Saudi Airstrikes and Blockade Exacerbate Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis

Posted April 29, 2015

MP3 Interview with Chris Toensing, executive director of the Middle East Research and Information Project and editor of Middle East report, conducted by Scott Harris

yemen

The war in Yemen between Shiite Houthi rebels and forces loyal to Yemen’s President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi began last September after rebels seized control of the capital city of Sanaa. The World Health Organization says that the death toll from the conflict has now exceeded 1,000. Saudi Arabia and Gulf allied nations launched airstrikes targeting the Houthis on March 26. But Jamal Benomar, the former United Nations envoy who mediated talks between Yemen’s warring factions says that the Saudi air campaign derailed a power-sharing agreement that was close to being finalized.

The Houthis, who belong to an offshoot of Shiite Islam known as Zaydism, have received military support from forces allied with now exiled President Hadi’s predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's former ousted president who had waged his own war against the group beginning in 2004. Although the roots of Yemen’s conflict stem mainly from internal strife between competing factions, the U.S. media has largely portrayed the fighting as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia supporting President Hadi and Iran which backs the Houthi rebels.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Chris Toensing, executive director of the Middle East Research and Information Project and editor of their publication, Middle East Report. Here, he discusses what led to Saudi Arabia's intervention in the current conflict, which along with a blockade, has exacerbated the nation’s humanitarian crisis.

For more information on the Middle East Report, visit merip.org/mero, Middle East Research and Information Project at merip.org or for more information on Yemen's humanitarian crisis, visit the Yemen Peace Project at yemenpeaceproject.org.

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