MS Risk Blog

Yemen update: 7 April

Posted on in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen title_rule

Saudi Arabia has announced plans to raze 96 deserted border villages in order to prevent their use by infiltrators from neighbouring Yemen, where the kingdom is leading airstrikes on Shiite Houthi rebels, according to a report released on Sunday. Hassan Aqili, border guard chief in the area, stated in the report that the operation would prevent the empty houses from turning into “a safe haven for traffickers and infiltrators.” The Kingdom has already demolished ten villages since the Saudi-led coalition began conducting airstrikes on Houthi rebel targets on 26 March.  Three Saudi border guards have been killed by gunfire from within Yemen since Riyadh launched air raids against the Houthis.

Despite the intensity of fighting, the ground situation in Yemen has only changed slightly, with the most change occurring in the contested Aden region. Over the weekend, southern tribal alliances have appeared to become more organised and effective at combatting the Houthi militia. On 5 April, the tribal militias claimed they recaptured the town of Lawdar from the Houthis, and will use the town to as a base to assist anti-Houthi forces in Aden. However, because the Houthis withdrew from the region, there is no effective gauge to measure the effectiveness of the tribal militias.

Amid the fighting, a humanitarian crisis is developing as infrastructure and utilities have been destroyed. Fighting on the ground and coalition-led airstrikes have prevented the delivery of essentials, including water, to civilian populations. Russia, China, and the International Committee of the Red Cross have called for a 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire in order to deliver much needed aid. The Red Cross planning to send two planes carrying medical help and other aid to Yemen over the next 48 hours. The humanitarian organisation is still seeking clearance to bring a team of surgeons from the ICRC and the medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres to Aden from Djibouti by boat.

Meanwhile, on 6 April, Pakistani Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told a joint session of parliament that during his visit to Saudi Arabia last week, the Kingdom formally requested Pakistani military assistance for the Yemen campaign, including combat planes, warships and soldiers. The two nations have a shared a strong relationship for decades, however there have been no public statements by Pakistani leasers to show support or intentions of sending troops. Pakistan is likely wary of straining its ties with Iran. The Pakistan parliament is deliberating the degree of assistance they will provide.

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