This past week, the world was fixated at the brief interaction Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
While the teams of their respective countries battled it out on the football field, bin Salman and Putin watched from the VIP stands.
MBS looked mildly exasperated while Putin offered a restrained, sympathetic look as KSA lost to Russia. Every gesture from this meeting made news, however, the world at this point seemed indifferent to KSA trying to reform a geopolitical entity in Yemen.
Putin and MBS after the first Russian goal pic.twitter.com/WcKKRj0wPf— Andrew Hanna (@AndrewBHanna) June 14, 2018
The war in Yemen is being dubbed the bloodiest conflict the country has seen. For three years, it has consisted of Saudi Arabia and UAE-backed forces trying to gain some ground over the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
On the day of the match, the forces had tried to push back against the rebels in the port city of Al Hudaydah, but without much success.
The target of the Saudi forces is to snatch the Hudaydah port from the Houthi rebels. The port is responsible for a colossal monthly review of $30 to $40 million to the rebels. The Emirati forces hope that the loss of this port would bring the rebels to their knees. It has been clear that the Emirati forces plan to have control over transportation routes leading in and out of Yemen. Recently, the forces have clashed with the rebels around the airport to wrench control of the airport away from the Houthi fighters.
As clever as this warfare strategy is, it is expected to wreak further havoc on the Yemeni people. Around 80% of humanitarian aid to Yemen enters through the Al Hudaydah port. Currently, right million out of the 28 million population of Yemen is at the risk of starvation. If the port loses functionality due to the two warring factions, a great chunk of the population may be further pushed into starvation.
Already, in some regions, food supply through the port has been blocked because of persistent attacks by the Emirati forces. Although Saudi Arabia has tried to reassure the world that Al Hudaydah will fall fast, most pundits have been reluctant to believe the country. Even if it does, the country will be brought to the brink of mass starvation. If the Houthis mount attacks against KSA even after the loss of Al Hudaydah, many have predicted that the city will become Yemen’s Aleppo.
Recently, KSA has had a hard time convincing many of its allies to support its militant ambitions in Yemen. The United States refused a request from the Emirati government for intelligence, reconnaissance aircraft, and Navy minesweepers thanks to growing Congressional opposition to the conflict. France, however, came through, giving the forces minesweepers to clear the explosives the Houthi fighters have lodged in the Al Hudaydah port.
Meanwhile, MBS, who launched the invasion in March 2015, enjoyed soccer and internet fame.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters