March will mark a year since Saudi Arabia began its air campaign in Yemen, where Iran-backed militiamen drove President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi into exile in Riyadh.
The Houthi advance was a decidedly unwelcome event for the Saudis who aren’t keen on permitting Tehran to establish what would amount to an Iranian colony with a cozy view of the Bab-el-Mandeb on the kingdom’s southern border.
As the conflict drags on, it’s become abundantly clear that there will be no swift resolution and apparently, Riyadh is willing to sacrifice the kingdom’s financial stability if it means rolling back Iranian influence and restoring the Hadi government.
The Saudi-led campaign (which also involves Qatar and the UAE) has been successful at driving the Houthis from Aden, but the push north has proven to be quite arduous and retaking Sana’a remains an elusive goal. The situation is complicated immeasurably by the activities of AQAP and of course, by the presence of ISIS who, as usual, thinks everyone involved are apostates.
Needless to say, the conflict has wreaked unspeakable havoc on Yemen’s population and has imperiled its cultural heritage. A UNESCO world heritage site in Sana’a’s Old City has been flattened by Saudi airstrikes and on at least two occasions, Saudi warplanes have “accidentally” bombed Doctors Without Borders hospitals.
On Thursday, we got still more evidence that Riyadh’s relentless aerial bombardment of Yemen is taking its toll on the country’s beleaguered populace when a "double-tap" Saudi airstrike killed nearly two dozen people including an MSF ambulance driver, rescue workers, and multiple civilians in Sadaa.
Video footage of the strikes is below as is confirmation from MSF that the ambulance driver was “on his way to help.”
Yemen’s Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Nashwan Attab called the strikes a “heinous massacre” and an attempt on Saudi Arabia’s part to completely eliminate the few remaining medical staff in the province.
#BREAKING Yemen: Repeated airstrikes in villages in Saada kill an ambulance driver from an MSF hospital on his way to help
— Doctors w/o Borders (@MSF_USA) January 21, 2016