by Murad Abdo
ADEN, Yemen, March 25 (Xinhua) — On March 26, 2015, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition launched the Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen, which aimed to quickly quash the armed Houthi rebels and restore the internationally recognized Yemeni government to power. Six years later, however, the war is worse than ever.
Calling the civil war in Yemen “the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time,” the United Nations estimates that the death toll of the war has surpassed 233,000, including the more than 100,000 who died from indirect causes such as lack of food, health services, and infrastructure.
WAR RAGES ON
There is no end in sight for Yemen’s cruel civil war. Years of bloodshed have produced no clear winner, only to tear the poorest Arab country into pieces.
Entering 2021, the conflict between Yemen’s warring factions intensified as the Houthi rebels stepped up their military operations against the oil-rich northeastern province of Marib in February. The battles over the control of Marib’s oil and gas resources are still going on and both sides have lost hundreds of fighters so far.
In March, the government forces began a large-scale offensive on the frontline of Abs district, southwest of the northern Hajjah province, against the Houthi rebels.
The two sides are also fighting in the strategic Red Sea port city of Hodeidah despite a UN-brokered truce in the region.
Moreover, the Houthi group ramped up their cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia, using scores of explosive-laden drones and an array of ballistic and cruise missiles against strategic targets across the kingdom.
The intensified Houthi drone attacks prompted the Saudi-led coalition to carry out a series of heavy airstrikes on different areas controlled by the rebels in northern Yemen, pushing the violence to the probably higheast level, as the civil war is entering its seventh year at the cost of the lives of millions of Yemenis.
MILITARY INTERVENTION PROVES FUTILE
Analysts and political experts believe that as long as regional powers continue their direct interventions in Yemen’s crisis, the war could drag on for many more years and the Yemeni people will continue to suffer.
The six-year-old policies of the regional countries that mainly depended on military operations were futile, Ali Bin Hadi, a retired military expert based in the southern port city of Aden, told Xinhua, noting pushing the warring parties into direct negotiations will be the only worthwhile option to achieve permanent peace in Yemen.
“Clash of interests of regional powers and supplies of weapons to the Yemeni internal factions continue to fuel the conflict which is heading to more escalation and expansion following six years of deadly confrontations,” he said.
“Saudi Arabia and its allies waged large military campaigns during the past six years to achieve a goal to end the Iranian influence in Yemen but nothing worked as their military actions had no chance of being successful,” Hadi explained.
Adel Al-Shuja’a, a politics professor at Sanaa University, agreed that the regional interventions complicated Yemen’s crisis and delayed the arrival of a final solution.
“The coalition’s intervention led to the prolonged deadly conflict in Yemen as it allowed the Houthis to recruit and mobilize more fighters under the pretext of confronting the foreign aggression against the country,” he said.
Al-Shuja’a pointed out that the coalition’s strategy was aimed at supporting the Yemeni government and restoring its legitimate institutions but “this intervention failed to curb the Houthis’ progress and weakened the government forces instead of providing help to end the war.”
PEACE DEAL STILL FAR AWAY
On Monday, Saudi Arabia announced an initiative that included a comprehensive cease-fire across war-ravaged Yemen under the supervision of the United Nations.
Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan declared during a press conference that the initiative will push for the reopening of Sanaa International Airport to several regional and international destinations.
The minister said the initiative aims to promote the security and stability of Yemen and the region and to support peace in Yemen and put an end to the crisis.
The Yemeni government welcomed the Saudi initiative, describing it as “a real test to prove the Iran-backed militias’ desire for peace” and noting the Houthi militia responded to all previous initiatives with obstinacy and procrastination.
As expected, the Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam announced his group’s rejection to the Saudi initiative as “there is nothing new in the Saudi initiative to end the war in Yemen.”
“Saudi Arabia is part of the war in Yemen and must end the blockade on Yemen immediately,” Abdulsalam explained in a statement aired by the group’s al-Masirah TV.
Following the announced Houthi rejection, experts expected the military situation in Yemen to further escalate in the next few months as Saudi Arabia will earnestly seek to protect its strategic locations from the Houthi cross-border attacks.
“Saudi Arabia is not fully safe from the dangerous repercussions of the Houthis’ strength due to the coalition’s unsuccessful results through the military intervention against the rebels in Yemen,” Yaseen Tamimi, a Yemeni political writer and analyst, told Xinhua.
“Saudi Arabia is recently fighting a fateful battle. It has largely begun with expanding the level of its air intervention against the Houthis and may shift its policy during the upcoming period,” Tamimi said. Enditem