Just as the U.S. presence in Yemen has finalized its complete withdrawal, factions within in the country—such as the Iran-backed Shiite Houthis and Sunni government forces—are said to be preparing to engage in a full-scale civil war to determine who will rule the Gulf state.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), another major player in Yemen, which has been regarded as perhaps the most threatening Al Qaeda branch to U.S. interests, is also gearing up to usurp power through the current Sunni-Shia strife.
The Islamic State—another fundamentalist Sunni faction—has also emerged as a player in the Gulf state. The group claimed responsibility for suicide bombings last week that killed over 100 civilians.
Iran has already played a major role in helping to keep the Houthi coup leaders in power in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital. On Friday, an Iranian ship dumped more than 180 tons of sophisticated weaponry into the hands of Houthi militants, Al Arabiya reported.
The Yemeni government has turned to Saudi Arabia, hoping that the Wahhabi kingdom will provide financial and military support to prop up exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is plotting his comeback to power from the port city of Aden.
Riyadh Yaseen, Yemen’s Foreign Minister, pled on Monday with the Gulf States to help his internationally-recognized government return to power.
He told Saudi-owned al-Sharq al-Awsat, “We have expressed to the Gulf Cooperation Council, the United Nations, as well as the international community that there should be a no-fly zone, and the use of military aircraft should be prevented at the airports controlled by the Houthis.”
United Nations mediator Jamal Benomar warned over the weekend that Yemen was on the brink of civil war, and that the likely result would entail devastation for both the Houthis and government forces. “Any side that would want to push the country in either direction would be inviting a protracted conflict in the vein of an Iraq-Libya-Syria combined scenario,” the mediator told the UN Security Council.