There has been a civil war going on in the country of Yemen for more than 2 years now, but most people in the west do not know this. There is a reason it is sometimes called “The Forgotten War.” The two sides, the Saudi Arabian supported puppet government and the Houthi rebels, have been taking and losing ground with no major show of progress since the very beginning. The real losers however, are the people of Yemen. Both the Saudis and the Houthis seem to have little regard for the people hurt in the war, leading to a humanitarian crisis in Yemen that is one of the largest crises in recorded history. To make matters worse, there is evidence of both sides committing war crimes throughout the two years. The war and crisis going on in Yemen is an important part of the state of the world, yet so few know about it.
One may ask, as an American or as a European, “Why should I care? This does not involve me.” However, this is far from the case. Multiple western powers including the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, and others have been supporting the war in one way or another. America provides strategic assistance to the Saudis and sells them weapons. The United Kingdom provides many of the bombs used in Saudi air raids. The western world is as involved in this war as those directly in Yemen, and we have as much responsibility to do something about it as anyone else.
Over the course of ten weeks, this author attempted to get a look into the world of Yemen through Twitter. Twitter provided a unique approach, as it can often be a direct line to the people of Yemen. While finding official news sources coming straight from Yemen on the war could be difficult for a variety of reasons, twitter provided a place where personal accounts of the horrors could be found and examined. When coupled with outside and related news sources, tweets from twitter could create a more complete and complex view of the Yemeni civil war from both inside and out.
As Twitter and other social media platforms become more prevalent in Yemen and the greater Islamic world, the global perspective of Islam has the opportunity to change. This author, being raised Jewish, has grown to understand that much of the animosity towards Judaism and Islam stems from a misunderstanding of the faith. Social media allows those with different perspectives to connect in ways they never could before. The use of Twitter in my research has allowed this author to do just that, examine and interact with people of differing faiths and beliefs directly. It also gave this author a window into the suffering of the people of Yemen, one that not many in the western world have.
Much of this author’s early Twitter research on Yemen was on a superficial level. The tweets were focused on fun facts about Yemen, or the country’s obsession with the narcotic plant khat. As this author went further, connecting with Yemenis themselves and Yemeni news sources, the focus of the research became more refined. Tweets turned from khat drying out the country’s water table to the Saudis bombing food trucks in starving neighborhoods. From the fact that Yemen was split during the cold war to the current United States administration considering increasing our involvement in the conflict. The information being spread went from frivolous to serious, as did this author’s interest in the research.
It is important for people in the western world, especially Americans with their current administration, to become educated on subjects like the civil war in Yemen. The forgotten war cannot be forgotten any longer. The people of Yemen are suffering, and have been for much too long. Those with the power to do something, should. If not that, then at least stop providing support to those who are doing the damage. The involvement of Western powers in middle eastern conflicts needs to stop, and nowhere is that clearer than in Yemen.