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Zach Carter @ZachJCarter
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YEMEN, 1962-PRESENT:

“The situation remains dire...[Yemen is] in the midst of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis." —the United Nations
In 1962, Arab nationalists toppled the Ottoman monarchy in Yemen. By 1967, British rule ended in the South, and the country was split in two:

North Yemen, the Arab Republic.
South Yemen, the Socialist People's Republic.
After over a decade of civil war in the North, Ali Abdullah Saleh became the President of North Yemen in 1978.
The two Yemens forged a unity government in 1990 (led by Saleh), though there remained deep tensions, culminating in a civil war in 1994 —Saleh’s government in the North; the socialist separatist government in the South.
Political corruption, food insecurity, poverty, unemployment, and violence plagued the newly unified country.
It was also in 1990 that the United States began to have a hand in the poverty and under-development in Yemen.
At the time of the North/South unification in 1990, the United States was preparing to go to invade Iraq.

The proposal for the use of force went to the United Nations.
When it came time for a UN resolution to authorize the war, the U.S. purchased several votes.

Egypt, for example, had $15 billion of debt wiped away for voting in favor of the resolution.
There were two countries that could not be bought: Cuba (unsurprising) and Yemen.

The Yemeni ambassador to the United Nations was told by a U.S. official:

“That was the most expensive ‘no’ vote you ever cast.”
The U.S. immediately cut off $70 million in aid to Yemen, and Saudi Arabia expelled 800,000 Yemeni workers from the country —fueling the turmoil and poverty that was already plaguing the war-torn nation.
The Houthis —a Shia militant group — became an official rebel group in 2004, and participated in several civil wars with the Saleh government between 2004-2010.
At the time, an additional military force was gaining ground—Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia and Yemen joined forces to became Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP), increasing Al Qaeda’s presence in both countries.
As AQAP joined in the fighting in Yemen, there was a major development in U.S. foreign policy: Obama’s drone assassination campaign.
Before Obama began the drone program in 2009, there were fewer than 300 AQAP militants in Yemen.

By 2012, there were over 1000.

There’s simply no doubt that the drone program is a terror-generating program.
The first airstrike in Yemen approved by Barack Obama was on December 17, 2009.

The village of al-Majalah was attacked, and 55 Yemenis (21 children) were killed.
In 2011, the CIA escalated Obama’s drone war by using a newly-built drone base in Saudi Arabia with easier access to Yemeni targets.

In 2011 and 2012 alone, 54 U.S. drone strikes killed nearly 300 people.
When the Arab Spring erupted across Northern Africa and the Middle East in 2011, Yemen joined in the revolution.
The Houthis were strong participants in the Yemeni Revolution—a peaceful contrast to their otherwise militant tactics of political opposition.
Saleh was ousted in 2011, and replaced by his vice president, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Elections were scheduled for 2012, with Hadi as the only candidate. He won 99.8% of the vote.

The Houthis refused to participate in what they considered to be an un-democratic single-candidate election.
The newly-formed Hadi government imposed massive fuel price hikes, which the Houthis protested under threat of force.

They demanded an end to the price hikes, and the dissolution of the Hadi government.
Opposition to the Hadi government grew stronger, as tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians rallied in support of the Houthi rebels.
The Houthis signed an agreement with the Hadi government to negotiate a truce in what was called a "national dialogue."

Unhappy with the prospects of the negotiations, the Houthis ultimately marched South and seized the capital, Saana, in September 2014.
Hadi was forced to flee south to Aden.

The Houthis then formed a surprising alliance with the former Saleh government loyalists in fighting the Saudi-backed Hadi forces.

It’s a deeply flawed alliance, with a lot of internal violence.
By 2015, amidst all the internal violence, 300 U.S. airstrikes in Yemen had killed around 1500 people, accelerating the violence already plaguing the country.
Finally, in 2015, Saudi Arabia, along with eight other mostly Sunni Arab states, began a bombing campaign aimed at restoring Hadi’s government.
Heavily backed (financially, militarily, and ideologically) by the U.S. and UK, the Saudi-led coalition immediately began destroying Houthi-controlled north Yemen, and killing thousands of Yemeni civilians.
U.S. support for the Saudi coalition has breadth and depth:

The United States helps Saudi pilots pick targets to attack.

They also provide 100% of the mid-air refueling for Saudi jets, increasing the number of air raids possible in single missions.
In the UN, the U.S. helps to dilute condemnations of Saudi Arabia and block investigations into war crimes committed by the coalition.
The U.S., under Barack Obama, sent armed forces into Yemen to fight against Al Qaeda (AQAP), who was gaining tremendous support as a result of the drone program.
The U.S.-backed Saudi coalition is fighting *with* AQAP against the Houthi rebels in North Yemen, while U.S. troops are supposedly fighting *against* AQAP in South Yemen.

These two conflicting policies make strategic planning in Washington quite difficult.
As it currently stands, the North is controlled by the Houthi rebels.

The South is divided between Hadi loyalists and AQAP.
Now we’re reaching the present moment.

The United Nations has declared the situation in Yemen to be “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis” in decades.
1 million Yemenis have cholera.

Millions more are on the brink of starvation.

Over 2 million have been internally displaced.

10,000 have been killed by the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition.
Despite the horrendous human rights conditions in Yemen, the U.S./UK/Saudi coalition has blocked all humanitarian aid from entering the country.
In trying to strategize solutions to this complicated crisis, there are some very obvious steps forward —foremost is ending all aid to Saudi Arabia, military and otherwise.
The U.S. should then focus on providing immediate humanitarian aid on the ground to the millions of Yemenis who are suffering at the hands of the U.S.-backed coalition forces.
This includes refugees and internally displaced persons.

Donald Trump named Yemen as one of the seven Muslim-majority countries in his travel ban.

Yemen is spiraling into genocide, and the U.S. must open its doors.
The future of the country must be decided by the Yemeni people.

Any efforts toward democratic revival and open elections should be met with unwavering support from the international community.
With the complete backing of the United States, the Saudi-led coalition is bringing unthinkable terror and devastation to a country already fighting a civil war.

Millions are suffering.

This has to end.
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