Do Not Ignore the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen

The deaths of thousands from war, war crimes and disease are a win for radical Islamists.
Children sit amidst the rubble of a house hit by Saudi-led coalition air strikes two days earlier on the outskirts of the Yemeni capital Sanaa.
MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Yemen is the “largest humanitarian crisis in the world,” says United Nations official Mark Lowcock, under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator.

The civil war in Yemen has killed more than 10,000 people and wounded nearly 43,000 others. At least 3 million Yemenis have been displaced, and 7 million face starvation. All totaled, about 19 million people in Yemen—80 percent of the population—need some sort of humanitarian aid.

Sewerage infrastructure has been decimated; clean water and medicines are scarce. The UN estimated on October 1 that 777,229 people in Yemen have been infected with the deadly cholera; 2,134 have already died from the diarrheal disease. Save the Children calculates that a child in Yemen is infected with cholera every 35 seconds. Total infections could reach a million by the end of the year and shatter world records.

The mayhem in Yemen largely remains “a silent crisis, a silent situation and a forgotten war,” as Jamie McGoldrick, the UN’s resident humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, described it.

The world cannot afford to ignore this humanitarian crisis because it is exacerbating the even worse geopolitical crisis plaguing this country that once was the only democratic nation on the Arabian Peninsula.

Many geopolitical analysts understand that the civil war in Yemen has essentially been hijacked and commandeered into a proxy war between Iran and a Saudi-led coalition.

One United States military official recently said that Iran is smuggling increasingly potent military hardware to Houthi rebels to stoke the flames of war in Yemen. The arsenal of weapons includes ballistic and antiship missiles, sea mines and explosive boats.

Bruce Riedel, the director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution, wrote for Al-Monitor on August 1:

Iran is gradually increasing its support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Rather than eliminating the Iranian presence in the country, the Saudi-led war is giving Tehran the opportunity to become more influential there than ever. The Houthis … will need Tehran’s backing more as the stalemate continues. … A war designed to weaken Iran is actually helping it against its regional rival.

At the same time, pressure is growing on the U.S. to end its support for Iran’s rival in Yemen: Saudi Arabia. Twelve months ago—when the Saudi coalition bombed a funeral ceremony for the father of a politician affiliated with the Houthis, killing 140 people and injuring more than 500 others—global focus dramatically shifted from Iran and its Houthi proxies to the American-sponsored Saudi-led coalition. You can read more about this in our article “The Middle East’s Forgotten Civil War.”

On September 27, U.S. lawmakers Ro Khanna, Mark Pocan, Thomas Massie and Walter Jones introduced a resolution under the War Powers Act that demanded the U.S. end its military support for the Saudi-led coalition.

On October 10, three of them wrote in the New York Times:

For nearly three years, the United States has been participating alongside a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in a brutal military campaign in Yemen. The United States is selling the Saudi monarchy missiles and warplanes, assisting in the coalition’s targeting selection for aerial bombings and actively providing midair refueling for Saudi and United Arab Emirates jets that conduct indiscriminate air strikes—the leading cause of civilian casualties. Meanwhile, the Saudi coalition is starving millions of Yemenis as a grotesque tactic of war.

This is horrifying. We have therefore introduced a bipartisan congressional resolution to withdraw American armed forces from these unauthorized hostilities in order to help put an end to the suffering of a country approaching “a famine of biblical proportions,” in the words of Jan Egeland, the head of the Norwegian Refugee Council. After all, as Foreign Policy has reported, the Saudi coalition’s “daily bombing campaign would not be possible without the constant presence of U.S. Air Force tanker planes refueling coalition jets.”

While observers readily recognize how much has gone wrong for the United States and Saudi Arabia in Yemen, it seems they are largely ignoring Iran’s hand in the crisis. The worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen is a huge defeat for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Will it be a huge victory for Iran? Time will tell.

The Washington Institute noted on Oct. 6, 2016, that Iranian belligerence via the Houthis was happening “at a time when Iranian naval provocations in the Strait of Hormuz are becoming far more regular—approximately twice as frequent as last year [2015].” It assessed that Iran may “be hoping to widen the war to international shipping lanes and foreign territories such as Eritrea.”

One of the most problematic effects is that this humanitarian crisis in the Middle East’s poorest country will likely distract the world from Iran’s hegemonic ambitions.

“The Houthis’ takeover of Yemen was not just a grassroots revolution,” warned Watch Jerusalem editor in chief Gerald Flurry in his April 2015 article titled “Iran Gets a Stranglehold on the Middle East.” “It was a part of a deliberate and calculated Iranian strategy to conquer the Red Sea. This strategy is revealed in a powerful prophecy in the biblical book of Daniel.”

The Bible identifies a Middle Eastern power, a “king of the south,” that gains significant influence over the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. Iranian-led radical Islam is that power, and it will use its clout to terrorize other nations in the region and beyond. The Bible also identifies another Middle Eastern power, a group of nations that “confederate” for a common cause. Saudi Arabia and some of its regional allies will be part of that power.

Everything is shaping up precisely as the Bible indicates. Mr. Flurry explains these developments in his booklet The King of the South (free upon request).

“The Houthi takeover in Yemen proves that Iran is implementing a bold strategy to control the vital sea lane from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea,” Mr. Flurry wrote in his 2015 article. “We need to understand the gravity of this new situation in Yemen!”