Yemen: Conflict and Peacebuilding in the Middle East

Background Information: As conflict begins to arise in the Middle East, Yemen continues to be a target for militant groups and other nations that surround it. Yemen lies on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. With Saudi Arabia to the north, the Gulf of Aden and Africa to the south, and the Red Sea to the west, Yemen used to be a nation split in two: The Yemen Arab Republic and The People's Democratic Republic of Yemen.

Overview: There is currently a conflict in Yemen that involves the Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia (north) and the Shiite-majority of Iran. This conflict mainly is one between the United States and Iran, as the rising conflict could potentially become a proxy war between the two countries. This indirect conflict between Iran and the United States is reflected through a Saudi coalition that is allied with the United States and the Houthis, members of a rebel group (Ansar Allah) who follow a branch of Shia Islam known as Zaidism. As a rebel group, the Houthis would attempt to gain more and more territory until the Sunni backed by the United States would launch airstrikes. Al Qaeda also resides in Yemen, and takes advantage of this unrest by promoting their campaign and freeing their supporters. As an enemy to both the Houthis and the Sunni's (government), Al Qaeda supports neither side. ISIS also claims to have carried out some bombings in March in Sanaa.

I. The main opponents of this conflict from the United States standpoint would be the Houthis and Al Qaeda. As the United States continues to carry out airstrikes against Al Qaeda, the Houthis advance on Yemen are pushing the United States' campaign back.

II. The countries that are most involved in Yemen would be the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. The United States is focused on eliminating Al Qaeda, while Saudi Arabia does not support the Shia Houthis, who are however supported by Iran.

III. Most of the conflict is being conducted through air strikes by the United States. Houthi forces have began to take control of places such as the capital. As a result, innocent civilians are still caught in crossfire with this ongoing conflict. There are also occasional bombings by terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS.

IV. The root of the conflict stems from the Houthis who had already clashed upon multiple occasions with the government of Yemen. As the Houthis began to take over more and more land, they would seize the presidential palace Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi who backed the Saudis. The Houthis would continue to take more land until a Saudi coalition would begin airstrikes.

V. Peacemaking talks were originally used, however with the tension between Saudis and Houthis, peace was unable to be attained in the past. Saudi Arabia however, has stated that they aim to bring "security and stability through establishing a political process." The Houthis also wish for a United Nations supervised talk to resolve this conflict, however until so, many civilians continue to be caught in the crossfire from this conflict.

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Works Cited:

"Yemen conflict: What's going on? What happens next?" CNN Wire 23 Apr. 2015. Global Issues In Context. Web. 1 May 2015.

"Yemen Crisis: Who Is Fighting Whom? - BBC News." BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 May 2015.

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