what the DOD is doing and what Congress has been focused on,” she said, referring to the Defence Department.

Rita Siemion’s condemnation appears most reasonable, considering the sheer, horrific numbers presented annually by the United Nations’ statistical observation. This public access- to already limited countries- allows for direct investigation into alarming actions both domestically and externally. Of course, international audiences can critically observe the anti-human attacks on innocent civilians in Yemen and appropriately request intervention in this case. Also troubling about these cases, this motion by the Trump administration causes enquiry about U.S. assistance to the Saudi-led coalition as well. The following questions arise: Why are the United States and other Western allies so intent on aiding this Saudi-confederation, especially when it has proven so dishonest in the past? Should these Western countries continue selling military weapons to these mercilessly aggressive administrations? What is the actual end goal? Should this war warn against the pattern of continued Western intervention in this region? Are we harming more than we intend to help?

This struggle began with the Houthi Shia rebellion’s uprising in 2014 yet, the military dispute extends beyond inter-Yemeni political divergence. On one side, the Iran government financially supports and arms the Houthi rebels. On the other, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates- along with a few Western administrations- simultaneously back the struggling Yemeni government. Having raged on for so long, broader international interests grow more important than the will of Yemen itself. This war has singlehandedly dismantled the Yemen economy and the state’s sovereignty. Likewise, famine, malnutrition, and disease rise steadily, as a result of this foreign intervention. Whereas present conditions should warrant intensive efforts towards infrastructure for aid, foreign actors continuously inject weapons and capital into the framework, further exacerbating the problem.

Of course, the presence of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and others in Yemen all appear equally unreasonable. Realistically, the separate governments have their own interests for the future of Yemen rooted in their own regional rivalry. However, the role of the United States, the U.K., and other Western powers in the conflict proves even more reprehensible. Having created organizations like the United Nations and its other associates, these partnering countries hypocritically promise to promote peace and civil diplomacy. Instead, the same global officers take the opposite approach to these neoliberal standards, which are especially detrimental in this already tense region. Instead of redirecting our attention for continuing a senseless military campaign, Yemen should become the perfect opportunity for these self-proclaimed international guardians to shelter a nation-state from illegitimate, foreign influence and to protect numerous lives, through a conclusive roundtable agreement.


About David Smith Jr.

He is currently an undergraduate Economics major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His present concentrations of study and research include international trade and political relations, along with their effects on global welfare, economies, and the environment. After pursuing further graduate economics education, he hopes to become a part of the U.S. policy making process through consulting and research.