Yemen’s war has sent the country back to the 1990’s

Yemen’s war has sent the country back to the 1990’s

By Luke Vargas   
Published
A photo of the Yemeni capital Sana'a taken in November 1999. Flickr photo: mtsrs
A photo of the Yemeni capital Sana'a taken in November 1999. Flickr photo: mtsrs

A new study finds five years of war in Yemen has undone more than 20 years of human development in the country.

UNITED NATIONS – The ongoing U.S.-backed war in Yemen has undone more than 20 years of human development, according to a new report released this week.

That already bleak projection presumes a Saudi-led military campaign to defeat Houthi rebels ends this year – hardly an inevitability as peace talks flounder and fighting continues.

The Yemen war has claimed an estimated 102,000 lives since 2014, and a further 130,000 people have died from “lack of access to food, health services, and infrastructure.”

By studying the lasting effects of wars in Iraq, Congo and West Africa, researchers at the University of Denver measured how those conflicts left lasting damage measured in GDP, educational attainment or hunger.

And since countries are already racing to meet a common set of U.N. development goals, it’s possible to see how the Yemen war has dialed back the clock to a bleaker period in the country’s history.

In other words, 2019 in Yemen looks a lot like the Yemen of 1999, and if fighting continues for another decade until 2030, that future Yemen would be more like the Yemen of 1991.

Few humanitarian updates end wars on their own, but it’s not every day that the U.S. president vetoes legislation demanding an end to U.S. military activities – and that just happened. Overriding Trump’s Yemen veto will be hard, but Congress has other options.

“Where this is going to go next is into the next National Defense Authorization Act, which is an annual bill that provides for funding and authorities for the military, particularly soldiers’ salaries and things like that.”

Scott R. Anderson is a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former legal adviser for Middle East policy at the State Department.

“Those bills are very, very hard for presidents to veto. With majority support in both chambers of Congress, which opponents of the Yemen war now seem to have in hand, they may be able to introduce provisions that impose real legal restrictions into the NDAA.”

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