Since March 2015 Saudi Arabia has been fighting a vicious bombing campaign and imposing a blockade of Yemen in defence of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who Saudi Arabia wants to retain Yemen’s Presidency. Hadi and the Saudis are backed by the West.
British arms manufacturers have sold planes and bombs to the Saudis which are being used during the current campaign. The Campaign Against the Arms Trade is conducting a legal battle in the British courts attempting to stop weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. In July the High Court agreed to allow CAAT to take the government’s policy — to continue arming the Saudis — to Judicial Review.
Also in July the UK government subtly shifted its stance on the conflict, admitting that previous Ministerial statements that the Saudis had not committed war crimes in Yemen were too categorical. Saudi Arabia has bombed many civilian facilities including factories, schools and hospitals. The Saudis oppose Houthi forces based in the north of Yemen, who are allied with the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Saudis are concerned that the Houthis – a political-military force based on a Shia sect – are backed by Iran.
The Houthis currently control the capital, Sanaa, and Hadi is based in the southern port of Aden. Hadi’s forces have regained some lost ground and are now back within 50km of the capital. Al Qaeda and Islamic State are both active in the country. None of the contending forces are worthy of support and the war should be condemned – in particular for the terrible effect it is having on the civilian population. At least 6,400 people, half of them civilians, have been killed and almost three million others have been displaced since March 2015. Yemen is a desperately poor country with over 80% of the population now in need of humanitarian aid. Most basic services – including basic health care – have collapsed. This war should end now.