International Explainers: The Yemeni Civil War


Often overshadowed by the Syrian Civil War, in this latest edition of the International Explainers series, we take a closer look at the causes and consequences of the Yemeni Civil War.

Credit: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons

Q: When and how did the Yemeni Civil War begin?

Like the Syrian Civil War, the origins of the latest civil war in Yemen stem from the Arab Spring. Following a mass uprising against his repressive, more than two-decade-long regime, the then-President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, agreed to make way in November 2011 for a transitional process installing his long-term Vice-President, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi (see below), in his place.

However, the transitional process unraveled as an insurgent, predominantly Shiite political-religious group, the Houthi, or officially called Ansar Allah, removed themselves from National Dialogue talks. In 2014, the Houthi insurgency developed into an open military offensive against the Hadi regime, seizing much of the north, including the capital, Sana’a, in September.

After a brief ‘unity government’ between Hadi’s regime and the Houthi, the latter mounted a coup d’état in January 2015, seizing important military installations and the presidential palace. They justified this by citing the proposed federalization of Yemen into 6 regions as an attempt to marginalise them. Hadi and his supporters fled and set up a new government headquarters in the southern Yemeni city of Aden.

The Houthi also at some point during this period allied themselves with the former President Saleh and his supporters, their previous sworn enemies.

The conflict dramatically escalated in March 2015 when, having fled Aden due to the advancing Houthi, President Hadi successfully appealed for Saudi Arabian-led coalition airstrikes against the Houthi-Saleh loyalists alliance. This is widely viewed as the official starting point of the Yemeni Civil War.

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Editor 2018-19 | International Editor 2017/18. Final year Modern History and Politics student from Bedford. Drinks far too much tea for his own good.

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