In March 2015, an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia, supported by President Hadi, launched a series of air strikes against the Zaidi Shia rebels, also known as the “Houthi” armed group in Yemen. Over the past 18 months, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented over 69 unlawful coalition airstrikes. These attacks have killed over 3,000 civilians, including 700 children, and displaced another 2 million over the past 18 months. As both sides compete for control of the country, the armed conflict in Yemen has been characterised as having some of the worst violations to humanitarian law, and laws of war. Despite being one of the poorest countries within the Arab world, the BBC has described the “tussle for power” in Yemen as having some of the most serious implications throughout the region, flagging issues of terror and security throughout the Western world.
Although a ceasefire was announced earlier this year on April 10, the fighting has continued and in some instances, becoming even more widespread in Yemen. More than a year since the coalition waged war on the “Popular Committees”, it remains unclear which side is “winning”. One thing is clear though – Yemeni civilians are suffering the most. Hundreds of civilians have lost their lives “when going about their daily activities, or in places where they had sought refuge from the conflict,” confirms a Foreign Policy report, and it’s obvious the numbers continue to dwindle. A major issue of contention is that due to its strategic, and geographical location, the West fears the “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” (AQAP) may be responsible for radicalising the area. To counteract this, the United States, Britain and allies have continued to supply a steady stream of arms and weaponry and logistical support to assist Saudi Arabia and its coalition. However, the issue here is that the weapons are facilitating several violations of international law and contributing to the already high list of atrocities and civilian deaths caught in the crossfire of the conflicts.
So what now?
A number of peace talks, namely the UN backed ones, began in Kuwait in April earlier this year. As part of the talks, international investigations, transnational justice systems and victim compensation have formed key elements as part of the agreement. However, UN-sponsored negotiations have been suspended without any agreement – the Houthi fighters have rejected the UN peace plan and instead, announced the appointment of a 10-member governing body to run the country. Without any mechanism being urgently escalated, the question remains: when will be the end? and when will hope for Yemen be restored?