Dawn is just breaking on June 5th at Djibouti's international airport, but it's already boiling hot on the tarmac. Mohammed Issa, a rotund and mustachioed border-police officer, gestures to a massive U.S. Air Force transport jet — a gray C-17 Globemaster — sitting a short distance away. "Since the start of the war in Yemen, it's been crazy here," he says. "Military flights, humanitarian aid — sometimes there's no space to park on the tarmac."
So far, neither Saudi Arab nor Iran has been able to dictate the Yemen’s future. For Riyadh and Tehran, the painfully complex conflict may become a teachable moment about the limits of power. After weeks of air strikes and artillery bombardments by the Saudi Arabian-led coalition, the Houthi rebellion has been halted but not destroyed. Tehran – likely the Houthis’ biggest cheerleader — is limited in what it can or even might want to do by a tyranny of distance. The situation in the small Arabian country will “probably end up being a stalemate,” said Rick Nelson, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. With “so many things stacked against Yemen,” the political turmoil is an almost “unsolvable situation,” he added.
Abdullah Ali’s 15-year-old son disappeared from home one morning three months ago. A week later, the boy called his horrified family to say he had joined the Shiite insurgents known as Houthis — becoming one of a growing number of underage soldiers fighting in Yemen’s civil war. “He’s just a child. He’s only in the ninth grade,” Ali, 49, a civil servant who lives in the city of Taiz, said recently. “He should be at school learning, not fighting.”
In 1994, I took my mother on a vacation to Yemen, the most remote and populous corner of the Arabian peninsula. We landed, by ship, at the port city of Mukalla, once a major trading post between Africa and India. Whitewashed Arabesque buildings, with thick carved doors, stretched around the bay. Raw mountains loomed in the background. In the nineteen-thirties, the British explorer Freya Stark embarked from Mukalla for her journey into Arabia’s hinterland, and wrote of the “never-ending delight” of city’s shoreline: Acres of small flat silver fish with blue backs, laid out in rows like bedded plants, were strewn there in the sun: they dry for six days and are then stacked in heaps for the camels to feed on. They are caught in a circular net of small meshes, about 1 cm.
SAUDI ARABIA’S recently enthroned King Salman pulled off a striking diplomatic coup last month when he gathered a ten-country coalition of Sunni states to bomb the upstart Shia rebels in Yemen known as Houthis. Even Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, rivals in regional politics, put aside their differences to confront a perceived Iranian proxy. Egypt sent planes and ships. Countries as far apart as Morocco and Pakistan pledged help, too. Saudi Arabia is usually shy about speaking loudly and taking part in military action. Its uncharacteristic assertiveness may be a sign of the influence of the new king’s son and defence minister, Muhammad, who is in his 30s.
Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi left his refuge in Aden for Saudi Arabia on Thursday as Houthi rebels battled with his forces on the outskirts of the southern port city. Throughout the day, warplanes from Saudi Arabia and Arab allies struck at the Shi'ite Houthis and allied army units, who have taken over much of the country and seek to oust Hadi. Warplanes resumed bombing the Houthi-held capital Sanaa on Thursday evening, shaking whole neighborhoods and terrifying residents. Several civilians have been reported killed in Sanaa.
Suicide bombers in the Yemeni capital Sanaa blew themselves up during Friday prayers at two mosques used by supporters of Shi'ite rebels, killing 126 people and wounding 260, medical sources said, in the country's deadliest militant attack in years. Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that has seized large areas of Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for the attacks, in which four bombers wearing explosive belts targeted worshippers in and outside the crowded mosques. The Sanaa bombings happened as unidentified warplanes attacked the preside
When terrorists allegedly associated with ISIS killed more than 100 people in suicide bombings at mosques in Yemen on Friday, they were doing more than terrorizing the country's Shia Muslims. They were exposing, and perhaps deepening, the ideological rift between ISIS and al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda's Yemen-based branch, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has condemned the attack as "unlawful." It might sound odd that al-Qaeda would so criticize a fellow Sunni jihadist group. But this attack shows the rift that has developed between al-Qaeda and ISIS and the difference in how they think about the mass murder that both groups embrace. This attack simply goes too far, even for al-Qaeda.