The regional implications behind the Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE)-led war against the Houthis in Yemen extend beyond the Gulf and have carried over into the Horn of Africa as well. In fact, while the military intervention in Yemen has resulted in a more concrete security partnership between the Gulf monarchies and their emerging Horn of Africa allies, this has also evolved into a burgeoning collaboration beyond narrow security interests.
Various observers of Yemeni political dynamics have rightly highlighted that what we generally call the Yemen civil war is, in reality, three separate yet overlapping conflicts. The first one is the multi-sided civil war, namely the conflict opposing the internationally recognised government of President Abu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, supported by the Saudi-led coalition and a plethora of various local militias and UAE’s proxies, against the Houthi movement.
The war in Yemen has greatly affected migration and refugee movements from and to the Horn of Africa, but not in the way one would expect. Instead of a large number of Yemenis fleeing the country because of war, violence and the horrific humanitarian situation, relatively few have left. Yet, an astonishing number of migrants from the Horn has entered Yemen since the outbreak of the 2015 war.
Four years of war in Yemen have not only devastated the poorest country of the MENA region, but they have also generated new transnational layers of instability affecting the Arabian Peninsula and its neighbourhood.
Soqotra is a place apart. An isolated island located in the middle of the Arabian Sea roughly between mainland Yemen and Somalia, Soqotra boasts an almost antediluvian landscape. Much of its vegetation and wildlife is found nowhere else on earth, while its natives speak an ancient language that’s also unique to the island. While other areas of Yemen have been wracked by conflict, irrevocably changed over the last four years of war, standing in Soqotra’s beaches or rock-hewn valleys, the conflict on the mainland could scarcely feel further away.
The Yemeni province of Mahra, on the border with Oman, has not been reached by the war so far. However, Saudi Arabia – as Oman used to do to defend its influence – has started to support a large number of Mahari tribes. This has led to large community divisions in local tribal society, for the first time in the history of this eastern province. This support is not limited to the financial domain but also extends to the military.
More than other countries, Yemen is about permeable boundaries, human connections and ideological contaminations. Nevertheless, Yemen has been widely investigated as an unicum detached from the neighbouring Gulf monarchies, although sharing with them ties and similarities. But the civil conflict, begun in 2015, has triggered dynamics of transnational instability at the forefront: this affects the Arabian Peninsula and its neighbourhoods as a whole, transcending Yemen’s borders and thus requiring holistic lenses of study.
È cominciata la missione degli osservatori delle Nazioni Unite a Hodeida per il monitoraggio del cessate il fuoco nella regione omonima, in applicazione all’accordo di Stoccolma, siglato alla fine dei pre-colloqui negoziali mediati dall’Onu (6-13 dicembre 2018) tra i rappresentanti del governo riconosciuto dalla comunità internazionale e gli insorti huthi.
Si può ora sperare che la Guerra civile in Yemen, che dura da quattro anni, possa concludersi nel 2019, grazie a un negoziato. Che cosa dovrebbe succedere?
La maggior parte dei conflitti hanno una causa chiaramente identificabile, che però può venire oscurata dalla prosecuzione del conflitto stesso, dall’entrata in scena di nuovi attori, dalla trasformazione delle realtà sul campo e dal conseguente sorgere di un’economia di guerra. Tuttavia è necessario considerare dei “motori” originali per giungere a una conclusione pacifica del conflitto.
It has become possible to hope that the Yemeni civil war, now in its fourth year, could make headway toward a negotiated end in 2019. What would need to happen?
Most wars have a clearly identifiable cause, but it may become obscured as the conflict wears on, draws in new actors, transforms realities on the ground and gives rise to a war economy. Yet original drivers must be addressed if the conflict is to be brought to a peaceful conclusion.
Whatever hypothesis of establishment of a Yemeni National Guard (YNG) has to face a broader dilemma: would the YNG be functional to a federal re-composition of Yemen’s unified state, or it would push further, and maybe institutionalize, its on-going feudalization process? Surely, a YNG should be part of an agreed political compromise for a federal state, as well as of a widen Security Sector Reform (SSR) effort.