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The Yemeni Civil War

Daniel Carvalheiro-Santos, Staff Writer

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On February 1st and 2nd, Oratory’s Model UN team will participate in the 19th Annual Academy Model United Nations Conference, where the team will represent a number of countries in separate committees with separate goals. As a member of this team, I was prompted to choose a country to represent, and as the selection for the countries was randomly done, I was one of the last people picked, and so I was left to choose one of the most undesired committees: the Yemeni Civil War Crisis Committee. I was drawn to this committee because of its irregularity and peculiarity of this topic. Upon conducting some research about the topic, I discovered that this is actually a pressing issue in today’s world, displacing and endangering thousands of Yemeni citizens.

You may ask why one should be worried by a civil war in a foreign country? Well, this war affects the entire world; although it especially affects the Middle East, this conflict brings widespread instability to the region. The war is based on a disagreement (like all others) between two of the main political factions that once controlled the country: the Houthis and the Hadis. The Houthis are a rebellious terrorist insurgent group born in the light of the Yemeni unification that occurred in the early 90s. Yemen had once been split into North Yemen and South Yemen, and after their unification, the Houthi group was born with a Shia-clerical facade led by its namesake, Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi. In 2011, following the Arab Spring and the ousting of many Middle Eastern dictators, the Houthis established a strong base in North Yemen, and with the alleged help of Hezbollah and Iran, the Houthis made significant territorial gains in Yemen, slowly encroaching closer and closer to the Yemeni capital of Sana’a. The group’s only opposition was Saleh, the former ruler of Yemen. In 2012, however, Saleh was ousted by the Yemeni people and replaced by Hadi, a new “progressive” and “impartial” Yemeni president, whose supporters are called the Hadis. In order to get revenge on the Yemeni people and particularly the Hadi regime, Saleh becomes the official unofficial leader of the Houthis, and with his help, the group is able to capture Yemen’s capital city and the main source of income for the nation, Sana’a, in 2014. After militarily pressuring President Hadi to resign or sign a unity negotiation by surrounding his palace in the capital, Hadi resigns and the Houthis declare that they are in control of government formally absolving parliament and establishing an even more corrupt “Revolutionary Committee.” Somehow, Hadi was able to escape to Aden, the country’s thriving port city and former colonial capital, where he reestablished his cabinet and official temporarily moved his government to the city. Since then, the two governments in shackles have been ruling from their capital city (Sana’a and Aden, respectively), and attempting to defeat the other. Due to the Houthi domination over most of the desirable and significant regions of Yemen, the international community was forced to help this small and feeble Middle Eastern country fight against radical Shiite insurgents. This coalition against the Houthis was formed in 2015 between the Hadi regime, Saudi Arabia, USA, UK, Australia, Turkey, and a number of other Gulf nations. Fortunately, the Hadi regime has been gaining a foothold in Northern Yemen with foreign help, recently taking back the country’s second largest city, Taiz. Nevertheless, the battle for peace in Yemen started many years ago and, honestly, it doesn’t look like it will end very soon.

Today, Yemen is undergoing a major humanitarian crisis. The beginning of the combat in the country decimated the economy, pulling the country into a time of famine and poverty. Many were forced to sell homes, possessions, and, in some cases, people, in order to feed their families. The 17 million affected by the famine also had their safe water supplies thwarted by the onset of war, and because of this limited and damaged water infrastructure, there was an unprecedented cholera outbreak, possibly the biggest one in human history with almost one million deaths. The Civil War has also affected the country’s tourism sector, which prior to the conflict had been booming due to increased international attention and general stability in the region. Unfortunately, this unknown war has not been getting too much airtime, and many are unaware of the torturous events that take place in Yemen on a daily basis. The United Nations Peace Forces are trying to improve conditions in this part of the world, however, this is extremely difficult to accomplish given the active war efforts.

At the Model UN conference, I will be representing the Minister of Culture for the Hadi Regime, Arwa Othman. I hope to advocate for the United Nations role in protecting the nations invaluable World Heritage Site and all other historic landmarks that dot the Yemen landscape. In addition, I plan to promote the protection the unique ethnic groups that inhabit Yemen and are currently endangered by the Houthi rebels, namely the Yemenite Jews, one of the oldest Middle Eastern Jewish population. My committee is categorized as a crisis committee, meaning I don’t necessarily know what scenarios to expect. However, I am hopeful that the committee will be successful. In the end, it is great that the Yemeni Civil War is getting discussed in the media and that people are raising awareness for the major humanitarian crisis that is happening in the beautiful country of Yemen.

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