Taiz: Another Saudi-led coalition failure in Yemen

Taiz: Another Saudi-led coalition failure in Yemen
Comment: Taiz today is a fresh example of the fragile presence of the state, and the lack of the rule of law in Yemen, writes a Yemeni journalist.
5 min read
03 Apr, 2019
The violence in Taiz underscores the deep divisions marring allies in Yemen's war [Anadolu]
Late last month, Yemen's Taiz city plunged headfirst into bloody armed confrontations, leaving civilians dead and injured.

The deadly clashes did not occur between the Houthis and Saudi-backed Yemeni forces. Instead, armed groups operating under Yemen's internationally recognised government and the Saudi-led coalition fought fierecly, turning city neighbourhoods into a gruesome battleground.

The infighting killed six and wounded about 50 civilians while families remained besieged in their houses for four days. Vital public facilities such as hospitals came under fire, barring civilians from basic services. 

Although these militant factions - the al-Islah party fighters and the Salafis - show allegiance to the Saudi-led coalition, they are driven by the coalition's divided agenda in Yemen. Such violence would not occur, were the armed groups affiliated with the Saudi-led coalition held accountable.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a key member of the Arab coalition, is backing the Salafis to face off the Islah party, a matter which has created a tense climate in Taiz, causing in destructive violence in the city.

"We are worried that wounded people are trapped between frontlines and many of them are unable to reach health facilities inside or outside of the city," said Caroline Ducarme, head of the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) mission in Yemen.  

The chaos and bloodshed in this densely populated city is further evidence that the Saudi-led coalition has failed in Yemen

Thanks in part to the Saudi-led Arab coalition, Taiz today is another fresh example of the fragile presence of the state, and the lack of rule of law in Yemen. The chaos and bloodshed in this densely populated city is further evidence that the Saudi-led coalition has failed in Yemen, and contributed to undermining the legitimate government in the country over the last four years.

Yemen's fifth year of war began late last month, but the coalition still boasts that it came to the rescue of Yemen. Actually, the coalition - in the eyes of many Yemenis - cannot claim a single praiseworthy action since it declared its military campaign on March 26, 2015.

The recent infighting in Taiz points to the coalition's abject failure and goalless war in the country. Does the coalition's goal really centre on containing Iranian influence? If so, why does it allow, and sometimes push militant factions under its control, to fight and wreak havoc in the major cities, including Aden and Taiz?

Why doesn't the coalition mobilise all its allies inside Yemen to fight the Iran-allied Houthis? Clearly, it has neither the will to eliminate the Houthis, nor to end the war in Yemen.   

Since so-called Operation Decisive Storm kicked off in 2015, the Saudi-led coalition has directly and indirectly committed atrocities against civilians. When it fails to discipline its militias, Yemeni civilians become vulnerable, paying a heavy price.

Repeatedly, humanitarian voices from across the globe have called on the warring parties in Yemen - including the coalition - to put stronger measures in place and ensure protection for civilians and the provision of medical care. But such calls are in vain.  

UAE keeps nourishing militias

The Arab coalition, headed by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, apparently came to resolve a clearly defined problem: The Houthi military expansion in Yemen. Unfortunately, Yemen's problems today are now infinitely greater, and notoriously difficult to address.

The coalition itself has created multiple problems. One is the UAE-operated militias in Aden, Taiz, Shawba and Hadramout.

Presently, the internationally recognised government of Yemen is headquartered in Aden, while President Abd Rabu Mansour remains lives in exile in Saudi Arabia.

Yemen's fifth year of war began late last month, but the coalition still boasts that it came to the rescue of Yemen

Aden could be safe for the president to return. But as long as the UAE-backed separatists have the upper hand in the city, it would be impossible and highly risky for the president to come back home. Can the coalition take pride in this fact? Keeping the president in exile and running the country in cooperation with local militias is a dismal state of affairs. 

If the coalition no longer recognises Hadi as president, why does not it say so? If the coalition believes Hadi is not fit for presidency, other solutions could be found instead of detaining him indefinitely.

The UAE is not only leading a war against the Houthis, it is waging war on the whole country, seeking to create two Yemens, south and north on the condition that leadership of both parts remain at its disposal.

Read more:  Six killed in fighting between government-aligned factions in Yemen

UAE shows enmity towards the Houthis and the Muslim Brotherhood alike, and has been fighting against both. It apparently has a vision for Yemen that is very different from that of the Yemeni people. Such a strategy will surely make it impossible to establish stability in the country.

In four years of war, the Houthis military power has not been disabled. Instead, the various calculations of the Arab coalition - and particularly UAE - have dragged it into a fifth year, subjecting Yemen to the coalition's agenda.

With every new day of war, Yemenis' belief that that the Saudi-led coalition's overt rescue plan has miscarried grows stronger. Yemen has lost more than it gained since the coalition stepped in militarily, and Yemenis are no longer convinced of the coalition's goodwill.

The writer is a Yemeni journalist, reporting from Yemen, whose identity we are protecting for their security.

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Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.