Sounding off on the international response to the crisis in Yemen

Yemeni women and children by their temporary shelter at the Mazrak IDP camp in North Yemen. Photo by: Hugh Macleod / IRIN / CC BY-NC-ND

There’s still no end in sight to the turmoil in Yemen. Earlier this week, a resolution by the United Nations Security Council imposed an arms embargo against the Houthi militia. Air strikes have also continued against several Houthi strongholds, as part of an operation that Saudi Arabia and its coalition allies said is meant to protect the people and internationally recognized government of Yemen.

Devex Development Analyst Manola De Vos delved into past international aid efforts to find out how they could have influenced events in the country. The results of the analysis weren’t surprising: Donors were slow to release the funds and tied the disbursement to political and security reforms. And even if they did release funds, aid agencies found it hard to deliver aid because of the instability.

“Prioritization of security aspects has been at the expense of everything else,” Helen Lackner, an independent researcher and social development consultant who has worked in Yemen, told Devex.

But does this security focus mean that the international community has failed Yemen? Not quite, according to some Devex readers.

Any failure by a nation is that nation’s fault, and it’s due to mismanagement and “failure to behave like mature nations,” said reader Philip Abbey.

“Quite possibly, the best solution for Yemen is the complete withdrawal of the international community,” Abbey wrote. “Once the supply of outside currency stops, the profit from continuing to squabble among the different corrupt factions would stop and the folks involved would be forced to figure out how to make it work.”

Pradeep Patnaik held a similar view, attributing the failure of Yemen to its leaders and citing poor governance, lack of opportunities for the youth, lack of visionary planning, a winner-take-all political structure and sheer greed as root causes of the country’s current quandary.

“In such countries, benevolent dictatorship is better than Western style democracy,” Patnaik wrote. “One may accuse the West of pushing democracy of its own image when there are no democrats in those countries to take the lead.”

Abul Yahya, meanwhile, believed democracy would work best not only in Yemen but everywhere and called for the complete destruction of Arab monarchies, citing the example of Saudi Arabia, which opts to give jobs to nationals of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines instead of “their poor Arab brothers.”

Patnaik agreed that monarchies in the region have not been responsive to the aspiration of the 21st century Arab world and that democracy is a good concept — but it must be country specific.

“Democracy cannot be imposed. People must make sacrifice to earn it and own it.” Patnaik added.

How can international aid community best respond to the current situation in Yemen? Share your views by leaving a comment below.

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The views in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect Devex's editorial views.

About the author

  • Ma. Eliza Villarino

    Eliza is a veteran journalist focused on covering the most pressing issues and latest innovations in global health, humanitarian aid, sustainability, and development. A member of Mensa, Eliza has earned a master's degree in public affairs and bachelor's degree in political science from the University of the Philippines.