Eight years ago, a combined force of US imperialism’s allies in the Arab world, led by Saudi Arabia, launched an all-out war against Yemen, a sovereign country on the Arabian Peninsula. 150,000 ground troops and 100 fighter aircraft were used in this campaign.
For several years before this assault, people in Yemen had been fighting against the deeply unpopular regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh, which had been backed by the US and Saudi Arabia. In early 2012 the US and Saudi Arabia had organised to replace Saleh’s presidentship by that of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. But the people of Yemen realised that this would not bring about any change in their conditions, and continued their struggle. In September 2014, the militia led by the Houthis succeeded in capturing the capital Sanaa, forcing Hadi to flee to the southern port of Aden.
Yemen is a country with oil and gas resources. It is also situated strategically along the Red Sea through which millions of barrels of oil transit daily. The ousting of the puppet regime of Hadi was not acceptable to the US, as well as the UK and European Union. A coalition was put together to launch the assault on Yemen. Although the direct aggression was carried out by their Arab allies and Sudan, these imperialists provided the full military and logistical backing without which this aggression could not be sustained.
Today, eight years later, the forces of aggression have been unable to dislodge the Houthis from their control of Sanaa and the northern part of the country. But the years of bombardment, fighting, and US-imposed economic sanctions have turned the country into a wasteland, and taken a heavy toll of its people. Here are a few hard facts:
- the United Nations Population Fund has said that more than 80% of Yemen’s people are in dire need of assistance. This includes millions of children.
- the UN High Commission for Refugees has estimated that about 6 million people have been displaced because of the fighting.
- The UN Development Program has estimated that over 400,000 people have died as a result of the fighting, including 150,000 killed in the fighting and the rest due to the impact of disease, starvation and other effects of the war, the blockade of vital medical supplies and food.
- 632,000 children under the age of five, and 1.5 million pregnant and lactating women are suffering from extreme malnutrition.
- Hundreds of health facilities, schools and other facilities have been destroyed by bombardment.
Like Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and other places, Yemen today is one more example of the destruction of a whole country and its people caused by US imperialism and its allies for their own interests. The imperialists are determined to stop anything that would weaken their hold over other countries, particularly those with rich natural resources or which are strategically located. In the case of Yemen, they are also determined to prevent any forces which have good relations with their arch-enemy in the region, Iran, from coming to power. Yemen shows the extent to which these barbarous forces will go to secure their own interests.
Currently, a ceasefire arrived at last year is more or less still in force. Talks held between the Saudi government and the Houthi militia in January, as well as an agreement to restore diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran last month, hold out some prospect of a respite from, if not an end to, the fighting. However, this cannot compensate the people of Yemen for the extreme suffering that they have had to endure all these years because of the imperialist-organised aggression on their country.