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Yemen Conflict: A Threat for Maritime Security

Yemen Conflict: A Threat for Maritime Security
  • PublishedMarch 11, 2022
Satellite view of the Arabian Peninsula
yemen red sea

Yemen conflict is a threat to maritime security because of its geographical position in the southern part of the Red Sea. The Yemen conflict exposes vessels to terrorists, pirates, bomb attacks, and other destructions. But how exactly did it all begin?

Background of Yemen Conflict

Two main factors that contribute to the Yemen conflict are politics and religion. The political instability is majorly a result of poor leadership and misuse of public resources. In 2011, a long-term despotic president, Abdullah Saleh, was forced hand over over power to his deputy. His deputy at the time was Mansour Hadi. However, after taking over, Mr. Hadi faced new challenges such as the threat from the separatists and an uprising from the soldiers of the former president.

On the other hand, the religious division between Shai and Sunni has escalated the conflict in Yemen. Shia and Sunni are two factions of Islam with a long history of separation and armed conflict across the Middle East. The religious division has created a vacuum that other countries have taken advantage of. Saudi Arabia is the most prominent Sunni country, while Iran is the large country with the Shia faction. In this regard, the two countries have used the instability in Yemen to engage in proxy wars. Saudi Arabia has continued to fund Sunni Rebels, while Shia has supported the Shia separatist.

Consequences of the war

The War in Yemen has led to approximately 233,000 people, with 131,000 dying from attacks. Apart from deaths, the Yemen conflict has contributed to the destruction of infrastructure, affecting the operation of diverse systems. This destruction has affected economic operations leading to high unemployment and poverty. The high poverty level has made many young Yemenis vulnerable to joining terrorist groups and other armed groups. In addition to unemployment, the constant political instability has led to hunger and affected vital services such as healthcare and education.

A Threat to the Maritime Security

The war in Yemen is a considerable threat to Maritime security as Yemen borders the Red Sea in the south, putting it strategically to threaten any vessels passing through the Red Sea. For instance, Houthis, one of the fighting groups in Yemen, threatened to block the shipping lane in this area. The increasing threat is likely to cause dangers such as sea mines disrupting commercial maritime flows.

As an example, Bab al-Mandab Strait would be particularly endangered in the case of a minefield network. The missile capability allows armed groups to confront warships from land, think of Saudi-led coalition military base on the Red Sea island of Zuqar in 2017. Water-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (WBIED) are also a major concern for navies since the USS Cole bombing in 2000 by an al Qaeda terrorist cell in Aden or the attack of a Saudi frigate in 2017 by three suicide boats belonging to the Houthis militias. Finally, mastery of coordinated drone attacks is a proven fact, which happened on Saudi land in 2019 and 2021.

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