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The conflict in Yemen is one of the loudest events happening in the world these days, but very few people have a proper understanding of that this conflict entails and why it occurred. Yemen is known to be the poorest country in the Middle East with a very long history and a complex sociocultural situation. This country had been politically divided into South Yemen and North Yemen that used to function as two separate states prior to 1990 (Sharro). Today, Yemen is unified by is still torn apart by disagreements within its nation.
For a very long time, the state of Yemen has been facing major cultural disagreements. These disagreements are mainly based on the cultural and religious differences that exist within the nation. To be more precise, most of the people living in Yemen are Sunni and about one-third of the country’s population are Shiite (Sharro). The two groups disagree with one another in terms of religion and cause the major inhomogeneity in the state. In addition, there are other communities functioning of the territory of Yemen that contribute to the aggravation of the internal political and sociocultural divisions.
For example, there are territories of Yemen where al-Qaeda can operate and the territories controlled by Houthis – the group opposing al-Qaeda (“The Crisis in Yemen: What You Need to Know”).These divisions create the potential of serious internal conflicts in the country able to tear apart the entire nation. Moreover, these divisions have been in place for a long time which has created a very tense political, cultural, and social environments.
The principle cause of the conflict in Yemen was the onset of what is known as the Arab Spring that was supposed to be a positive political transition to the country. In particular, by the time the Arab Spring began, the people of Yemen were prepared to face change because they were exhausted by several decades of authoritarian ruling of president Saleh that brought a high rate of unemployment and financial struggles (Schuster).
However, instead of stability and peace, the Arab Spring resulted in an uprising and the change in power dynamics as the long-time president Saleh gave power to his deputy Hadi who was faced with a number of crises and critical situations which he failed to respond to properly (“Yemen Crisis: Who Is Fighting Whom?”). As a result, the conflict emerged that included many smaller factions, but there are two main fighting sides as well. Specifically, the conflict is faced by the pro-government forces supporting Hadi as their president and the anti-government forces supported by the ex-president Saleh (Schuster). The latter forces are also known as the Houthis; they belong to a slammer branch of Shiite Muslims known as Zaydis and geographically are based in the north of Yemen.
The unification of Yemen in 1990 served as a major cause for internal resentments within the nation. Prior to the unification, the country used to be divided into two separate states – South Yemen and North Yemen. The resentments and conflicts between the two sides began as soon as the state became unified and revolved around various factors such as territories, cultural values, and worldviews that are still not settled.
For example, currently, dissatisfied with the political and social situation and exhausted by the armed conflicts, the people in the south of Yemen pursue separatist ideas (Sharro). Moreover, over the course of the conflict, the Houthis from the north infiltrated several territories in the south of Yemen. This action provoked the aggravation of the conflict resulting in the clashes between sides (Fahd). Eventually, the Houthi forces had to go back to the Northern provinces.
The conflict that started out as a civil disorder in the territory of Yemen soon grew beyond its borders and began to affect the neighboring states. Specifically, president Hadi is the internationally recognized political leader of Yemen and several Middle Eastern countries formed a coalition led by Saudi Arabia aiming at the reinstatement of Hadi (Schuster). To be more precise, the other states participating in the coalition are Kuwait, Egypt, Bahrain, Sudan, Qatar, Jordan, Morocco, and the UAE. All of these countries launched military operations in the territory of Yemen. The major outcome of all of these activities is a serious humanitarian crisis that affects tens of thousands of people.
To sum up, the conflict in Yemen is a complex political event that occurred due to the interaction of multiple interconnected factors and causes some of which have been in place for decades or even centuries. To be more precise, the conflict in Yemen is an armed clash between several factions and two major fighting sides – the pro- and anti-government forces. The conflict is powered by cultural and religious inhomogeneity within the nation of Yemen and its historical and geographical division into two main parts – the north and the south. The people of Yemen are the side that lost the most in this conflict.
“The Crisis in Yemen: What You Need to Know.” NYTimes. 2015. Web.
Fahd, Abdulmalik. “The Yemen Conflict, Explained.” Ventures Africa. 2017. Web.
Schuster, Kathleen. “Yemen’s War Explained in 4 Key Points.” DW. 2017. Web.
Sharro, Carl. “The Confused Person’s Guide to Yemen.” The Atlantic. 2015. Web.
“Yemen Crisis: Who Is Fighting Whom?” BBC. 2017. Web.