Yemen, The World’s Forgotten War

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Written By Saeed Maleki

The spotlight has dimmed on the Middle East’s forgotten war in the Gulf republic of Yemen.

The wealth of the oil-rich alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has seen a rising death toll of civilians as fighters bombard key towns and cities.

Black Apache attack helicopters patrol the horizons, while shiny tanks and artillery pound opposition positions.

Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s minister for state and foreign affairs summed up the fighting.

“Our success alters the political outlook in the region,” he said. “Our ability to influence the world is tangible. This is a crisis with Arabs taking charge for once.”

While the Arabs are in charge, they are in that position because they have weapons and training provided by the US and Europe.

Government in exile

The hardware works on the battlefield because the equipment and tactics were tested in other confrontations by the American and British armies.

Yemen was a poor and embattled country ruled by warlords at the start of the conflict. Nothing much has changed.

The government is in exile, supported by the Gulf alliance while various factions such as Al-Qaeda and other opposition forces dig in and return fire.

Alliance troops are starting to dominate and want to grab land and wipe out targets to diminish their opponents’ ability to communicate, supply fighters and control the country.

A few days ago, troops snatched the key city of Mukalla from Al-Qaeda, and with it the profitable customs duties paid by cargo ships and an oil refinery while closing a supply line at the same time.

Alliance bulldozes resistance

Around 6,500 people have died in the fighting. The alliance claims 800 Al-Qaeda fighters dies in air strikes on Mukalla.

The country has rocked beneath explosions from air strikes and US drone strikes launched from nearby Djibouti.

No end to the fighting is in sight while the Houthi opposition holds the capital Sanaa and claims the right to govern and the Saudi backed Yemeni government prepares to return home from exile to set up government from Aden.

Both sides have tried to call a ceasefire to promote peace talks, but no lasting armistice has taken place. Instead, the rivals seek to expand their influence before sitting down around a table.

The opposition had the upper hand until recently, but an increasingly organised and well-equipped alliance is now bulldozing through their resistance.