September 16, 2019
 In 2024-Situation in Yemen

Topic: 2024-Situation in Yemen
Country: Saudi Arabia
Delegate Name: Charlisa Penzak

Special Political and Decolonization
Situation in Yemen
Saudi Arabia
Charlisa Penzak
Groves High School

In 2014, the Houthis, an Iran-backed Shia militant group, provoked mass protests in Yemen, eventually overtaking President Hadi’s Yemeni government in 2015. Hadi’s government requested intervention, calling upon the UNSC and the Arab League to aid, so Saudi Arabia led a multinational coalition of Arab and African states, with American, British, and French aid to restore the rightful government. For Saudi Arabia, Houthi control of Yemen was unacceptable to national interests and security, as they have attacked the Saudi-Yemeni border. The US continues to provide support, mostly in the form of arms sales. The war has also spurred a humanitarian crisis, as much of the country struggles to access food and other basic services. After almost eight years of war, in 2023, a deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran was struck, aimed at improving diplomatic relations and deescalating the crisis. Since then, fighting has largely subsided, until the Houthis began attacking commercial shipping in the Red Sea, threatening to upend the delicate balance. The Houthis began these attacks as a response to the Israel-Palestine war, and there is rumor that Iran has supplied arms, logistics, and training to Hamas – which complicates the situation. Regardless, the West has intervened in protecting commercial shipping by conducting extensive air strikes on Houthi strongholds and sinking their ships. The US assembled Operation Propensity Guardian, a 22-nation coalition to counter Houthi attacks and the UN Security Council has condemned Houthi attacks, to no effect.

Saudi Arabia believes that the topmost priority is to prevent any escalation of the conflict, and firmly opposes western interference on this issue. While Saudi Arabia, in the past, has welcomed assistance from the US and UK with the civil war, now that Iran-Saudi relations have normalized, recent Houthi events must not stop peace negotiations that can stabilize the region in the long term and allow humanitarian assistance into Yemen. So, how should the UN address the broader Houthi conflict without triggering a wider reaction? First, the committee should address the broader situation: support mitigation of the Israel-Palestine conflict and continue taking measures to achieve resolution. Other solutions could include stronger anti-terrorism measures, making it harder for groups like the Houthis to access arms, funding, and members. Saudi Arabia would support legislation like strengthening border security, countering terrorist travel, and most importantly, providing economic opportunity and aid to Yemen. Economic opportunity is essential so that new generations have options and aren’t relegated to joining extremist groups like the Houthis. Also, anti-radicalization measures, like targeting education, youth engagement, and disinformation are ways to target the roots of the crisis. The committee must look beyond surface level issues and focus on long-term solutions. Moreover, it is important to consider Iran’s role in funding these proxy groups. Iran aspires to be the regional power in the Middle East and mitigate Saudi Arabian and Western (primarily US) influence in the region. While any direct action again Iran is risky, the UN can increase oversight of financial transactions linked to Iran. Without Iranian support, Houthi activity would be seriously diminished.

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