Human dignity is inviolable. Based on this universally valid maxim, Hayati Karamati is committed to the protection of human life as an indispensable prerequisite for a life in dignity. Without human life there is no dignity.
For many people in the Arab world, the struggle for survival has become much more urgent than the pursuit of dignity.
In Yemen, people have been suffering hunger and death from the aggression of an alliance led by Saudi Arabia for more than three years. Arbitrary bombing of large cities and conurbations from the air, mercenary troops bought from countries such as Sudan, Senegal or Pakistan to kill or be killed on the Yemeni front. So far, over 10,000 civilians have been killed, including countless women and children. There are over 4 million refugees and 5 million internal displaced people (IDPs). The country faces systematic prevention of external support through a strict air, sea and land embargo. Cholera and epidemics are spreading. The 26 million people are to be hermetically sealed off. The aim: through this separation from the outside world, the suffering of the people should become so bad that they submit to the demands of the Saudis.
So far the brave people are defeating these demands. Until now they are lamenting the genocide and appealing to the world community to intervene swiftly.
The Yemeni people are getting wiped out systematically. The biggest humanitarian crisis of these days.
History of the Conflict
The current situation in Yemen is characterised by conflicts with which the country has been struggling for decades. However, as a result of the unstable situation following the outbreak of the Arab Spring in Yemen in 2011, the conflict has expanded since 2014 into a civil war that spans the entire country. The war is fueled by interreligious and regional conflicts. In general, two major conflict parties can be identified. On the one hand side, there are groups who are committed to the Sunni President Hadi, who is recognised by the international community and who has his followers mainly in the south of the country. On the other side are the Shiite Huthi rebels from northern Yemen and the former President Saleh.
Division of the Country
The conflicts go back a long way in Yemen’s history. Until 1990 Yemen was divided into the People’s Republic of Yemen in the south and the Arab Republic of Yemen in the north. The coexistence of the two states was not always peaceful. External actors such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan were also involved in the conflict. After the collapse of the USSR and severe economic problems in both north and south Yemen, the two countries unified in 1990. Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had been president of the northern part since 1978, became president of the new Republic of Yemen.
However, it soon became apparent that the two territories were not completely united. In 1994 a civil war broke out in the south of the country, which led to a declaration of independence by the south. The newly founded state was not recognised internationally and the declaration of independence was unsuccessful. After the end of the civil war, the Saleh regime established comprehensive control over the central resources and institutions of Yemen. The innermost circle around Saleh gained economic advantages. As a result, the regions outside the urban agglomerations were excluded and the tribes became increasingly hostile to the government.
The socio-political situation became increasingly fragile and the living conditions of the population deteriorated. In addition, the political landscape was heavily influenced by corruption. Parts of the government now also became aware that Saleh deliberately asserted the interests of his family, leaving other political elites out of the picture. Tensions within the government, increasing discontent among the population, rebel movements such as the Huthis and groups from the South, which demanded the independence of the South, led to a loss of Saleh’s legitimacy. After conferences were held in 2009 and 2010 on the government’s initiative by opposition forces remained ineffective. Therefore the people of Yemen followed the movements that began in Tunisia and are called the Arab Spring. The aim of the protests was political change to combat high unemployment, poor economic conditions and multiple corruption.
Development Since 2014
Following the massive protests, President Saleh resigned in November 2011 and handed over his office to former Vice President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. He should be responsible for the country over the next two years during the transformation process. In return, the former President Saleh was granted immunity. However, he remained chairman of the ruling GPC party, of which President Hadi is also a member. The ruling coalition of the GPC and former opposition parties was unable to improve the situation in Yemen and struggled with a variety of problems. As a result, the government lost its recognition and support among the population.
Civil War Since 2014
In September 2014, the Huthi rebels, along with former president Saleh’s fighters, stormed the capital Sanaa and forced the interim government of Hadi to resign. A new consensus government was set up for a few months, but had to resign in January 2015 after the Huthi rebels intervened. After it became known that Hadi, who is still the internationally recognized President of Yemen, was preparing a new division of the country into North and South to remain President of the South, various groups throughout the country tried to gain control of areas in Yemen. As a consequence, Hadi had to flee into exile to Saudi Arabia.
International Intervention and Radical-Religious Groups
Shortly afterwards, Saudi Arabia intervened and changed the course of the transformation process in Yemen. In the struggle with Shiite Iran for supremacy on the Arabian Peninsula, the Shiite Huthi rebels, who also control border areas with Saudi Arabia, are seen as a threat to their own power. Saudi Arabia is therefore leading a military alliance against the Huthi rebels and Saleh’s forces, consisting of Sunni-ruling countries supported by weapons and technology from Britain and France. Not only religious but also economic motives play a decisive role. Yemen’s geographical location controls the Bab al-Mandab sea route, through which a large part of the world’s oil supplies are shipped.
The alliance under Saudi Arabia’s leadership claims its military action with the UN Security Council Resolution 2216 of April 2014, which calls on the alliance of Huthi rebels and Saleh supporters to give up. However, there is sufficient evidence that attacks by the Saudi military alliance have killed civilians. Furthermore, the radical groups of Al-Qaeda and the so-called „Islamic state“ are contributing to a deterioration of the disastrous situation in Yemen. Both groups were strengthened by the weak state structures during the civil war and are now competing for Sunni fighters and supporters. While the „IS“ does not control large areas in Yemen, Al Qaeda in Yemen is one of the organization’s most dangerous offshoots worldwide.
Current Situation in Yemen
Since the beginning of the civil war, more than 10,000 civilians have been killed and many more injured. The number of unreported cases is probably much higher. The acts of war have not only directly claimed human lives, but have also caused one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes in recent history by destroying the infrastructure to a large extent. Many people no longer have access to clean drinking water, sanitation or hospitals. As a result, cholera has erupted almost throughout the country. According to WHO data from September 2017, 90 percent of all areas in Yemen are affected. From April 2017 to October 2017, more than 600,000 cases of cholera and more than 2,000 deaths after cholera infection were registered by the WHO. According to UNDP estimates, 7,000 new infections will occur daily in August 2017. Cholera is particularly prevalent among the population due to malnutrition. Two million children and babies are acutely malnourished. Seven million people are on the verge of famine.
They can hardly hope for help from the Yemeni government. The central bank of Yemen now has foreign exchange reserves of less than $1 billion. Since September 2016, 1.2 million teachers, employees, doctors, nurses, water workers and garbage workers have not been paid any more. The consequences are garbage accumulations on the streets, standstill of water treatment plants because there is no money for fuel to power the generators, and numerous former civil servants who now have no more income to support their families. More than half of the hospitals are no longer able to work because both doctors and nurses cannot work in their professions due to the lack of payment. Therefore they have to try to earn money in different ways. Furthermore most of the hospitals infrastructure was destroyed by precise bombings. Due to the civil war, there is hardly any paid work left, so desperate Yemenis even sell their organs on the black market to survive.