Yemen’s Never-Ending Chaotic Situation: Civil War, Suffering, Corruption, And Stalemate – OpEd


Yemen, a small country in the Arabian Peninsula, has been wracked by a civil war that, for seven years, has devolved into a proxy war between the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who overthrew the Yemeni government, and a multinational coalition led by Saudi Arabia and armed Islamist groups. and separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates.

Similarly, humanitarian assistance delivery has also become more challenging due to funding shortages, high fuel needs amidst shortages, limited livelihood options, and the deteriorating provision of public services, with reduced assistance rations for 8 million beneficiaries from around 80 percent.

Oil is the main source of the government budget. Between 2020 and 2021, the value of oil exports increased from 710.5 million US dollars to 1.418 billion US dollars. The Central Bank of Yemen reported that there is an increase in oil revenues of 34% compared to the same period in 2021, from $551.7 million to $739.3 million, mainly driven by higher global fuel prices. Yemen currently produces about 60,000 barrels per day; before 2015, it produced about 150,000 barrels per day. The loss in foreign financing and oil and gas exports increased pressure on the foreign assets of the Central Bank, which decreased from $5.3 billion (5 months of imports) in 2013 to $2.1 billion (approximately 1.5 months of imports).

Oil revenues fell to 3% of GDP in 2015 from 13% of GDP in 2013, a decrease of $4 billion and a GDP of about $38 billion. The fiscal deficit widened to 11.4% of GDP in 2015 from 4%. The government is financing the deficit by issuing debt, which has led to a significant increase in the total public debt from $22.1 billion in 2014 to $25.9 billion in 2015, reaching 94% of GDP.

Abdulqader Alkharraz, ex-Chairman of EPA Yemen and Associate Professor of EIA at Hodiedah University who exposed corruption through money transfers to Saudi Arabia,” transfers are not received by the Central Bank but rather by the AlAhili bank in Saudi Arabia; as with all international financing, they are not supplied to the Central Bank but rather through private banks, which led to imbalances in government corruption”.

He added ” With the Houthis still threatening the government’s oil export infrastructure and without the largest source of revenue, the government will struggle to meet critical spending needs, such as providing public services and paying civil servant salaries”.

Support from the Netherlands to Yemen

The Netherlands supports the Office of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Yemen (OSESGY) to bring about a lasting peace between the warring parties. In this Several programmes are being implemented. The inspection and maintenance mission aboard the FSO – Safer tanker aims to provide recommendations on how to take the necessary steps to avoid an environmental disaster caused by explosions from oil spills that will affect coral reefs in the Red Sea. In addition, they are obstructing humanitarian access.

Alkharraz described, “The estimated FSO – Safer is currently carrying around 1.1 million barrels of crude oil. But the ship has not done so since the escalation of the conflict in Yemen in 2015. The Ras Isa oil crossing is located in an area controlled by the Houthi authorities. The Yemeni government also ordered the closure of the Ras Isa oil terminal in June 2017, due to fears that the facility could explode and cause an environmental disaster in the Red Sea”. While, “the Houthi militia has looted 150 billion riyals of oil revenues received through the port of Hodeidah since the start of the humanitarian truce on April 2, 2022, under the auspices of the United Nations. Whereas, on 11/21/2022, they attacked the Duba oil port in Hadramout Governorate, the group, and the internationally recognised Yemeni government”.

The Houthi group has carried out repeated terrorist attacks on oil export ports, and this does not constitute a declaration of open war supported by Tehran, the consequences of which have affected energy supplies, freedom of international navigation, and global trade. Al-Houthi also represents the United Nations’ pressure to achieve economic gains in order to extend the armistice agreement through attacks on oil ports in government-controlled areas, resulting in a drop in state revenues, as well as the threat it poses to regional and international security. 

In January 2018, an oil spill occurred. In March 2018, the Yemeni government and Sana’a authorities wrote to the UN Secretary-General to request support in addressing urgent concerns that would affect food.

The huge poisonous smoke plume will have a severe impact on the health of the respiratory system and agricultural crops, putting pressure on the health care system, and on October 19, the Netherlands supported Yemen, as triggered by the UN Security Council (Resolution 2511) and the Permanent Representatives of Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen’s international concern over the issue of “Saf.”

According to the Yemen Activity Appraisal Document repost, the funding reached 12.7 million dollars, divided from 9 million US dollars for the first stage, while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (2 million US dollars), the United Kingdom (3 million US dollars), and France each contributed 250 thousand US dollars.

The report also includes a breakdown of the budget and cooperation with the Houthis, who are the cause of society’s destruction, through first, $140,706 in equipment rental (an additional requirement proposed by the Houthis); second, $412,550 in additional requirements for consumables and sales items; and third, $285,00 in personnel day rates (Project Management Team). 

During the read sea project implementation period of 10 October 2020 to 31 March 2021, the total fund for third party contracts, including the rental of tug boats and diesel oil, was $1.323.247. 

The report also mentioned the monitoring calendar and the final narrative, including recommendations for Period of Follow-up: 1 November 2020-30 June 2021 Submission deadline is September 30, 2021. 

The report also mentioned the monitoring calendar and the final narrative, including recommendations for Period of Follow-up: November 1, 2020–June 30, 2021, Submission deadline is September 30, 2021. 

Alkharraz added, “This year, in April, the Netherlands took an initiative, and more than 80 million out of 144 million dollars were collected to buy a ship, but the implementation was not completed, knowing that it was necessary to implement it in November, and despite the security conditions, it was postponed to 2023”.

Although the Netherlands and the European Union still have internal divisions in Yemen and there is no reform of any file, and the US Congress is divided on this issue, the United States has supported Saudi Arabia, as well as France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. This is due to American interests in Saudi Arabia, and America’s goal is to secure Saudi borders and ensure free passage in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, which is a vital artery for global oil transport. It also supported the United States through arms sales and refuelling coalition aircraft, while Biden in 2022 retracted a classification of the Houthis as a terrorist group. 

The civil war has led to the fact that, with nearly three-quarters of Yemen’s population living in poverty, its humanitarian crisis has been described as one of the worst in the world. Suspected cases of cholera exceeded two hundred thousand in 2020. With many countries cutting aid to Yemen, the United Nations has cut food rations for about eight million Yemenis in January 2022. Three out of four Yemenis need humanitarian aid and protection, and four million Yemenis are internally displaced, according to the UN refugee agency.

The United Nations Development Program estimates that more than 370,000 people died as a result of the war, with indirect causes such as lack of food, water, and health services causing nearly 60 percent of the deaths.

Prof. Miral Sabry AlAshry

Prof. Miral Sabry AlAshry is Co-lead for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at the Centre for Freedom of the Media, the Department of Journalism Studies at the University of Sheffield.

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