04 Jun NEW REPORT FROM THE SOUFAN CENTER ‘THE FORGOTTEN WAR: THE ONGOING DISASTER IN YEMEN’
NEW REPORT FROM THE SOUFAN CENTER
‘THE FORGOTTEN WAR: THE ONGOING DISASTER IN YEMEN’
While the crisis in Yemen — now widely considered the worst in the world — continues to have wide-ranging humanitarian impacts, the international security repercussions of this unchecked situation present equally pressing long-term concerns.
(New York, NY – June 4, 2018) A new report by The Soufan Center provides research and analysis about the ongoing humanitarian crisis and security disaster in Yemen.
This paper argues that Yemen’s health and infrastructure catastrophe and devolving security situation are mutually reinforcing. If action is not taken to ameliorate both, Yemen will not only continue to be a nexus of strife and deprivation, but will likely become a long-term global security issue, presenting new challenges with unforeseen consequences.
The crisis in Yemen has been brought about in large part by foreign entities. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on one side, and Iran on the other, continue to support and fund sectarian groups that are operating in the war-torn country. Seen by its neighbors as having potentially large consequences for the regional balance of power, Yemen serves as a proxy for the Sunni-Shi’a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and also for the burgeoning Sunni-Sunni power struggle among the Gulf States.
The Saudi coalition’s bombing of targets in Yemen has caused thousands of civilian deaths and incalculable damage to the health and well-being of countless Yemenis. After its recent actions in the south of Yemen and Socotra Island, the UAE is now seen more as an occupying force, even by its allies. The use of secret prisons run by the UAE or the Yemeni forces they train, where human rights violations — including torture — occur, have been well documented and is causing the resentment of many Yemenis. The only monitoring body for war crimes in Yemen is the Saudi-controlled Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT), meaning that Saudi Arabia is essentially responsible for investigating itself and its partners’ actions without any meaningful international oversight or independent verification; the report argues this must be addressed.
The report further contends that for both humanitarian and security reasons, the military support provided to the Saudi coalition by Western partners must be reviewed. Counter-terrorism goals, including to degrade Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), must be weighed against the devastating effects of the war on the Yemeni people. If support to the coalition in order to check Iran’s influence in the region is the first priority, AQAP will likely end up stronger in Yemen as a result.
This report suggests that the only way forward is a diplomatic solution, led by the Yemenis and endorsed by all parties, as artificial solutions have twice been imposed from the outside on Yemen and have failed. While it will not end the battle for influence between Iran and Saudi Arabia, a political solution in Yemen is a pre-requisite for ceasing hostilities on the ground and easing regional tensions.
ABOUT THE SOUFAN CENTER (TSC)
The Soufan Center is a nonprofit serving as a forum for research, analysis, and strategic dialogue on human security & emergent threats.