Yemen, a Country in Crisis

by Heather Morgan, Red Spectre Writer[1]

Preface: In our ongoing effort to provide a repository for Marxist-Leninist press, we are pleased to present our first approved submission to New Spark which covers the war-torn country of Yemen.

We have approved this submission for publication for a few reasons. Firstly, it provides matter-of-fact coverage of the situation in Yemen, which will be novel to our readers as we have not covered it. Secondly, the author, Heather Morgan, uses a Marxist-Leninist framework to analyze the situation. Lastly, the workings of international imperialism are critical for us to understand, especially due to the supreme perversions of Marxism-Leninism that the major “Communist” and “Marxist-Leninist” parties of the world have adopted due to the recent inter-imperialist Russo-Ukrainian War. We encourage readers to submit their works and to utilize New Spark as a platform for Marxist-Leninist debate and discussion.

The opinions contained within this article may not be representative of New Spark or the American Council of Bolsheviks and should not be misconstrued as such.

Yemen, a Country in Crisis

 “The right of self-determination means that only the nation itself has the right to determine its destiny, that no one has the right forcibly to interfere in the life of the nation, to destroy its schools and other institutions, to violate its habits and customs, to repress its language, or curtail its rights.”

  • Joseph Stalin, “Marxism and the National Question” (1913)


Generally speaking, the media tends to move on from issue to issue very quickly. Every time a new story comes out it almost seems to erase the news you heard a week ago. This constant sensationalization of the news cycle is a tool of the bourgeoisie which despises all old news, as when you start connecting these links together it tells a very incriminating story. As a result of this, old news and old problems get forgotten about without getting solved. For example, look at the Yemeni civil war, the Saudi invasion of Yemen, and the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Every day innocent Yemeni workers and peasants die for the sake of the imperialists, but few are talking about it. This silence is as deafening as it is horrific because the crisis in Yemen is indicative of the broader contradictions of imperialism and monopoly capitalism, and how these forces oppress the working classes around the world. Thus, the ruling class has a vested interest in keeping you from thinking about it. Therefore, it is essential that we as Marxist-Leninists understand the conditions surrounding the war in Yemen, so that we may better understand who the imperialists are, and how we can prevent further bloodshed.

According to a conservative estimate from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED for short), over 150,000 people have died directly in the brutal war that grips Yemen.[2] Among those numbers includes over 15,000 civilians who were killed in targeted attacks. For the sake of comparison, according to the United Nations Human Rights Office, around 8,000 non-combatants have been killed in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.[3] The sheer number of casualties in Yemen, both civilian and military, is simply horrific.

To make matters even worse, those numbers from before only include deaths from direct military conflict. On top of the thousands lost in war, are the casualties that come from the destruction of infrastructure, crops, and the flow of trade that comes with this destructive war. According to the United Nations Population Fund, around 21,600,000 people in Yemen need some form of humanitarian aid to survive.[4] Over 80% of Yemenis cannot access basic needs such as food, water, and healthcare; all of which are crucial when living in an active warzone.

Hadi and the United Nations-Backed Government

The roots of the conflict in Yemen can be traced back to before the Arab Spring in 2010. Before the Arab Spring, Yemen was essentially a presidential dictatorship under President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Former President Abdrabuhh Mansur Hadi of the current UN-backed Interim government was Vice President under the Saleh government for 18 years straight and holds complicity in those regards. The Saleh government was highly restrictive and participated in numerous civil rights violations, which led to it being forced to step down during the Arab Spring after months of protest as people became increasingly dissatisfied with the Yemeni government. After Saleh stepped down in 2012, “elections” were held in Yemen, where former Vice President Hadi ran unopposed as the only candidate in the 2012 Yemeni presidential elections.[5] Essentially Hadi went from the right hand of a dictator to a dictator. He then served for seven years straight as president of Yemen.

President Abdrabuhh Mansur Hadi’s replacement, President Rashad Mohammad al-Alimi, who assumed power on the 7th of April 2022, has as much of a spotty history. Between the years of 2001-2008 under the Saleh dictatorship, al-Alimi served as Minister of the Interior. He was the Yemeni equivalent of the director of the FBI and the police. He served as an advisor to Hadi starting in 2014, and in 2015 during the Houthi takeover, he fled to live in Saudi Arabia. In 2022 he became president of Yemen after Hadi passed a decree surrendering his power to the unelected Presidential Leadership Council.

It is undeniable that the leaders of the UN-backed Yemeni government were complicit as high-ranking members of the government and security apparatus of the Saleh dictatorship. It is likewise undeniable that high-ranking Yemeni officials have received aid from Saudi Arabia, with al-Alimi living in Saudi Arabia after the Houthi takeover. It is also well known that Saudi Arabia is leading a nine-country coalition including Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, Kuwait, Sudan, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates which is actively waging war on the Yemeni people right now. Included in these forces was an American private military company called Constalis, which merged with another company called Academi, previously known as Blackwater, which infamously committed the 2007 Nisour Massacre in Baghdad.

United States Support for the UN-Backed-Hadi Government

The United States directly supports the UN-backed government. In 2022, President Joe Biden claimed the following: “The United States military continues to work closely with the Republic of Yemen government and regional partner forces to degrade the terrorist threat posed by those (al-Qaeda and ISIS) groups.”[6] This is outstandingly hypocritical when you consider that last year Joe Biden claimed the US would “end support” for Saudi “offensive operations.”[7]

According to Amnesty International, the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has been using precision-guided munitions manufactured in the United States.[8] In just one incident involving these weapons, 80+ innocent people were killed while over 200 were injured. At the time of the publishing of this article, the United States has conducted 378 air strikes in Yemen, murdering anywhere between 125-151 civilians as well as 1,394-1,785 combatants.[9]

Anshar Allah and the Houthi Movement

The Houthi rebels who have been besieging the Yemeni government since 2014 aren’t much better. They are Islamic fundamentalists who follow a niche sect of Shia Islam known as Zaydism. According to Alsharq Al-Awsat, the Houthis have been recruiting child soldiers as well as targeting tribesmen for forced recruitment.[10] The Houthis have also excluded their leader’s relatives from recruitment, which is an indisputable example of the nepotism and corruption they hypocritically claim to be fighting against.

The Houthis have also collaborated with the former dictator of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, harboring him and his supporters from persecution.[11] This only changed in 2017 after Saleh and his loyalists spoke out against them, and spoke of “turn[ing] a new page” (with Saudi Arabia) by virtue of their “neighborliness.”[12] Only then did the Houthis execute him.

In November of 2022, the US Navy and Coast Guard intercepted over 180 tons of explosive material that were being shipped from Iran to Yemen.[13] In January of 2023, the US Navy intercepted a shipment of 2100 assault weapons and over 70 tons of missile fuel that were being shipped from Iran to Yemen. In March of 2023, Iran brokered deals with Saudi Arabia with China as a mediator to stop sending weapons to the Houthis, inadvertently proving the claim that they had done so in the first place.[14] The Houthis are undeniably directly backed by the Islamist regime in Iran, and in essence, are a puppet of Iranian interests fighting in proxy conflict against Saudi Arabia.

The Southern Transitional Council and the United Arab Emirates

What of the third major faction in the Yemeni civil war, the Southern Transitional Council, AKA the STC? The STC is a coalition of secessionist forces in southern Yemen who wish to create an independent state in southern Yemen. The STC has historically been backed by the United Arab Emirates.[15] UAE warplanes have directly bombed Saudi troops operating in Southern Yemen.[16] As such much of the conflict between the STC and the interim-government has been reflective of the conflicts that exist between Saudi Arabia and the UAE. However, that is not to say that the STC is entirely a byproduct of UAE intervention.

Before 1990, Yemen used to be split into two separate states, the Democratic Republic of Yemen (aka South Yemen) which consisted mostly of the territories held today by the modern STC and the Houthi Movement, and the Yemen Arab Republic (aka North Yemen) which consists mostly of territories held by the modern UN-backed interim government. South Yemen was nominally a “socialist state” aligned with the Soviet Union while North Yemen was aligned with the United States. South Yemen was already politically unstable in 1990 because in 1986 there was an 11-day-long civil war known as the South Yemen Civil War. When the Soviet Union was unwilling to send aid to Yemen, it was only a matter of time before the South Yemeni government eventually buckled and either gave way to a new regime or united with North Yemen.[17]

So essentially, due to tribal factionalism, different interests among foreign backers, religious differences, perceived underdevelopment of South Yemen under previous United Yemeni governments, and grievances with a lack of democracy under the United Yemeni state, as well as innumerable other factors, the STC formed to restore an independent, capitalist South Yemeni state. Truly if it were only a matter of the self-determination of nations South Yemen would have the right to succession, and I do believe that it ought to have this right. However, the STC is more suspicious than it appears to be at first glance.

The STC has participated in innumerable human rights violations. The STC has numerous black sites across the country where they secretly detain prisoners without trial and torture political dissidents.[18] Because of this horrible system, many southern Yemenis will never know what happened to their loved ones.

In 2021 the STC fired live ammunition at protesters who were protesting against the failure of STC public policies which resulted in a complete collapse of the economy, including electricity, plumbing, and a collapsing consumer market.[19] One protester said, and I quote: “We came out to protest after our life has become impossible. There is no electricity, no water, and salaries can’t buy us anything. We are not going to wait until we die.”[20]

Further adding to the point that the STC shouldn’t exist, is its open collaboration with the UN-backed government. In 2019 the STC signed a treaty with the Hadi-UN-backed government at the behest of Saudi Arabia known as the Riyadh Agreement.[21] In this treaty, they agreed to form a Unity government with the Hadi government after the civil war. In other words, the STC vacillates from the cause of South Yemeni national liberation as it is not really interested in pushing for an independent South Yemen so long as they get their own seat in the new unity government.

Imperialism and Nationalism is Business as Usual

But all of this is to be expected. Each of these three major factions, the UN-backed government, the Houthis, and the STC ultimately represent imperialism and their own respective currents of bourgeois nationalism rather than liberation for the working classes of Yemen who suffer every day for this horrible war.

The UN-backed government is directly propped up by the imperialist army of Saudi Arabia which has placed the UN-backed Yemeni under Saudi Arabian influence so that they may access Yemeni domestic markets.[22] The United Arab Emirates supported the STC against the Saudi-backed UN government for the same reason as well as to curb Saudi influence in the region. The Houthis claim themselves as the legitimate national liberation struggle of all Yemenis when in reality they are an auxiliary state to Iran.

Even if this war is to end, Yemen will likely find itself a slave to the biggest imperialists propping up whichever faction wins. Recently, China has been participating in brokering talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia to create a permanent ceasefire in Yemen.[23] Ultimately this will lead to increasing Chinese influence in the Middle East and propel them into being capable of challenging the US for greater imperialist global hegemony. If everything goes perfectly, this will hopefully lead to an end to this conflict, but the cost will most likely be the freedom of Yemen just as it has been for many other weaker countries that can’t compete against bigger countries such as the USA, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.

The end of the war seems as if it may be on the horizon. Iran has agreed to stop arming the Houthis, while the Houthis have reopened diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia.[24] In the wake of this war, it is important for Yemenis to organize on a basis of anti-imperialism and socialism if they are to assert Yemen as a truly independent state. Yemen has been ruled by dictatorships for decades. Yemen has been a pawn in the hands of other imperialist powers, from the United Kingdom, the USA, the Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China. As long as Yemen continues to be under the political, military, and economic dominance of foreign powers, Yemen will never be able to exist as a free democratic state.

As long as this war is going on people in Yemen will be radicalized and drawn to religious fundamentalist factions like the Houthis and right-wing extremists. Yemen does not need other countries to chart its course for it. It is important that this war is brought to the speediest end possible. Not only so that the people of Yemen can live in peace and security, but also so that Yemen may rebuild itself. Only then will the communist movement in Yemen can rebuild itself to form a new Marxist Leninist party. Only then will the conditions be right for the party to lead the masses to free Yemen from the shackles that bind it to the whims of foreign finance.

This is why every reader of this article should advocate for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Yemen. Yemen has a right to self-determination just as all nations do. All foreign intervention on the part of the bourgeois states as a whole has done in Yemen is to escalate the conflict and drive the suffering of the Yemeni people. Because of this foreign intervention in Yemen, the Yemeni people have been forced to endure many hardships, hardships that have destroyed their country while hardening its people. Only the people of Yemen, and the workers of Yemen in alliance with the peasantry, can ultimately free Yemen and her people, to establish a new order based on democracy and worker’s power.

Workers of the World, Unite!


[1] This work was originally published on Red Spectre:

[2] ACLED, “Country Hub: Yemen,” ACLED,,civilians%20killed%20in%20targeted%20attacks

[3] OFFICE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, “Türk deplores human cost of Russia’s war against Ukraine as verified civilian casualties for last year pass 21,000,” OHCHR, February 21st, 2023,

[4] United Nations Population Fund, “Yemen: A crisis for women and girls,” United Nations Population Fund, March 29th, 2023,,water%20and%20adequate%20health%20services

[5] BBC, “Middle Eastern press praises Yemen’s single-candidate election,” BBC, February 21st, 2012,

[6] Joseph Biden, “Letter to the Speaker of the House and President pro tempore of the Senate regarding the War Powers Report,” June 8th, 2022,

[7] Joseph Stepansky, “US ending aid to Saudi-led forces in Yemen, but questions persist,” Al Jazeera, February 7th, 2021,

[8] Amnesty International, “Yemen: US-made weapon used in air strike that killed scores in escalation of Saudi-led coalition attacks,” Amnesty International, January 26th, 2022,

[9] New America, “The War in Yemen,” New America,

[10] Asharq Al-Awsat, “Houthi Recruitment Campaigns Target Youths, Children in Yemen’s Ibb,” Asharq Al-Awsat,  November 26th, 2021,

[11] Al Jazeera, “Yemen’s Houthis form own government in Sanaa,” Al Jazeera, February 6th, 2015,

[12] Reuters Staff, “Yemen’s Saleh says ready for ‘new page’ with Saudi-led coalition,” Reuters, December 2nd, 2017,

[13] Courtney Kube, “Navy, Coast Guard intercept boat with 180 tons of Iranian explosive material headed to Yemen,” NBC News, November 14th, 2022,

[14] Dion Nissenbaum, Summer Said, Benoit Faucon, “Iran Agrees to Stop Arming Houthis in Yemen as Part of Pact With Saudi Arabia,” The Wall Street Journal, March 16th, 2023,

[15] TRT World, “Why are Saudi and the UAE competing in southern Yemen?,” TRT World,

[16] AMN News, “UAE warplanes bomb Saudi-backed troops in southern Yemen after new advance,” AMN News August 29th, 2019,

[17] Robert Hurd and Greg Noakes, “North and South Yemen: Lead-up to the Break-up,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July/August 1994, pg. 48,

[18] Amnesty International, “Disappearances and torture in southern Yemen detention facilities must be investigated as war crimes,” Amnesty International, July 12th, 2018,

[19] Reyam Mukhashaf, “Three protesters killed in south Yemen as conflict cripples economy,” Reuters, September 15th, 2021,

[20] Reyam Mukhashaf, “Three protesters killed.”

[21] The Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Washington DC, The Riyadh Agreement, (Saudi Embassy, December 2019),

[22] Ryan Grim, “TO HELP END THE YEMEN WAR, ALL CHINA HAD TO DO WAS BE REASONABLE,” The Intercept, April 7th, 2023,

[23] Ryan Grim, “TO HELP END THE YEMEN WAR.”

[24] Dion Nissenbaum, Summer Said, Benoit Faucon, “Iran Agrees to Stop Arming Houthis in Yemen as Part of Pact With Saudi Arabia,” The Wall Street Journal, March 16th, 2023,

2 thoughts on “Yemen, a Country in Crisis”

  1. This article is a welcome contribution. For many Yemen and the civil conflict has remained a mystery. Of course a couple shortcomings: 1. the author suggests South Yemen could be defined as a separate nation apart from the rest of the country. This is not clear where that analysis comes from. Other than tribalism (Stalin was very clear that tribe does not constitute a nation) I’m not sure how that part of the country is differentiated from the rest 2. Al Qaeda is not mentioned. While not a major force they do control a small part of the country and are active 3. My personal opinion is Marxist revolutionaries do not wait for the success of the nationalist “democratic” (in the bourgeois sense) revolution to be successful to organize for socialist revolution. I don’t think this “2 stage” revolution is the right road. It was tried numerous times especially in Africa and has been an abject failure.

    1. This is Heather, the author of this article.
      Just wanted to take a moment to respond to some of the points you have made.

      1. I did suggest that South Yemen may be its own nation with a right to self determination. Admittedly I am no expert on Yemeni culture but as far as I understand it South Yemen does have religious differences between it and the north, which created distinct cultural differences between the two. Whether or not Southern Yemen does constitute its own nation, is definitely something that deserves further investigation, but was outside the scope of this article as I was more-so focused on establishing the hypocrisy of every major faction.

      2. It is true that Al Qaeda does operate in Yemen, but I didn’t see it as necessary to include them as their presence is small compared to other factions, just like the many other smaller factions in Yemen. They just aren’t the major players in the region.

      3. I think the point that I was trying to give was not that Marxists should wait for the nationalist democratic revolution, in fact I think that such a revolution has already long succeeded. If such a revolution did need to happen I would have advocated for Marxists to lead it. The point I was really trying to make is that the current status quo is disadvantageous to Marxists and that we should organise in an anti war front to achieve a ceasefire to make it easier to operate and rally Yemeni workers to our side, as well as to alleviate the suffering of the people of Yemen. I do think that a workers-peasant alliance and new economic policy is necessary in Yemen specifically before socialism can be achieved, simply because Yemen is a peasant country and its economy and industry has been ravaged by war to the point where it needs to essentially be built from scratch. After all the prerequisite to the immediate establishment of socialism according to Lenin is Soviet power + Electrification.

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