Houthis stronger after years of war and military action will not end them, experts warn

Huge crowds poured out onto the streets of Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, as the Houthis vowed to retaliate against America and British attacks inside the country.
A spokesman for the Yemeni armed forces in the Houthi-controlled north of the country said in a televised statement that the bombardment “will not go unanswered and unpunished”.

The overnight military action appears to have deterred the rhetoric not one bit.
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Image: A Houthi fighter in Sana’a, Yemen
The spokesman went on to directly link the aggression and the Houthis’ action against ships in the Red Sea with the war in Gaza.

“This brutal aggression will not deter Yemen from its position of supporting and standing with the oppression of the Palestinian people,” he said.
The ongoing war in Yemen is often called “the forgotten war” because of the difficulties of reporting from inside the country and a lack of international will to bring the conflict to an end.

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It’s also often referred to as a proxy war with the two regional superpowers, Saudi Arabia and Iran, accused of fuelling and perpetuating the conflict by supplying weapons and support to the different groups.

Britain has provided arms and targeted support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis – and has found itself facing accusations of international law violations by supplying bombs and weaponry which have been used against civilian targets inside Yemen.


And the difficulties of reporting inside Yemen are considerable.
Reporters have to gain permissions from multiple groups, including the Houthis themselves, who control the north, including the capital Sana’a, and huge swathes of the population as well as the Saudi-led coalition and rival factions on the ground.

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US and UK strikes on Yemen explained

Once inside, you have to navigate multiple armed checkpoints and territories held by different factions and gun-wielding groups.
The country – one of the poorest in the world – is effectively divided into two main sections; the north controlled by the Houthis, who are backed by Iran, and the south held by the UN-recognised government, backed by the Saudi-led coalition.

Image: A Houthi fighter looks on during a ceremony at the end of his training in Sana’a
Both sides have been accused of a litany of war crimes, with the coalition accused of bombing hospitals and schools and civilian targets, while the Houthis have been blamed for a string of human rights abuses including recruiting child soldiers and planting mines inside civilian homes.
My Sky News team (including cameraman Kevin Sheppard, Middle East editor Zein Ja’far and producer Ahmed Baider) has previously investigated the Saudi bombing of a civilian house which had only women and children inside.
We tracked down the few survivors, spoke to eyewitnesses and visited the site ourselves (the first and only outsiders to do so) and our report eventually drew a rare acknowledgement from the Saudi coalition that a “mistake” had been made and an offer of compensation to the survivors.
We’ve also spoken to multiple victims including children who’ve lost limbs as the result of mines left by retreating Houthi fighters, and visited multiple hospitals filled with starving and diseased babies and mothers, suffering from years of deprivation as a result of the war and Saudi-imposed blockade of the Houthi-controlled north.

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How UK jets struck the Houthis

‘Only political solution will end Houthis’
But for the last 10 months, a growing rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran has presented Yemen with the most tangible possibility of peace and an end to the civil war which has been raging for the best part of a decade.
Now many Yemenis are fearful, while not yet out of an ongoing war, they’re about to become the centrepiece of a fresh one.

Image: Israeli and US flags are burned in Sana’a after airstrikes by America and Britain
Radya al Mutwkel from the Mwatana Human Rights non-governmental organisation told me from Sana’a: “Eight years of war has just made the Houthis stronger.
“At the beginning of the war, the Houthis didn’t even have rockets and weapons to use inside Yemen but now they can use them outside Yemen.
“Military action will not end the Houthis, only a political solution will.”

Image: Supporters of the Houthi movement rally to denounce air strikes launched by the U.S. and Britain on Houthi targets, in Sanaa, Yemen

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Houthis vow ‘punishment’ for attacks

She went on to address the warring parties directly: “What do you expect from another war? To kill more civilians? To destroy Yemen more?
“The Houthis are happy with the airstrikes and they say, ‘now we are facing the real enemy’, and they start to use this propaganda against the people.”
Read more:Footage shows moment British jets strike Houthi targets in YemenHouthis have advanced arsenal and are no longer a rag-tag army

Image: Supporters of the Houthi movement rally in Sana’a to denounce airstrikes by the US and Britain

She said everyone was “terrified” when they heard the UK and US strikes which hit a string of targets including in Sana’a, where she is.
“They are very frightened of a new cycle of violence”, she said about her fellow Yemenis.
“We have documented thousands of violations against civilians and civilian objects by all parties to the conflict in the past year and the humanitarian situation is still horrible.”

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Yemen is a country where children expect to go to sleep hungry; where more than 80% of the country is in a terrible state of poverty and where millions have been displaced or have had to flee their homes to try to escape the fighting and insecurity.
Now Yemenis have fresh fears of further, more deadly, more widespread war promising only one certainty – the continuation of their suffering.

Source : Sky News