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No End Near to Yemen Conflict, Analysts Say

  • Heather Murdock

A Saudi tank being transported, in the city of Najran, Saudi Arabia, near the border with Yemen, April 23, 2015.

A Saudi tank being transported, in the city of Najran, Saudi Arabia, near the border with Yemen, April 23, 2015.

Increasingly critical of the Saudi-led military action in Yemen, analysts say the conflict appears to be deadlocked with no end in sight.

The critique is mainly a result of an outcry from Yemen, where residents say the war is destroying body, mind and spirit as well as their homes.

After a brief calm in the Yemeni capital Friday, Saudi-led coalition airstrikes are continuing, bombing sites suspected of being used by Houthi militants and their allies to store weapons and deploy troops.

Saudi Arabia announced an end to the bombing campaign on Tuesday but the attacks have continued through the week.

The Houthis and their allies control Sana’a, holding anti-Saudi Arabia rallies on the streets.

“We will fight. We will not stop until the last piece of our hearts, until the last of our gods. Women, men and children will fight. God is great,” one protester said.

Saudi Arabia has been clear about how it feels about the Houthis in power in Yemen. In a message, Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Adel al-Jubeir said, "The Houthis should be under no illusion that we will continue to use force in order to stop them from taking Yemen over by aggressive actions."

The exiled Yemeni government said there will be no peace talks until the Houthi militants and their allies put down their weapons. The Houthis said there will be no peace talks until Saudi Arabia stops the bombing.

Amid the deadlock, voices from around the world are increasingly critical of the airstrikes. The New York Times' editorial board, in a headline Friday, called them a “catastrophe,” saying Yemen was drawing closer to total “collapse” daily.

Aid workers in Yemen said they agree.

“We need to have supply arrive in Yemen for the food, for the fuel, for the basic needs for the population,” stated Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, head of Doctors Without Borders in Yemen. "Our fear if you want is an increase in the humanitarian needs. Because it’s not only the health."

The United Nations said more than 1,000 people have been killed in the past month, including at least 115 children and that 150,000 people have fled their homes. Yemenis in Sana’a said they are out of fuel, have electricity for only a few hours a day and that the price of increasingly scarce food and water has climbed.

And Ingres said the injured and the sick are often being left without care in Aden, a port city that has become a battle zone, because they simply cannot get to the hospital. “As you know the fights continue. There are street fighters. We have snipers, so the roads are cut. The people cannot move," he explained. "And since the beginning of April, the injured people cannot reach our hospital - not only our hospital but the main hospitals of the city because the roads are cut.”

Said Amin Batassir works with a United Nations-affiliated aid organization in Yemen that specializes in psychological health. He said the war is taking more than a physical toll on people's health.

He said bombs and gunfights traumatize the people, particularly the children; but, he added, the lack of basic supplies can be as damaging to the mind as violence. Yemenis waiting out the war in their homes say they are “dying slowly.”

Yemen’s medical system was already taxed to the maximum before the war began. When the war ends and people are able to seek medical treatment, the situation will be even worse, said Abdullah Yahia, a medical doctor and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Sana’a University. “No doubt there is a big effect in the trauma. Anyone may know the effect of the trauma on the patients,” he stated.

It will be a long time before the full effect of the war on Yemen will be documented, aid workers said; but, for most Yemeni families, the end of the fighting cannot come soon enough.

Fras Shamsan contributed to this report from Sana'a, Yemen.

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