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Yemen’s unending crisis- the role of fellow Muslim countries

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By: Dr Ishfaq Jamal

On August 9, at least 29 children were killed and dozens wounded in a Saudi-led coalition air strike in Yemen. Once the news about the strike spread it poured lot of condemnation from across the world. The heart wrenching pictures of childrens bodies embedded in blood shows the kind of severe devastation that is prevalent in Yemen from last three years due to Saudi-led coalition war in Yemen.

If we look at the history of Yemen, Shia Imams have ruled Yemen for over 1000 years ,followed by Zaidi Shias .The head of Yemen’s Muslim brotherhood party is a Zaidi Shia, revealing the fact that more than sectarianism these are the personal political motives that dominate the Yemeni politics. It was post Arab spring that the crisis in Middle East worsened more and in some countries like Syria and Yemen they manifested in the form of severe sectarian conflict.

Alarmed at the rise of Houthi militias who have captured a significant part of Yemen, Saudi Arabia which considers it as a proxy war of Iran formed a coalition with UAE and seven other Arab states and intervened in an attempt to restore the government in Yemen.Almost 10,000 people – two-thirds of them civilians – have been killed and thousands others injured in “Operation Decisive Storm” that was launched on March 25, 2015.

The Houthi/Saleh dominance has not been meaningfully dented. The airstrikes are causing mounting civilian casualties and wholesale destruction of villages, sending thousands fleeing from their homes; this is causing a further alienation among Yemenis from Saudi Arabia. According to the United Nations the fighting and a partial blockade by the coalition has also left 22 million people in need of humanitarian aid, created the world’s largest food security emergency, and led to a cholera outbreak that is thought to have affected a million people.

There seems no immediate end to this war as none of the parties is willing for talks. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia have created havoc in the region by sticking to the narrow sectarian ideologies rather than acting as responsible nations for restoring peace in the region. It has lead to severe instability across Middle East. Pakistan showed maturity by not participating in the Yemen war and offered to take measured of reconciliations between the warring factions. War cannot be a solution to this conflict as three years of conflict has only aggravated the condition and brought more devastation in the region.

In an article in ‘Middle East Eye’, political commentator Nabil Ensari, describes war in Yemen as “modern day Vietnam” which has turned a nightmare for the Saudi led coalition. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have declared the situation in Yemen as ‘exacerbating the world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe where both sides are unlawfully impeding the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid’.

For the selective condemnation brigade who is at the forefront in burning the flags of USA and Israel for their crimes in Palestine, Afghanistan and other parts of world, one wonders what makes their hearts so stubborn and stone tough that the cries of Yemeni children massacred at the hands of fellow Muslims couldn’t melt them. If our ideologies don’t allow us to condemn the barbarity- we need a serious rethink.

Both Saudi Arabia and Iran must realize that the world today and especially Muslim world needs peace and for that they should shun their narrow sectarian propaganda against each other. Let Iran realize that backing Houthi militias from hundreds of miles away in the backyard of Saudi Arabia is a serious dishonesty and Saudi Arabia should also swallow the fact that Yemen is an independent, sovereign nation and it doesn’t need proxy governments of other powers. Other powerful Muslim nations like Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt instead of taking sides should act as mediators in ending this deadly conflict.

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