Sana’a (GPA) – Confused about what’s happening in Yemen? You aren’t alone. Mainstream media purposely ignores the catastrophe taking place in Yemen and doesn’t want to the general public to know what’s really happening. The little coverage we do see is of course very limited and very bias. In this piece, Geopolitics Alert will break down the conflict in Yemen and attempt to remove the western propaganda to give you a clear picture of what’s happening.
Saudi Arabian Control Over Yemen
Yemen is the only republic on the Arabian Peninsula. Which Saudi Arabia has vehemently opposed since Yemen’s revolution in 1962 when the Saudi royal family backed the royalist camp against the republicans. Every other state on the peninsula is led by theocratic monarchies or sultanates.
Yemen is situated just below Saudi Arabia and holds strategic control to the Red Sea and ultimately the Suez Canal. While not as important as the Straits of Hormuz, this is still a major world trade route. Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world with little oil and very little resources. However, portions of Yemen currently under Saudi occupation hold vast oil reserves. But we’ll get to that later.
Stability and submission in Yemen are key to U.S.-Saudi hegemony domestically within Saudi borders, on the Arabian Peninsula, and ultimately the entire Middle East region. So as a result, Saudi Arabia seeks to maintain dominance over Yemen with a puppet government loyal to Saudi– and ultimately U.S.– interests.
September 21st Revolution
Fed up with imperialist interference, on September 21st, 2014 revolutionary Houthi forces stormed the capital in Sana’a demanding President Hadi’s resignation. He fled to Saudi Arabia and has essentially lived there in hiding ever since. The Saudi coalition has attempted to set up an improvised capital in Aden but fails to garnish any public support.
Since then, Houthi forces have formed a broader anti-imperialist coalition with President Saleh’s General People’s Congress and they still hold control of the capital Sana’a and much of North Yemen today. Shortly after Yemen’s Resistance took control of Sana’a, Saudi Arabia started bombing Yemen and hasn’t stopped since.
In mainstream media, you’ll likely only see the resistance in Yemen referred to as “the Houthis” or even “Iranian-backed militias.” This is simply misinformation. It’s inaccurate and done on purpose to discredit the movement (and blame Iran).
Ansarullah (aka “the Houthis”) is only one part of Yemen’s resistance. They have formed an alliance with President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s General People’s Congress. Their military wing is called the People’s Army and Popular Committees and includes Yemen’s Republican Guard, Coast Guard, as well as many Ansarullah fighters.
If you would like to learn more about common misconceptions and Ansarullah’s goals, please read the PDF file below. In general, you should know that Ansarullah is a national liberation movement fighting against United States’ imperialism, Saudi aggression, and Zionism.
Most of the Saudi-backed forces in Yemen are not Yemeni at all. Most fighters on the ground are actually from Sudan or the United Arab Emirates but there are also several fighters from other countries. Please see the link below for a break down about the Saudi-backed coalition against Yemen.
Inside the Saudi coalition is also an entity called the Southern Movement. The Southern Movement seeks to see Yemen split again into North and South. On the surface, this movement would seem to have good intentions. But they actually ally with the Saudi invaders and can be seen fighting right along side Saudi-backed fighters. If the Southern Movement succeeds, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. will still have a hand in Yemen’s rule and civil war between North and South will likely continue indefinitely.
Al-Qaeda’s strongest and most active branch is located in Yemen: al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Decades of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East (and support for the Saudi’s intolerant Wahhabi ideology) have allowed AQAP to flourish using Yemen as a refuge.
AQAP is an asset to the U.S. and Saudi interests in Yemen: it keeps the country’s government unstable and easier to manipulate. Plus it justifies U.S. military action in Yemen we see to this day. Saudi-backed forces can be seen fighting along side al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen against Ansarullah forces. For a further breakdown, please see the links below.
U.S. Interests in Yemen
The United States (and really the rest of the world) supports the Saudi led coalition for all the reasons mentioned in the first section of this piece. What’s good for Saudi Arabia is good for global commerce and all world powers. So they all have a stake in seeing Yemen submissive to Saudi Arabia and docile.
By labeling Yemen’s resistance (Ansarullah) as Iranian puppets, the U.S. is able to justify their overwhelming presence in the region and continue weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. Conflict in Yemen keeps Saudi Arabia somewhat reliant on the United States. From the U.S. perspective this war is very profitable, so negotiating an end probably isn’t preferable. Please see the link below for a more detailed account of current U.S. involvement in Yemen.
More Than Just ‘Sunni-Shia’ Conflict
Despite what the mainstream media tells you, this is not as simple as a Sunni-Shia conflict. In fact during Yemen’s 1962 revolution, the Saudis had no problem supporting a Zaydi Shia monarchy in Yemen when a republic was the alternative.
The Ansarullah movement threatens Saudi stability and dominance in many ways. The conflict in Yemen has overflowed beyond Saudi borders. The regions of Asir, Najran, and Jizan were previously part of Yemen; which over the years have been sold-off and essentially occupied by Saudi Arabia. It’s no coincidence that these regions are also very rich in oil. Which– in combination with Yemen’s access to the Red Sea– could significantly raise Yemen’s economic status. Remember, Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world. Saudi Arabia does not want an economically successful constitutional republic right next door to their Wahhabi monarchy.
Over the course of the war, people living in these ‘Saudi’ regions have actually taken up arms against Saudi Arabia and joined the Ansarullah movement.
While it certainly goes beyond a Sunni-Shia conflict, this aspect cannot be ignored when one takes Saudi Arabia’s intolerant ideology into consideration. Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi ideology considers all other religious affiliations to be infidels and worthy of death. Including other Muslims of different sects.
When you consider that the resistance movement in Yemen is led by Zaydi Shia, Saudi Arabia’s actions in the country can absolutely be defined as terrorism. Considering Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign which specifically targets civilian areas and uses internationally banned weapons, one would also have to question if the word genocide fits this description. The Saudi’s ideology actively expresses a desire to kill all non-Wahhabis after all.
For the purpose of simplicity, many details and other aspects about the war in Yemen have been omitted from this piece. The intention was to give an average reader a clear idea of what’s really happening in Yemen today. If you’re interested in more information or any important “plot holes” in Yemen’s story we’ve missed, please send us an email using the form on our contact page.
You are free to republish this article with credit to the author and Geopolitics Alert.
Also published on Medium.