My final paper for this semester’s Dar-al-Islam class will focus on the ongoing conflict in Yemen. More specifically, I will discuss how the people of Yemen are being affected by this crisis. I will expand on the background of the war, the impact the war is having on innocent people, how the teachings of Islam contradict many of the tactics used in this war, and the US’s role in the war. After reading this paper one should feel informed on the basic background of the war in Yemen as well as informed on my own beliefs and feelings towards the war. One should also be able to form their own opinions on the conflict in Yemen based on the information given.
First, I will explain how the Houthi movement came to control Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. The Houthi movement supports Yemen’s Zaidi Shia Muslim minority and has fought several rebellions against the Yemeni government in the past decade. Houthi rebel fighters first entered Sanaa in September 2014 while a new president was being transitioned into office. The previous president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was forced to hand over power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Mr. Hadi struggled to deal with many problems facing Yemen, including attacks by al-Qaeda, a separatist movement in the south, the continuing loyalty to Mr. Saleh and many of his military officers, corruption, unemployment and food insecurity. The Houthi movement decided that this time of transition and uncertainty was a perfect opportunity to form an uprising. In September 2014 the Houthis entered the largest city in Yemen, Sanaa, and set up street camps and roadblocks. In January 2015, the Houthis strengthened their takeover by surrounding the presidential palace and effectively placed Mr. Hadi under house arrest. The president later escaped to the southern port city of Aden the following month. Saudi Arabia didn’t intervene in the conflict in Yemen until March 2015. In my paper I will expand on the role the Saudis play in the war as well as further explain the background of the war with more depth.
As one could imagine and many have seen, war affects all who are around it. The conflict in Yemen is no different. The people of Yemen have been negatively affected by this war for the past two years. Even before the war, things like food insecurity and corruption were a problem, with the uprising these problems have increased to a point where support from allied countries was necessary. However, much of this “support” from other countries ended up hurting the people of Yemen more than helping. Airstrikes in Yemen, aimed to take out the Houthi leaders and fighters, have been killing 100 civilians in Yemen each month! This type of careless fighting shouldn’t be happening when so many innocent civilians are dying. Saudi-led forces mainly execute these airstrikes, which seem more like blindly dropped bombs in Houthi controlled areas where innocent Yemeni citizens still live. Many of the casualties from these airstrikes are women and children. On top of the airstrikes, the Saudi-led forces are using starvation as a tactic to get rid of the Houthi. However, this tactic is affecting the Yemen civilians who live in these Houthi controlled areas. The Saudis are making it extremely difficult to import food into Yemen. Men, women and children are dying each day from starvation. Even before the uprising in 2014 food insecurity was a major problem in Yemen, now with the starvation tactic used by Saudi forces, around 7 million Yemeni citizens are starving.
After I provide background information on the conflict in Yemen and inform the reader of the current state and on goings in Yemen, I will discuss how the practices of Islam contradict many of the tactics used in this war. I will mainly focus on the writings and clarifications of Nasr in, The Heart of Islam. I will begin with discussing Shari’ah law, which, in a very basic sense, is living life in an ethical and moral way. According to all schools of Islamic Law, Shari’ah applies to all Muslims. I will then discuss the concept of Ummah. Ummah represents community throughout Islam. Nasr explains that, “Islam is meant to create a community based on justice…” (Nasr, 159) Next, I will discuss the term Jihad and it’s meanings and teachings, including the conditions under which war can be fought. Upon further research I will provide more aspects of Islam that relate to the ongoing conflict in Yemen.
In my paper, I will expand the most on these practices of Islam and how the Houthi and Saudis are disobeying these practices. In some cases war is necessary, but when numerous innocent lives are being lost it is time to change tactics and provide relief for those innocent lives. I will also discuss what role the US plays in this conflict, which includes supporting the Saudi-led forces and providing them with weapons. I will also touch on how, and why, the public should be helping the starving and innocent men, women and children of Yemen.