Yemen’s battle for opportunity
Reports that some fighters who joined the Popular Resistance forces in Taez province to battle the Houthi rebels did so out of financial desperation rather than political allegiance is emblematic of what is being fought for in Yemen. This is not a fight between conflicting ideologies for the country’s future so much as between those who seek to restore stability and opportunity and those who seek to control Yemen with narrow and negative goals in mind.
Many find themselves in the predicament of the car mechanic quoted in our report yesterday, who fled to his family village after Taez was taken over by the Houthi rebels and renegade sections of the Yemen military still loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Unable to earn a living in his village and after depleting his savings, he returned to Taez to earn 2,000 Yemeni rials (Dh34.14) a day fighting for the Popular Resistance forces. This kind of hardship, exacerbated by the conflict since the Houthis took over Sanaa a year ago, is repeated throughout Yemen. In September, the World Bank estimated that 80 per cent of the 26 million citizens are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Like people everywhere, most Yemenis do not hold strong political views but want to have the chance to create a secure living for themselves and their families. What the battle is about in Yemen – and why the UAE is fighting there as part of the Saudi-led coalition to restore the internationally recognised government – is restoring stability, security and opportunity so Yemenis can live in a situation where their potential is determined by their ability and their hard work. There is a self-interest for us in this: unstable countries with failing institutions tend to be breeding grounds for extremism, as shown by the rise of ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
With a seven-day ceasefire scheduled to begin tonight ahead of UN-sponsored peace talks in Switzerland, there is some hope that this conflict will end by negotiation rather than more violence. What Yemen needs is a government that will allow countless people like our mechanic-turned-fighter to return to work.
Updated: December 13, 2015 04:00 AM