Yemen’s Neglected Disaster

   < < Go Back
from TIME Magazine,

The war has taken a horrific toll on the country’s people.

A man in a shelter in Rahban, on the outskirts of Saada City, a stronghold of the rebel Houthis.

As Syria continues to sink into chaos, as the Taliban gains new territory in Afghanistan and as Iraq struggles to fight ISIS, an ignored war at the far end of the Arabian Peninsula has created a humanitarian crisis that threatens to become one of the most severe in the world.

Never a stable country, Yemen has been unraveling since the Houthis–a Shi’ite religious minority that has long demanded a greater say in how the country is governed–took control of the capital, Sana’a, in September 2014 and placed President Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi under house arrest. Hadi fled the country in March, and that month a coalition of 10 Arab nations led by Yemen’s northern neighbor and Sunni power Saudi Arabia–and supported by the Saudis’ longtime ally the U.S.–launched an air campaign to counter the Houthi forces, which number around 100,000.

The Saudi-led air strikes were nominally intended to allow Hadi to return and restore stability, but U.S. analysts say they are really part of a broader attempt to assert Sunni power against Shi’ite Iran, which has in the past lent both financial and logistical support to the Houthis. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations see this war as being part of an ongoing proxy fight against Iran–just as the civil conflict in Syria has become. But that’s open to debate. A report from British think tank Chatham House concluded in February that “a large question mark remains over the extent to which Tehran [has] funded or armed the [Houthis].”

More From TIME Magazine: