The War in Yemen and the Making of a Chaos State

Illustration by Ben Watson

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Aid workers, journalists, and experts describe little-appreciated realities about a 1,000-day conflict and — just maybe — how to turn things around.

The world’s worst humanitarian crisis is in Yemen. An ancient and remote place not exactly known for its international tourism, the country has begun to make headlines for its war, outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria, and rockets aimed at the Saudi capital hundreds of miles away from the front lines. The dangers have gone regional.

The main conflict inside Yemen — there are several — is a U.S.-backed, Saudi Arabia-led intervention to unseat a group of rebels called the Houthis. It’s been going on for more than 1,000 days, and yet both sides feel more emboldened today than ever. Meanwhile, less than half of the country’s hospitals are operational. Children are being recruited into war. The outlook is grim, and for a much larger area than just Yemen.

But why? And is there any sort of way out?

In this special feature, Defense One’s Ben Watson traces the roots of conflict:

Audio interviews: Go beyond the quotes with Oxford University’s Elisabeth Kendall, the Atlantic Council’s Aaron Stein, and more. Listen to them explain how Yemen got here, here (or just scroll down).

And don’t miss this animated, historical review of the conflicts in Yemen, and how the country’s dangers have gone regional. 

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