The second largest country in the Arabian Peninsula, positioned on the southern border of Saudi Arabia, Yemen is home to a population approaching 30 million people from a diverse range of tribal and religious groups, and is routinely considered to be the largest humanitarian crisis in the world with an estimated 8 million people on the brink of famine.
Much like other states across the region, Yemen endured a spate of protests as part of the Uprisings of 2011 which resulted in the toppling of Ali Abdullah Saleh. The uncertainty that followed resulted in conflict between the government of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Houthi movement who seized the capital Sana’a in 2014. The conflict that followed is a bi-product of historical, social, political, regional and international dynamics, creating a complex web of interactions and hostilities. Although sectarian difference played a limited role in the uprisings, much like elsewhere in the region, processes of sectarianization were used as a mechanism of control.
The seizure of Sana’a in 2014 prompted military intervention from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain in support of the Hadi government, amidst concerns at increased Iranian involvement in Yemen supporting the Houthis. While often viewed as a ‘proxy war’, this belies the complexity of the conflict, with a range of different actors operating in pursuit of different agendas, playing out in the context of a broader regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.