Written By Yashvi Jalan (Grade 10)
‘A house divided against itself cannot stand’ – Abraham Lincoln.
A war in which millions lose lives and families.
A war which disrupts people’s trust on society.
A war which mutilates one’s own motherland.
A war in which one brother kills the other.
A Civil War!
Among all Arab countries, Yemen is the poorest yet culturally it is the richest. 2011 was that infamous year that led Yemen to disaster. This started with a Yemenis uprising against the country’s tyrant President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Extensive corruption and widespread unemployment were the only two gifts he had bestowed upon his nation over his 22-year tenure. Alongside, he once proclaimed that ruling Yemen is like ‘Dancing on the head of snakes.’ From the north, emerged Iranians backed by Houthi Rebels while Saudi Arabians led by Mansur Hadi came from south. All determined to firstly throw over their ‘Hitler’ and secondly acquire the oil alliances and establish their ideologies over a Yemen that was now about to break into fragments.
This was an anticipated war that was nothing but a culmination of all the unfaithful events that had occurred after 1970 when North Yemen’s president Ahmad al Ghashmi was assassinated. A decade later, Saleh came into the picture as a ‘hero’ talking about unification with his counterpart Ali-Salim el Beidh, leader of Southern Yemen. This resulted in the formation of the Republic of Yemen in 1990 with Saleh as the president and Beidh as the deputy president. People were assured by the ruinous promises made by the two newly elected governments and thought of a ‘perfect future’. However, hope was crushed as both sides went to war in 1994. Saleh, a backstabber used this as the optimum opportunity to crush Beidh. In order to restore the war destruction, Saleh’s government took loans from the World Bank. Later, when the War on Terror in the USA began following the September 11 attack, he flew to Washington to pledge his full support. To Saleh’s dismay, in his absence, Al Qaeda had taken a foothold in South Yemen. So, the infuriated president took military aid from USA to get the problem fixed. This angered the tribes down South. In the north, Saleh was making another enemy, the Zaydi Tribe, and their armed faction. They accused him of failing to fix the economy and allying with America. They started an armed rebellion in 2004. Saleh was now sandwiched between the Houthis in the north and tribes in the south.
‘Enemies of one’s enemy is thy friend.’ That brings us back to 2011. Yemenis in the north and south joined each other and protested Saleh. A year later, he was forced to resign and his vice president became the president. But Saleh was a stubborn soul, he continued to give orders to generals and security officers who were still loyal to him. They attacked state institutions and caused massive destruction. Houthis found another chance to rebel. When all of Saleh’s plans failed, he decided to align himself with his former enemy – the Houthis. They quickly gained control over the capital San ‘a and declared that they were now the rulers. Later when the Houthis, advanced towards the South, Hadi fled to Saudi Arabia and asked for support. Worried about Iran gaining a foothold on their borders, Saudi Arabia formed a coalition with seven other countries and began bombing San ‘a.
Two years later, Yemen was in ruins with more than 10,000 people killed and this was accompanied by a cholera outbreak.
What was achieved, what was lost, and was it worth it?
Featured Image Courtesy – TIME