News / Middle East

    Yemen War Intensifies Amid Saudi-Iran Diplomatic Standoff

    Yemen Crisis: War Intensifies Amid Saudi-Iran Diplomatic Standoffi
    X
    January 07, 2016 6:09 PM
    The Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen's Houthi rebels -- believed to be backed by Iran -- has intensified attacks in recent days after Iran and Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties in the wake of the execution of a Shi'ite Saudi cleric. And as prospects for peace talks dim, Yemenis say the fallout from fuel shortages and their deteriorating economy are taking as many lives as the war. VOA’s Heather Murdock in Cairo reports with Almigdad Mojalli in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a.
    Heather MurdockAlmigdad Mojalli

    Men and boys on the streets of Sana’a, Yemen's largest city, sell fuel for cars and generators out of jerry cans, water bottles and barrels.
     
    The fuel black market is one of the few ways to keep a family afloat during this relentless war, they say.

    Meanwhile, airstrikes are only getting worse.
     
    “Yemen is under siege,” shouts Nasser Mohammed Al-Sa'adi, buying fuel for his car in the Yemeni capital. “No oil is coming in by the sea so the prices are soaring.”
     

    Expensive black market fuel—often the only that’s available for Yemeni’s have driven many hospitals and small enterprises out of business in Sana’a, Yemen.
    Expensive black market fuel—often the only that’s available for Yemeni’s have driven many hospitals and small enterprises out of business in Sana’a, Yemen.

    Saudi-led coalition airstrikes have intensified in recent days here, and Iran has accused Saudi Arabia of attacking its embassy in Sana’a. Saudi Arabia sees Houthi militants — the target of the attacks — as agents of Iran, a charge Tehran denies.
     
    Long-time rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran severed diplomatic ties this week after the execution of a prominent Shi’ite cleric in Saudi Arabia prompted protesters to attack its embassy in Tehran.
     
    Analysts say the biggest losers in this rivalry are countries like Yemen, embroiled in regional conflicts seen as proxy-wars for Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two most powerful countries in the region. Besides geopolitical and economic competition, the two countries are at the heart of the regional sectarian divide. Saudi Arabia is the main Sunni power; Iran, the strongest Shi’ite country.

    Selling black market fuel is one of the few ways people feed their families as other businesses fail due to war and fuel shortages.
    Selling black market fuel is one of the few ways people feed their families as other businesses fail due to war and fuel shortages.

    “This conflict is manifesting itself all over the Middle East, but especially in Syria, in Yemen and to a lesser extent Iraq,” says Max Abrahms, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a professor at Northeastern University. “In all three of those conflicts, the Saudis and Iranians have different positions and are really at loggerheads with each other.”
     
    Black market fuel

    As the war drags on with coalition airstrikes now in the 10th month, Yemenis say the economic crisis and mass fuel shortages have become as deadly as the battles.

    UNICEF says roughly half a million Yemeni children are in danger of starving to death, in a country where child malnutrition was widespread, even in peacetime.
    UNICEF says roughly half a million Yemeni children are in danger of starving to death, in a country where child malnutrition was widespread, even in peacetime.

    Black market fuel can cost as much as seven times the subsidized price Yemenis are used to paying, and the consequences are disastrous.
     
    Food prices have gone up, and food production has dropped sharply, says Sadiq al-Qeyari, a Sana’a resident.

    “Farmers are only able to plant enough to feed their own families because large equipment requires fuel,” he explained.
     
    More than half a million Yemeni children are already in danger of dying from starvation, according to UNICEF.

    Black market fuel is also slowly eroding the equipment and vehicles it powers, further damaging the economy, according to Nabil al-Rada’e, who sells auto-parts.
     
    “We buy fuel at very high prices on the black market,” he said. “The sellers sometimes cheat, add fake materials to the fuel that damages the cars. I see a lot of cars broken because of this.”

    As the Iran-Saudi Arabia diplomatic crisis dims hopes for peace talks in Iran, locals say airstrikes are intensifying, and all the victims are Yemeni.
    As the Iran-Saudi Arabia diplomatic crisis dims hopes for peace talks in Iran, locals say airstrikes are intensifying, and all the victims are Yemeni.

    Besides the threat of further starving the country and economic decimation, oil officials say people are now dying because of fuel shortages.
     
    “The price of all commodities, including vegetables and other food products has increased,” said Anwar al-Ameri, the spokesman for the Yemen Oil Company. “More and more people are dying because of this, the lack of electricity and the lack of fuel to keep the hospitals operating.”

    Politically, the war appears to be a battle between Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other foreign powers, Sana’a residents say. But they point out that while the power players may be locked in battle here - the victims are all Yemeni.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora