Intense Fighting in Yemen Kills Dozens
A major escalation in the fighting between a Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Muslim countries and Iranian-backed Shi’ite Houthi rebels in Yemen has over the past week killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds more. The coalition intervened militarily in the conflict in March 2015 after the Houthis, months earlier, had seized the capital Sanaa and forced into exile the internationally recognized government. According to press reports, the Saudis and their partners have stepped up airstrikes on rebel targets northeast of Sanaa following months of relative calm, while the Houthis have increased their shelling of government-held areas. In response, the United Nations Security Council called an emergency meeting on Tuesday during which the body’s special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, outlined the gravity of recent developments. Prior to that, Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi stressed the need to “upgrade military institutions to the highest level of training, armament and vigilance.” Violence has also flared in the government-controlled city of Taiz, as well as in the central province of Bayda. Despite heavy losses on both sides, the Houthis have reportedly been gaining ground. Parallel diplomatic processes under the auspices of the UN and Oman have failed to end the conflict, which has killed well over 10 thousand people and pushed millions to the brink of starvation.