Synopsis- Joe Biden declared that the US will no longer back the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. Yemen Civil war resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and a humanitarian crisis. A reconciliation is urgently required.
Background of Yemen civil war-
- The civil war between the Yemeni government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels began in 2014. The Houthi rebels gradually took over the capital Sana’a.
- In 2015, the war intensified. Saudi Arabia and 8 other Arab nations, supported by the US, the UK, and France, launched airstrikes against the Houthis. This attack was aimed to restore the Hadi government in Yemen.
- The Saudi-led coalition imposed a blockade on Yemen, in the hope of weakening the Houthis.
- Despite the blockade, the Houthis continued to amass weapons, including technologically sophisticated drones. They used these weapons to strike Saudi targets across the border.
- The Saudi-led coalition failed to eject the Houthis as the rebel group still controls the city.
Consequences of Yemen-Saudi war
- The war has produced a humanitarian crisis. At least 8.4 million people are at risk of starvation and 22.2 million people (75% of the population) are in need of humanitarian assistance.
- The conflict has killed more than 100,000 Yemenis and displaced 8 million.
- Towns and cities have been destroyed. Poverty has spread and diseases like cholera have proven difficult to combat because of poor medical infrastructure.
- According to the UN, 50,000 Yemenis are starving to death and 16 million will go hungry this year.
What are the steps taken by the US?
- Joe Biden has announced an end to US support for Saudi-led offensive operations in Yemen.
- The Biden administration had put a temporary halt on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Moreover, US-appointed a Special Envoy for Yemen.
- Other than that, the US also Removed the Shia Houthi rebels from the terrorist list.
- The US is planning to increase the number of refugees accepted by the US from 15000 to 125000 for the fiscal year.
What needs to be done?
- The international community should focus on tackling the humanitarian situation in Yemen.
- The Biden administration should use its leverage to pressure Saudi to lift the blockade on Yemen.
- The Houthis and the Saudis must agree to a ceasefire. After that, the US and its regional allies can call a multilateral conference involving all stakeholders to consider Yemen’s future.