Ali Abdullah Saleh's Death Is Making Life So Much Worse For The People Of Yemen

Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was killed by his political rivals on Monday (4 December), outside the capital Sana'a, hours after he shifted his allegiances from Iran-backed rebel Shia Houthi rebels to the Saudi-led front.

Yemen plunged into a brutal civil war in 2015. The conflict has pitted Iran-backed Houthi rebels— until recently allied with loyalists of Saleh—against the ousted government of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, supported by a Saudi-led coalition.

Saleh was forced to resign in 2012, following a popular uprising. He never agreed he had lost power after 33 years in office and talks in Yemen's public circles suggest that his desire to return to power led him to his death.

Saleh's legacy, coupled with the ongoing civil war, has plunged Yemen into a dire humanitarian crisis. His decision to engage in talks with the Saudi-led front only intensified the conflict and provoked the Houthis, who retaliated by increasing their operations in Sana'a and its outskirts.

Yemeni people, who bore the brunt of the violent conflict, hope that Saleh's death might lead to the immediate restoration of peace in their conflict-ridden country. However, the present scenario suggests something different.

Observers say that tribal militia will become even more cruel after what they achieved by killing Saleh. Saleh's death has obviously emboldened Houthi militias and the chances of a ceasefire are now grimmer.

Furthermore, exiled president Hadi's calls for a new uprising against the Houthis after the unexpected death of his predecessor leave little hope to end the war any time soon.

Ali Abdullah Saleh
Yemen's ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh gives a speech addressing his supporters during a rally as his General People's Congress party, marks 35 years since its founding, at Sabaeen Square in the capital Sanaa on August 24, 2017. The rally comes amid reports that armed supporters of Saleh and the head of the country's Huthi rebels, who have been allied against the Saudi-backed government since 2014, had spread throughout the capital as tensions are rising between the two sides. MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images

Yemen plunged into chaos as Houthis captured Sana'a and western parts of the country after Saleh's resignation.

Saudi Arabia, which shares a long border with Yemen, swung into action and intervened to curb the rising influence of Houthis in the neighboring country.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who has been leading the coalition as defence minister of Saudi Arabia, convinced the U.S. and other Western countries that Houthis had to be stopped from seizing power in Yemen. If they succeeded, then Iran would gain more power in the region.

Constant bombardments by the Saudi coalition have disrupted all government services in Yemen, where 20 million people are in misery as medicines, drinking water and food are scarce in areas affected by the conflict. According to the U.N.,Yemen is now facing the world's largest famine.

Yemen war
A Yemeni mother tends to her malnourished child as she receives treatment at a hospital in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, on May 2, 2017. According to the U.N., Yemen is now facing the world's largest famine as millions face hunger. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Yemen, already infamous for being a poor country among the oil-and-gas-rich nations of the Arabian Peninsula, is now even poorer.

Yemenis have to also fight with a massive cholera outbreak, which has affected more than one million people, the majority of whom are children. The situation is exacerbated by a Saudi blockade, now partly lifted, imposed in the country after rumors emerged that Iran, Qatar and other countries were sending weapons to Houthi militias in the guise of aids.

Peace must be restored in Yemen and huge responsibility lies on the West and Saudi Arabia. War-prone areas of the country have already turned into breeding terror factories, which may cause more harm then expected to the world.

Naseer Giyas is a multimedia and multilingual journalist and a researcher with more than 14 years of experience. His work focuses on Muslim affairs across the Middle East and South Asia. You can follow him on Twitter.