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The Afghanisation of Yemen and the forgotten conflict

September 8, 2021 at 10:18 am

People stage a demonstration in solidarity with Afghani people, in Paris, France, on 5 September 5021 [Yusuf Özcan/Anadolu Agency]

It seems that the clouds of the Afghan crisis will rain in Yemen and bring with them more disasters than they did with the government of Ashraf Ghani. It has nothing to do with speculation, as since the eighties the events that occur in Afghanistan have directly affected Yemen, starting with the export of Salafi jihadists who were known as the “Afghan Arabs” and reaching the Houthi group, which acts as if it is the Yemeni wing of the Taliban movement, with a slight difference in the literature. More than three decades ago, Yemen paid the price for the return of the jihadists it embraced. The features of the country began to evaporate through the gradual Afghanisation of society, as black burkas spread to cover women’s faces, and the scope of violence expanded, under various banners affiliated with the factions of the so-called Islamic Aden-Abyan Army or the Al-Qaeda organisation.

In the modern era and considering the scientific leap in the means of education, the Houthi group did not need to be trained in Afghanistan in order to transfer the Taliban experience to Yemen. The Houthis began to gradually simulate what is happening there, by calling for the vilification of men wearing trousers, the need to return to traditional dress, even in official circles, banning singing and free mixing in universities, limiting women’s work, and blurring the features of women on posters. All of the above were like “previews” for the Afghanisation of Yemen. It is certain that the Houthis will import more experiences from the chaos in Afghanistan and begin to implement them in Yemen.

Last week, the leader of the Houthis, Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi, appeared in a desperate speech, in which his jealousy of the Taliban’s securityachievement was evident, as he has always dreamt of defeating America. Therefore, he had no choice but to call for a new imaginary battle to liberate all of Yemen from British and Israeli bases. How will he fulfil the promises he was making to his fighters, that he is fighting a battle to defeat the US, Britain, Blackwater and the Janjaweed without inventing such battles?

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The seriousness of the recent Afghan crisis lies in its direct reflection on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, as now, the world’s attention is turned to Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, the political system and state institutions have collapsed, and there the largest humanitarian crisis has been born, and therefore international support for it has been mobilised. Even UNICEF, which used to say that Yemen was the most dangerous country in which a child could be born, has changed its mind. The international community turned a blind eye to what is happening in Yemen, and during the coming period, it seems that the Yemeni file will become a completely forgotten conflict, especially after the Houthis’ threats to spread chaos to all cities in the country.

The Houthis’ inflexibility and their constant threats of violence will make the international community turn its back on Yemen and its crisis once and for all. The recent statements made by Ireland’s Ambassador to the UN Security Council President Geraldine Byrne Nason that the international community is tired of the continuing war in Yemen, are initial signs of complete abandonment. The world will not continue to coddle the Houthis indefinitely.

There are more prominent vital files in Afghanistan and the Iranian nuclear file, as well as in Ethiopia, the Houthis are responsible for making Yemen a forgotten crisis that no one pays attention to. This is because the UN knows that the fate of the actions of its four envoys are fruitless.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on 7 September 2021

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.