Yemen: Saudis intercept 7 Houthi militia missiles; how did the war start?
The Saudi Arabia-Yemen conflict made the headlines again on Sunday when the air defence of the former intercepted seven ballistic missiles fired by the latter's Houthi militia fired at various targets. The Arab Coalition backing Yemen's legitimate government informed about it.
The missiles, three of which were fired towards Riyadh, were aimed at residential areas and the attack killed one Egyptian civilian worker besides injuring two others, Saudi Arabia's state news channel Al Ekhbariya quoted a spokesperson of the coalition as saying. Two missiles were fired at Jazan while one each at Khamis Mushayt and Najran.
The Houthi militants of Yemen, backed by Iran, have fired several missiles into Saudi Arabia and the latter has successfully prevented from causing damages. The militants even tried to devastate the King Khalid International Airport on November 4 but could not overcome the Saudi resistance. A United Nations-appointed panel later confirmed that the missile was made in Iran, along with some others. Iran is known to be a fierce opponent to Saudi in the region.
Although the international media has not attended to Yemen's devastating war as compared to those in Syria or Iraq, regular aid has been reaching Yemen, even from Saudi Arabia. However, that hasn't minimised the war and its effects.
When and how did Yemen war start?
The conflict in Yemen has its origin in a failed political transition which was expected to bring stability to Yemen in the wake of the Arab Spring uprising which forced the country's long-serving president Ali Abdullah Saleh to hand over power to Abdrabbuh Mansour Saleh, his deputy, in 2011. President Hadi struggled to manage the reins of power, especially the separatist menace posed by al-Qaeda in the South. Besides, the loyalists to the previous president and factors like corruption, food insecurity and unemployment also made life difficult for the new ruler.
It was then when the Houthis, who back Yemen's Zaidi Shia Muslim majority and fought the opponents to Saleh earlier, eyed an opportunity in Hadi's weakness and took control of the northern heartland of Saada province and the adjacent areas. Even ordinary Yemenis soon became disillusioned with the Hadi regime and started supporting the Houthis - even the Sunnis. This strengthened the rebels and they took over capital Sanaa in 2015.
The Houthis and the forces loyal to Saleh, who later befriended his former enemies and assassinated as a result in December last year, then tried to take control of entire Yemen, forcing Hadi to flee in March 2015. A number of Sunni Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, feared that Shia Iran was plotting a design to lengthen its shadow in the region by influencing Yemen and jumped into Hadi's rescue, triggering the bloodshed. The coalition also received support from western countries like the US, UK and France.