Çağ Üniversitesi

The Changing Dynamics of War: Yemen

Doğukan BİNİCİ tarafından

                    The Changing Dynamics Of War: YEMEN


   Although the Arab Spring which changes the balance of the middle east began to ın 2011, we saw the impact of this spring ın Yemen in 2015 with the uprising of Houthi which represents %35 of Yemen populatıon against the government. Within a short time, the Houthis, which expanded their spheres of influence, reached a power enough to invade Sana, the capital of the country. This advance of the Houthis, which changed the balances in the region, triggered the Gulf countries and caused them to carry out a series of operations.

   The Houthis which captured the capital of Yemen, turned to Aden, After this situation The coalition lead by Saudi Arabia launched ' The Decisive Storm operation '. The Western powers, which recognized the government established in Aden, provided logistical support to this operation. With this operation, the Houthis were prevented from taking over Aden and its surroundings. But Saudi Arabia, which started the operation with the discourse of '' We will take out the capital of Yemen from the Houthis '' has not yet been able to fulfill this discourse. Although most of the country is in the hands of the government of Aden, the capital of Yemen and other strategic points are in the hands of the Houthis. France has an important location among the Western powers that provide logistical assistance to the Yemen operations. France's arms sold to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the backbone of the operation.

The Peace Meetings:

   The parties first met in Kuwait in 2016 in order to find a solution to the crisis in Yemen. No consensus could be reached in the meeting in Kuwait. In 2018, when the conflict was continuing, representatives of the Houthis and Aden government came together in Stockholm, Sweden, under the leadership of Martin Griffiths, UN Special Envoy for Yemen. These peace meetings were attended the representative of Hadi government which recognized by western countries, Abdullah El-Alim, and representative of The Houthis, Muhammed Abdusselam. Efforts to straighten the image of Saudi Arabia, which was pressurized by the International Society due to the murder Khashoggi and One side of warring parties could not provide to supremacy ın the power struggle ın the Yemen field. These two reasons are the driving force of peace meetings.

   Hadi's Government expressed their expectations from the peace talks as follows. 1) Delivery of the port of  Al Hudaydah to the Aden government under the control of the Houthis. 2) Opening of the Sana airport which under the occupied to international flights. 3) Delivering maps of mines to the Aden government. 4) The move of the central bank of Yemen to Aden, the temporary capital.

   In response to these demands of the Aden Government, the Houthis agreed to withdraw from the port of Hudaydah and the city. Following this decision of the Houthis, the Saudi-led coalition announced that they would stop airstrikes against the Hudaydah. After these developments, the UN sent a delegation to the region to check the ceasefire. When the convoy of General Patrick Cammaert, the head of the committee, was attacked, the head of the committee stated that he could not do his duty. The fact that the decisions taken at the table can not be implemented due to insecurity between the parties is only one of the factors that prolong the life of the Yemen civil war.

   On May 10, 2019, the UN declared that the Houthis in the port of Hudaydah will withdraw from the port and the city between 11 and 14 May. The government of Aden, who said that It saw the mobility in Hudaydah as a deception rather than a withdrawal of the Houthis, clearly showed distrust between the parties.

   Non-representation of all warring parties in the meetings of peace negotiations held in the Swedish capital, It is one of the reasons that retard the way to peace in Yemen. A peace meeting that does not represent the whole of the coalition led by Tehran and Riyadh, who are fighting in the field, is far from a solution.

Foreıgn Actors In Yemen:

   The biggest obstacle to the ongoing progress of the civil war, which started in 2015 and the slow progress of the peace process, is the power struggle of the foreign powers in Yemen. The revolt of the Houthis, which was launched against the Yemeni government, turned into a dead-end in which the surrounding countries were involved.

   With the Houthis occupying the capital and threatening the Saudi border, Saudi Arabia began to interfere in the turmoil in Yemen. With the coalition that led by ıt, It began to prevent Iran from gaining influence in a region of strategic importance such as Yemen. An important part of the world trade is done by using the Gulf of Aden route. The geostrategic position of Yemen is the great importance for the control of international maritime trade, especially for oil shipment. The Saudis, which have blockaded Yemen from land, sea, and air to destroy Iran's area of ​​influence in the region, are the main cause of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. For the safety of the oil trade which constitutes the majority of the country's income, the Saudis will not hesitate to take steps to ensure the security of the Port of Hudaydah, the Bab-el  Mandep strait and the Gulf of Aden.

   The United Arab Emirates, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition, supports separatists in the south of Yemen, unlike the Saudis. This policy of Abu Dhabi sometimes causes a crisis between the parties. One of these crises is to land troops from the Arab Emirates to the island of Socotra. The island of Socotra has located 380 km from the coast of Yemen and has a unique strategic location for the safety of the merchant ships passing through the Bab-el Mandep strait and the Gulf of Aden. The island of Socotra is an island known for its importance from past to present. The United Arab Emirates is seeking to dominate the island of Socotra by using the Yemen civil war. Of course, the dominance of the UAE will be under the umbrella of the United States.

   Iran, the unwanted country of the Gulf region, joined the power struggle in Yemen by supporting the local element of the region, the Houthis. The first priority of Iran's policy in the region is to break the US and Gulf power that surrounds it, using the region's Shiite demographic structure. Accordingly, threatening Saudi Arabia's border security and economy by supporting the Shiite local group Houthis in the Yemen civil war that began in 2015 is an example of Iran's first priority policy applied to the region.

   The conventional arms requirement of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi is provided by France, the world's third-largest arms exporter after the US and Russia. According to the report published by French military intelligence, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, which launch the operations against the Houthis in Yemen, are dependent on military material from France. In addition, France and Saudi Arabia during the civil war is known to make many arms agreements. Since the beginning of the civil war, the Saudis have strengthened the Yemen border with French tanks and armored vehicles. French equipments used in Yemen include AS-532 Cougar helicopters, AMX 30 tanks.(Kucuk,2019). There are 300 tanks and 48 French-built armored Ceaser howitzers along the border with 25,000 Saudi security forces. (Kucuk,2019). It clearly shows itself in the relationship between Riyadh and Paris, where civil wars are a gate of income for arms exporting countries.

   The USA, which implements ıts policies with use the delegation states in the region, has provided logistics and intelligence support to the coalition intervening in Yemen. Like France, the United States has been involved in the war in Yemen by selling weapons to the Saudis. However, following the murder of Khashoggi, the Proposed law was suggested at the US congress that required an attitude against the Riyadh administration. In addition, in the House of Representatives, there was a decision to end the military support for the Arab coalition but it is not possible to legalize this decision. On the other hand, the Red Sea, Bab-el Mandeb Strait, Gulf Of Aden and the island of Socotra are the great importance for the USA, which provides the security of the World Petroleum Trade. Important energy trade is carried out on this route.


   The civil war which started in 2015 has deepened with the intervention of the countries of the region and caused a series of security problems as well as causing humanitarian crises. The fact that the Saudis, who had security problems with the Iranian-backed Houthis on the southern border, had been involved in the civil war to solve this problem turned Yemen into a chessboard that is witnessed the power struggle.

   Yemen, which has the most strategic port of the Red Sea, Hudaydah, is not a country that can be overlooked for the countries that pass the trade ships from the Red Sea. Considering that a merchant ship moving from the Red Sea will follow a route towards Hudaydah Port, Bab-el Mandep Strait and then Gulf Of Aden, the safety of this route is the great importance for the countries concerned. In order to ensure the safety of this route, there are attempts to dominate the island of Socotra. Therefore, it is an important question, which country will be dominated Socotra Island as much as how to end the civil war in Yemen.

   The parties, which came together in 2016 in Kuwait but failed to get a result, started peace talks in the Swedish capital in 2018. It would be wrong to describe the peace negotiations as meetings that serve peace. Because all parties were not represented in the meetings. Peace meetings between the representatives of Houthi and the Government of Yemen without Tehran, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are against the dynamics of the field. On the other hand, the separation of the Arab coalition in itself, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to support different groups in Yemen[1], is one of the factors that prolong the Yemen civil war.

   France's arms trade with the Saudis, which we learned from the recently published French Intelligence report, is the source of the Arab coalition's operations in Yemen. The Saudi ship, which a while ago comes near to the Port of Le Havre in France, left the port without the arms cargo because of the protests. This is an indication of the international reaction to the Saudis.

   In the power struggle axes with Tehran and Riyadh, Two sides could not overtower to each other and Two sides carried out trust breaker actions, These behaviors show to us that The Yemen Civil war will not be solved easily.


[1] Riyadh's support of the Yemen Al-Islah party, while Abu Dhabi supports the Southern Transition Council.


(2019,May 10).Yemeni Houthis to Withdraw Forces From 3 Key Ports Over 4 Days.Sputnik.Retrieved from https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201905101074898578-yeme-houthi-group-froces-withdrawal/

(2019,May 10).Yemen's Houthi rebels will begin withdrawal from Hudaida port city on Saturday.Trt World Now.Retrieved from https://twitter.com/TRTWorldNow/status/1126938555413094400?s=19

(2019,May 11). Saudi vessel expected to load weapons at France's Le Havre port leaves without cargo after rights group blocks access to the port.Trt World Now.Retrieved from https://twitter.com/TRTWorldNow/status/1127143913221832704?s=19

(2019,May 11).Houthi forces are withdrawing from Yemen's port city of Hudaida. The UN are overseeing the move.Trt World Now.Retrieved from https://twitter.com/TRTWorldNow/status/1127166571154010112?s=19

(2015,March 26).Suudi Arabistan'dan Yemen'e Askeri Müdahale.Dw.Retrieved from https://www.dw.com/tr/suudi-arabistandan-yemene-askeri-müdahale/a-18342380

Kızılok,U.(2015,Aprıl 11).Yemen'e Müdahale ve Genişleyen Ortadoğu Savaşı.Marksist.Retrieved from http://marksist.net/utku-kizilok/yemene-mudahale-ve-genisleyen-ortadogu-savasi

Coktan,İ.(2018,October 25).İran-Körfez Rekabetinin Yemen'e Ağır Bedeli.Aa.Retrieved from https://www.aa.com.tr/tr/analiz-haber/iran-korfez-rekabetinin-yemene-agir-bedeli/1293082



Doğukan BİNİCİ


Güney Güvenlik Okulu Danışma Kurulu Başkan Yardımcısı ve Siber Güvenlik Masası Sorumlusu.