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The War In Yemen Is A Total Bloodbath

November 2, 2019

Via Wikimedia Commons.

As the lopsided struggle to dominate Yemen enters its fifth year new findings by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) reveals a horrifying body count: the war has now killed “over 100,000” people and 1/10th of them are civilians. ACLED makes it clear the civilian fatalities are a result of a pitiless bombing campaign by an Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia. Based on its research since the war began 67% of civilian deaths are “caused by coalition airstrikes.”

The ongoing conflict began in late 2015 when Ansar Allah, who are better known as the “Houthis,” seized the capital and overthrew President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The combined strength of the GCC and other Arab states have since been trying to restore the Hadi government.

Of the 100,000 killed in the war ACLED found “approximately 20,000” casualties in 2019 even if “conflict incidents” this year are on a downward trend. At the current rate of human loss both 2018 and 2019 are becoming the deadliest war years. This is because fighting remains intense even when the volume of airstrikes and other mass casualty incidents are in decline. “The number of coalition airstrikes declined over the past year,” ACLED reports. “Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia increased until the group declared a unilateral ceasefire against targets inside Saudi territory in September.”

ACLED also reports 12,000 civilians are part of the total killed so far. Of this figure 8,000 perished from coalition airstrikes and 2,000 died from Houthi atrocities. As the war is grinding toward a near-permanent stalemate a firm resolution to the whole mess is still out of reach. Most of Yemen’s territory is under GCC control but Ansar Allah are holding on to the “heartland” in the northwest where most of the population resides. In a remarkable departure from their guerilla roots, Ansar Allah are stubborn adversaries who employ cutting edge technology. The coalition may enjoy air superiority and enormous military budgets but its troops on the ground, who are recruited from local Yemeni tribes, have been trounced time and again.

Ansar Allah are equally responsible for sophisticated missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE. These involve both missiles and drones supplied by Iran that are launched at sensitive locations and often reach their targets undetected. Since the war began Ansar Allah managed to cobble together an arms industry sophisticated enough for assembling guided rockets and repurposed Soviet vintage missiles. Of course, the expertise to accomplish this can only have come from Iran. Ansar Allah’s missiles may not have caused mass casualties yet but they have proven how vulnerable Saudi Arabia’s critical infrastructure is to disruption. Ansar Allah were quick to claim responsibility for the mysterious September 14 attacks on two Saudi oil facilities although the Saudis used the evidence it collected for blaming Iran.

Prolonging the war in Yemen poses grave consequences for its citizens. Besides the high risk of starvation for 24 million Yemenis the United Nations (UN) is trying to monitor a horrific cholera epidemic that has infected half a million people by mid-2019. The economic cost of the war is phenomenal too. Being the poorest country in the Arabian peninsula, the war has wrecked factories, hospitals, power stations, roads, and schools in the areas held by Ansar Allah, making any attempt at reconstruction daunting.

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