Yemen: five years since Saudi-led coalition intervened
Impoverished Yemen is mired in a devastating conflict between Iran-backed rebels and government forces that intensified after Saudi Arabia spearheaded a military intervention five years ago.
mpoverished Yemen is mired in a devastating conflict between Iran-backed rebels and government forces that intensified after Saudi Arabia spearheaded a military intervention five years ago.
Separatists further complicated the crisis on Sunday by declaring self-rule for the country’s south.
Here is an overview:
– Saudi-led intervention –
n September 2014, Huthi rebels from the country’s Zaidi Shiite minority in northern Yemen enter Sanaa, seizing the government headquarters.
Backed by Shiite-majority Iran, the rebels ally themselves with military units loyal to ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was forced to quit after a 2011 uprising.
As well as the capital, they seize swathes of territory, including the Red Sea port of Hodeida, a crucial entry point for imports and humanitarian aid.
n February 2015, President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi flees to second city Aden.
A coalition led by Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, the bitter regional rival of Iran, enters the conflict on March 26, 2015 with air strikes on the rebels.
Washington says it is contributing logistics and intelligence.
As the rebels advance on Aden, Hadi flees, taking refuge in Saudi Arabia.
The coalition’s intervention helps pro-government forces to secure the southern port city and in October they announce they have retaken control of the Bab al-Mandab strait, a key waterway for international shipping.
– Battle for aid port –
n June 2018, government fighters, backed by Saudi and Emirati ground forces, launch an offensive to retake the port city of Hodeida.
UN-brokered talks between the warring parties open in December, yielding a series of breakthroughs including a ceasefire in Hodeida where fighting largely stops.
– Southern separatists –
The anti-Huthi camp is divided, with fighting breaking out repeatedly between southern separatists and unionist forces loyal to Hadi’s government.
n January 2018, the separatists occupy the presidential palace in Aden, before Saudi and Emirati forces intervene.
South Yemen was an independent state until unifying with the north in 1990, and separatists remain powerful.
n August 2019, separatists in Aden from the UAE-trained Security Belt force clash with unionist troops backed by Riyadh.
n November, a power-sharing accord is signed between the two parties, but is never implemented.
On April 26, 2020, the separatists declare self-governance for the south, and the accord with the government crumbles.
– New escalation –
On January 18, a missile strike on a loyalist military camp blamed on the Huthis kills 116 people and injures dozens.
n early March, the rebels seize key provincial capital Al-Hazm after heavy fighting with government troops.
On April 8, the Saudi-led coalition declares a two-week coronavirus ceasefire.
A few hours into the ceasefire, which begins the following day, Huthi rebels dismiss the initiative as political manoeuvering.
Yemeni pro-government forces and Huthi rebels report several air raids in the northern districts of Al-Jawf and Hajjah.
– Humanitarian crisis –
Yemen’s conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, relief agencies say.
Over 24 million Yemenis, or more than two thirds of the population, need aid, according to the United Nations, which describes the conflict as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”.
On April 10, Yemen announces its first case of the new coronavirus, in a southern government-controlled province.
The country is “critically under-equipped” to face the pandemic, warns the head of Save the Children in Yemen.