The political crisis in Yemen has led to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world currently. An alarming 22.2 million people in Yemen need some kind of humanitarian or protection assistance, an estimated 17.8 million are food insecure, 8.4 million people are severely food insecure and at risk of starvation and 16.4 million lack access to adequate healthcare . With the US-supported Saudi Arabia and its allies’ blockade on key ports, there has been limited access to fuel as a result of which the water and sanitation systems have collapsed directly affecting 16 million Yemenis. The prices have skyrocketed with severe scarcity of drinking water and sanitation leading to a break out of cholera and diarrhea epidemic . Access to food has been severely hit as Yemen imports 90% of its food requirements. The worst hit has been children and women belonging to families which were already poor.
The Arab Spring swept Yemen in 2011-12 leading to the oust of the then President of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh who had been in power for the last 33 years. State power was transferred to Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and his loyalists. The Houthis, who had played a significant role in ousting Saleh, were eventually unhappy with the proposed governance reforms. The Houthi forces stormed into government offices and took control of the capital city of Sanaa. In 2015, they announced the fall of the Hadi government, dissolved the Parliament, installed an interim Revolutionary Committee and declared themselves in control of the government. Hadi, with the help of the Saudis, eventually escaped to the port city of Aden, declared that he was the legitimate president and announced that Aden was Yemen’s temporary capital. Within a month Saudi Arabia, with logistical and intelligence support from the US and its allies, started attacking the Houthi controlled areas in Yemen. War erupted between forces loyal to Hadi and the Houthi forces as well. The US-Saudi coalition put sea, air and land blockades on Houthi controlled areas which has led to severe famine and epidemic in those areas.
The Houthis are an anti-imperialist group who use armed and non-armed means to achieve their end. The group had accused Saleh of massive corruption and allying with the US at the cost of the Yemeni people. The movement’s expressed goals include combating economic underdevelopment and political marginalization in Yemen while seeking greater autonomy for Houthi-majority regions of the country. They also claim to support a more democratic non-sectarian republic in Yemen. The Houthis have made fighting corruption the centerpiece of their political program. Their slogan is ‘God is great, death to the US, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam’. However, Houthi officials have rejected the literal interpretation of the slogan and claim that it is more figurative than literal. They primarily belong to the Zaidi sect of Shia Muslims, who are a minority in Yemen and claim discrimination from previous regimes in Yemen . The US-Saudi alliance has claimed that the Houthis are funded by Iran, which is looked upon as an enemy.
The US has long been involved in the middle east directly or indirectly for multiple reasons. It is important for the corporate controlled US government to remove all obstacles that might create problems in expansion of their markets. Add to that the huge military-industrial complex that runs to create profits for those companies. War is a necessity for capitalism to function, especially when it is in crisis – which it is in every 8-10 years. Currently, the US has deployed troops in at least 14 countries in its supposed ‘War on Terror’.The US has provided re-fueling services to Saudi aircrafts, other logistic support and intelligence support to the Saudi alliance in the Yemen war. There are reports as well, indicating involvement of US troops in Saudi Arabia aiding the offensive on the Houthi controlled Yemeni population . The support has helped the Saudi coalition to bomb huge areas controlled by the Houthis, killing thousands of civilians, mostly women and children. At least 6800 civilians have been killed and 10,700 injured in the war apart from 85,000 children killed due to malnutrition because of the Saudi-US coalition forced blockade in Yemen, according to the UN .
Saudi Arabia has remained the biggest customer of US arms companies in the last 2 decades accounting for around 1/5th of all arms export of the US. In the American fiscal year 2017-2018, the US has exported weapons worth $55.6 billion globally. The US is the biggest arms exporter in the world contributing to 1/3rd of all exports. In 2018 the US President claimed to have signed deals worth $110 billion with Saudi Arabia during his visit to the nation . After the emergence of various evidences indicating the involvement of Saudi Arabia in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the US President clearly stated that irrespective of these facts it was out of question to rethink the arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The loyalty of capitalism towards corporations at the cost of human lives is quite clear and natural.
News of the humanitarian crisis has trickled out of Yemen, though quite slowly. After more than 3 years of incessant bombings on civilians by the US-Saudi forces, popular sentiment in the US is growing in favor of pullout of US support in the Yemen war. Brokered by the UN, representatives of the Hadi government and that of the Houthis have engaged in talks on various points including the removal of blockade of Hadeidah port which would be key to ensure food, water, etc. to the suffering millions.