Yemeni Civil War Ceasefire: Success?
After attempts to secede peacefully in 2007 were met with harsh brutality, a Zaidi group
(members of the Zaidi religious sect) commonly referred to as the Houthis took to violent
rebellion against supposed discriminatory attacks from the Yemeni government. Since
2007, the Houthi insurgency has steadily been gaining speed. Now, in January of 2016,
Yemen has found itself in a full blown civil war that has even drawn in large Middle
Eastern powers such as Saudi Arabia.
The Yemeni Civil War, which began in March 2015, has resulted in the death of 5,884
people, 2,700 of which were civilians, this January according to UN figures .
The war started with an attack on Aden International Airport and subsequent attacks on
Sana’a mosques conducted by the Houthi-led Revolutionary Committee. Following these
attacks the leader of the Houthis, Abdul Malik al Houthi, appeared on television with a
statement declaring mobilization for war against Yemen’s president at the time, Abd
Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s government, as well as Al-Qaeda. Thus began a civil war that
would result in several months of violence and a severe humanitarian issue .
A Saudi-led coalition, including a majority of Middle Eastern countries, launched a
military campaign against the Houthis, who were being supported by Iran, in an attempt
to restore Hadi’s government after claims from Houthi commander regarding invasion of
the kingdom on March 24.
As of January 2015, the Houthi-led Revolutionary Committee has taken claim of Sana’a,
Yemen’s official capital, as well as much of southwestern Yemen. In addition to this,
AQAP (Al-Qaeda) controls a significant portion of Yemeni territory in the north of the
country. Yemeni refugees from these areas have fled to nearby Djibouti, as well as
Somalia and recently, Oman.
However, President Hadi, who fled to Saudi Arabia for a time when Houthi troops took
claim of Aden, the center of government in Yemen, has since returned and his
government once again controls the city.
According to CNN, approximately 10,160,000 Yemen civilians have been without water,
food, and electricity due to the effects of war. According to UNICEF, at least 100,000
have been dislocated from their homes.
The situation in Yemen is critical. In addition to the fact that the civil war has involved
major world powers such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, and the United States, thousands
of lives have been lost, many have fled the country, and those who remain are starving
Several attempts have been made by the UN and others to mediate between disputing
forces. April 2015 peace talks culminated in a 5 day ceasefire in May, which was agreed
upon in order to provide humanitarian aid to civilians. A UN resolution has placed
sanctions on Houthi leaders such as Abdul Malik al Houthi and Ahmed Ali Saleh. The
Security Council resolution also imposed an arms embargo and instructed Houthis to pull
out of Sana’a and other areas they’ve seized since March 2015.
Recently, the UN was able to secure a ceasefire in Yemen as belligerents began UN
supported peace talks in Switzerland on December 15. However, immediately before the
start of the ceasefire and whilst it was imposed, it was violated on a number of occasions
with Arab coalition airstrikes and Houthi-led ballistic missile launches into Saudi
According to some like Sharif Abdel Kouddous , a Nation Institute correspondent[RD4] ,
tensions between forces stem not from Yemen, but rather from Saudi Arabia and Iran,
claiming that if not for US backing in Saudi Arabia the ceasefire might have been more
easily maintained. “With US help, Saudi Arabia is obliterating Yemen.”
The ceasefire was brought to an end on January 2nd , with the Arab coalition claiming
that the coalition “has been and is still keen to create the right conditions to find a
peaceful solution” but because of the ongoing violence it was necessary to end the
ceasefire (Saudi Press Agency).
Considering that the latest attempt at peace was punctuated with a series of violent
attacks on both the sides, further progress towards peace and nonviolence is improbable