Graphic by Megan Eloise/The Gazelle
Sept. 4 marked the deadliest day for Saudi-led coalition forces fighting in Yemen as the bombing of a weapons depot claimed the lives of 45 Emirati soldiers in the eastern province of Marib. The incident bears the highest death toll in the military’s forty-four year history as well as the largest death toll on a single day since Operation Hope began last July.
In response, an email declaring a moment of silence was sent out to all students from Vice Chancellor Al Bloom on Sept. 8. Described as a “personal silence in support of the friends and loved ones of those who lost their lives in the recent military tragedy," members of the community including students, faculty and senior staff administration were all present for the event.
Since September 2014, Yemen has been embroiled in an armed conflict since Houthi rebels seized Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. According to the UN
, 6,631 casualties have been recorded, including 2,110 civilians, while 1.4 million have fled
Significant collateral damage has been dealt as military bases scattered across Sanaa are being bombarded by coalition air-strikes that began in March last year.
“The longer this conflict drags on, the more we will see civilian casualties on the rise and the end doesn’t seem near,” said a Yemeni student at NYU Abu Dhabi, who requested anonymity.
Concerns are growing over the deepening humanitarian crisis.
“The response against the deaths has been to intensify attacks, which may come at the cost of civilian lives,” added the student.
In Yemen, a shortage of medical supplies as well as road blockades by bombardment have severely aggravated relief efforts.
Neighboring governments have scrambled to maintain regional stability, and the UAE is both taking a leading role in on the ground operations as well as the training of Yemeni police and soldiers.
According to official reports, the UAE has committed 3,000 troops to coalition efforts, and played a decisive role in seizing Yemen’s second city, Aden, in July. Following the attack last week, the total number of Emirati fatalities has risen to 52.
Prospects for a functional Yemeni government are dim.
“No one really believes [President] Hadi is capable of governing the country. A defeat of the Shiite rebels will only open up a power vacuum,” warned the student.
Brookings Institute fellow Bruce Riedel, warned
that al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula and so-called Islamic State jihadists have been exploiting the current political turmoil to capture support. AQAP currently rules over Yemen’s fifth largest city, Mukallah, as well as the surrounding territory.
UN-mediated peace talks are expected to occur next week as UN special envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, announced last week. Talks will be taking place in neutral Oman with President Hadi confirming his attendance.