Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition, made up of the Gulf Cooperation Council states and Sudan, Morocco, Egypt, and Jordan, against the Houthi rebels in Yemen; this intervention is likely to cement Yemen’s status as a failed state.
The tensions between Shiites and Sunnis around the Middle East have exacerbated conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and other states in the past decade and this conflict is destabilizing Yemen. The underlying cause of these tensions is the cold war between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran.
These two states have begun following the model set by the United States and the USSR in the 20th century. They are supporting groups in other countries that follow their ideologies to destabilize governments and this support has created proxy wars. Syria has become a battle ground between government forces, radical Sunni terror group ISIS, Iran backed groups such as Hezbollah, Kurds, and many other groups. This war has no viable end in sight, and Yemen is headed in this direction.
Yemen’s government was overthrown in the Yemeni Revolution of 2011 and the replacement government was overthrown in a coup d’état in 2015. ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have battled in Yemen to be the dominant Sunni extremist group in the country. The Shiite radical Houthi rebels have put President Hadi on the run and out of the capital. Southern separatists have become more active in recent years as well. This complex situation is only being exacerbated by the international intervention.
The only viable solution to Yemen’s crisis is serious diplomatic negotiations with all reasonably moderate forces. If a power sharing deal can be struck that appeases all major Yemeni demographics, the people can support a new government and not radical groups that seem more representative than their old goverments. If the only solution being presented is coalition airstrikes to restore a government that alienated many of its people, Yemen is more likely to be the next Somalia than the next Oman.