Intensifying Tensions In Yemen: A Civil War Within A Civil War

The internationally recognized government of Yemen has acknowledged defeat in the port city of Aden. According to SBS, the clashes left around 40 people dead and threaten to exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Subsequently, the Saudi Arabian led coalition fighting in Yemen has requested an immediate ceasefire, they called on all military groups in the region to retreat from areas that have been seized during the past few days, the catalyst being when southern separatists, backed by the U.A.E. and confusingly in a tentative coalition alongside Saudi Arabia, seized the presidential palace and other key sites. However, this perceived commitment to a non-violent solution is contradicted by the airstrikes carried out by coalition forces in response. Yemen has endured a five-year conflict which has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people and pushed the already impoverished country to the brink of famine and now with recent developments, the conflict is showing no signs of slowing down, threatening to become a civil war within a civil war.

Saudi Arabia’s state news agency has quoted a spokesperson as saying, “The coalition calls for an immediate ceasefire in the Yemeni temporary capital Aden starting from 1 am on Sunday (22:00 GMT on Saturday), and asserts that it will use military force against anyone who violates it.” Undoubtably a positive measure, however minimal. In the very same breath, however, the coalition flimsily justifies airstrikes that killed at least nine civilians and left others trapped in their homes with limited water supply with a jarringly unrepentant statement, “The coalition targeted an area that poses a direct threat to one of the important sites of the legitimate government.” The fundamental purpose of the coalition is supposedly to provide security to citizens, in this instance the basic function has been blatantly ignored, operating with little concern for civilian wellbeing. While action should be taken, the recklessness that the coalition has displayed does little to further their cause.

Additionally, any effective progress is unlikely to be made so long as the Coalition remains internally fragmented. The two major actors in this coalition are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both have competing views in regard to who should lead Yemen and these ever-deepening fractures on the supposed best course of action are in no way decreasing tension in the region. The Saudi Arabians have supported President Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, whereas the U.A.E. see him as weak and have financed and trained the Southern Transitional Council, the very same force that seized the city of Aden. The foreign ministry of the Hadi government acknowledged the event on Twitter: “What is happening in the temporary (government) capital of Aden by the Southern Transitional Council is a coup against institutions of the internationally recognized government.”

It’s become increasingly clear that these nominal allies with differing agendas are accomplishing little in mediating the situation in Yemen. The only viable solution, or at the very least partial solution, is to accommodate the interests and needs of the people of Yemen through reigniting stalled peace talks with the United Nations, until such an agreement is made all that will follow is violence.

Zac Williams