Analyzing and forecasting the Gulf Cooperation Council's geopolitical environment

A Look at Yemen’s Damaged National Fabric

By Adam Patterson
May 19, 2016

Over one year has passed since Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states launched Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen. As Yemen’s ongoing civil war continues to impose a staggering human toll on the Yemeni people, there is much discussion about the conflict’s diplomatic particulars and the outside powers’ strategic gambits. Relatively little attention has been paid, however, to the damage sustained by Yemen’s human infrastructure over the course of the crisis.

Throughout the conflict, fighting has essentially fallen along a tripartite division among Houthi rebel forces, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-backed Sunni fighters, and hardline Sunni jihadists, most notably al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). There is often little distinction between combatants and noncombatants, and civilian centers regularly become deliberate targets. Martial strength, to a certain extent, correlates directly to population strength, as widespread violence among various ethno-religious enclaves has come to define Yemen’s chaotic landscape.

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Adam Patterson is a Washington, DC-based analyst of international security topics, with a special focus on insurgency and conflict in Arab states.