On February 11th, 2011, an uprising of more than 20,000 in the capital of Sana’a, Yemen, forced its former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to hand over the presidency to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. The first official protest that took place in Yemen on January 27 was inspired by the Arab Spring: A series of anti-government protests, armed rebellion, and uprisings that ravaged most of the Arab world in 2010 in defiance of corruption and economic stagnation.
On January 27th 2011, a demonstration of 16,000 people became the origin of the Yemeni civil war today, as a response to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s call for an early election. Yemeni civilians mobilized to demand a new political paradigm and for President Saleh’s resignation. Following a year-long protests, the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional, intergovernmental political and economic partnership between the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman, provided Saleh with immunity concerning his possible crimes while in office. President Saleh then stepped down in early 2012, but kept his position as the head of his political party, the General People’s Congress (GCP)
In February 2012, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi was sworn into office, but was quickly plagued with pre existing issues he struggled to resolve such as corruption, unemployment, food security, and a southern separatist movement. Jihadist attacks, former president Saleh’s loyalties by security personnel threatened the newly formed presidency.
The Houthi movement– officially known as Ansar Allah (Partisans of God) from Saada in the north of Yemen readily exploited the new president’s deficiencies. The country’s Zaidi Shia Muslim minority group previously fought against Saleh during his presidency. However, they allied with him to reclaim the country. The Houthis first took over Saada in the north and then advanced down south to the Capital, Sana’a.
By the late 2014s, the country slipped into a civil war with many Yemenis, including Sunnis supporting the Houthis and former president Saleh. In March 2015, the internationally-recognized president Hadi invited a majority Sunni, Saudi-led coalition for military intervention and neutralization of Houthi threats. The coalition believed the Houthis were empowered by regional Shiites and rival Iran now and then.
The coalition troops successfully drove the Houthis out of most of the Southern cities, but they kept their strongholds in the Northern parts of Yemen and Sana’a.
The alliance between Abdullah Saleh and the rebels collapsed in 2017 after Saleh was suspected of switching sides.
The former President was killed when caught fleeing Sana’a. Supporters of Saleh joined the coalition and its allies in an effort to retake the Red Sea city of Hodeidah in 2018. The port of Hodeidah is a vital support for millions of Yemeni families on the brink of famine.
After months of fighting, the warring parties agreed to a ceasefire. The requisites of the agreement from the UN demands that both sides pull back their troops from Hudaydah, set up a prisoner exchange procedure, and discuss the circumstances of the city of Taiz, which had been under Houthi control since 2015.
Though many prisoners have been exchanged, the city of Taiz is still under Houthi rule, thus preventing the redeployment of troops on both sides. A humanitarian catastrophe has been forecasted because the conflict in Taiz can predictably lead to another round of battle for Hudaydah.
In 2021, the Houthis’ attempted besiege of Marib, the capital of the oil-rich province of Marib Governorate sparked another round of extreme exchange of munitions between the oppositions.
Attacks on government-controlled areas in Yemen and on civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia have prompted U.S. and Saudi officials to accuse Iran of violating a U.N. arms embargo by smuggling sophisticated weapons to Iran. The Iranian government has denied all allegations.
President Hadi’s government has been based in the southern port city of Aden since the beginning of the conflict, but a lack of sufficient security has forced the president to reside in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Qaeda militants in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and local members of the Islamic State (IS) have sought to take advantage of the unrest. Deadly attacks by the groups have been carried out, with occasional territory seizing from the government in the south.
The civil war expected to end in a few weeks is now seven years old and continuing.
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