On Wednesday night, Yemen’s Al Houthi militia killed three Saudi Arabian soldiers stationed on the Saudi-Yemeni border. Following the recent collapse of peace talks, violence in Yemen continues to intensify.
Several Al Houthi shelling attacks killed two Royal Saudi Land Forces soldiers as well as one from the Kingdom’s Border Guard. According to the Saudi Arabian Press Agency, the strikes occurred in the mountainous border regions of Narjan and Asir. Al Houthis frequently launch missiles at Saudi border posts. Violence is escalating as Al Houthi rebels gain control of important cities and the Saudi-led coalition retaliates.
Saudi troops line up alongside tanks near the border with Yemen. (Photo: AFP)
The war in Yemen is rooted in the differences between the Iranian backed Al Houthi rebels and those who support the now exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Al Houthi rebels believe that Hadi is both too pro-west and pro-Sunni, while those who support Hadi, such as Saudi Arabia, are concerned about Al Houthi’s ties to Iran and other Shiite extremists.
To counter the recent successes of Al Houthi rebels and their Iranian benefactors, Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia began a several months long bombing campaign, in addition to aerial and naval blockades. The combination of bombings and blockades, however, caused a serious humanitarian crisis. The Guardian notes that at least 78% of Yemen’s population is in need of aid, a 4 million person increase over the last 3 months.
To help alleviate the crisis, the United Nations organized peace talks. Although a deal remained feasible before the discussions began, Al Houthi representatives intransigently refused to surrender any land they had captured since December, a key demand of the pro-Hadi coalition. In spite of the failed peacemaking efforts, both sides agree that peace is necessary and the UN remains optimistic that a solution can be reached.